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MirandaNet Fellowship Profiles (MirandaNet Archive - as of March 2015)
I trained as a primary school teacher in Australia in 1978 and, as a result of completing a Master's degree in learning technologies in the early 1980's worked in the area of ICT, teaching and learning and professional development for many years. I was the manager of the South Eastern Region Computer Technology centre of the Education Department for the state of Victoria before accepting a position as ICT manager of the South East England Virtual Education Zone in 2000. In 2003, I took up the position of Group ICT Director of the United Church Schools Trust and its subsidiary, the United Learning Trust which is the largest private sponsor of the DfES Academies programme. My department is responsible for the systems, the project management and the teaching and learning components of ICT across the whole group, which comprises independent primary and secondary schools as well as Academies. I have also completed a doctoral dissertation at the University of Sheffield in the area of the internet and children's learning
I am especially interested in the Internet and the application of ideas on postmodernism and poststructuralism on the use IP-based technologies in education. This applies to the design of learning spaces, concept of identity and self and the impact of new technologies on redefining society and the self.
In my role as Group ICT Director of the United Learning Trust, I have responsibility for the strategic development of the use of Information and Communications technology (ICT) in our Academies. These are schools that are established in conjunction with the Department for Education and Skills in areas of high social deprivation and perceived low educational standards. The use of ICT is a key element of the strategy to improve the educational opportunities for students in these areas and there is the constant need to reflect on the impact of ICT in an educational context. The exploration of postmodernism and poststructuralist thought is relevant to this context of ICT, and may assist our understanding of where the educational use of ICT is placed at this time, and how it may influence the future (and vice versa). In the context of the Trust’s work in the use of ICT, and especially Internet-based technologies in education, there is an immediate resonance as the unfamiliar names, challenging ideas and apparently subversive concepts of postmodernism connect in a compelling way to the development of ICT and its role in learning. The spectres in the virtual world I am interested in are the changing, uncertain and occasionally subversive elements of ICT that haunt education, making their presence felt but often not fully impacting on teaching and learning due in part to the sometimes necessary restrictions imposed in the learning environment, especially schools. An example of this is the uneven and sometimes nervous use of the Internet in the school curriculum. I have explored some of the ways in which postmodernism and post-structuralism relate to the educational use of ICT. The spectre mentioned above also refers to one of the two “realities” that can be seen in the use of ICT in education. This spectre, characterised by the Internet, is a virtual simulacrum that can make the other “real” reality seem vague and elusive by comparison.
In relation to both prevalent notions of postmodernism and poststructuralist thought, I have explored recent developments in ICT in education and have critically examined the principles that govern these developments and suggested improvements for policy and practice as appropriate.
I would like to discuss critically whether the new technologies are changing the ways in which we read and write, and examine some of the important issues raised by this possibility for teaching policy and practice. I will make reference to key theorists and draws upon primary, multi-media and other texts to substantiate the argument. As the Group ICT Director of the United Learning Trust, I have strategic responsibility for the educational use of ICT across all our schools and academies, and the implications of digital literacy are key to our decision-making on learning and teaching, especially in the context of reading and writing. I would like to examine literacy broadly as a social practice and in some further detail as a digital phenomenon. Ethnography will be briefly examined as a research methodology for examining this and the unique challenges it presents as a subject for examination, and a number of specific characteristics of digital literacy such as multimedia and the role of communities of practice will also be examined. I will conclude by discussing the ways in which technologies change the way we read and write along with implications for teaching policy and practice. The topic is a crucial one for me to investigate as not only must we drive ICT from the educational perspective, we must also be open to the opportunities afforded to us by ICT to change and improve the literacy experiences of our learners. From a reflexive perspective, I should declare my position . After studying linguistics as an undergraduate, I became a primary teacher with a major interest in literacy. Since 1984, I have been involved in the learning opportunities offered by ICT and the unique place it has in education. I will, however, limit my discussion to the effect of Internet-based ICT and its relationship to literacy. I hope to to come to the conclusion that the advent of Internet Protocol-based technologies inevitably and profoundly impact on current and emerging literacy practices. For the purposes of this study, the phrase “digital literacy” refers to online reading and writing practices and is not intended to be a synonym for “computer literacy”, which refers broadly to the development of computer skills in general rather than to reading and writing skills.
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