“Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch.” There is some debate as to whether Ivern Ball did actually say this, but whether he did or he didn’t, it’s still true.
Especially in the world of teaching. I can plan the best lesson in the world, but if I’m not enthusiastic, or at the very least appear so, then how can I possibly enthuse and inspire my children?
If this is true, then I am prepared for a lot of switches to be turned on next week. I have shared some of my experiences of using the Learnpads before (found here, here and here) and every time, it’s been fair to say I have been enthusiastic. But this time, my excitement has reached a new level! The children animating with the Learnpad will be teamed with an iOS app (Action Movie FX) on my iPhone to make an Augmented Reality clip to hook the children. This morning’s PPA session was filled with recording endless AR clips (most of which had nothing to do with next week’s lessons, but were great fun!) and filming alien “blobs” invading the school office. Half the staff have been subjected to me saying “watch this… and this… and this one’s great too!” regardless of whether they were interested or not! To be fair, most have been hooked, and wanted to know how the clips and animations had been made. These are grown adults being amazed by technology. How on earth are the children going to respond? I have used the Learnpads fairly regularly with the children, but often with quite rigid activities. Next week’s animation will be much more open-ended – teach them the skills and let them go. I’ve not introduced them to Augmented Reality at all, so when the short clip of today’s alien invasion is shown to them by the Headteacher on Monday, they won’t know what to make of it! The more I learn about the technology that’s available to me, the more enormous the world of possibilities seems to become.
The BBC reported today that we were beginning to witness a digital gap between the generations, with many people in the 55-64 age group lacking any digital skills. I’m not sure that this is the only age group where we should be concerned. The speed at which new developments in technology are being introduced is terrifying. I consider myself to be pretty clued up with techy stuff, but I’m way behind the times. Unless you are prepared to spend hours trawling the net, sharing ideas and chatting on Twitter about new advances (which I do, but clearly not enough!), then it’s easy to get left behind. Teachers are now all at very different places in their learning. When I first qualified, existing teachers were undergoing NOF training to bring their computer skills up to speed, to keep up with us whipper-snapper NQTs who had learned it all at Uni. That was 15 years ago, and I’d say the majority of teachers in my school have had little training since. Yes, we’ve had whole school Learnpad training and refreshers on how to use Espresso; I’ve delivered some Scratch training, but if teachers lack the confidence and don’t use apps or programs or devices regularly, then the training has all been in vain. Schools need to have at least some staff who are confident to drive the skills in others. Training programs just aren’t going to keep up: a new-age NOF type program would be out of date before even a tiny percentage of training was delivered. So this brings me back full circle: knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch. If me sharing my ideas in the staff room or inviting teachers in to see what we’re doing can excite and enthuse others, well, then we can work on the knowledge together.