2.2 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:

  • Distance learning over large areas: Open online courses
  • IT in Teaching and Learning: Game based learning
  • IT in Teaching and Learning: Open textbooks and e-books
  • IT in Teaching and Learning: Online research
  • IT in Teaching and Learning: Online exams
  • IT in Teaching and Learning: Virtual field trips
  • IT in Teaching and Learning: Artificial examiners
  • IT in Teaching and Learning: Laptops
  • IT in Teaching and Learning: Hand held devices
  • School administration: Student monitoring with RFID
  • School administration: Student biometric monitoring
  • School administration: Student online monitoring
  • Provision for special needs: accessibility
  • Cyber-bullying
Textbook exercise

Exercise 2.8

The OLPC Foundation's web site is the primary source of information on the OLPC / XO laptop projects.

Although I would not recommend using the pages directly, the Wikipedia pages on the OLPC and the XO-1 both have extensive lists of citations for further reading.
Updated: 2014-10-02
Accessiblity options

Computer accessibility for disabled users

Computer accessibility for disabled users is fundamentally tied to the equality of access social / ethical issue. The Disability and Access section of BBC Bitesize is a good introduction to this topic, covering appropriate input and output devices. Both Microsoft and Apple have sections on their web sites that detail the accessibility features in their hardware and software.

Speech recognition is a common technology for physically disabled users - HowStuffWorks explains the technology behind it. Recently an Indian teenager created a device to convert breath into speech, desired for users with severe speech difficulties.

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.

Another development currently being worked on is the ability to control a computer use brainwaves. Computer That Reacts To Thought A Lifeline For Brain Injured (Science Daily) and Voice recognition software reads your brain waves (New Scientist) are a good introduction to this topic.

This BBC news article and video shows a Cambridge lab where they test how elderly people use technology - the results are startling and highlight that a digital divide can occur in many situations.

Finally, The Madtoe Strikes Again: Hands-free Graphic Design is an inspiring story of a young man who, despite having limited motor control, creates graphic designs. The page details the variety of hardware and software systems he uses to create his work.

The Education page contains details of hardware and software specifically designed for people with special educational needs.
Updated: 2014-10-02
Cloud computing

Cloud computing

Where are the savings in using GoogleApps? gives examples of the quite significant cost savings that can be made when a large school switches to a cloud computing system such as Google Apps. This BBC Webscape video focuses on cloud computing backup solutions.

However, with Google being notorious for scrapping applications and projects mercilessly, this Guardian article notes that Google's projects have an average life-expectancy of 4 years and asks whether it is a good idea to rely on free cloud infrastructure for business or personal use.

Even Google won't be around for ever, let alone Facebook. What happens to our data then? is an interesting article exploring this concept in more detail and pointing out that many of the services to which we now entrust large amounts of our data are still relatively young companies.

You can also download the cloud computing diagram from page 59 of the book.
Updated: 2014-10-02
Distance learning

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:
Updated: 2014-10-03
IT in teaching and learning

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.
Updated: 2014-10-03
Game based learning

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.
Updated: 2014-10-03
Online exams

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.
Updated: 2014-10-03
Virtual field trips

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.
Updated: 2014-10-03

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.

Updated: 2014-10-03
RFID in schools

School Administration: Student monitoring with RIFD

'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.
Updated: 2014-10-03
Student 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.
Updated: 2014-10-03
ITGS revision flashcards

Lesson resources: Revision Flashcards

Education flashcards to test students on the key terms. The 'Learn' and 'Test' modes of Quizlet work best.
Updated: 2014-10-03
Web documentary


Web, by director Michael Kleiman, is a fantastic documentary film for ITGS classes. It takes a refreshing look at Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, with a clear, thoughtful, and detailed examination of the Internet's impact on society. The film focuses on Lidia, a young girl in the remote village of Palestina in the Peruvian Amazon, and the effect of the OLPC on her, her family, and her village.

I found that by focusing on one small village the film provides a much more intimate and detailed account of the effect on technology and will give ITGS students concrete examples that are great for discussion. As well as raising the obvious issues of Equality of Access, the film raises many issues related to Globalization and Cultural Diversity - in one scene Liana's class start their own Wikipedia page about their village, and in another Liana introduces her father to Google for the first time. The effect of introducing the Internet to this remote village - both positive and negative - is something that could be discussed in class for a long time afterwards.

Web is currently only available online. It can be purchased or rented, and there is also a free trailer available: Web (2014).

Updated: 2014-12-06
Networks in schools

Networks in Schools

This article from EdTech magazines ties in directly with syllabus sections 2.2 (Hardware and network technologies in the classroom) and 3.2 (Networks). Focusing on 'behind the scenes' technology required by a large school in Illinois with thousands of students, it examines network infrastructure, servers, Gigabit routers, virtualization, cloud computing, staff training, and many more concepts. Perfect for studying networks in education.

Read the article

Updated: 2015-02-08