Being able to secure effective and imaginative use of information and communications technology (ICT) in classrooms throughout your school is not just a matter of having a good ICT policy in place.
You also need to have understanding of all of the latest applications and ways to get the most out of them to advance teaching and learning. This site is one that promises to provide such information at your fingertips.
Set up by the Government’s key ICT agency, Becta, it allows you to access information that you need as a curriculum leader by using the ‘client filter’. You can also use this to access advice areas for classroom practitioners, special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs), subject coordinators and ICT coordinators. The site is a huge amalgam of information, so categorising the information in this way helps you get to what you need more quickly.
In the leadership section you can find resources and advice on such topics as blogs, what a management information system (MIS) is all about, and how to configure computer settings to suit individual needs.
In the classroom practitioner section, you can search resources and guidance by subject area, and so use this to pass on inspiring ideas to teaching staff in specific departments. You can also head to the cross-curricular section to access applications and ideas that can be used across the school. There is a section on classroom management showing how ICT can be used to aid curriculum planning, management, delivery and assessment. Each subsection includes a list of topics that you can click on to explore further.
In the section on admin and policies you can explore such topics as assessment, recording and reporting, purchasing and sustainability, ICT roles and responsibilities and home-community links.
In the SEN and inclusion arena there are three subsections:
- support for learning, including guidance on how to use ICT to support teaching of English as an additional language (EAL), of gifted and talented students, and of those with SEN or medical needs
- access, looking at different activities and resources available to improve access and make learning more inclusive
- delivery, including case examples of successful teaching and learning projects using ICT that have achieved inclusion.
For those looking for an update on the latest technologies out there, then head to the ‘technology’ section where you can explore by different categories of application and access ideas on successful use of each. For those who want specialist advice on a specific query relating to using ICT in teaching and learning, then use the ‘Ask an expert’ service run by the site. Here you can also explore the question bank, where you can find experts’ answers to questions on a range of topics of interest to classroom practitioners. If you are struggling with the whole ICT revolution in general, and are looking for ideas, hints and tips on how to become more computer-savvy, then go to the New2Computers section where you can receive mentoring from a team of teachers and educators who were once new to computers themselves.
From finding out more about webquests and accessing innovative ways to use digital video in the classroom, to learning how to build effective partnerships with external providers, and develop international links, this site has something to offer everyone.
It is quite a clunky site to have to navigate, with some links not working when we visited. This is largely due to it being such an extensive store of materials, and you get the sense of the site being a bit of a tangled web with different ways you can stumble across the same material. Given that, it is surprising that there was no site map available to help you plan a route more efficiently. But put aside these niggles, because this site is one that every curriculum manager will want to bookmark as a resource they can keep going back to in their search for more innovative ways to use ICT to inspire more creative, inclusive and effective teaching and learning throughout their school.
This article first appeared in Curriculum Management Update – February 2006