Education and Training

Information Technology in education - from the relatively common, such as web based resources, to the more unusual, such as web based examinations and the use of computers games in teaching, is covered in this chapter. This covers ITGS syllabus section 2.2 Education and links to 1.6 Equality of Access, 1.9 Policies, 3.1 Hardware, 3.2 Software, and 3.3 Networks. Textbook support resources are available for:

Exercise 10.6

Suggested rubric for this exercise.
Online courses

Distance learning over large areas: Open online courses

Massive open online courses (MOOC) have really taken off in recent years as a new distance learning paradigm and a number of dedicated institutions now offer them, including Coursera (free online courses from a variety of 'bricks and mortar' universities), EdX, and Udacity (mainly focused on computer science and technology). Some UK universities are also launching free degree-style online courses (Telegraph).

However, there are also concerns about such courses, including worries about the quality of participation, the authenticity of those sitting the exams, and the courses' financial feasibility:  
Best teaching technology

Use of IT in Teaching and Learning: Introduction

The best of the tech that teaches is a short video and news article from the BBC, which covers a variety of educational technology - including virtual worlds, tablets, and low-cost laptops. It can make a good introduction to the Education scenario, or as a starter for the Schools of the Future exercise in the textbook.
Serious games

Use of IT in Teaching and Learning: Game based learning

The BBC's Can computer games change the World? is an interesting article, while Forbes' How to Invest in Game Based Learning is a good evaluation of the positive and negative impacts of using computer games in the classroom as a learning tool.

Page 224 of the textbook covers the "serious games" listed below, which attempt to highlight serious real world issues by involving the player in interactive 'edutainment' style gameplay:
  • 3rd World Farmer - "A free online game about rural poverty in developing nations"
  • Food Force - A game developed by the World Food Programme to educate players about humanitarian missions
Virtual Learning: 25 Best Sims and Games For the Classroom focuses on using commercial, off-the-shelf computer games such as The Sims, Sim City, and Civilization for educational purposes. Games for Change is a repository for dozens of dedicated "serious games" on a wide range of topics, and is an essential resource for teachers and students.
Open textbooks

Use of IT in Teaching and Learning: Open textbooks and E-Books

News articles: One interesting development is the Smart Coursebook, which can determine whether a student has read the book, skipped pages, or neglected to take notes - and report this information to the teacher.
Digital literacy

Use of IT in Teaching and Learning: Online research

Online research offers many positive impacts for teachers and students, but there can also be concerns about the reliability of the information and the authenticity of work based on it. The information literacy section has resources which address these issues and impacts.
Online exams and cheating

Use of IT in Teaching and Learning: Online exams

Exams go online for university students discusses the prospect of online asessment in higher education.

However, online work and especially online exams raise the spectre of new ways of cheating. Cheating in the digital age is a podcast that discusses web sites offering pre-written or corrupted essays that students can submit to their teachers in place of their own work.

Cheating in exams in also on the rise - in 2010 Ofqual, the English exams regulator, reported a rise in cheating - and in particular a rise in cheating involving mobile phones. According to research from 2009, the most common ways students use technology to cheat is by:
  • Storing notes on their phones for reference during tests
  • Sending messages to friends to collude on answers
  • Sending pictures of an exam to friends who will sit it later
  • Using the Internet as a research tool during an exam
Online exams, such as those offered by MOOCs, present new issues, such as the difficulty of ensuring students are not cheating while answering and the problem of authenticating the student. How do you stop online students cheating? and Keeping an eye on online test takers (NY Times) outline possible solutions - including the possibility of using web cameras and even biometrics that assess a user's individual typing style.

Virtual tours

Use of IT in Teaching and Learning: Virtual field trips

Major museums and sights around the world offer online virtual tours for students and tourists who cannot visit in person. Excellent examples include:
100 Incredible & Educational Virtual Tours You Don’t Want to Miss is a simply amazing list of similar resources - browsing it for even a short amount of time should help ITGS students understand the positive impacts of virtual tours and interactives tours for teachers and students.
Artificial examiners

Use of IT in Teaching and Learning: Artificial Examiners

The Artificial Intelligence, Expert Systems, and Robotics page contains news articles about recent developments in the fields of artificial examiners - software programs that can grade a student's essay automatically, without human intervention.
Technology in the classroom

HardHardware & network technologies in classroom: Laptops

The following news articles cover the use of laptops in classrooms:

Hardware & network technologies in classroom: Handheld devices

Many schools ban mobile phones in the classroom, though there are growing numbers of teachers and schools using them for educational use. The resources below cover the positive and negative impacts of allowing tablets, phones, and other handheld devices during lessons:
  • When tablet turns teacher reports on a test of tablets in a school in Ethiopia
  • Apple has a page focused on the benefits of mobile phones and tablets in the classroom - not surprisingly, focusing on its iPhone and iPod ranges.
  • Controlling the hi-tech helpers takes a more considered approach, discussing the positive impacts but also highlighting potential problems 
  • The school that swapped its laptops for iPads… and wants to switch back highlights a key problem with any deployment a new IT systems - logistics and preparation. Even if a new system will bring many positive impacts, compatability, training, and even user acceptance are all key factors that could result in failure.
Student RFID monitoring

School Administration: Student monitoring with RIFD

RFID Student tracking

'Smart' student badges that use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or similar technologies have been tested in a number of schools. In one of the most famous cases, a student in Texas was suspended for refusing to wear a school issued-RFID tracker. Although she objected on religious rather than privacy grounds, the significant thing about this case is that the suspension was upheld by federal courts, who said the student would need to wear the badge or transfer to another school.

In other cases, such tracking systems removed by schools after complaints from parents, students, and teachers. School uniform manufacturers have even considered embedding tracking devices into uniforms - claiming parents would support such a move.
Student biometric monitoring

School Administration: Student monitoring with biometrics

Biometrics are also increasingly being used in schools. With such systems, pupils can pay for their meals using their fingerprint rather than cash, check out books from the library, and register in class.

However, the use of biometrics - especially with children - raises several ITGS social / ethical issues, including privacy, data security, and consent. The UK Department for Education has some good advice for schools and colleges considering implementing such a system - and it is surprisingly readable. 

ScholarChip and Raptor  are manufacturers of common school surveillance and security technologies, and their web sites are well worth a visit.
Artificial examiners
Image: Emory Maiden CC-BY-NC

School Administration: Student monitoring online

Schools are increasingly using software to monitor their students' public social networking posts to look for signs of problems such as bullying and depression - which clearly raises social and ethical issues relating to privacy and legality. One school in California hired a monitoring form to watch 13,000 of its students, while a school district in San Francisco pays $45,000 to have its students' posts monitored.n.
Provision for special needs

Provision for special needs: Accessibility

BrowseAloud is acessibility software for children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. It includes functions to make text reading easier, including text to speech and colour highlighting.

Speaks4Me is a system to help autistic children communicate. Invented by a father who could find no useful system for his autistic son, the software runs on mobile devices and has a touch interface.

Microsoft have a page with a range of accessibility software for educational use, as do Apple.

The hardware page contains resources relating to general computer accessibility for a range of disabilities.


Many schools must deal with the potentially very serious impacts of cyber-bullying. The digital citizenship section of the digital media page contains resources addressing this issue.
Revision resource

Lesson resources: Revision Flashcards

Education flashcards to test students on the key terms. The 'Learn' and 'Test' modes of Quizlet work best.