Sunday, 20 May 2007

Doubt creeps in

What am I doing? Have I made a monster? I wanted to free the teacher from the post-it. Have I just shifted the manacles onto electronic post-its? Having read some very impassioned and heartfelt posts on Debbie Hepplewhite's thread on the TES Early Years Forum and an article for the Guardian by Ted Wragg some worrying questions are arising in my head.
Don't get me wrong, I am a firm believer in assessment for learning and practice being informed by quality observations of children whilst learning. However, if there is an obsession with making observations and recording, then there is a danger that the skills of the excellent practitioner will be buried under a wave of over-observation. Shouldn't practitioners be spending their time doing what they do best and what is best for children - teaching, engaging, facilitating? Would the hand-held PC only serve to keep practitioners from doing what they do best?
Many of the teachers I've spoken to recently seem more concerned with the 'e-profile' as opposed to the 'e-portfolio' idea as outlined below. I think the distinction is that the e-portfolio idea is more about a record of a learning journey, reporting to parents, and, to a certain extent, evidence gathering. This, in itself, is not lacking in value. I could imagine what a wonderful 'document' this portfolio/record of learning might be once a student reaches the end of formal education. Imagine presenting relevant parts of it at a job interview for instance.
The e-profile, on the other hand, is seen by many practitioners as a once-termly chore, to be completed whilst sifting through a mass of evidence. The message I am getting is that what people are looking for is some sort of application that will allow e-profile updates 'on the hoof'. I'm not sure such a thing exists, but have contacted Target Tracker to find out more about their product.
I also spoke to a Headteacher of a Primary school today who is a big fan of Microsoft Excel for number-crunching purposes. Might some sort of Excel-based system be part of the solution? Might there be a need to somehow synchronise applications like Onenote with e-profile software? How?
Questions, questions...