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Readership: primary, secondary

CLASSROOM PRACTICE:
NEW APPROACHES SUPPORTED BY ICT
The use of ICT in schools offers possibilities for developing being carried out by the National Foundation for Educational
new practices and approaches to teaching and learning.A major Research (NFER) and is funded jointly by the NFER and the
Department for Education and Skills (DfES).
international study (the Second Information Technology in
Education Study – SITES) has collected data about innovative The main aims of the international research include the
ways in which schools are including ICT as part of their following:
classroom practice. Sue Harris, Alison Kington and
◆ to identify and describe innovative pedagogical practices
Barbara Lee describe ways in which two schools in England that use technology;
(one primary and one secondary) implemented practices
◆ to inform practices related to ICT;
supported by ICT.
◆ to provide teachers and other practitioners with information
that they can use to improve classroom practices;
◆ to add to the body of research knowledge and theory about
BACKGROUND the factors across countries that contribute to the successful
and sustained use of innovative technology-based
In the UK there is substantial government commitment to ICT pedagogical practices.
for all, not only through primary, secondary, further and higher
education, but also as a mechanism for lifelong learning. A The research in England is based on case studies carried out in
range of initiatives at national and school levels is intended to three primary and three secondary schools during the school
encourage and increase the confidence and skills of teachers year ending July 2001. The six schools were selected on the
in using ICT, and also their opportunities to include ICT within basis of an innovative practice established within the school
their classroom practice. The use of ICT within the classroom that seemed to have a beneficial impact on pupils (in terms of
offers opportunities for new approaches to teaching and achievement, attitudes, motivation and/or behaviour), and
learning, extending the learning environment beyond the which showed potential for being sustained over time and being
classroom and allowing students to communicate with adults transferred into other year groups and/or other schools. In each
other than their teachers and family members. school, researchers collected data by means of:
● interviews with headteachers and ICT coordinators/
heads of ICT;
SITES ● interviews with teachers using the innovative practices
and with others who were not;
With these new opportunities in mind, the International ● focus groups with pupils in the innovative classes, and
Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement parents of some of these pupils;
(IEA) is currently carrying out a major international
● observations of sessions in which the innovative
comparative study - the Second Information Technology in
practices were used;
Education Study (SITES) - which is designed to collect detailed
information about ICT practices in schools in the participating ● interviews with LEA advisers;
countries and to disseminate the findings at international as ● analysis of school documents, such as school
well as national levels. One aspect of the study is concerned prospectuses and ICT policies.
with the collection of qualitative data, and focuses specifically
on innovative pedagogical practices using technology The national research team has submitted a report on each
(summarised as ‘innovations’), and England is one of the school to the international coordinators. Once the study is
countries involved in this component of the study. Importantly, complete, the case reports from more than 30 countries will be
the emphasis is not on innovative technology, but innovative available via the internet (see http://sitesm2.org). In addition,
practices that involve new or changed roles for teachers and a national report will be published, presenting the main findings
pupils, and in which ICT plays a part. The national research is from the six case studies in England.

Autumn 2002 ● Issue 28 1

the reluctance of local companies to become involved in a literacy project led to the involvement of employees at the Ericsson company. and involved one-to. In the case studies described below. BITC approached the Ericsson company and they agreed to take part in a project with the school for one term by The role of ICT in the epals project email. no access to a PC at occasions as a way of helping pupils to ‘write for a purpose’. and they also approximately 9. as the school coordinator explained: the school day when they could write and send emails to their ‘One factor we looked at was whether the children get partners. Approximately 44 per cent of pupils were entitled to free school meals at the time of data collection. by ICT. the headteacher and the two Year 5 teachers The origins of the project were involved (one more extensively than the other): the headteacher was responsible for liaising with the two external The project had arisen from the school’s original desire to foster organisations and one of the Year 5 teachers coordinated the a link with industry that would provide support for literacy. but none had wanted to become involved. a national organisation which encourages businesses and the two Year 5 teachers printed them and read them to to become involved in the activities of the local community. They had access to a school laptop computer. accordance with the SITES guidelines on anonymity for participants. Within the school. check the content before passing them on to the children. ultimately. Pupils were selected taking into account both between ten-year-olds and employees at the Ericsson mobile standards of literacy and underlying social and environmental phone factory some 30 miles away. The residents on the estate were predominantly white working-class. Email was seen by all involved as an ideal medium for communication between epals. all them and encourage them to enter into dialogues school names have been replaced with pseudonyms in using email. The school selected 25 pupils from Year 5 to participate in the one communication by email over an extended period of time epals project. As explained above. both illustrate ways in which schools are developing new pedagogical practices supported ◆ to improve individual pupils’ literacy. some 30 miles away. Outside the school. with software and learned how to send and open 261 pupils on roll. Pupils sent emails to their epals about twice a living with grandparents. and we particularly picked enabled them to do this from either their usual classroom or children that we were worried about – those who need the school computer suite. someone in employment who could share experiences from and provide insights into the world of work. pupils’ activities for the project. home. The epals project began in factors. ◆ to provide pupils with a role model. two people coordinator was aware that the Ericsson company encouraged had key roles in the project: the coordinators at BITC and its employees to become involved in supporting the local Ericsson. this BITC had approached a number of companies close to the represented a time commitment in addition to their normal school. community. single-parent and unemployed families. It served a large estate with a population of attachments to email messages. that is someone outside their immediate social circle. including lack of motivation.000 people. The first concerns the use of email to develop literacy communication and social skills by putting them and social skills. Implementation of the epals project The innovation was the epals project. The incoming emails from The headteacher approached Business in the Community the epals were all directed through the school’s email account (BITC). and the second focuses on the use of on-line in contact with an epal who would be interested in learning materials. The BITC professional responsibilities. Pupils were also able to take the more attention because they were part of a large family or laptops home. because: 2 Autumn 2002 ● Issue 28 . and crucially.000. within a town with a total continued to use Word. population of approximately 30. 4 This article presents findings from one of the primary schools The main aims of the project were: and one of the secondary schools.’ week in school time and sometimes also from home. no male figure in the home and the amount of attention Pupils involved in the epals scheme were allocated times during they received at home. which much attention at home. and allowed them time to participate in community activities. the school hoped that CASE 1: this contact would help to raise pupils’ long-term WOODFORD JUNIOR SCHOOL – aspirations and their ambitions beyond secondary WRITING FOR A REAL PURPOSE education. Teachers mentioned various criteria for selecting the summer term of 2000 and was described on numerous children. ◆ to develop pupils’ ICT skills : pupils were Woodford Junior School was a coeducational junior school introduced to Microsoft Outlook Express email (pupils aged 7 to 11) located in the industrial Midlands.

as the Ericsson employees could read involved (pupils. skills.’ to take their laptops home and also to draft and send emails to their epals from home as well as from school. all the Ericsson employees had reacted positively. This was essential before allowing the Ericsson staff or six pupils within the school before extending it to a larger to contact the children. and email). A significant part of the epals project was the emphasis on A major problem that had to be confronted was the difficulty developing pupils’ social skills and raising their career of maintaining the flow of emails. and the knowledge that these people number of pupils). Both For example. school level. Teachers noted that the children involved in the epals project developed improved attitudes to In addition to using email. However. Outcomes ◆ it was a time. and was hoping to set up a further 20. as opposed to an artificial classroom assignment ‘Most were graduates and were talking at a secondary set and marked by the teacher. and how to express a book. there had been a number of difficulties to overcome Difficulties that had to be overcome in the initial stages of the project. as the school had limited aspirations. teachers had identified improvements in the pupils’ literacy: so they could ‘show’ it to their epals (as a file attachment to an one mentioned improved story. She also felt strongly that instead of limiting such schemes to secondary schools. not at the level of junior school children … ◆ it provided opportunities for pupils to develop their ICT at first Ericsson complained that the emails were too short.’ Inevitably. the people involved Before the epals project could start. motivation and raised awareness of the world of work. where traditionally they have Autumn 2002 ● Issue 28 3 .’ projects in eight other schools. [At first] replies were ‘I noticed with a couple of girls their mentor was asking stilted – some children did not respond to questions asked them about their geography topic and asking them … Towards the end there was much more openness. who were initially uncertain of the value of the project. The Year 5 teachers The positive impacts that the epals project had on the pupils commented that the project would have run more smoothly if involved prompted the Year 5 teachers to consider ways of there had been additional phone lines. either in the two Year 5 extending the scheme. commented: and some children found that hard. originally envisaged.and letter-writing skills. both at school and at home: pupils were encouraged but that was a hard task for our children.and cost-effective way of maintaining contact Reactions to the epals project were very positive from all between the epals. sharing questions. They were understanding how internet] which they wouldn’t have bothered to look for in to have a conversation.’ themselves. One teacher ‘It’s meant to be a proper dialogue between two people. about 20 minutes per week. working methods and expectations in the epals project. and they used it [to look for information on the and having a conversation. This problem was partially resolved aspects as important as developing pupils’ literacy skills. the BITC coordinator had initiated similar order to bridge the culture gap. pupils extended their ICT activities schoolwork. by encouraging the pupils to contact their epals from home. which could form the basis of guidelines had been subject to police clearance reassured those parents for other schools considering setting up such a project. better communications skills. in some cases suggesting useful web sites. “listening”. in an area where education was not valued and internet access via a dial-up connection using a single phone unemployment was widespread. and the other explained that children had benefited from Comments made by school staff and the coordinators at BITC ‘… the wider thinking skills through relating to another and Ericsson revealed that one of the issues that had to be human being in different circumstances. communicating with another communications: person. to the extent that the coordinators convenient to them without having to leave their desks: agreed that it would continue beyond the one-term duration the time required was minimal. increased in other areas as a result of being involved in the epals project. the pupils’ epals also encouraged the children to use the other noted increased awareness of responding to another the internet to search for information relating to their school person’s questions and statements: work.g. e. parents. It gives the ones who have organisation and having realistic expectations. and learning addressed was understanding the prevailing culture in the other through widening their horizons. connecting their laptops to their home phone point. some pupils scanned artwork that they had done. who wants one to have one’. 4 ◆ it allowed pupils to practise their literacy skills in the One of the teachers mentioned initial difficulties in the context of a real activity. One commented: ‘I’d like every child classrooms or in the school ICT suite. teachers and the coordinators and respond to the pupils’ emails at times that were at BITC and Ericsson). The coordinator done it a wider view of the world. and identified possible improvements who had volunteered to take part had to be cleared by police to the scheme (such as initially trialling the project with five checks. the teachers considered these line in the school office.’ at Ericsson stated: ‘Teachers must have an increased understanding of As a result of the positive feedback following the first term of business protocol. epals. Some Potential for other epals projects emails were also sent and received via the home email accounts of one Year 5 teacher and the headteacher.

in that it was offered to Year 10 students for completion in out-of-school hours. Companies’ increased enthusiasm for supporting the local Furthermore. The teacher’s role was very different compared to other lessons. Implementation of the on-line GNVQ course CASE 2: The college purchased the licence for the course materials (£3. and we could do this with seven-year-olds … I think it’s the school was offering to supply them under licence to other appropriate to work with primary schools as well as selected secondary schools (the criteria for identifying the secondary schools for this project. the course sessions. which can be a challenge was deemed equivalent to four GCSE passes at grades A*–C. and as the scheme at Woodford be an attraction for demotivated and borderline students. and started running the course from September 2000. 4 promoted links with industry to enable students to find out The origins of the project more about the world of work. [It] is too late to start [with] 16-year-olds – with the syllabus set out by the OCR examination board. The new on-line GNVQ had been offered to Year 10 Coleridge Community College was a large (1. benefits of such an approach to learning. the course was seen as a way of helping to and teachers more frequently in a more rigid timetable. serving a fairly affluent area.’ 4 Autumn 2002 ● Issue 28 . for any number of students) from Walton High COLERIDGE COMMUNITY School. and approximately 100 students situated on the outskirts of a large ex-mining city in the were involved. after the end of the school day. those running the course commented: ‘My role is more of facilitator than teacher – helping them when they get stuck. in addition to the method of delivery. It’s more appealing because of the multimedia approach. as the timetabled GNVQ course that was offered to Year 12 students. community means that opportunities to develop further projects and it was this difference in delivery that the school felt would of this type are increasing. the materials for the unit were installed on the Coleridge College intranet for students to use. traditionally been taught in class by a teacher. although they had to submit the two assignments for The innovation was a two-year on-line GNVQ course leading each unit by the specified deadline. COLLEGE – A TWO-YEAR ON-LINE The course was split into six units. and one unit was released GNVQ COURSE each term by Walton High School.’ raise the performance of students who were otherwise likely to achieve fewer than five GCSE passes at grades A*–C. It was deemed were completed at school.a. The on-line GNVQ course covered the same syllabus content This is about sowing seeds at an early age. offering to provide under licence ‘Businesses are keen to work with primary schools … This the materials to run a two-year GNVQ course in ICT leading is about sowing the seeds at an early age that enables to an intermediate award for pupils at age 16. ‘It’s the same syllabus as before. but with integrated resources use. for secondary schools where pupils move between subjects Because of this. to attend either 1 x 2 hour or 2 x 1 hour sessions per week. All students had one-to-one access to a PC in Midlands.000 p. under innovative because the delivery differed from the traditional the supervision of an IT teacher: students made a commitment teaching approaches used in the school’s existing course. Students worked with a computer on a one-to-one basis for Students were expected to work for a further hour each week the whole of the course to complete the same content that had in their own time (either at home or at school). the entire course was delivered via computer. Teachers at them to move on to the next phase and inspires them from Walton High School had developed the materials in accordance an early age.850 students on students entering the school in September 2000 as a voluntary roll) coeducational technology college for 14–19-year-olds course out of school hours. used the materials devised by Walton High School rather than Coleridge College staff and had far less teacher input than the traditional course. A particular attraction appear to have a little more flexibility and are better able of running the course was that for students the accreditation to monitor the children’s activity. one teacher remarked. ICT offers a time. Often primary schools schools they approached is not known). there were considerable advantages to involving younger students: The college was first approached by letter by another secondary school (Walton High School). Two hours of course work to formal accreditation in ICT at age 16.’ However. Both Junior has shown. it differed from the conventional course.and cost-efficient medium the principal and on-line course coordinator spoke of the by which to provide support to young people. and worked independently at their own pace.

we have worked on the first couple of some of the teachers commented that they thought it would be assignments. via the internet: students were provided with a GCSE passes at grades A*–C. I wanted to do it because it’s a new thing of the future. which was mentioned as a software they want to produce these things. 4 There was much less teacher–student interaction because the Difficulties that had to be overcome focus of learning had moved from the teacher to the computers – teachers did not deliver the lesson. but not an agenda. but some expressed concerns about the the assignment for assessment. The first one was to do with types of useful to collate a bank of real examples of documents. ‘At the moment. Students also noted the access to a computer – this was largely resolved by organising different approach: the students into five separate groups. using a CD-ROM which provided all the materials One commented: for one unit (these were offered to students at the cost of £2). what is an invoice. Although students worked on the tasks at their own pace. looking at what to do and writing else. (3) prepare data collection (although this was only towards the end of the evidence [using a range of applications]. The role of ICT in the on-line GNVQ course ◆ opportunities to develop the ICT skills that they would Each term. Lots of them knew what a obtain examples from other sources. ‘The course is different because it is not taught by a teacher.’ addition to the students’ workload (all students were expected to do ten GCSEs). rather than relying on students using or flyer? They have to find other examples of these the examples provided in the online materials. The second one is to watch a real video There was widespread agreement that students on the course and make minutes of it.g. ‘We help each other more. school network. Students A-level and at university.’ One teacher commented that students Another stated: ‘…have to adapt to the way the content is delivered – e. including: for the school’s “Fame” production. The course coordinator at Coleridge College arranged for the materials to be installed on the school’s intranet. they could compare their ideas and approaches with other students. or trying to documents and evaluate them. and (4) submit first of six terms). such as a GNVQ ◆ via the school intranet. ‘We work more closely with other students and have more help from them than in other lessons. so they followed hyperlinks or searched [using search engines] for what it was and found it. user name and password to access the Walton High School course via their website. Although theoretically the online materials on-line course: provided students with access to sufficient sample materials.g.’ Another summarised the course structure as follows: The reactions of students.’ and then Mr X. They use whatever ◆ greater access to ICT . the autonomous style of learning was seen as useful sample documents and video clips). could access the course materials in the following ways: ◆ gaining a formal qualification in ICT. so that students ◆ the opportunity to repeat sections of the content. together with an ability to pace their own course materials (which included hyperlinks to other websites. such documents – e. to view the set assignments preparation for students who went on to study courses at for each unit and to prepare their own assignments.’ Autumn 2002 ● Issue 28 5 . each of which was supervised by a different teacher in separate sessions.’ particular benefit to those students who had not opted to study GCSE ICT. I would first ask the person next to me down tasks.’ The teachers running the sessions had not been involved in planning the course content. The teachers supervising the course sessions commented positively about being involved: ‘…it is genuinely an innovation. teachers and parents to the on-line ‘The key pattern is that [for each unit] they: (1) read/watch GNVQ course were overwhelmingly positive at the time of on screen. newspaper as faxes and invoices. get information from someone wearing headphones. seeking employment. in contrast to the conventional One teacher described the types of student activity using the GNVQ course. instead they assisted The main difficulty that had to be overcome was the individual students with any problems that arose as they were requirement for all students on the course to have one-to-one using the on-line course materials. and then they are given tasks to do were benefiting in a number of ways. work. If I’m stuck. which is equivalent to four ◆ at home. ◆ at home. Intermediate-level award. All students needed one-to-one access to a ◆ experience of an approach which required self- computer for the duration of the course in order to access the motivation. Walton High School provided a CD-ROM need in the future. newspaper was. if they could access the materials from any of the computers in the did not understand it the first time. both in an educational context and when containing all the materials for one unit of the GNVQ course. agenda. (2) compose (typing or researching). Students helped each other out and talked Outcomes to each other a lot.

She has of course the views of the ICT teachers (who might therefore extensive experience in both quantitative and qualitative be assumed to be more positive than non-ICT specialists about research methods. 4 ‘…seeing a new method of teaching. There is a danger line teaching – the vast majority … To a degree. approach could be transferred to other subjects: ‘I certainly think it would work for other subjects if Weblinks someone produced the materials – if you have a good set of materials covering the curriculum.’ teacher–learner and peer relationships. and those teachers running it all taught represents? within the ICT department: they therefore had the necessary ICT skills to resolve any technical problems that arose during sessions. you do need teaching skills. The Mere.ac. potentially those without any specialist ICT teaching skills: In neither case was the technology cutting edge: both demonstrate how existing resources can be utilised to provide ‘I would imagine every teacher would like the idea of on- new opportunities/approaches to learning.jsp?sectionId=1&categoryId=99 IT. Slough. with a particular interest in continuing the potential of an ICT-based form of course delivery). mathematics and science. approach might also reduce the need for qualified and Berkshire SL1 2DQ. and went on to say: Dr Alison Kington is a Senior Research Officer at the NFER. as it’s http://Sitesm2.’ including surveys. NFER. but She has been involved in a wide range of research projects. also be acknowledged that the positive views expressed by all those involved (teachers. as business studies and health and social care.htm types of learners. students and parents) may change Address for correspondence over the period of a two-year course. Are individuals and organisations ready for this challenge.gov. such curriculum interests in ICT. although these were Barbara Lee is a Research Associate with the NFER. As the teachers quoted above bodies permission to reproduce this item in the interests of indicated. Her other areas of interest include basic ICT competence. case studies in schools and developing materials for students. by commercial companies. experienced teachers. but would schools feel that they must continue to update their hardware people get into a flap if RealPlayer didn’t work and they and software in order to offer stimulating opportunities to their got an error message? ’ students. but the The course coordinator considered that the on-line course approach to teaching and learning. some teachers also expressed concerns that the on-line Dr Susan Harris. with the fast-moving pace of technological innovation. indications that this pedagogical approach could be utilised for other subjects/courses. they have to have whole-school improvement. other that. However. As the case studies above have shown. and particularly within the E-mail: s. and for extending and changing pedagogical practices in schools.uk/index. there were a number of points to consider before the approach could be extended to include other teachers and/or subjects.dfes.gov. so it’s also exciting to us. and Potential for other on-line courses are teachers and students ready and willing to confront the For this GNVQ course. by examination boards or others.’ prepared by teachers (as in the case of Walton High School). then lots of Useful sites include: departments and schools would jump at the chance. and verbal and non- verbal interaction in learning contexts.uk/index. Could other teachers supervise the on-line ICT CONCLUDING REMARKS course? Could the same approach be utilised for other subjects? What level of ICT competence would be necessary for other The two very different case studies at Woodford Junior School teachers to adopt the approach? One teacher thought that the and Coleridge College illustrate how ICT offers the potential approach would be welcomed by many other teachers. Her published work spans her The head of ICT suggested that other vocational courses. About the authors Here. but some might not like the Dr Susan Harris is a Principal Research Officer at the NFER. then.’ materials for additional on-line courses: these might be ‘It’s new to us as teachers.uk secondary sector. Anyone can do it. ‘It would be possible if someone has enough time to do it Her work in the area of ICT also includes a study for the OECD – it has to be structured carefully. access to the equipment and whether the teachers feel they want to change their role to facilitating the learning. Upton Park. Undoubtedly. but also as a Copying Permitted potential solution for schools where there are shortages of The NFER grants to educational institutions and interested teachers for particular subjects. It must professional development.org another way of dealing with learning and catches different http://www. could be developed. they’ve been very keen. Teachers need to be which investigated ways in which innovative ICT can support happy with ICT as a method of delivery. ICT was both the subject and the radical changes of classroom practice that this approach medium of delivery. you don’t need IT-skilled staff. this approach could be further explored not only as an alternative pedagogical practice.ngfl. 6 Autumn 2002 ● Issue 28 . it is not necessarily the technology that has to be innovative. idea.harris@nfer. it would require time and effort to prepare further wider dissemination. The only downsides are the cost of the http://www. During the case study. There were. subject teachers could deliver the IT lesson.

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