“Young people taking control of the technology”

23 December 2006

This is a quote from Laurence Boulter’s “I Can Teach ICT” site (via Naace mailing lists). It is exactly the type of vignette that got me started on this research route. How can we have an assessment system that allows for this sort of thing? How do we change the way we approach the assessment of ICT? Do we need to? Or is it about ‘validation’ of what has been learnt? is it about providing the opportunity for students to share their learning in exactly the way Laurence has done?

“Fixed in my mind was a conversation I had with a year 8 pupil a year or so ago who stayed after class to show me her Pixo site. I had known for some while that some pupils were dabbling with such sites but I had not really acknowledged, or even taken the time out to see what they were actually doing. Whatever it was they were doing with these sites it had to be trivial surely? This young lady, perfectly polite, just above average ability, steadily working towards level 5, was quite unexpectedly explaining to me how she had prepared in Photoshop (not available in school) an image she had obtained from the internet. She then exported the image from Photoshop in a suitable file format then posted it to her Pixo site. When posting it she added html code that had been emailed to her by a friend that produced a glitter effect on the image (a sort of My Little Pony horse if I remember correctly). She then went on to show me the rest of her site. She explained how she modified the html template and how she had created different categories on her site and linked between them. This was not a level five dialogue I was having with this pupil and as she showed how her collection of virtual friends left comments and html tips on her site, her tangible friends that had stayed behind with her made grabs at the mouse saying “can I show him mine?”. It became clear to me that this was not just the activity of a geeky isolate, this was a representative of a community of young people taking control of the technology. “How much time do you spend on this?” I asked. “Every night!” she answered. “My Dad is always complaining that he can’t get to use the computer. He keeps asking me what I am doing. I try to explain but he doesn’t understand””