I'm going to an ICT conference in Manchester on Friday. Apparently ICT stands for Intermittent Cervical Traction (I looked it up); You can understand why I'm apprehensive.
Actually, I have a lot of reasons to be apprehensive. For a start there will be a lot of teachers there and secondly it's all about technology (not traction). So why am I apprehensive about technology?
I'm very interested in technology and what it can do but I feel uncomfortable when it becomes the topic of conversation. It's like someone talking about cars when what they really want is the freedom of travel. A car will take you along pre-determined roads and you can only stop where there is a parking place. I prefer to hitch a lift on whatever mode of transport happens to be pointing the right way and get off wherever.
It's for this reason that my current project is to set up creative communication teams in schools; I did start by calling them media teams but the term media carries far too much baggage.
The teams consist of six children who each have distinctive talents and interests. I've tried to design the teams so that they are independent of specific tools or platforms, so for example we don't talk about writers, web designers or video editors, we say that these are people who like to generate and sequence ideas, or like working with tools to build things. The outputs can be a web page, magazine or an installation or anything else you can imagine.
The creative challenges set for the team are never to make a podcast, produce a documentary or film an animation – that would be like giving them a road map and a car and telling them where they need to get off. Instead they have to meet a brief which is to investigate specific aspects of a specific subject and report their finding to a specific audience. The solution is open to creative thinking.
In reality, the children may well create rich multimedia web pages using exciting digital tools, but the point is that the tools are not the starting point.
It seems to me that we spend a lot of time getting up to speed on technologies which are here today, gone tomorrow but less time considering the missions and purposes behind their use. The skills involved in effective teamwork, directing and organising, generating ideas, questioning, story telling are higher level media, and the skills required are timeless and transferable.
And so I would like to focus on those fundamental human technologies. As for the lower level tools I'm inclined to include those under the heading of independent problem solving challenges – i.e. work out for yourself which is the best tool for the job and fathom it.
Let's meet up if you're in Manchester on Friday