Mimanifesto – Jaye’s weblog

Ask awkward questions…

Posted on: August 27, 2013

I recently heard of yet another Local Authority Education service in Scotland which refuses to provide Wifi and access to the network which would allow schools to harness the transformative power of technology to improve achievement, without any valid reason. This sort of thing really makes me fear for the future of education in our country.

It’s been said by many people that corporate IT folks in Local Authorities are the ones who are blocking Wifi and access to the school networks for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD or BYOT). Parents can help with this by putting pressure on their councillors and writing to the Heads of Education and complaining. Desmond Tutu, in his book about the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee hearings, wrote that society must develop its capacity for asking awkward questions…It is now perhaps time for a national mobilisation of parents, teachers and young people to put pressure on these heads of service at local level by asking questions, using FOI’s if necessary and making them aware that the current situation is unacceptable. Local elected representatives are particularly sensitive to this sort of pressure. So get organised and take action by asking awkward questions. Become change agents in your towns, cities and council areas.

ImageBut I say this, my personal message, to any corporate IT departments and Directors of Education who are currently blocking access to their networks, (and I heard of yet another at the weekend, somewhere to the north of here) – Stop now. You are using dubious excuses which have no currency and you are seriously damaging learning. There are no valid reasons for you to prevent such access by learners, or to provide them with Wifi. Other Councils such as South Lanarkshire manage to do this safely and securely. I know from my work on the ICTEx group with colleagues who are international experts on this matter that you are wrong. Any Director of education or head of service  who does not provide these two things should hang his or her head in shame – you are responsible for causing untold damage to our children’s future by your action or inaction and by ignoring sound educational research and good practice… and you will certainly never recoup your investment in GLOW if your learners can’t access it on devices and in ways of their choice- not yours.

I want to send a very clear message to these people, whoever and wherever they are… Your days are numbered and you will end up regarded as luddites when we look back in years to come. We will only end Scotland’s shame of poverty of ambition and close the attainment gap by re-engaging children with learning using the tools they are familiar with and want to use.  Stop demanding that children should power down when the come into schools.

We are in the middle of an information and technology revolution. Any Local Authority which fails to harness the power of this revolution is failing our future.

(Image from johnmichaelclarke.wordpress.com )

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