Book Review – Perfect ICT Every Lesson @ICTEvangelist
Overall Impression of the Book
In terms of accessibility, clear vision and practicalities, Mark’s book is a signposted roadmap for the successful integration of ICT to support and improve pupil outcomes. His explanations are easy to follow and highlight how technology is a pedagogical tool. What resonated most, which is of fundamental importance, is that the driver for success is placing the pupils at the center of your decision making when it comes to using technology as a pedagogical tool. A key question and thread throughout the book that Mark asks is “what does using technology bring to the learning?”
Mark constantly challenges you to think about the place the technology has in your classroom as it shouldn’t be the focus, the focus should be the learning. There are plentiful tips and strategies to enhance the learning experience and outcomes of the pupils along with transforming your own approach to technology. Each section of the book also contains a case study so you know that the imparted strategies and tips are coming from a place of authenticity, further evidencing a real impact as agreed by Ofsted reporting from the multitude of case studies throughout the book.
Who should read Perfect ICT Every Lesson?
Anyone in education, or involved in professional development, that is keen to develop their knowledge with practical tools to aid the pupil learning experience, how technology can help transform your daily practice, embedding ICT within the school curriculum or those who wish to know time-saving tips to ease workflow.
I still believe that many schools across the country have been slow to adopt technology as it is viewed through rose-tinted glasses as an ‘ideal’ that isn’t realistically achievable in our day to day dealings. Mark’s book contains multiple tips and strategies that are accessible, practical and have the possibility for transformation when it comes to the learner’s experience.
Mark makes it all a reality thanks to the information contained in his book. It is almost a ‘fool-proof plan’ as it encompasses a framework that draws on educational research that links directly to the realities of the classroom. His tips cover both small and large scales from daily activities to enhance and redefine classrooms to an e-safety framework across the whole school and developing teacher confidence and delivery. The tips cover a range of facets which span the improvement of our delivery using ICT, flipping the classroom, activities using ICT and the realities of what digital literacy actually means from an educational context. As a teacher who feels like he is ahead of most when it comes to awareness and ability to integrate technology to enhance learning, having read Mark’s book I am now much wiser and more confident that my practice has been optimised and my learners are receiving a richer learning experience as a result of learning so many new tips and tools from Mark.
Quality of the Writing
Mark’s writing is easy to follow, highlights the areas that require the most attention to detail from a classroom and whole school perspective. It also packs a punch when it comes to referencing! Underpinning the book is how each tip and strategy draws on research in order for implementation to be successful and truly transform learning for pupils.
In terms of audience, I would suggest this book to anyone within education; it is full of case studies, practical tips and accessible strategies to transform learning across a school. Although first published in 2013 the ideas contained within this book are still revolutionizing the learner experience, which is a testament to Mark’s forward-thinking vision.
From an evidence point of view, I am not sure an educational book can be much improved on this as there are numerous case studies, academic research, and links to Ofsted frameworks which underpin Mark’s suggestions and highlight why so much of the sage advice in this book leads to a positive impact in the classroom. Mark coherently explains the SAMR and SOLO taxonomy models which then underpin the practical strategies he suggests throughout the book to move learning forward in such a way that wouldn’t be possible with traditional methods. Examples of this include collaborative class blogging, Skype lessons linking pupils to real professionals and pupil generated resources that are then given feedback having been shared with experts in a particular field of study.
What did I learn?
How to redefine success and transform the learning experiences of pupils using technology, it realigned my perspective when it comes to integrating technology: previous I would see if it worked for me when actually it is the pupils who it should serve.
Learning and evidence of learning can take different forms such as pupils co-creating resources, sharing them with others in the school for feedback, recognizing the successes of pupil work and transforming the displays in their learning environment by using their work as a part of the process and to showcase their learning outcomes. I plan for collaborative work more frequently using Google Docs and set homework that flips the classroom and serves as a discussion point for the start of the next lesson. I use QR Codes frequently to enhance the learning environment and provide the students with sources of information to stretch their learning such as videos and content to read and research.
The book really engages you with ideas of how to doing things differently and enhancing the learner experience which is why I got into teaching: a love of my subject and desire to give my learners a better experience.
My favourite quote from the book is “As always, remember not to focus on the technology but on the learning.” This resonates with me because all too often technology is seen as a distractor or ‘edutainment’ when in truth, when successfully implemented, technology has transformational powers within education. Mark highlights how to achieve this in your classroom and school so that all your learners can have improved learning outcomes.
E-Safety & Social Media
If you are involved in your school’s safeguarding team I would recommend that you also read this book as the chapter titled ‘e-safety framework’ is a must read as it will serve as your whole-school guide on all things in the digital sphere. It is also worth a read if you are unsure as to the do’s and don’t of social media as a teacher then the final chapter is a fantastic guide on the transformational powers of social media as an educator and owning your personal development along with providing wider opportunities for your pupils in a learning context.