Those worried that Government policy on learning platforms isn’t sparking the hoped-for changes in teaching and learning, will find cold comfort in ICT agency Becta’s latest ‘Harnessing Technology Schools Survey 2009’.
It finds that the procurement is unlikely to hit its 2010 target, and that “reasonably large proportions of teachers do not have a full awareness of learning platforms and their potential for supporting teaching and learning”. This is precisely the point that observers are worried about. The purpose of learning platforms has been presented as a support for the transformation of learning. That is simply not an option without teacher engagement.
Carried out by National Foundation for Educational Research, the latest survey, conducted at the start of 2009, is broadly optimistic about ICT. For example it suggests that teachers are now "enthusiastic and confident" in their use of ICT. However, the reference to learning platforms indicates that the implementation of learning platforms is pressing ahead without sufficient involvement of teachers.
This is what the report says: “Developments in infrastructure provision, therefore, have been the most successful strand of the Harnessing Technology strategy to date. One area related to infrastructure may need strategic attention, however: use of learning platforms.
“A key finding is that around half of ICT co-ordinators reported that their school uses a learning platform. This is an improvement on 2008, when the equivalent figure was around 40 per cent, but progress is perhaps slower than anticipated and there are variations by school sector. It may be difficult to reach the target for all schools to be making full use of learning platforms by 2010.
“The survey findings also indicated that reasonably large proportions of teachers do not have a full awareness of learning platforms and their potential for supporting teaching and learning. It seems that, even where learning platforms have been installed in school networks, there is sometimes a need to promote awareness of what a learning platform is and what it can do.
“This is, in some respects, a change management issue. The technology needs to be supported with face-to-face guidance, encouragement, support, and possibly training. Teachers and learners need to be fully informed about how they can make optimal use of the various dimensions of learning platforms.”
This finding will be a worry for policy-makers looking for evidence of success. It bears out the concerns of those who have warned that pedagogy - teaching and learning - should lead implementations of this kind if learning platforms are not to be seen as merely administrative tools, a tendency that has already been picked up by Ofsted.