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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Eleven Plus and the Digital Age

The Eleven Plus seems to be becoming more and more dominated by the internet. In the `olden days’ an authority would set a test. Teachers would help their children to prepare. Each teacher would have his or her own methods of preparing the children. Bit by bit publishers cottoned on to the idea that a book or series of papers would help children to prepare.

The internet came along. Everyone and anyone can become an eleven plus expert. Word of mouth is still very important – but communication can be over great distances as well over the garden fence or in the playground.

There is a fascinating discussion by Justin Reich inEducation Today where he looks at the use of technology in schools. Has this technology taken away the ultimate aim of the eleven plus – how to help deserving children enter grammar schools? He poses the following questions:
For Educators
1)    Do the most exciting technology-rich learning opportunities in your school go to the most-advantaged students?
2) Is your school using technology to gain efficiencies in old practices, or to do things that are truly different?
3) Does your school teach students to be afraid of making bad decisions on the Internet? Or do you teach students how to create a digital footprint to be proud of?
4) Do rubrics for online projects evaluate students' ability to demonstrate their understanding, or do they measure compliance concerning criteria like length, number of posts, number of pages, etc.?
5) To what extent is your school measuring the impact of your technology investments? Could you prove to your stakeholders (parents, school boards, trustees) that the vast sums invested in technology are making a difference in student learning?
6) Does your school have a coherent vision that defines high quality learning? Is your technology plan specifically designed to serve that vision?
7) How does your school prepare students for a world where the vast majority of learning takes place outside of school?
The questions are not about the eleven plus – but do show how others are viewing the impact of how our `digital age eleven plus children’ are being prepared for the future.

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