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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Could we have 'two day' in-service courses?


I was right to be concerned. Having a website is a huge commitment for any school. Managing and updating a website is a time consuming activity. Gathering resources is an activity for everyone in the school, but the hardest thing about having a website will be changing attitudes.

At the moment, aside from the obvious intellectual development of our students, the majority of work undertaken by pupils in school will either end up marked by the teacher, assessed by their peers, or on display on the classroom (or corridor) walls. Having a website adds another tier onto this list, but it is a broad tier. Displaying pupils work on a website shares achievement far beyond the classroom walls. Using blogs, people can comment on the work. Whilst that may be a scary or problematic issue, it opens up a whole chapter on motivation – were I a pupil today, I would be far more motivated to work for the web than I would be to work for the teacher. Not all pupils would be like this, but as teachers it is our job to utilise as many means as possible to assist the intellectual and social development of our pupils.

In all of this we should never forget there is still a digital divide – not everyone has a computer, let alone internet access.

The folks who attended the Dreamweaver course today really enjoyed it – BUT – it is far too much to achieve on one day. Most of the day was spent thinking about what a website is, why a school would want one, who would be involved in its production and maintenance and how it would be structured. Without addressing these fundamental questions, it isn’t even worth switching the computer on in the first place. Only then did we sit down in the afternoon to look at Dreamweaver, which meant little time to look at what is a huge program. Next year, it clearly needs to be run over two days – day one being ‘what is a website’ and ‘what would I put in it’, and day two being ‘how do I make it’.

You live and learn.

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