Engaging young people through ICT

Last week, I attended an event at the Westminster Education Forum, which looked at how ICT is utilised in schools and also by young people in the home.

This event was of real interest to us, as the technology which is available in schools has a significant impact on our product developments. For example, the quality of school internet affects how we can develop our online software – we would love to include high definition careers videos within our online software; however it appears that many school internet services would currently struggle to stream large video files currently.

For me, a key message from the day has been the understanding of how clued up  to technology children and young people are.  Christine Terrey, the Headteacher of Grays Infant School discussed how all of the children at her school (all aged between 3-7 years old) use an ePortfolio.  Considering I don’t think I had switched on a computer until I was at least 12, I find this level of engagement with ICT quite amazing!

Also speaking at the event was Stephen Crowne, Chief Executive of Becta.  Becta work with the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to ensure that technology is used effectively within the British education system.  Stephen was keen to state that schools need to be aware of how to use ICT software and hardware effectively to avoid wastage of expenditure. This is something that we’re very aware of and we’re always looking for new ways to help schools get the best value for money from our resources with free support resources and training.

Another interesting discussion topic was the idea of using game assisted learning to engage young people in learning through ICT.  An example was given where young people playing Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS. They have to allocate money for training/feeding/buying things for their dog.  This game allows young people to apply maths, budgeting and equations outside of a classroom environment.

Many young people now have access to a vast amount of technology, most have computers in their home with internet access, and many have mobile phones, iPods, XBOX etc.

Whereas ICT lessons in school use to be considered exciting, the event suggested that many young people are now finding them boring.  It was mentioned that since 2001, the number of applications for Computer Science courses has dropped by 52%, could this be because of a lack of interest in ICT as a subject? Or is it a case that young people are feel so comfortable and confident with technology that they believe that they have nothing left to learn?

Have you got any thoughts on the future use of ICT for learning? Are the educational ICT tools available for young people good enough? And what are your views on game assisted learning?  Please feel free to add any comments to the end of this post.

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