Friday, February 20, 2009

They say its not about buildings but where did the ICT go?

Last week I attended the BSEC conference and exhibition in Manchester.

Lauded by Stephen Heppell as one of the most significant conferences of its type in the world all the BSF rhetoric was on show.
You know the sort of thing, 'not about buildings', 'transformation', '21st Century learning' and so on.
Well, unless I am mistaken in most of the rest of the world we all live in ICT is busy transforming lifestyles, business models and even creating the basis for new economies. Certainly is for young people outside of schools!
Why then did it take until 1pm in the main conference for the first meaningful mention of ICT? We heard all the statements about transformation but then proceeded to listen to content that was all about buildings and their design!
Now I am not against new or remodelled buildings, they are vitally important, particularly if their design reflects the curriculum experiences you are designing for students. But I am disappointed that, again, in a major conference, the opportunity to place the role and potential of ICT with the right profile to a wide ranging audience is lost.
Infact when the panel did get to talk about ICT in response to my question from the floor they talked excitedly about the reliable and robust ICT being delivered through a managed service.
In my view that should be the minimum expectation, the 5th utility, and what people should be getting animated about is what you can do as a result of the ICT 'just working' in and beyond classrooms with young people.

Is it just me who feels the huge potential of ICT to support new and compelling learning experiences is getting lost or downgraded in the whole BSF thing?
It is already possible to create immersive ICT environments where you can make the physical environment support the type of learning you want to be taking place BUT still we focus on buildings. The focus has to shift quickly towards system (re) design not just building design.
The image above is from a 'classroom of the future' in Singapore that Microsoft collaborated on with the Minsitry and University. We are now making that type of environment a reality in test modelling environments in the UK. I will blog on that shortly.

I continue to do a lot of work with BSF teams around the country to 'open minds and raise awareness'. Got 3 workshops or presentations next week. I'll let you know how they go when set against my comments here.

I believe education stakeholders are open to change. They need a lead. BSEC failed to lead in the right direction.

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