Are you planning your learning for next year. This is an interesting post about applying 3 learning theories to e-learning:
Are you planning your learning for next year. This is an interesting post about applying 3 learning theories to e-learning:
I recently attended a session on Open Access Resources for the teaching of research methods, run by the HE Academy, during which they discussed the following:
- How to navigate the UK Data Service Website
- Examine the resources for teaching Research methods
The UK Data Service Website stores a number of large datasets gathered through national surveys and funded projects. The majority of these datasets are quantitative in nature, but there are a number of qualitative datasets that are worth looking at. These datasets can be navigated in a number of different ways. You could exam the data by theme, look through the key data collections or, as I found more useful, the Teaching Datasets.
The qualitative data is a little sparse and taking from old studies, however it does give a good insight in how to gather qualitative data and analyse it. There are some case studies that discuss how the researchers have gone about gathering and presenting the qualitative material. More data is being added all the time and there is encouragement for all government funded research projects to submit their data to the UK Data Service. Therefore, this resource can only get bigger and better.
Alongside the actual data, there is a huge range of teaching resources to support those teaching Research Methods. There are a wide range case studies and resources on actual research methods, and there is a particular interesting discussion on the secondary analysis of data.
If you want more resources on to support teaching of Research Methods, the Manchester Methods page has some excellent resources to view.
How teachers, acting as Street-level Bureaucrats, are implementing the new National Computer Science Curriculum
In September 2013, the UK government announced the new national curriculum framework to be implemented in September 2014. There were a number of proposed changes in subjects taught, including moving away from teaching Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and to include more computer science. The government and some employers believed that the current school ICT curriculum was no longer fit for purpose. The ICT curriculum guided teachers to develop pupils’ skills in using office software, databases and the Internet. Alternatively, the new Computer Science curriculum focused on programming, hardware and algorithms.
The government hoped that instigating this new curriculum would improve the creativity of pupils and make them developers rather than consumers of technology (DFE, 2012). The proposal of a new Computer Science curriculum harmonised with the UK government’s globalised agenda for creating an information society (BIS, 2013) and improving the country’s standing as innovators (BIS, 2013, p.8).
Before publishing the final curriculum, there was a period of consultation between the government and other agencies. However, this new curriculum is a radical change in the direction of the delivery of computing and a different range of skills and knowledge is needed to deliver it. The government proposed to address the skills shortage by developing Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses to support new teachers wishing to teach the Computer Science curriculum (DFE, n.d., online). However, there was no national programme of development set up for current teachers, who had been previously trained to teach ICT and would need re-skilling.
As with any change within education there were concerns raised by teachers about how ready they would be to deliver the curriculum (Vaughan, 2013; Passingham, 2014). In particular, even though the government claims it took part in significant consultation (DFE, 2013), teachers argued that the pace in which the new curriculum was being implemented was too quick (Britland, 2012). However, in general teachers are resigned to the change occurring and have become focused on how they could implement this new curriculum (Britland, 2013).
This paper is exploring how teachers, acting as Street-level Bureaucrats, are using their discretion to implement the new Computer Science Curriculum. After discussing the concept of Street-level Bureaucracy, it will use a case study approach to examine the discourse taking place in social media and a focus group to inquire into teachers’ feelings of empowerment to use their discretion in this implementation.
Lipsky (2010) states that Street-level Bureaucrats are public service workers that have discretion to implement a centralised government policy to suit the needs of the local cliental or environment. It is not about power relationships, but more about dilemmas of discretion (Brandon, 2005). Evans (2012) agrees, by linking the decision making process of these workers to the discretion they are afforded as a professional. Lipsky states that Street-level Bureaucrats also implement policy in a way that makes their lives easier and maintains the status quo.
I am suggesting that teachers who are tasked with implementing the new Computer Science curriculum, proposed by the centralised government, find themselves acting as Street-level Bureaucrats. However, I am arguing that they do not fit exactly the role suggested by Lipsky and in-fact deviate from this framework in a number of key areas.
With reference to Lipsky and his critics, I propose for this study that a teacher acting as a Street-level Bureaucrat should be able to demonstrate that they are able to use their discretion when implementing the curriculum and be able to amend this to suit their students. The teachers should also demonstrate that they are implementing the curriculum to suit their own working environment and be aiming to keep the status quo of current practice. This study will also examine how teachers are supporting each other through social networks and how they are not working in isolation, as Lipsky suggests Street-level Bureaucrats do.
Who are Street-level Bureaucrats?
Lipsky’s Street-level Bureaucrats are motivated to adapt policy to support the people living and working in local communities and to give their clients the best opportunities to resolve any issues. They also aim to mold policy to make their own lives a little easier. Lipsky suggests that generalisations and ambiguity in policy leads to Street-level Bureaucrats organising their work in a way to identify solutions within the constraints of the resources available (Lipsky, 2010, p. 83). Even though he goes onto to say that this can lead to Street-level Bureaucrats lowering their objectives and the expectations to ensure client success.
However, Evans (2011) suggests that as there has been as shift of power towards managerialism in the public sector and there is less practitioner discretion. Street-level Bureaucrats are forced to conform through elaborate procedural manuals that define what action should be taken at every stage of decision-making. Even though managers often rely on those lower-level workers to effectively develop strategies of policy implementation in complex environments (Resh and Pitts, 2013).
Lipsky (2010, p. 146) suggests that some Street-level Bureaucrats should be specialists in what they do. However, this specialism restricts others from developing those skills. It is also suggested that Street-level Bureaucracy only works in organisations not guided by market forces, as the pressures of meeting targets force management to crave more control to ensure success (Brandon, 2005).
Managers are interested in achieving results consistent with the organisation’s strategic direction, and Street-level Bureaucrats are interested in carrying out policy that meets their own values and ideals, or those that are forced through by performance management (Resh and Pitts, 2013, p.133). To maintain morale and effectiveness of the Street-level Bureaucrats, it is sometimes necessary for managers to allow discretion and look the other way (Lipsky, 2010, p.19; Resh and Pitts, 2013, p. 132)
In education, Lipsky’s Street-level Bureaucrats materialise through the teachers tasked with implementing the curriculum. Teachers are considered professional practitioners (Carr, 2011) and, therefore, given some autonomy to develop the curriculum to suit their learners’ needs. The concern of this paper is to identify if teachers do in-fact have discretion in putting the new curriculum into action. In particular, as Brandon (2005) mentions, as they are subject a high level of managerialism due to the need to get results and achieve successful inspections by OfSTED.
The government launched the new Computer Science curriculum with a media campaign and a series of briefings from Westminster. The curriculum itself is a set of guidelines that outline the topics that should be covered during the teaching process, but these guidelines do not specify how these topics should actually be implemented. Thus suggesting that, teachers do have enough scope to adapt the curriculum to suit their learners.
Lipsky (2010, p. 146) suggests that some Street-level Bureaucrats should be specialists in what they do. However, this specialism restricts others from developing those skills. For example, specialist Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) teachers are often relied upon in their organisations to support all staff with computer based projects and curriculum. In agreement with Lipsky, the government are suggesting that all teachers should be teaching ICT within their lessons, leaving the specialist ICT teachers to teach computer science (Computing at School Working Group, 2012)
A conflict emerges when the professional teacher seeks help. Lipsky suggests that professional Street-level Bureaucrats are meant to work in isolation and have the knowledge to find solutions. For example, the ICT teacher in a school has been seen as the professional individual who can help with computer teaching and technology enhanced learning. It is then difficult for this professional to seek help of others, as it can leave that professional feeling they are incompetent (Lipsky, pg. 203).
Teachers do not completely fit the mould of Lipsky’s Street-level Bureaucrats, as he suggests that Street-level Bureaucrats distance themselves from their clients to avoid disruption to the order of their work. He gives the example of Judges using wigs and pulpits to create a distance between themselves and the accused (p. 17). However, teachers do not do this. They are keen to build rapport with their learners and attempt to break down barriers between themselves and their students. This close classroom relationship with the students could be why teachers feel stressed about change and it’s effect on the experience of the pupils.
Street-level Bureaucracy not working in the presence of market forces could be an issue in education, where the implied market forces of ‘success figures’ and ‘league tables’ are an external pressure on those implementing policy. However, it is these external pressures that could ensure teachers maintain expectations of students and support them to succeed. Countering Lipsky’s worries that ambiguity and lack of resources leads to Street-level Bureaucrats lowering their objectives and expectations to ensure client success.
Even though Lipsky suggests that Street-level Bureaucrats work in isolation to support their clients and implement policy, when the curriculum change is as dramatic as the new Computer Science curriculum it challenges the skill levels of the teachers. They need more support to implement the programme for their learners (Brandon, 2005) and at this point, it seems that the teachers have turned to each other and become part of networks of Street-level Bureaucrats. There is an active body of teachers using social media to support each other. For computer science, these networks can be found on Twitter, Blogs and community websites.
One particular community web site is the Computing at Schools (CAS) Network of Excellence. The British Computing Society (BCS), using government funding, set up this website and uses a network of teachers in schools sharing their experiences and resources to develop content and support each other. Teachers are also able to advertise events on this website for other teachers to attend and learn new skills.
A descriptive case study was used to research the sub-culture of teachers that are communicating, collaborating and challenging the new Computer Science curriculum. Case studies use different methods to capture the many aspects within a single case (Cohen, 2011). The case study involved gathering information from a range of sources to identify where these activities were taking place, who was involved and how they were using discretion to implement the new curriculum.
Often in a case study the researcher is an integral participant of the study, and the personality of the research, what data they use in the case study and the integration of the data from the different sources, can negatively affect the research. Even though Verschuran (2003) states that it is difficult for the researcher to remain neutral in a case study, I made significant attempts to be an impartial non-participant observer of the discussions taking place in the different medium. I also attempted to remain open minded to any changes in my pre-conceived experience with the new curriculum in computer science.
Throughout the case study research, a number of qualitative methods were employed to gather data. Initially, I used non-participant observation by ‘lurking’ in social networks. I observed conversations in the public social network discussions on Twitter. In particular, I looked at the hashtag labels #edchat, #ukedchat and #edtech. These labels are used to host scheduled discussion sessions once a week and I observed two sessions of each hashtag label as they took place to identify any aspect of teachers being able to use their discretion to implement the new curriculum. I also used these hashtag labels as search criteria to review historical conversations, using the following keywords: computing and computer science. These searches examined messages written since the official release of the new Computer Science curriculum on 11th September 2013 and up to the date 31st March 2014.
I also examined the blogs of established, vocal, street-level implementers of curriculum such as, Bob Harrison, Matthew Brittland and Alan O’Donhoe. From these blogs, I was able to follow the discussions taking place in the comment sections. I was hoping to carry out social network analysis to analyse the network connections of the Street-level Bureaucrats to see if these connections supported teachers to develop confidence in using their own discretion to implement the curriculum.
A focus group was also held to discuss how educators perception of the use of their discretion to implement the curriculum and any barriers that they encountered. It also explored the medium the participants used to find support and develop networks.
The focus group took place within two merged spaces at the same time. Three participants were physically present in the room, and another four were interacting online through a discussion forum hosted on the CAS website. The members were selected from different aspects of the sector to gain an overview of how the curriculum was affecting them. These participants had previously publicised their experiences of the Computer Science curriculum developments on the CAS website and this had identified them as candidates for the group. Two participants were from the primary school sector, two from the private education sector and three from secondary schools.
A type of Content Analysis (Newby, 2014) was then carried out on the data gathered from the different communication methods. The content analysis was used to identify categories of messages and comments to identify how discretion is being used to develop the curriculum and how the writers are supporting each other.
It was important to consider that there are issues with Content Analysis. The researcher can identify messages in the text that are not there because the text was written for different contexts. Also, categories chosen for analysis may reflect the researcher’s own agenda (Cohen, 2011).
I took the role of a ‘Lurker’ (Gribch, 2013) on twitter, a non–participant reader of messages. Even though I used my Twitter account to access the statements, I used the general search tools to locate messages and not any conversations that I had participated in. There could have been an issue of not receiving consent to use the messages as part of this research. However, consent was not sought, as these texts were in a public space and available for anyone to read (Borgatti et al, 2013). This was also true of the publicised articles on individual blogs.
The participants of the focus groups had received an explanation of the research and how their information was going to be used. It was also explained that the research was examining individual teachers’ thoughts on the Computer Science curriculum and, therefore, their first names would be used to identify individual comments (Borgatti et al, 2013). Even though Newby (2014) suggests that confidentiality is normal for focus groups, most of the data collected had already been discussed previously in public forums and the participants gave consent for their first names to be used.
Self as a researcher
I am identified as a Computing at Schools Master Teacher for Computer Science on the CAS website, however, I still consider myself as an outsider to the group I am studying in this research. The bulk of the teachers involved in implementing the new curriculum in Computer Science, and whom I have targeted as potential Street-level Bureaucrats, are primary and secondary teachers working directly in schools. I work in Teacher Education in a Higher Education Institute and, therefore, do not have direct access to pupils, and I am not expected to implement the curriculum directly.
I do get involved in supporting these teachers to understand the concepts of Computer Science and host meetings in physical rooms and online discussions via social media. In this paper, I attempt impartially to explore how teachers are implementing the new curriculum. However, I am aware that it is possible that I could be biased towards the teachers struggle to support each other in this implementation, as I work with them closely each day. Hence, my focus is on how teachers make the curriculum work for their learners and whether or not they fit within the suggestion that they are working as Lipsky style Street-level Bureaucrats, and not on the politics of where the curriculum came from and how it is being implemented.
I hope that by using non-participant observation and focus group discussions I will get the views of those involved in the process of the curriculum adoption and not my own.
While exploring Twitter, it became clear that teachers who were communicating with each other in this medium were using a series of hashtags to collate their messages. By searching these hashtags it was possible to identify different aspects of support in the content of the messages. The categories identified were; messages from organisations offering to run supporting events, support events hosted by individual teachers, links to information to help other teachers develop the curriculum, personal support from a particular teacher, and general questions from individuals to illicit responses from the social group.
A search for relevant messages was carried out using each hashtag and the keywords computing and computer science. The following number of messages was discovered under each category
|#edchat (computing)||#edtech (computing)||#ukedchat
|#edchat (computer science)||#edtech (computer science)||#ukedchat
|Events run by organisations||1||3||3||0||0||0|
|Events run by individual teachers:||0||0||1||0||0||0|
|Links to information:||7||7||7||3||1||2|
|Support offered by an individual:||1||5||8||0||2||1|
Overall it can be seen that twitter has been predominately used to by teachers to share information and support each other in the implementation of the new curriculum.
Blogs and forums
Teachers are implementing Computer Science in a number of ways to meet the objectives set out in the new National Curriculum. These are focused on Computer Science, and there are no longer elements of ICT (word processing, spreadsheets and databases).
A number of teachers are offering support to others through active discussion on their blogs. These include, Matt Britland (mattbritland.com), Bob Harrison (setuk.co.uk) and Alan O’Donohoe (teachcomputing.worpress.com). They describe how they are implementing the new Computer Science curriculum and then engaging with other teachers in the comments of other practitioners.
Alan Donoughe is going to split his secondary Computer Science curriculum into two parts, following a traditional computer science offering from Universities. In part one, his students’ will be exploring general computer hardware, software and looking at software games. They will also look at the basic numbering systems (decimal, binary and hexadecimal), before looking at computer processing units in detail. In part 2, Alan will be getting his students to work through programming, binary arithmetic and search algorithms.
Matt Britland will be implementing the Computer Science curriculum using a more contemporary interpretation of the curriculum and will be developing the student’s skills as they progress through the different year groups. The students will first learn about using blogs and cloud computing, while staying safe online. They will also learn the basics of how a computer works and learn visual programming (using drag and drop blocks of code to make a program, rather than typing in code). The students will then go onto to learn about more text-based programming, algorithms and mobile phone applications.
Matt Britland stated, ‘I have spent almost 7 years (including my training) just teaching ICT with very little computing. Where do I go from here?’ and Alan O’Donhoe explained, ‘Unfortunately, there is no magic recipe or secret formula to successfully teach programming in schools. I believe that if the teacher feels confident in their own understanding and is not too concerned about the detail of the curriculum, as their own confidence grows they will develop their own pedagogy and methods’, before using the comment sections of their blogs to discuss with their fellow teachers how they are developing their computer science skills.
Within the focus groups, the participants were encouraged to discuss their thoughts on the implementation of the new Computer Science curriculum via these structured questions.
o Do you feel that you are able you use your discretion to implement the new computer science curriculum?
o Are you able to implement the new curriculum to suit your pupils?
o What are the barriers to implementing the new curriculum to support your pupils?
o How are you going to overcome these barriers?
o Does having a social network of teachers give you confidence in implementing curriculum?
In the discussions, all of the teachers agreed that they do have discretion and are not constrained by the perceived increase of managerialism. In fact, one teacher stated in the focus group that they felt they had a lot of autonomy and that the managers left them alone to get on with planning the curriculum,
‘Yes [I] can use my discretion…so the curriculum is up to me. SLT [Senior Leadership Team] are happy for me to develop as appropriate’ (Amanda).
It was particular interesting to hear from the participants from schools in the private sector, as they have a large amount of discretion in all of the curriculum provision. Even though Computer Science is one of the few areas in which they will be using the National Curriculum, both participants thought it allowed a lot of discretion when compared to their normal subject schemes.
Although all of the participants agreed that the curriculum is flexible enough for them to amend it to suit their students, there were concerns that the curriculum may be resource led as teachers struggle to develop their own skills and struggle to fund adequate resources to support their curriculum design. There was also a concern that there are a significant number of students entering school, in particular primary, with low literacy and numeracy skills and these students would struggle to cope with the demands of the new curriculum,
‘The new curriculum will be difficult to implement for some teachers for various reasons. Many schools have children entering with very low levels of basic English and maths skills and these children are going to find it difficult to cope with the language associated with the computing curriculum’ (Liz)
The main barrier identified in the implementation of the Computer Science curriculum is contact time with the students. None of the participants thought they had been given enough classroom time with the students to develop their skills,
‘Contact time. 1hr a week is not frequent enough to easily embed some of the concepts. I’m thinking particularly of programming – imagine trying to develop another skill (playing an instrument, playing football, learning to read) with one hour a week; students can forget a lot over 7 days’ (Jason).
In addition to this, the focus group also suggested that resources and the skills of the teachers could also affect the implementation.
All of the participants believed that social media provided support for teachers and a place where they could share good practice,
‘ [social media provides] …subject leadership and sharing and pooling of ideas, which is often done through various media leaving teachers feeling they are not so alone’ (Hazel).
However, one participant did note that she did not use an online social network, as she believed she was self-sufficient and was a little shy of adding any resources herself. There was also a concern that a network of teachers with little knowledge and understanding of the curriculum could perpetuate incorrect assumptions and intensify any anxiety.
This research found no evidence of any resistance to change brought about by the new curriculum. Berkovich defined resistance to change as, ‘an attempt to maintain the status quo through stopping or delaying the proposed change’ (2011, p. 564). He goes on to claim that Street-level Bureaucrats need to believe in the curriculum change for it to happen and will resist otherwise. However, this is not true in this instance. Even though there was mixed opinion as to whether the change was needed, all of the teachers who were part of this study were focused on making the change happen.
Considering the discussions during the focus group and in the social networks, there was an overall indication that teachers, working as Street-level Bureaucrats, were supporting each other to alter their working conditions through their discretion in implementing the curriculum. Rather than Lipsky’s implied version of Street-level Bureaucrats who are trapped in their situation and trying to make the best of it (Evans and Harris, 2006, p. 447).
The discussions on the CAS community website, Twitter and individual blogs demonstrated that teachers were using their discretion to implement the new curriculum and showed that teachers are supporting each other through social networking. For example one teacher was offering to host an event with a Tweet that said,
‘teachers in the North West, fancy working with us?’
There was also evidence of organisations offering events to support to teachers. For example one Tweet from an organisation stated,
‘Computing teacher secondary/primary based in #eastbourne join us on 9 May 1/2 day creative computing’
There were only a relatively small number of teachers using Twitter to support each other for this particular case. Maybe, because there was a large amount of curriculum specific resources and support on websites such as the Computing at Schools Network of Excellence and more individualised support offered on personal blogs, that the teachers found these spaces more useful.
Even though twitter is over eight years old, it is still a relatively new medium for communication and teachers may still be discovering its usefulness to build social support networks. Evidence of this can be seen by examining the number of support events offered by individual teachers advertised on Twitter (1) compared to those advertised on the CAS website (over 500).
In this case, Twitter seems to be used more to share information between teachers. Examples of this category of message include,
‘Computing Guidance Booklet for Primary Teachers ‘
‘See http://community.computingatschool.org.uk/resources/1692 for an assessment framework and also https://sites.google.com/site/primaryictitt/ … for more excellent resources’
‘Where some of my computer science planning could fit in to [sic] your new computing curriculum’
The teacher making the above comment on Twitter, Phil Bagge, shared his primary computer curriculum plan. He was focusing his students’ development around developing their skills through the year groups.
‘Computing Levels Giant Poster http://wp.me/p2W0FU-4w > 1st draft’
This teacher, David Morgan, had shared on Twitter his visual representation of his interpretation of the curriculum. In this case, he was focusing Computer Science skill development on the different GSCE grades. Morgan highlighted the skills a student would need to achieve an A, B or C etc.
Teachers do not seem to fit exactly the role suggested by Lipsky and in-fact deviate from this framework in a number of key areas. Lipsky’s model needs revising for UK teachers. A mode of operation of Lipsky’s version of a Street-level Bureaucrat is to be self-sufficient. During the focus group, it was interesting that only one of the participants admitted to not using online social networks, as they believed they were doing fine supporting themselves. Suggesting that teachers could be self-sufficient if needed, but are more social than Lipsky suggests.
According to Lipsky, Street-level Bureaucrats make best of the resources available to them and, as these are restricted, they lower their expectations of their clients. It was evident in the focus groups that lack of resources was a potential barrier. However, none of the teachers in this group, or any on the social networks studied, discussed that they were going to lower their expectations of their students. In fact it seemed that teachers were adapting policy and making education work beyond any measurable performance, as suggested by Heimans (2012, p. 371). They were doing this despite not being specialists in Computer Science. None of the teachers in the focus group, or profiles read on social media, had a Computer Science background.
In summary, Lipsky suggested that Street-level Bureaucrats are working in isolation and able to use their own discretion in implementing policy, altering this implementation to suit their client. They should be specialists in their area and work in an area not subject to market forces. Lipsky’s Street-level Bureaucrats also aim to amend policy to keep their working conditions stable, and this can often mean lowering their expectations of their clients to ensure successful implementation of policy.
Despite not getting any direct support from the curriculum proposers, teachers have found ways to develop the curriculum and support their learners. The teachers in the focus group were adamant that they could use their discretion to implement the curriculum and support their students. Even though there were a number of barriers, including skills and resources.
I was quite surprised in the low number of teachers are using Twitter as a rapid way to socialise and share resources. This may be because of the amount of curriculum specific resources and support on websites such as the Computing at Schools Network of Excellence and respected individual teacher blogs.
My Initial thoughts were that teachers would be more vocal in their opposition of the changes being brought about by the new curriculum. However, my opinion has changed and from the study I can see that teachers are accepting the new curriculum and are working hard to find solutions to get the new curriculum implemented in their schools. They are not concerned about keeping the status quo and are, in fact, embracing the change.
It is important to note that some believe that teachers’ rhetoric on websites and social media can be an attempt to gain public legitimacy in their political message (Berkovich, 2011, p. 573). There is a risk that teachers, as writers, could combine emotional messages with rational arguments and use this as a political platform. While carrying out this study, I noticed only a small attempt to discredit the policy makers and reduce the political leaders’ persuasiveness through negatively labeling them (Berkovich, 2011, p. 537). There was more of an attitude of getting on with implementing the curriculum to support the students.
A question this essay has not been able to research is, ‘are today’s teachers, acting as Street-level Bureaucrats, a product of social reproduction?’ This research has highlighted that even though there have been rapid changes in the curriculum, teachers are resigned or comfortable with the change and focused on how these changes could be implemented. Is this due to this group of teachers having been through several iterations of educational change in their own education and their careers, and are used to being in a system of managerialism or central governmental control? It may be possible that they are more likely to understand that change has to happen than the Street-level Bureaucrats discussed by Lipsky and are more focused on making the best of these changes rather than rejecting or ignoring them.
Further research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of curriculum implementation of those teachers who gained support from others on the CAS community website and how individual bloggers influenced their own social networks to amend the curriculum.
There was not the scope in this research to explore the social network connections of teachers online. It may be pertinent to discover who is connected to whom and if this is relevant in supporting teachers implement new curriculum. It seems from this study that using social media creates temporary social network support groups to deal with particular issues. They then disappear to re-emerge with new members in different social media spaces.
The focus group discussion has certainly highlighted the thoughts of Bovens and Zourdis (2002) who suggested that, Street-level Bureaucrats have to decide to work within the rules or develop and suggest alternatives. It would seem that new curriculum implementation depends on the openness and vagueness of the policy, and teachers’ willingness to alter this during the implementation (Bergen and While, 2005).
This paper highlights that, in part, teachers are acting as Lipsky’s Street-level Bureaucrats in the implementation of the new Computer Science Curriculum as they are able to use their own discretion and they have enough scope to adapt the curriculum provision to suit the students’ needs.
However, the paper has also confirmed that Lipsky’s model of Street-level Bureaucrats needs amending for teachers in this instance. The teachers in this study have demonstrated that they are not interested in maintaining the status quo and are accepting the changes that are being made, and working together to identify implementation solutions. These teachers are not lowering the expectations of their students’ success and in most cases are not specialists in this curriculum field.
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Resh, W. and Pitts, D. (2013) No Solutions, Only Trade-Off s? Evidence about Goal Conflict in Street-Level Bureaucracies. Public Administration Review 73 132-142
Vaughan, R. (2013) Fears mount over readiness to teach new computing curriculum [online] http://news.tes.co.uk/b/news/2013/11/13/concerns-mount-over-readiness-to-teach-new-computing-curriculum.aspx [2 April 2014]
Verschuren, P. (2003) Case Study as a research strategy. International Journal of Research Methodology, 6(2) 121-139
I am starting the grand rebuild of my website. The overall aims of this rebuild are:
- develop a site that is responsive (adjust its size and interface dependant on device)
- restructure the content for new course and my own research journal
- create learning material for each session of the courses I run (developing open educational content that will allow me to flexible in my teaching)
- create a social element to the site
So far I have chosen to activate a theme called ‘Bones’. This theme is a framework for responsive design. It includes elements that will enable the site to react to the size of the viewing screen – good for smartphones.
Now I need to look at customising the design to suit my needs. Page structure and content development look straightforward and I will need to get on with developing course material if I am to be ready for September. Customising the look and feel of the site could be a little more difficult. Bones makes us of SASS and not CSS, which I more familiar with. Therefore, I will have to do a little exploring to find about SASS.
Bergmann discusses the issues when planning the classroom activities of Flipped Learning.
snapchat #rscfest14: http://youtu.be/4xy-vkq40Hs
As the academic year is coming to a end, I have realised I am an e-Mersive person, delivering learning via Anarchagogy and trying to avoid being subjected to Availability Error.
Phil Johnson’s presentation on Edupunk and disruptive learning introduced me to the concept of Anarchagogy and it seems to fit with my style of teaching very well. I am always testing the boundaries and challenging authority. As James Clay once said, it is better to give it a go and say sorry, than to waste time trying to get authorisation
2. e-Mersed or Adigital, which are you?
A recent study by the University of Oxford has highlighted that we are one of 5 cultures on the Internet:
- e-Mersed – the Internet is an integral part of your life
- Pragmatist – the Internet is essential to get jobs done
- Cyber-savvy – mixed feelings about the Internet
- Moderates – Internet is a good place to pass the time
- Adigital – the Internet is out of control and not made for them
When discussing education technology we should no longer be concerned about the Early Adopters, they will try and use any new kit without too much support. We should instead be strategising about how to engage the Self-excluders, those that are burying their heads in the sand and hoping all the blinking lights and beeping will go away.
4. Availability Error
Throughout this year I have noticed on a number of occasions people being subject to Availability Error. This error occurs when we try and make a judgement on something based on our available knowledge and past experiences, and this information may be incorrect in a particular context. Gove seems to be constantly basing his education strategy on his experiences of education!
Availability Error can compound any Confirmation Bias, in which you want to believe something is true and look for the little bit of data that confirms this, without considering the bigger picture.