A couple of years ago I had the great fortune to visit schools in Italy. Having visited a number of schools around Europe over the last few years I know what I experienced in there in term of their use of ICT was not usual. It made me realise how far we have come in this country, and although there is still much to do to ensure our curriculum is relevant to children and our use of ICT prepares them for tomorrow’s world – we certainly have the edge of many of our European counterparts.
Through the British Council we were developing a project with partner schools in five EU countries (Germany, Finland, Italy, Czech Republic and Belgium) at the initial planning meeting I suggested we use a shared blog and maybe create a wiki for the children to collaborate. This raised a few eyebrows and voices of concern but most worries were allayed when we agreed that at our visit to Italy we would go through how each online element of the project would work. It’s fair to say we were working with a number of differing levels of competence regarding ICT and this was borne out on each of our visits, but the Italian visit in many ways seemed to set the tone for the subsequent trips. On reflection, I certainly over estimated the use of ICT in the project.
On arriving at the first of our Italian partners’ schools we set about going through how to use the shared European blog we had created. The teachers very proudly took us to their ICT suite. The large, iron shutter, similar to a high street shop’s protective front, was unlocked and lifted to reveal a small suite with all computers and monitors covered with dust sheets. ‘Don’t the children use the computers very much?’ asked James, one of our staff. ‘The children?’ came the reply. ‘These are not for the children!’ It didn’t look like the staff got much use of them either!