One could be forgiven for assuming that our schools would be at the very forefront of harnessing technology to improve lessons and learning. Not so, at least not in every respect.
One school, and they cannot be alone, is reported as taken to sending daily text, Twitter and Facebook reminders to students to ‘buckle down and try your best right from the start’ and other such well-intentioned bits of irresistible advice.
Many schools have long texted or emailed certain parents to tell them that their little darlings may have neglected to tell them or ‘lost’ the notification about a parents’ evening.
However, using social media so widely is a new departure. Recent ‘top tips’ have included:
* make sure you are revising all your subjects, plan your time, do not waste a minute
* create your own flashcards which summarise theories to help prepare for exams
* you can work and play, but you need the correct balance
* work now and you’ll reap the benefits later
* keep hydrated – it’s key to success
Presumably the ones advising them to wash their hands, get some sleep occasionally and eat properly will be along soon.
However, many of the 2000 students at Havering Sixth Form are objecting to the daily deluge. Several have condemned the habit as ‘a distraction’ when they are trying to revise. One called the reminders ‘incredibly obvious and of no help whatsoever’.
Almost needless to add, these days, is that somebody at the college has defended the scheme ‘because social networking is a part of every young person’s life’. That’s alright then. Never mind what the students think, teacher knows best.
Another aspect of technology that has been enthusiastically jumped on by about 30% of all schools, is the taking of biometric fingerprints to register their students, offer library services or provide school meals through a cashless system.
When this began to take off about four years ago, fears about the potential abuse of personal data of people under 18 were brushed aside with a superior ‘this is how it is’ attitude.
Now the Government has announced plans to force schools to ask parental permission before extracting and using any biometric data. If parents refuse, then schools must use alternative systems for monitoring, registering and charging.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said he was giving ‘power back to parents’ as no longer can data be used without consent.
Many will feel it’s a shame this laudable aim is not replicated in other ares of contemporary life, such as holding onto DNA data extracted from people arrested but either not charged or found not guilty?
Image: Chris Newman