Saturday, September 15, 2012

The WISE model - A quick and nasty guide to evaluating classroom ICT use.

I’m fortunate to be able to visit every classroom in our school. Like most schools, we have invested heavily in ICT. Are we getting value for money? Is the investment really improving educational outcomes? In some classrooms I could answer “Yes” - but in some the answer would have to be a disappointing “No”.

It is not necessary to have an in-depth formal instrument or formal testing to get a sense of how well ICT is being used in classrooms.     

The first “rule of thumb” indicator I have is a simple one - are the students CREATING product ...or CONSUMING product... or both?  If the students are simply consuming product, i.e. using “drill and practice” programs or merely absorbing content from the ‘net, then ICT use in the classroom is likely to be making only a limited contribution to student learning. However, if students are CREATING product then there is a good chance that ICT is being put to good use.

If students are creating learning artefacts then a simple acronym provides another lens through which I can quickly evaluate the significance of the classroom program. That acronym is  WISE.

WISE stands for...

W hy? (or WHAT). Why is ICT being used? Could similar artifacts be produced via traditional means? A hand drawn poster is as valid as a Publisher document for example.   What are the teacher’s  SPECIFIC objectives, what are the SPECIFIC curriculum links? What can students achieve  using computers in this context that could not be achieved otherwise?   

I mportant (or interesting) Is the project / experience both IMPORTANT and INTERESTING to the student? (Tasks need to be important or interesting to the student - not just ”fun”.)  If not, then the chances are that the task is electronic “busy work”.

S haring.   How are the students sharing both their end product and the process of creation?  How are they sharing their artifact with the educational community beyond the classroom? If they are not sharing the artifact...why are they producing it in the first place?  If it only has worth inside the context of the classroom then why would students value it? If it has wider significance why is it not being shared?

E valuation.  How do the students demonstrate their learning? Is the artifact itself significant outside of the classroom environment?  What skills need students display / include? Do they know this? How can a development of skills be demonstrated?

This acronym is hardly cutting edge. (I could dignify it beyond it’s worth and call it “The WISE model”.) However, it does provide me with a lens through which to quickly get a sense of how well ICT is being used in a classroom.   As with all technology, classroom ICT is neutral - it is how well it is being used that is important. And to assist with that we all need to be a little WISE when it comes to classroom use of ICT.

Image = Google images

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