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Technology has been utilised to promote learning and teaching since time immemorial. You just need to contemplate the use of cave-drawings to realise that "new" technologies have been used to create methods to improve the transfer of knowledge, encourage learning and improve teaching.
"Cave drawings have long served as visual memory aids and as teaching tools for the transmission of ancestral wisdom traditions to succeeding generations"
From the use of slate and blackboards, through to wheeling in the television in the 80's, up to the use of interactive whiteboards and blogging today, technology has been utilised to assist teaching. As Frick (1991) states "Throughout history, advances in technology have powered paradigmatic shifts in education".
However, in recent times, the rapid development of new technologies and the creation of a more global society have challenged the teaching profession to keep up to date with the new technology available. This is clearly demonstrated in a YouTube video, entitled "Impact of Technology on Teaching and Learning" by Fenton and Watkins.
The creation of the Internet and the World Wide Web have produced a society where extensive information is available at the touch of a button, where everyone's opinion can be voiced and where like-minded individuals can bond. Therefore, if the modern teacher is to keep abreast of these constantly changing times it is important that the methods used to teach are equally up to date and teachers embrace technology.
"Throughout history, technology has been the catalyst for change in industry... ...New ways of working have been introduced and, in a world where time is often literally money, the emphasis on getting a higher and quicker return from the capital invested is paramount.
If technology can do that for industry, why can't it do the same for education? The answer is, of course, that it can!"
Andrew Pinder, BECTA Review 2007
Evaluation of Current Technology
South Yorkshire Police (SYP) currently has a specialist department involved in the training of investigative skills to its staff. The performance of the police in the area of crime investigation is continually under scrutiny by the Government, the Criminal Justice System and the media. The Police Reform Act 2002 highlighted the need for the Police Service to professionalise all aspects of police investigations.
As a result, the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), together with the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), introduced the Initial Crime Investigators Development Programme (ICIDP), which all new Investigators for serious and complex crimes should undertake to obtain the status of "Detective".
This course is run from the newly acquired SYP Training Centre, a £7 million new building, containing a range of new technology to assist with learning and teaching. The building contains 18 classrooms, all of which contain an Interactive whiteboard, computers with access to the internet, and multimedia playing equipment.
The training undertaken by the department utilises a variety of different technologies. The use of PowerPoint presentations is a regular methodology within courses. The use of colour, visual aids such as pictures and diagrams and the embedding of audio and video clips attempt to promote inclusive learning. However these presentations do not utilise the interactivity of the whiteboards and students have the potential to be passive learners, although the trainers attempt to utilise facilitative methods to involve student participation.
The National Centre for Applied Learning Technologies (NCALT) is an e-learning portal for police based training. A recent report by Chief Inspector Jon Aveling, learning programmes implementation manager for NCALT, states "NCALT encourages a philosophy where civilian police staff mix seamlessly with operational police officers and subject matter experts to ensure the training products meet the strict learning requirements of modern policing"
It is integral, however, that these online training products are not used in isolation, but rather as part of a blended learning package. Currently, within SYP, the use of NCALT packages is not well received as they are viewed as being quite basic and merely fulfilling a requirement for all officers to have "received" training. The lack of any assessment, other than the obligatory questions within, or putting into context, fails to develop the student participating.
Indeed, according to the Oxford Internet Survey (2005) only 21 percent of people use the Internet for any form of distance learning, whereas Hannon and D'Netto (2007) suggest that e-learning is perceived as a key enabler to knowledge transfer within the HE sector.
Evaluation of Current Practice
"In times of change learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."
Students on the ICIDP course are serving police officers or staff, with a range of experiences outside of the police. In today's work environment, the use of computers is a requirement for their jobs, with most paperwork now becoming electronic. It is therefore expected from SYP that students have a basic level of ability and understanding about computers and IT, although there is no basic training around this in the initial police training.
The course is run as a traditional classroom based involvement. There is the issue of work-life balance, such as childcare, but the current view of training within SYP is that courses must be classroom based and, as such, attendance is a requirement. The idea of a virtual learning environment is a long-way off.
The range of competence and enthusiasm around computers and technology can vary. It is important, however, that police are aware of developments in technology, as the next generation will utilise this new technology which can be of great evidential value to an investigation, for example a recent case involving the use of Twitter.
The Lifelong Learning UK identified that skills relating to learning delivery, including those relating to pedagogy and information and learning technologies (ILT) are some of the most important skills across all areas and has set these e-learning standards as benchmarks for the educational application of ICT in the lifelong sector.
An example of these standards is CS4 "developing good practice in teaching own specialist area". Technology is being used to achieve this standard by the creation of an online community of ICIDP trainers within the Police Online Learning and Knowledge area (POLKA). This creates a place where trainers can exchange ideas, upload presentations and other files, and get involved in discussion boards around current issues.
The Investigative Interviewing sections of the course involve the practical application of skills learnt in role-play scenarios, where the remaining students are able to watch the "live" interview taking place in the classroom. The new training centre utilises downstream monitoring of the interviews by way of an Intranet connection, rather than physical wiring, and hence the interview is capable of being watched in a range of locations.
This is being developed to add realism to the training and introduce the role of the officer investigating the case (OIC) who is not in present in the interview room. This mirrors the real world and enables the OIC to identify areas where additional investigative questioning is needed, or areas where questioning was missing. The students are therefore more actively involved and a more detailed formative assessment of student learning can be achieved.
Another emerging use of technology recently introduced into the training department is that of "Qwizdom" - handheld devices that are able to send responses through to the computer. These are utilised in knowledge checks to encourage student participation whilst creating accurate records of results, for future assessment/development.
Within the remit of NCALT is the use of immersive learning and the new training centre has a custom-built HYDRA suite. This emerging technology is utilised to engage the students in as near to reality as possible, whilst remaining in a safe-learning environment The learners are sent into syndicate rooms where they are then placed under realistic pressurised scenarios and immersed with information by way of audio and video clips, and required to make decisions as to how they would react to the developing situation.
Alison et al (2007) identified that experimental and observational methods, such as immersive learning, improved the understanding about the complex issues surrounding decision making in criminal investigative. As the ICIDP course has previously utilised a number of paper-based case-studies, these are in the process of being developed to be run in a more immersive environment. This should improve the experiences in investigating the case-study and lead to better understanding of the issues faced in the investigation of serious crime.
Evaluation of Theories and Technology
There are a number of theories around the use of technology in learning and teaching. Constructivism is a set of theories that argue that humans generate knowledge and meaning from interactions between their experiences and their ideas. Piaget (1973) and Dewey (1966) introduced the idea of "cognitive constructivism", where learners actively process information given to them, and he introduces the mechanisms of accommodation and assimilation as key to this processing. Students construct new concepts based on current knowledge and hence the curriculum should build on what they have already learned.
In addition to this, Vygotsky (1962) and others have developed the idea of "social constructivism", which emphasises how meanings and understandings also grow out of social encounters. Vygotsky introduced the term "Zone of Proximal Development", where he observed that when children were tested on tasks on their own, they rarely did as well as when they were working in collaboration. The idea of this being that learning is influenced by the social encounters and that an individual's learning that takes place because of their interactions in a group.
Figure 1: Zone of Proximal Development - Vygotsky (1962)
Holmes (2006), when describing this form of constructivism, states "students will not simply pass through a course like water through a sieve but instead leave their own imprint in the learning process"
There have been a number of studies which argue that discussion plays a vital role in increasing student ability to test their ideas, synthesize the ideas of others, and build deeper understanding of what they are learning (such as Corden, 2001; Nystrand, 1996; Reznitskaya, Anderson & Kuo, 2007; Weber et al, 2008). According to Greeno et al (1996) the process of sharing individual perspectives results in learners constructing understanding together that wouldn't be possible alone.
Conversely, there are arguments that the social aspect of constructivism leads to "group think." People such as Simpson (2002) state that the collaborative aspects of constructivist learning tends to produce a "tyranny of the majority," in which a few students' voices or interpretations dominate the group's conclusions, and dissenting students are forced to conform to the emerging consensus.
If the social constructivist theory is correct then the use of a more facilitative role by the "teacher" will allow social constructivism to promote deeper learning (Tracey 2009). The use of technology, such as online discussion boards or blogs should enable this collaborative learning to continue outside of the "lesson time" put aside in a classroom. The use of the Internet should herald the ability for learners to make their voice heard, regardless of how timid they may be in a traditional classroom-based environment.
Legal Issues around Technology
"Advancements in educational technology are taking place so swiftly that statutory and case law are continually developing and striving to keep the pace. Repercussions are significant and include technology-related issues involving freedom of speech, harassment, privacy, special education, plagiarism, and copyright concerns. School leaders need to be mindful of these emerging legal conditions and understand the importance of professional development training for educators on technology and the law."
New and emerging technologies bring with them a range of issues around the legality of their use. The types of legalities include copyright and the licence accredited the adult education sector, linked with the issue of plagiarism and the referencing of work. The advent of the Internet and the easy accessibility to a wealth of information require a more stringent control over the use of such information. Technology has also assisted with this issue, such as the use of plagiarism detection software.
The use of footage, such as BBC content, requires a broadcast licence for the use of such media for educational needs. The introduction of YouTube, and access to videos contained within, create additional issues around the legality of their use. There is also the legal issues around the welfare of children accessing information on the internet, together with "cyber" bullying and other harassment issues.
In the context of police training, there is the additional legal issue around the use of "real-life" scenarios, which add realism to the training and are helpful to assist learners with understanding the implications of the learning to the workplace. However, this brings with it issues around the human rights of the individuals involved and their right to a private life (Article 8 Human Rights Act 2000)
Still to write about
Limitations to real training world
Access to Internet (inc Social Networking sites etc - Policy)
Inability to install software - delays - involvement of ISD
Crashing - faults - looking stupid
Paper handouts vs Electronic handouts