The views contained within the attached report are based on recent discussions within the Naace membership, and issues debated during a number of previous key activities and reports created with substantial Naace input. These include:
• A joint Naace / QCA think tank held in February 2006
• Findings from the Becta funded Naace “Transforming Education” project
However, the questions asked are complex and ideally, require a group of expert practitioners within each subject area to come together to debate in depth. This may be something that Becta would wish to consider at a later stage in the development of a model of the e-mature learner.
In order to define the characteristics of an e-mature learner, we must firstly define e-learning. For the purpose of this report, I therefore conclude that the term 'e-learning' is ‘learning that is enhanced through the effective use of new technologies',- with the aim of transforming learning with ICT, so that the nature of the learning itself is changed?
'E-maturity' in general is a word that is gaining common parlance amongst the ICT Community, but few members of staff within our schools would have confidence in using the term at this point in time. Its movement into the English language depends on clarity of definition and perceived usefulness as a term and it is therefore our collective responsibility to ensure the term e-mature is clearly defined for each of the key players: Student; teacher; and establishment. E-confidence and e-maturity might look slightly different to each.
The Naace community feel that if there is a concept of e-maturity for the school, it is also good to have a corresponding concept for the learner - so that it is not just a 1-way model of the school getting very good and then passing this on to the learner – but also the learner taking responsibility for their learning, and having a positive effect on the school.
Another term that has grown in recent times is 'e-confidence' - defined in some detail by 10 statements and which has formed the basis of SLICT head teacher training, and influenced the Becta self-review framework. This term has proved to be very useful shorthand for possessing a systemic overview of change using ICT, and a state of readiness in preparing to implement it.
The differentiation of an e-mature learner, in relation to an e-confident learner, will therefore also need to be clearly defined although one might deduce that e-maturity describes a stage beyond e-confidence where ICT practice is now starting to result in visible impact upon work completed. The e-mature learner will therefore be capable of using ICT effectively, where appropriate, in all aspects of life; and will be able to make decisions about when and where to use IT to best effect, based upon an understanding of how to go about a learning activity; what sort of use of ICT is helpful; who they will work with in an increasingly co-operative working environment – or indeed whether its best to use things other than ICT.
To give an example – A student was given an art assignment to find some patterns in nature on the internet. E-confidence would be knowing how to use Google images (or whatever) to find some patterns, and how to paste them into an electronic report. Whereas e-maturity would be thinking that a much better activity would be comparing these with other web-based image research, and using an electronic publishing format to present them – “blog”, “MySpace” or personal webspace . So perhaps the "e-" stands for "effective learning-"
Despite the shortcomings of the term e-maturity, the development from e-literacy to e-maturity is clear. It involves the development from knowing how to use a skill to deciding when and how to use a skill.
The discussion within Naace so far seems to have refined the term “e-maturity” , but has perhaps not been as successful in defining what the actually usefulness of the term is. In many school environments the scope for developing this level of independence is limited. Tasks have to be fairly directed to teach skills and give practice. The jump to a child being able to ask to use a spreadsheet to calculate the house point’s totals each week and being practically able to do it may be more of a problem. This hinges on the constraints of the curriculum and the constraints of the computer resources. The teacher must seek opportunities for their learners to develop higher level thinking skills relevant to ICT
Limited feedback from anecdotal evidence suggests development of e-maturity may still be held back by the enormous variation in the e-maturity of teachers themselves.