Structured approach to integration
of Information Technology in the classroom
Technology partnership with
Knowledge Network provides Pridwin Preparatory School with a winning formula for educators
and learners. The best news for the school is that there is no waiting time for learners
or educators in the integration of technology in all learning areas.
"Pridwin Preparatory School seeks to
provide an excellent educational foundation which equips its children with the values,
flexibility and the skills to play a meaningful role in our continuously changing society.
Part of our vision is to provide learners with a learning environment which is modern,
where technology is used to enhance the learning process, to provide a learning experience
which increases the rate of learning and develops learners laterally, says Mr Simon
Weaver, Principal of Pridwin Preparatory School
For a long time the integration of technology
into the curriculum has been an issue that has been discussed amongst the staff. They have
grappled with the concept of using the content of a particular subject merely as a vehicle
to teach various skills. They strive to teach the boys how and where to find relevant
information and how to use it correctly.
In July 1999, Pridwin elected to become a
Partner School of Knowledge Network because they realised the importance of having an
outcomes based computer curriculum that is structured and relevant. Knowledge Network
appealed to the school because of their expertise in both the school and corporate
markets. In this way Pridwin felt that they could ensure that their pupils were adequately
prepared for their college and university careers while at the same time meeting the
immediate needs of the pupils.
The accelerated development of the boys'
computer skills through the Knowledge Network curriculum has added a third dimension to
integration - that of including technology - and the teachers have become increasingly
aware of the trap of simply using computers for the sake of technology and not using the
computer as a tool to develop the learners.
Managing Director of Knowledge Network, Jil
Hrdliczka met with the Headmaster, Mr Simon Weaver and provided the ultimate solution for
Pridwin - a strategy whereby each staff member becomes actively involved in integrating
technology into his/her area of specialisation.
The strategy included the Knowledge Network
Seminar in Integration of IT in the classroom for all teachers, which was held on 08 May.
During the seminar it became clear that, if
integration is approached in the correct way from the outset, success is inevitable for
both the educator and the learner. The importance of the computer centres having two
functions became apparent during the seminar.
On the one hand, it is a computer centre
where new IT and life skills are learned using the Knowledge Network curriculum and where
fun, lateral thinking and a steady progression of new skills is ensured. On the other
hand, the computer centre becomes a resource centre where pupils are able to apply the IT
skills they have gained in the curriculum to a project or class exercise for any subject.
This ensures that all learners develop the IT skills they need to produce work faster,
more accurately and with less focus on the skills and a greater focus on the use of the
computer as a tool for learning in particular subject areas.
Mrs Ann Clark, Director of Operations at
Knowledge Network who was appointed by Knowledge Network to present the seminar says that initially some of the teachers were
apprehensive, as are many teachers when approached on the subject of integration of IT in
their learning areas.
"During the seminar the teachers were
reassured of the fact that the standard of their subject would not drop in any way, as the
assessment of the computer-related tasks still remains subject-driven. If integration is
implemented in a structured way, teachers should see quite the opposite. Over a period,
there should be a marked difference in the standard of their subject. The standard will be
higher, the learning easier and faster for the learners and a marked difference in
language skills and overall general knowledge."
The key to the IT integration formula
provided by Knowledge Network is keeping the learners and educators "in tune".
Educators need to know what the learners can do using technology and the learners need to
have the IT skills in order to produce the work.
Principal Mr Simon Weaver, says that the
staff are feeling happier and more confident about IT in the learning environment. The
staff were also relieved to hear that it is not necessary for them to have all the
required skills for each computer task. Effective and meaningful integration of technology
in the classroom can take place immediately and educators who are not involved in IT can
develop skills they wish to have in their own time, at their own pace.
"Computers are a vehicle for the reinforcement of new
information that has been taught in the classroom. The main emphasis remains the
particular subject at all times. The concept of first learning and then applying the new
knowledge in a practical and meaningful way using computers becomes the focus. In this way
all tasks become relevant to real-life situations," says Weaver.
The ultimate benefit of Pridwin's approach will be for the boys at
the School, who on leaving the school, will have had the opportunity to excel in subjects
they previously found difficult, will be ahead of other learners of their age, and will
have developed talents they never thought they had.