As I mentioned earlier, I had to crunch the allocated time for my keynote at the ERA4 conference at John Paul College, but after telling the major part of my story using video and interactive software, the one slide I chose was the most important, and generated some interesting discussion. It’s about the two tensions of educational ICT, and goes a long way to explain why ICT managers in education have such a difficult job:

The Two Tensions

These Two Tensions are between an ‘old world’ of control and a ‘new world’ of Innovation.

Two Tensions ERA4

On the left hand side, we have an old world which is about rules, process and where change is made a step at a time. It’s all ‘under control’, and that’s where people want it.

On the right hand side, is a new world where there is a certain degree of anarchy, where iIntuition is used over process, and people run by the mantra of ‘If you can imagine it, you can do it’ - and that’s also where much of the innovation is happening.

The challenge for educational ICT leaders, and for the system leaders, is that the left hand side describes where the Institution is - and the right hand side describes where many Individuals are - whether that’s students or teachers. And the ICT team is smack bang in the middle - they are responsible for delivering a secure, robust institutional system, at the same time as individuals are just branching out, and going and using whatever personal technology they want - whether that’s a device, a Web 2.0 service, or new ways of collaborating and communicating. The challenge is managing both of those worlds - giving people freedom whilst retaining the right level of control.

The Two other Tensions - Assessment and Learning

I’d talked about the need to change assessment earlier in my keynote, and as I presented this slide, people also said that you could also put ‘Assessment’ and ‘Learning’ on this chart too - that Assessment is built around an ‘old world’ model, whereas Learning is becoming increasingly build in the ‘new world’ model. And that’s clear when you look at the skills that employers are looking for, and the assessment system that isn’t currently able to judge those skills. There’s no doubt that the assessment systems around the world are good for testing the basic skills - reading, writing, numeracy, maths etc - but there is a real challenge in assessing the 21st Century skills of learners - eg their collaboration, communication, team working skills. The job of assessing those skills is increasingly left to employers to do in a 40 minute job interview - which is not an ideal environment for either the employer or the potential employee.

So what other slides was I going to show?

Fortunately, the slide I used was the most important - but I did commit to putting up my unused slides, so that everybody could glance through them. I was going to go on and talk about the choices that can be made for ICT, and then jump into the use of the Cloud in education. They don’t make as much sense without the commentary, but even without some may be useful to people. You can download them all in PDF form.

Learn MoreDownload my unused ERA4 slides