BLOG POST: Keep Moving Forward
The most creative use of technology I have seen in a school in a very long time was in a local special school, where the headteacher and his staff makes sure that every child, no matter how severe their learning difficulties, are enabled to use sophisticated equipment freely and inventively. The sorts of thing that Charles Arthur was arguing for in his Guardian article last week on the closure of Becta, when he asked where, in our schools, is “the encouragement to use computers to create pictures, or films, or video games?” I think he was quite right to suggest that there is not enough of this in mainstream schools – and quite unfair to blame that on Becta.
Playing about is not high on the agenda of any school, any more than it was high on Becta’s agenda. But encouraging creative and productive uses of technology certainly was, as was trying to ensure that all young people – not just those in schools where technology had committed advocates – benefited from stimulating experiences of technology in their learning lives. Becta was a government quango and could be quite irritating at times, especially when it came to keeping its government masters happy (much good that did it). But the present government is quite wrong in claiming that productive uses of digital technologies are now sufficiently well embedded into mainstream schools to require no further expert intervention or advocacy.
Becta consisted of people who believed that technology can make learning more engaging, more productive, and more enjoyable. Those people did all they could to encourage and communicate positive developments in mainstream education, in the education of vulnerable children and of those with special needs, across a range of settings. Given all the negative stuff that often surrounds young people’s uses of technology, we might find ourselves missing Becta’s concerted and upbeat efforts quite a lot in the years to come.