School’s limiting staff access to the Internet

I am currently running some staff development at a school in Coventry, and having run a session on some of the wonderful things that can be achieved with the Internet in education, I was informed by the attendees that they are limited to 2 hours of internet access per week.

This to me is ridiculous, as most of the ideas that I brought to the session they won’t be able to achieve. The 2 hours limit includes the use in teaching sessions (e.g. the tutor using the Internet with a projector), so this will make it very difficult to embed the use of the Internet into learning. I hope issues like this aren’t occurring when my kids reach school age.

TextHelp Read & Write Gold

There is a piece of software produced called Read and Write Gold, produced by a company called TextHelp This software has evolved over the years into quite a sophisticated and powerful tool, a full list can be found by clicking on the link above.

Originally it was designed as a tool to help mainly dyslexic learners that have problems with literacy skills. This has however created as stigma about the software as many people still associate it with dyslexic learners, where in fact this tool can be used by any learners that want help with literacy (e.g. where English is a second language) and in fact some of the features can help people that don’t consider that they need help. Taking this into account, then educationally what institutions should be striving to achieve is the use of this tool across the board not just with a handful of identified learners. The advantages of this is that it will help to remove some of the stigma associated with it (as this stops a lot of learners who would really benefit from the tool from using it).

Although the software isn’t cheap, I think that if educational institutions are going to use it, then they should be looking at site licences rather than individual ones, this obvioulsy costs more, and to implement (and more importantly embed)  the software successfully across a site, would require some strategic thought and planning, but I again I think worth the investment.  I am doing quite a bit of work in this area at the moment.