Archive for May, 2011

School Children Should Be Taught To Tweet In Literacy Lessons.

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

The national curriculum must keep pace with the dynamics of the comunications market. Children need teaching the benefits and consequences in the use of social media  and how it can play a significant role in modern communications.

There are significant benefits in the use of social media but there is also a dark side. As newer forms of media emerge children should be taught  the skills in their effective use and the legal ethics of using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Recent events involving court injunctions have highlighted the potential legal pitfalls. Our teaching resources, already hard pressed to maintain the curriculum, have  to present the legal implications of  irregular use of this growing medium.

Apart from the abhorrent use associated with cyber bullying the positive flow of news, gossip and opinion is a growing phenomenon.  Already schools, colleges and universities, reacting to the demand for greater ease of access to support academic activities, are reviewing Wifi connections to cover the entire campus.  The integral internet connection freedom will allow  its use in a private capacity to students and staff.  The dilemma facing the academic management is the control between academic  and private use along with the subsequent cost increase in bandwidth.

In addition to  the cost of providing the service there could be the legal complications if the service is abused.  At the moment the social networks attempt to fend off misuse as being attributed to the user. Understandably the complexity to control transmission would be a significant drain on their operations and the impact of further legislation on the use of the service has yet to be established.

But we also have seen an interesting development in the misuse of the social media.  During the recent round of court injunctions a dam burst occurred within Twitter.  The information restricted by the courts was freely revealed by thousands of users possibly fuelled by the inherent clamour to gossip on line and a belief that the sheer weight of Tweet’s would overwhelm effective prosecution.  The subsequent revelation in parliament by an MP citing prior exposure on Twitter is a further conundrum.  Was parliamentary privilege misused by the MP? Making the declaration in the sanctuary of parliament that is subsequently routinely broadcast destroys the element of confidentiality.

A key element of education is to prepare children for adulthood.  The range of media now available to instantly broadcast opinions by anybody hooked up to the internet is now legion. Historically to publish a  viewpoint involved having an article or letter published in a magazine or newspaper.  Critically this route involved the backstop of a newspaper editor who would scrutinise the content.  Now anybody can say anything, anywhere and therein lays the danger.

An inadvertent comment, maybe made in the heat of the moment or based on frugal evidence, can now become global in a matter of hours.  The immaturity of a child or young adult could lead to unintended consequences – or perhaps fuel the malicious aspirations of an undesirable member of society. Yet there are huge benefits from this freedom of speech that await children. Being able reach a massive audience needs treating with care; it is difficult to delete content once published. New skills are required especially in the role of expression and brevity. The skill of  literacy précis in blogs and micro blogs has reached a new level with the need to express an opinion on Twitter in 140 characters. Teaching children such skills will pay dividends in the world of communication. And if we can also train politicians in the art we could see a far more productive government!

New Teaching Resource Has Magnetic Attraction In The Classroom.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Keen2learn’s range of PSHE educational games has been joined by a great new front of class teaching resource. The My BodyBoard series of health and nutrition teaching aids comprise of a cartoon drawing of the body or food – mounted in a sturdy aluminium frame. The board is magnetic to allow the class to place a combination of magnetic text and pictures onto the image of the human body or “eatwell” plate. The teacher can then highlight the dangers of alcohol and smoking by showing the effects on organs of the body.

The “bodyboards” were developed by an ex teacher who used his experience in class linked with the graphics skill of his wife to launch these great new learning games. Allowing children to see the adverse effects on the organs of the body and place the images correctly on the body is a significant ways of getting the point across. Keen2learn will adding extensions to this exciting range as they become available.

The boards can be easily displayed on a an easel or flip chart easel and stored with the magnetic images in place in an optional storage bag.

My BodyBoard Nutrition Eatwell Plate Magnetic Packs

My BodyBoard Dangers of Alcohol Magnetic Pack

My BodyBoard Dangers of Smoking Magnetic Pack

Why Educate Kids When Computers Will Do Everything for Them

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Why do children still need to endure the learning process in school when so much in adult life is automated?  Maths is handled by calculators and computers; spelling benefits from spell check and predictive text; general knowledge is freely supported by Wikipedia and Google et al. search engines.  Is there a need therefore to bother learning anything in school apart from the best facility to play educational games and access the internet.

Is this is the end of the real world as we know it? Is the learning process in schools, designed to provide children with the academic skills needed in adult life, under attack? How can we match the needs of the status quo with the rapid developments in technology, both real and perceived, that could make some of the content of the curriculum outmoded by the time the children finish school?

The future world for children could be completely different from the situation as we know it. Technology is moving at a phenomenal pace. Many of the facilities now taken for granted have only been around for the past five years.  And who would have thought a Laptop and PC could start to become displaced by tablet computer or notebook. Recent trading statistics show a substantial decline in laptops purchases in favour of the iPad and notebooks. Google at 10 years old may soon have to defend itself from a superior facility that has not been invented yet but could emerge at extraordinary speed when it does.  The application of technology in the next few years could be surreal compared to what we know now. All this has been occurring during the 15 year educational schooling journey of a child.

But could these advances really undermine the content teachers are projecting in the classroom.  The maths, science and ICT games used as teaching resources could be outmoded before the children leave school.  I recall seeing a BT exhibition around eight years ago that focused on technology on the home and the use of the Internet. BT demonstrated a number of possible innovations but the one that intrigued me was a fridge that scanned the bar code as you move products in and out of the fridge. Coupled with a load cell on which the product was placed in the fridge the computer analysed the consumption rate and remaining weight to predict a reorder point.  No need to place an order though, it was done automatically as the fridge was already on line to Tesco!  Farfetched – except the iPhone can now scan barcodes and add items to the weekly shopping list.  With delivery the next day and payment taken by direct debit who needs to understand the maths or calculate the payment process.

There is a flaw though. Apart from the possibility of being a castaway on Desert Island, or living through a massive power failure, when most technology becomes useless, we need people capable of using their science, engineering, technology and maths (STEM) brains to develop the next generation of technology. We therefore need a highly relevant and dynamic curriculum that reflects the fast pace of change. We need to sustain the classes’ attention and fire their enthusiasm as to what is to come and how they can be part of it. But we also need to prepare children to manage if they “crash landed” on a remote desert island, with no phone or computer where their education has prepared them to analyse, plan and survive.

University Students Critical Of Their Secondary Education.

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

A survey by the University of Cambridge international examinations has revealed that a very high percentage of students are highly critical of the standard of education they received in secondary school.  Although they may have achieved the correct “A” level grade the depth of learning is inadequate to support  them fully for the step up to degree level education.

A total of 94% of students said that their secondary education could have been better matched to the needs of university study.  A significant clear gap emerged in their ability to conduct independent research and their report writing skills were not matched to the requirement demanded in university. This  implies  our teaching resources are concentrating more on achieving targets measured by the number of “A” levels gained and failing to give students the depth of learning that best prepares them for the next stage in their educational journey.

The concern is not new.  There have been many criticisms levelled by captains of industry that many children finishing secondary school are ill prepared for the employment market.  They complain they inherit the burden of completing the education of new recruits to the standard  required in industry.  The same issue cascades through the schooling process. Secondary school head teachers are predominately critical of the standard of children leaving primary school that subsequently places an often insurmountable liability on the secondary school  to support the pupil properly.

It must surely lie with the next level in the educational journey to influence the quality of candidates which they are accepting. Ideally secondary head teachers should have responsibility for setting the curriculum and tests taken by primary school pupils to ensure they have the right qualities and educational grounding needed to support them during throughout secondary education.  Similarly industry must take a more positive role in setting the standards they require from secondary school leavers. This has to involve a form of steaming that will predict the likely choice of a student at 15 years old.  Lastly, universities must be responsible for setting the curriculum and standards of exam that prepares students adequately to fulfil the studies required at degree level.

But we are no alone.  A report by the U.S. Department of Defense estimates up to 75 per cent of service applicants are currently unsuitable to join the military due to poor educational achievement. Clearly the future national defence of the USA is causing cause for concern. The report also states one in six young adults in Nebraska (for example) does not graduate from high school on time. Of those seeking to enlist 15 per cent are rejected due to low scores for maths, literacy and problem solving.

Could a fundamental change in educational strategy stand a chance in the current thinking of government circles?  It would remove undue emphasis on passing exams to hit targets and place greater weight on the needs of the subsequent stage in the educational journey. Perhaps more importantly it would involve teachers in the fundamental selection and complexity of the curriculum. It could then remove the pointless exercise of feeding secondary schools with children ill equipped during primary school who subsequently fail to thrive during secondary school.  The current system may appear to tick all the right boxes in exam results key performance indicators but finds little support in commerce, further education and ultimately employers.

Thailand to Close Schools With No Students

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Amazingly the Thai educational department has discovered 137 schools with no pupils and 2,500 schools with less than 40 students throughout Thailand. The closures of the smaller schools may seem at odds with the new thrust to improve teaching resources to improve the pass rate in literacy and maths. The Office of Basic Education Commission (OBEC) stated  the recent Ordinary National Education Tests at grade six level showed children performed badly in many core subjects.

OBEC secretary-general, Chinnaphat Phumirat, faced criticism from the  Alternative Education Council, who fears the mass closure of small schools will affect the chances of many children. No wonder perhaps, as most educationalists favour the smaller classroom and its beneficial effect on learning. Although many of these schools are in rural districts is it the lack of good quality teachers that have driven the students away as much changes in the population.

Clearly Thailand is taking a positive step towards improving the quality of schooling, especially in the key subject areas of literacy and maths. The economic growth in the Far East will place renewed demands on the quality of children entering employment. Failing to improve the pace and output quality could leave them in a trail of dust from fellow ASEAN countries.

The challenge ahead is daunting for the Thia OBEC. The latest national exams at grade 6 level for the 805,000 children  taking the tests revealed average scores of 31.22 per cent in literacy and 34.85 per cent in maths. Although the problem has been revealed the solution may not be easy and will require a resolution  to the great chicken and egg conundrum; is government policy going to save  the day, or is it a basic need for good quality teachers who  know what they are doing rather  governmental bureaucracy which will inevitable muddy the water. Mind you if they crack the solution we in the UK need to be first in the queue to find out how.

Schools Freed From Educational Authority Could Flounder

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

The economic situation is affecting the vast majority of commercial and public sector operations.  Inevitable budget reviews by educational authorities have reassessed the funding and staffing levels associated with the teaching resources in our schools. Some new schools have the opportunity of self-control but whilst removing the essence of local education authorities allowing many schools to be in control of their own destiny may seem a positive move there is some concern as to how they will cope unaided in the wide world.

In the commercial world there are classic cases where a small company being part of a large group had failed to thrive in performance and profitability. The same company having been shed by the corporate group becomes in charge of its own destiny springs to the surface like a cork and suddenly enjoys resurgence with both enthusiasm and increased profitability.  Can the same effect be found be enjoyed by these new schools?  Certainly the sometimes arduous bureaucracy and target achievements demanded considerable focus from the head teacher, distracting them from taking a more parochial view of the needs of the school.  The stories of stress and frustration are legion and the feeling of being remote to the needs of the school perhaps had a significant influence in the schools performance.

The many schools that now face the opportunity of reduced pressure and cost by their removal from local education authority control also face a mixture of opportunity and increased pressure to perform in their own right.  But as schools gain greater independence there will also be a huge demand placed on school governors.  These predominantly untrained individuals now face a whole new world of independence where their skill will be tested in the performance of the school.

Many of our schools could now enter a very confused period.  After years of tight restrictive operational control they have the ropes removed.  But the big question is whether the schools will cope? Have the years of bureaucracy prevented the nurture of skills required to manage themselves effectively?  Ofsted the government schools inspection body has raised concerns about the quality of governance in schools and state that it is a common factor in schools that are under special measures.

Geraldine Hutchinson, assistant director of the Educational trust CfBT raises her concern. “Schools with governing bodies that are not up to the task can face serious consequences. Those schools that lack strong governance are at a significant disadvantage in terms of attainment and school improvement ”adding  “This is particularly the case in primary schools which are a lot less robust than secondary schools I their ability to cope with change.”

The emergence of the academy and free school will place a demand for exceptional head teachers backed by effective school governors.  Whereas it  would be possible to recruit a head teacher from other parts of the country, although statistics indicate this is no easy task, the school will be a reliant upon local school governors.  If this support is not available it bodes ill for the fortunes of that particular school.  An area of encouragement is the number of people volunteering to become school governors has increased over the last few years.  Although this may indicate a keen reserve of commitment they inevitably enter the role with little or no training.  This places an awkward burden on the head teacher at the very point when they need an effective senior management team. Instead the head could be side-tracked into having to provide the on-site training for them.

The transition from the structure criticised over the years by teaching resources will be a travesty if another generation of children in our schools are hampered by ineffective control as they move into the new era.    Maybe a better plan is the formal training and certification of school governors before the policy was introduced.

STEM Education Must Start In Primary School

Friday, May 13th, 2011

STEM, the science, technology, engineering, and maths initiative which is becoming widespread in secondary school seems to have missed the point in many primary schools. In general the commitment of much of the teaching resources in primary school is geared towards hitting targets set in the national curriculum. Yet STEM opportunities could materially benefit the student and the community as a career option.

A similar situation is occurring in the USA. New teachers there can typically obtain a license to teach elementary school without taking a what could eventually be a college level STEM class without demonstrating a solid grasp of mathematics or scientific knowledge. Primary school is the ideal time to nurture the inquisitive mind of children towards the scope of scientific inquiry. The opportunity appears missed that would ensure students enjoy successful early experiences in maths,engineering and science that would generate the curiosity and confidence in these topics to encourage students need to pursue careers in STEM subject fields.

The publication by the National Council exploring Teacher Quality entitled “No Common Denominator: The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America’s Education Schools”, highlighted the need for more rigorous preparation in mathematics in elementary level trainee teacher. But in the two years since its release very little has changed. Not surprisingly the evidence has shown that elementary school students have higher achievement in mathematics when taught by teachers who are good at teaching maths. This may be an obvious outcome to the outsider but it is amazing how often unprepared teachers are requested to take a maths class.

Diana Epstein and Raegen Miller publication “Slow Off the Mark,”focuses on the selection and preparation of elementary school teachers. Most will be required to teach mathematics and science when they enter the classroom. It is primary school mathematics and science that lay the foundation for future STEM learning and exploitation. Yet all too often it is these same teachers who subsequently fail to inspire children or fire up their enthusiasm to pursue Science and maths based degrees or careers.

As the manufacturing base in the UK and USA moves inexorably to the Far East we will need children to explore and innovate to support the economy. Without the grounding in Stem subjects this may prove more difficult to achieve. The embryonic approach to science and engineering, which can be instilled in the young mind, can last a lifetime. The innovative entrepreneur of tomorrow can be fired up in primary school. Maybe we need to displace the desire to become a rock star, astronaut, prime minister or president with the practical skill that can invent the next vacuum cleaner, social website operation or Stephen Hawkin. But for this to happen we need top move away from the short term target driven approach and take a long term view of where we need to support the economy in the face of overseas competition. It could prove to be our salvation as the world regroups after centuries of western domination.

New Guinea Checks Teaching Resources With new System.

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea is to develop a system for primary schools to be able analyse teaching strategies, resources and assess children’s progress. Part of the “Equatorial Guinea, My Country” project, the project evaluates the current education system to identify improvements.

The analysis will evaluate general elementary-school strategies to enable teachers to more effective in assessing a child’s progress in school. The scheme, supported by the Ministry of Education. will be implemented by the Educational Development Program of Equatorial Guinea (PRODEGE).  Crisantos Ondo Asumu Mia, PRODEGE Deputy Director said “Elementary School education should be given special attention as it is the pillar of children’s education.”

President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea sees the development of new schools and teacher training as one of the priorities outlined in the Horizon 2020 development plan. The programme plans to move the country toward a sustainable and emergent economy.

Since its founding in 1995 the National University of Equatorial Guinea (UNGE), has graduated more than 13,000 students. The level of education in Equatorial Guinea is improving.  Nearly 5,000 students enrol at college level.

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa, and one of the smallest nations on the continent. In the late-1990s, American companies helped discover the country’s oil and natural gas resources, which only within the last five years began contributing to the global energy supply. The country will host the 2011 Summit of the African Union.

Increased Broadband Speed In Australian Schools Shelved

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

The much heralded Australian Government’s plan to build a broadband network for schools, vocational education and training institutions has been shelved saving $80 million over three years. The project was programmed to improve transmissions speeds over broadband connections for schools, which in NSW alone, is forecast to reach 200TB of data downloads per month by the end of the year. But the $800 million general overspend on the educational budget has taken its toll.

First announced in 2009 the Vocational Education Broadband Network was to provide a private optical network that would primarily bypass the internet for internal communications between educational institutions. The network was budgeted to cost $70 million, with a further $10 million towards training for use of the network. It is not clear has much of the project budget has already been spent.

One of the main benefits planned with the educational application was to improve ICT in schools through superior data speeds. Evan Arthur, Group manager for the federal education department’s Schools Teaching, Students and Digital Education Revolution Group said “The network would have begun in VET and TAFE colleges and ultimately move to secondary and primary schools.”  He added “Department research showed about 75 per cent of government schools continued to operate at less than four megabits per second (Mbps)”

A total of 47 per cent of Australian schools now have fibre optic access, and 42.3 per cent have  DSL. The remainder of schools use satellite or wireless connections leaving only 1.3 per cent of government schools with no internet access. The Government’s $100 million funded DER project has already provided higher bandwidth access networks in the vast majority of government schools in Victoria and NSW.

Although the national broadband network would have gone part way to solve the speed issue it was part of the larger plan to give Australian schools an edge in communications. The growth of technology in educational applications is bound to grow over the next decade. Whilst educational establishments in Asia, notable Korea,  are accessing far superior transmissions speeds it is worth remembering most software used in education cannot utilise the extra line speed. Initially much of the benefit of the increased speed would be “lost in the wash.”

Is UK Educational System Failing Similar To USA

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

It seems  concerns over  the advance of educational learning and schooling performance is a preoccupation with many English speaking countries. The disquiet linked to the many trials and tribulations within the teaching resources in the UK is echoed  in the USA and Australia. But whilst we are deliberating on the cause and treatment the learning process and schooling in the Far East is gaining strength.

A significant argument is building; whether the hiatus has been created by social changes, educational policy, the rigid application of the curriculum or probable interference with our teaching resources. An article that describes  the current scene  in New York is worth a read, the similarities are stark, but maybe you need to get a stiff drink ready to support you. The failure of American Schools


English Higher On Educational Agenda Overseas than In UK.

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Overseas teaching resources regard learning English as a critical mission to higher extent than we do in the UK.  Historically the UK has a poor record in learning modern foreign languages yet we are now becoming beaten to the post by many overseas countries with regards our ability to learn English. It seems we in England have a lot to learn.  Our mother tongue is being learnt in a highly effective manner overseas and our continuing failure in schools could make us economically vulnerable in the future.

The International Proficiency Index (EPI) measures countries proficiency in English and to produce an index of a country’s ability in the English language.  The analysis, conducted by the English Educational Institute Education First Programme (EF) considers cultural, social, financial and historical background to formulate the results.

EPI – EF Country Rankings in non-English countries learning English.

Position            Country                           Index                    Rating

1                              Norway                                69.09                    Very High Proficiency

2                              Netherlands                       67.93                     Very High Proficiency

3                              Denmark                             66.58                     Very High Proficiency

4                              Sweden                                66.26                     Very High Proficiency

5                              Finland                                  61.25                     Very High Proficiency

6                              Austria                                  58.58                     High Proficiency

7                              Belgium                                57.23                     High Proficiency

8                              Germany                              56.64                     High Proficiency

9                              Malaysia                               55.54                     High Proficiency

10                            Poland                                  54.62                     Moderate Proficiency

Although there is a geographic link with Europe, interestingly, proficiency in English is growing notably in the more wealthy Asian countries.  The Far East is catching up in proficiency in English a notable example is with Korea which is now lies in 13th place.  The Korean focus has produced improvements each year since 1988 the year when Seoul hosted the Olympic Games at which Korea adopted English as the official language.  Up to that point Korea reviewed English as an academic subject.  Since 1988 Koreans see the benefits of international communications in English much supported by their major trading relationship with the USA.  Although English taught at school has improved the index position  from the EF shows that English is being increasingly used by adults.

Position            Country                   Index                    Rating

11                           Switzerland                 54.60                     Moderate Proficiency

12                           Hong Kong                   54.44                     Moderate Proficiency

13                           South Korea                54.19                     Moderate Proficiency

14                           Japan                            54.17                     Moderate Proficiency

15                           Portugal                        53.62                     Moderate Proficiency

16                           Argentina                     53.49                     Moderate Proficiency

17                           France                          53.16                     Moderate Proficiency

18                           Mexico                          51.48                     Moderate Proficiency

19                           Czech Republic          51.31                     Moderate Proficiency

20                           Hungary                       50.80                     Moderate Proficiency

There are interesting influences amongst the students of English.  The EF has reviewed the gap between students who do not travel abroad and those that do.  Another consideration is governmental concerns that learning English as a foreign language will reduce their national identity a factor which has emerged in say France’s position, well down on other European countries and 17th in the index.

The economic implications of communicating in English are clear.  Fuelled by trade with the USA, the internet and social network sites, learning English leads to greater commercial opportunities which accumulate wealth.  A case in hand is Sweden who ranks fourth in the index. Their position is partially due to the number of global companies based in Sweden and partly because English was introduced as one of the most important subjects in the Swedish school curriculum. It is vitally important our educational policies in the UK that improve learning English are strengthened if we are to provide our future generations with a sporting chance to excel in the world economy.

Learn To Understand Music Through ICT Games In Ear Training

Friday, May 6th, 2011

We recently published some news on a great new range of music ICT games. A series of online educational games now fill a gap in a key area of learning music. Keen2learn now offer some learning resources to help students learn music by ear. The good news is the games are fun and each one is developed for anyone even those who can’t read music or have had any training in music theory. You will need to have some understanding of musical notation and  be ready to learn the fundamentals of music theory. All of the games start at the beginner level and progress gradually to more difficult levels.

Basic Ear Training: Kickstart your ear training practice with this foundational set of workouts! Basic Ear Training gives you a thorough, well-balanced grounding in the four core areas of musicianship: melody, harmony, rhythm and sound. Regardless of your current level or instrument, this 30-day training program will sharpen your musical ear and mind!

Music is all about sound, and the most valuable asset a musician can have is a well-developed ear. Developed for the student, musician wanting to practice and as a teaching resource for music teachers these games provide a fun way to daily practice routines.

Steve Myers, MD at Theta Music explained “A musician with a good ear can play tunes quickly after hearing them, write down melodies and chords he hears in his head, or imagine a melodic phrase and play it instantly on his instrument. To the uninitiated, these feats appear magical – as if the player has some kind of divine gift. In reality, though, they rest upon a set of specific, concrete skills that can be developed through practice and training.”

Ear training develops and ties together all the skills that allow musicians to play, improvise and compose music by ear. It is the key to becoming not just good, but great. The ear training games on Theta Music Trainer will give you the practice you need without becoming monotonous or academic. Games inject an element of variety and fun into your practice routine and help boost your motivation. Basic musicianship skills are often best developed by working away from your instrument initially, in short bursts of concentrated practice. The games on this site are perfect for developing these skills, and are designed to provide a total workout of your musical ear and mind with as little as 10-15 minutes per day of regular playing.

Each game in the Theta Music Trainer is meant to train you in a specific area of musicianship.

Modern Technology Leads To Educational Plagiarism In Schools.

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

As Twitter and Facebook develop as the leading edge in reporting information it is no surprise that children the use the same technology in educational project work and homework .  Unfortunately this has led to a growth in plagiarism that is defeating the process of learning and original thought.

It is no wonder children, used to the array of technical teaching resources at their disposal in school, can spot a shortcut in their education which  requires minimal effort and little rational thought. The ease of access has other implications. The recent  Bin Laden assassination was inadvertently reported live through Twitter.  Apart from the resultant security issues during the mission it is incredulous that a secret mission can be breached so easily.  In fact a U.S. government official then reported the death of Bin Laden 30 minutes before the TV announcement by President Obama.

Access to Twitter, Facebook and Wikipedia reveals a wealth of knowledge and information.  Assuming a child reads the detail of the content and forms an opinion this is a rich source of learning that can lead to positive linked investigations.  Unfortunately it also presents an immense temptation to short circuit project and homework.  A quick “cut and paste” and that essay or project report is instantly completed leaving plenty of time for the PlayStation and Xbox and regrettably the benefit of personal research and rational thought into the subject matter is lost.

To support teachers and exam authorities the latest software can search and compare a written report online in a few nano seconds.  The program developed by iParadigms reveals patterns of matching text to allow teachers and examiners to establish if plagiarism is present.  A study conducted by the software developers indicated Wikipedia as the main source of copied information followed by answers.yahoo.com,  answers.com and the slideshare.net.

Perhaps the crux of the matter is whether the child has learnt from the process.  Using technology to solve the problem is at the forefront in education but the concern is whether a child is developing an original thought processing ability during the exercise.  The short cut paste can result in a generation of children who know how to find a potential “answer” at high-speed have no idea what it means.

A difficult equation to resolve.  Twitter has evolved to become predominately a copy platform with links to third party pieces of information.  The development of original thought by the user is at risk, traded instead for the promotion of an endless stream of third party references which could also be counted as a subtle form of plagiarism.

Educational Secretary Plays Games With Maths In Educational Budgets.

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Do what I say not what I do.  Is this piece of rhetoric being used by educational Secretary Gove during the recent games being played with educational budgets?

Setting an example from the top is critical in these austere times.  School budgets are no exception.  Navigating his way into the top educational job in the government from the opposition was clearly supported by his intention to slash the role and cost of consultants to schools. Contrary to this noble intention Michael Gove spent £21m on consultants to evaluate the ironically named free schools programme.

Whilst in opposition Mr Gove was appalled at the £78m spent annually on educational consultants to schools.  Christine Blower, general Secretary of the national union of teachers, is convinced the Educational Secretary‘s new policy will actually utilise consultants to a greater extent than the previous government.

The establishment of the free school option has met with a slow start with applications from schools substantially below government expectations.  Only 300 schools, out of 28,000 have applied to adopt the status.

The consultation and advisory role being funded from the government’s educational coffers is hugely expensive.  One company, Tribal Education Ltd. received £4.4m as project managers to support the application of one free school and three academies over the last 12 months.  Pro rata the cost to support the remaining 299 schools who have applied would become a multibillion pound exercise.  How many schools would prefer that the money be allocated to the school’s teaching resources budget?

Economic Ties Establish New Educational Links In The Far East

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

The writing is beginning to appear on the wall for the future of education in the UK.  Having recognised the UK is slipping down the OECD league table for quality of its teaching  resources, we can now see that economic growth is forming new international ties. The trouble for the UK is these ties are emerging in the Far East and may well leave us isolated in the years to come.

During a recent visit to India the Taiwan Minister of Education, Mr. Ching Ji Wu has announced the “Educational Collaboration is a major step towards establishing mutually beneficial economic relations in future between India and Taiwan.” This strategic move has long term objectives and implications. As the world commercial centre moves incessantly East we could see more such educational links. During the visit, primary areas of schooling collaboration to degree level identified by the Taiwan delegation included Management, Engineering, Information Technology, Hospitality & Tourism, Agriculture, Medicine, Life Sciences, Nanotechnology, Microbiology, Clinical Science, Ecology, Environmental Studies, Marine Sciences, Actuarial Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences , Advanced Materials & Devices.

This comprehensive approach could lead to alumni bonds that will strengthen over the years. Whilst we may be pleased with the defence sales possibilities associated with the rearming of India’s air force we might be missing the boat on the bigger picture. Indian students sponsored by the Government of Taiwan are pursuing Doctorate and Post Doctorate level of education primarily in the areas of Science and IT in the best Universities of Taiwan. The numbers could rise to a minimum of 5000 Indian students in the next three years and further a larger number in future.

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