On Wednesday much to my surprise I was asked to appear live on the PM Show on BBC Radio 4 to give my views on the article Pupils to study Twitter and blogs in primary schools shake-up which had come out that morning in The Guardian. Written by the former head of Ofsted, Sir Jim Rose, the leaked draft proposes fairly radical reforms of the new primary curriculum in England suggesting that pupils should for example be used to using such technologies as blogs, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter in their lessons.
Joined by former secondary school teacher of the year Phil Beadle, we only had five minutes to discuss the issues raised by presenter Carolyn Quinn meaning we had to be clear and concise in what we said. Phil whose ideas on technology have already raised a few eyebrows in the blogosphere took the view that although blogging could be motivating, podcasts were no more than audio files on a website (ignoring the power of RSS to distribute content on demand) and that Twitter had no place in a primary classroom as it would only help to further reduce pupils' attention spans.
As you will hear in the interview, I disagreed with much of what Phil said, arguing that as many primary pupils are already using social networking sites such as Bebo in their free time that we as teachers should channel this enthusiasm to create exciting educational opportunities in and out of the classroom.
If I had had longer, I would have clarified that I was not promoting that pupils set up their own Twitter or blog accounts or that they take part in online activities unsupervised. For these proposals to work, I feel the teacher needs to control the use of these tools by:
- creating a class blog to publish the pupils' work (text, audio, video, images etc) and to moderate comments so that no-one could publish anything inappropriate
- considering which topics across the curriculum would lend themselves well to audio or video podcasting and ensuring adequate time for rehearsing, recording and editing
- setting up a class Twitter account run by him or her to allow for a number of possible educational outcomes including live feedback from his or her personal learning network. Have a look at these posts by Steve Wheeler, Jennifer Blanchard and Laura Walker for more ideas on how and why Twitter could be incorporated into the classroom
- researching the microblogging tool Edmodo. See links from José Picardo and Mark Warner for further advice.
- letting his or her pupils use Wikipedia to find references for their classwork and remembering to acknowledge the source (of course). Have a listen to this E-learning Stuff podcast W.. W.. W.. W.. Wikipedia for an interesting discussion of using Wikipedia in education
"ICT is to be incorporated in all subjects and as Sir Jim promised in his interim report, is expected to be far more ambitious. Podcasting, webcams and video conferencing are all there, reflecting what is already going on in many primaries."
"Children will be expected to understand emails, messaging, wikis and twitters, alongside websites, film, newspapers, leaflets and adverts. They will be expected not only to read books, poetry and plays, but also graphic novels, modern poets and cultural tales. In writing, pupils will be expected to share ideas using ICT by combining written text with illustrations, videos and sound. By age 11 they should be able to create webpages."
As I said on the PM programme, this is welcome news although it has huge training implications as highlighted by Doug Dickinson in his post When is a leak not a leak?. Other reflections on the original Guardian article in the blogosphere include reflections by Lisa Stevens and TeachNet Learning. Many others voiced their opinions about the proposals on Twitter and sent words of encouragement as I whistled across to BBC Southampton via various taxis and the ferry.
Thanks to johnmayo, markpentleton, actualleigh, mrmackensie, parslad, dawnhallybone, tricias, iusher, MattandCat, m_as, SchoolDuggery, kaymcmeekin, NeilAdam, damonlord, GaryH2UK, mwclarkson, AntHeald, GrahamAttwell, PlaceFarm, VentnorBlog, blagona, digitalmaverick, ssutherland, dwsm, tonycassidy, GeoBlogs, twowhizzy, Illendil, kenroyal, nickg33, ostringer, krysiaS, Big_Jen, air73 for your support.
A big thanks also to Chris Vallance who recommended me in the first place to appear on the radio
You can listen to Wednesday's PM programme on BBC iPlayer for a few more days or just click on the link above for the five minute discussion for which I have been given permission by the BBC to publish here.
Wednesday was an unforgettable day and hopefully not the last of its kind ;)