29 July 2013

JITT or ‘just in time teaching/training'

JITT or ‘just in time teaching/training’, is an organic, serendipitous or spontaneous intervention that occurs on a ‘need to know’ basis, when needed or “just in time” (The role of ICT in the PYP, 2011, p 3) these are,

"... spontaneous and short tutorial sessions—both student to student and instructor to student—driven by immediate requirements." (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p 1036).

Teachers acquire ‘problem-solving’ technical skills to overcome first order barriers (Ertmer, 1999) as ‘short, sharp, specific’ interventions at the point of need, within instructional practices that incorporate meaningful uses of technology (ibid). In this way collaborative learning can be achieved which is “shorter, smaller and more frequent”, the kind of ‘needs-based training’ advised by Karagiorgi & Charalambous (2006, p 406), tailored to each teacher’s needs.

Emergency contact?

Simply providing nervous teachers with my ‘emergency’ contact number, is one simple but effective way to manage the technical barriers and the resulting stress that is common when (not if) ICT fails to deliver. Having someone—‘gofer’ is seen by many of our teachers as very effective. Someone who, at short notice, can, literally, ‘pop in’ for a few minutes to provide a brief intervention. This is a form of ‘training’ targeted directly at the point of need—

And it's a big but, this assumes the teacher makes a point of noting how the recovery was improvised—so it is a learning opportunity in and of itself, and not just reinforcing or worse creating a dependence on what could easily become just another form of technical support. Touch timber—our teachers have, by and large, used this strategy responsibly, yes there has been 2 (out of 60) who were becoming a little, shall we say ... reliant on this, but that's what conversation and negotiation is for, right?

ICT free plan C

A tech 'incident' no longer needs to result in the potential abandonment of a lesson, but becomes more about making productive use of the ‘wait time’ for help to arrive by having an ‘ICT free plan C’, because plan B still relies on technology (Crook, et al, 2010); although, reassuringly, it is not uncommon for teachers to resolve the problem themselves by the time help arrives. Somehow, knowing that help is coming alleviates stress; this often seems to free the teacher to resolve, or at least circumnavigate the problem themselves, or (more excitingly) with the help of their students.

The Cyclops Effect

IWB = Cyclops Effect
Interestingly, IWBs can often exacerbate tech problems, due to what I call a ‘Cyclops effect’—traditional, didactic teacher centred pedagogy, the kind that many teachers are more confortable with—centred around one screen, but, this dependence on one screen actually exacerbates the impact of technology failure, as if/when that screen fails, it results in a catastrophic impact upon the lesson. Whereas for a teacher who uses a more student centred, constructivist model that effectively utilises multiple screens, the failure of one screen does not present an insurmountable problem.

Nevertheless, clearly equipping teachers and students with a rigorous set of core ICT skills is bound to ameliorate this problem; the question then is, which skills, and when? Good question, hopefully this is a reasonable answer.

Just in time—leverage serendipity.