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You are a teacher. In two minutes, your lesson will begin in Swedish. Students come happy in from the recess where football has been played, talked about the latest series on Netflix and about what they've done this weekend. You have a few minutes to calm the students down and get them into the right mind for teaching. 40 minutes of guaranteed teaching time. A few minutes into the lesson, all the focus is directed at you. You have prepared 5-6 minute introduction of a new episode. The work material and a light test to see that students have brought with them what was the purpose of the lesson you have put in the class learning platform.
The introduction went perfectly and now you ask the students to get their material to work on. 25 minutes where students get to practice what we've been through, to finish with a 5 minute summary.
- I can not log on to the platform, says the first. Two more fit into the same choir.
My email isn't working, says a fourth.
- I don't have wi-fi, I don't have a wiiii-fiiii, expose the fifth.
How long do you think it takes for the teacher to solve these problems? How many of the 25 minutes will be used for what they're supposed to do? Where do you think the focus of the students is now? How many times a week do you think this happens for the same teacher? How do you think the teacher will solve this in order to continue the lesson? Do you think the teacher will post the lesson the same way next time?
By “Bad IT” in this post, I mean the IT that is not operational. For others, this kind of problem can be completely irrelevant.
IT in the classroom (part of school digitization - in my case primary school) cannot play according to the same rulebook as IT in the office or study. For me as a servant, there is no major problem if my account is locked. I'll call support and go get a cup of coffee. In my case, I can also use other tools (mobile, flat) and I also have access to three different internet connections. If my word processor hangs, it's probably not a big problem. I rarely write longer documents, and in the worst case, I get to rewrite. But if I'm a student, sweats me bloody to get out of me half an A4 and have a deadline for national tests, for example, that cannot happen. If I can not log in to the digital test system that we use, then the stuff goes into the ground.
IT in the classroom (part of school digitisation) must work at 99.99%. At least. Until this happens, we will never really have an equivalent (if it is possible at all) digitisation at school. Any change, such as new tools or working methods, must always taste more than it costs. If it doesn't, most people will opt out of it for what actually works. And then we end up in some kind of checkbox-it usage. You do the absolutely minimum that, for example, a school management or principal requires. Those who are passionate about the use of digital tools get their own services for the class. The kind of services and tools they know keep there 99.99%, such as a wordpress blog instead of the municipality's learning platform, so parents don't have to log in with BankID to know if sport is swimming tomorrow.
In many cases, we have to go back and look at our 'digital hygiene', infrastructure and resources. What works in a classroom, with children from (in my case) 6-15 years. It's not about opting out of IT, it's about choosing smart, business-oriented IT. It is rarely a question of teachers, educators and other school staff being reluctant to learn. It is about these having the tools they need, which strengthen them in their work to provide students with a good education.
Here are three proposals that would help well on the road to greater use and usable IT. According to me.
Password management - keep it simple
No pupil in primary school should ever have to change their password after an X number of days. It shall apply forever. Passwords will only be changed if a student thinks someone else has found out. Preferably, students should not have the opportunity to change their passwords themselves.
From our own experience, we have run like this in a number of systems and there are extremely few password changes. This also means that the systems work and teachers can have lists of account information.
Passwords are a huge source of problems, as switching also generates that the student has to change the password in various apps and services. And no, a six-year-old should not have a password containing at least 8 characters, including a capital and lowercase letter, number and special characters.
Ensure students (and staff) need to use as few account information as possible. Implement School Federation or similar.
But what about safety?
IT in the classroom should be used for educational work. If you're worried about security, students have access to too sensitive data. Pupils in primary school do not need access to their reviews, grades, national test results, additional adaptations and individual development plans.
Internet - be sure to have at least two
Do not skimp on access points in the classrooms. Count on at least 60 connected devices per classroom, depending on whether you allow private devices to connect. 30 students who are going to stream movies or sound can consume a bit of resources.
Also, do not skimp on a backup Internet. With digitised national tests, the network will go down somewhere on the test day. And somewhere could be with you. Make sure there are, for example, a bunch of portable mobile broadband routers for emergencies.
In addition, try to keep internet access as simple and accessible as possible. The more certificates and filters of different shapes there are, the more chance it gets messed up.
For advanced and poorly designed systems and services - more is not more
This does not really belong in 'infrastructure and resources', but is the third major obstacle I see it. Too advanced and complicated systems and services. Surely we can all be attracted by everything that particular product can do? But do we need it? At school - and especially in classrooms - we are sometimes forced to use software and services that have all the features, but poor functionality. Quantity over quality. Poor design and ease of use. It is not sustainable to send staff on 3-day courses in one of all software to be used. We waste far too much time learning a program, unlike how best to use it for student development. If we need a word processor, it's for the student to train himself in writing, not to learn Word. And then a stripped simple word processor can be much more efficient than Word, as the student gets started with writing faster.
I wrote a little more about this in the post “5 minute rule | Choosing useful technology and services in school” if you want to read more.
This also leads to those who do not feel that it tastes more than it costs abstain - and that those who burn a little more go their own ways. And then we stand there and pay for something that few use or see any benefit in, and the digital divisions continue to widen.
Here I would see that the principal stands for the legal systems, that is, the digital safe containing, for example, student documentation and that type of personal data. Then I would like the schools themselves to completely choose the educational tools and run them themselves. Let those who want to run GAFE, O365 or whatever they choose. The principal assists with legal expertise in writing data processing contracts and GDPR securing the services that schools want to use. A mixture of centralised and decentralised IT.
Of course, this is part of more problem areas regarding 'infrastructure and resources'. We could also discuss; account management where new staff and students have to wait weeks for an account, digital devices that are not suitable for business with poor durability, battery life and screens, lack of well-functioning AV equipment, printers (no explanation) and more.
What do you think would improve the conditions for IT to have a positive effect in the classroom?