ICT as Political Action

Email | Discussion forum | Contact us
subglobal1 link | subglobal1 link | subglobal1 link | subglobal1 link | subglobal1 link | subglobal1 link | subglobal1 link
subglobal2 link | subglobal2 link | subglobal2 link | subglobal2 link | subglobal2 link | subglobal2 link | subglobal2 link
subglobal3 link | subglobal3 link | subglobal3 link | subglobal3 link | subglobal3 link | subglobal3 link | subglobal3 link
subglobal4 link | subglobal4 link | subglobal4 link | subglobal4 link | subglobal4 link | subglobal4 link | subglobal4 link
subglobal5 link | subglobal5 link | subglobal5 link | subglobal5 link | subglobal5 link | subglobal5 link | subglobal5 link
subglobal6 link | subglobal6 link | subglobal6 link | subglobal6 link | subglobal6 link | subglobal6 link | subglobal6 link
subglobal7 link | subglobal7 link | subglobal7 link | subglobal7 link | subglobal7 link | subglobal7 link | subglobal7 link
subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link | subglobal8 link

Leaving Certificate Applied

small logo

series of pictures of student activityLeaving Certificate Applied

The Leaving Certificate Applied is a distinct, self-contained two-year programme aimed at preparing students for adult and working life. The programme puts an emphasis on forms of achievement and excellence, which the established Leaving Certificate has not recognised in the past. Its primary objective is to meet the needs of students who are not catered for by the two other Leaving Certificate programmes, the established Leaving Certificate and the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme, and who might otherwise leave full-time education (Department of Education and Science, 2000). The Leaving Certificate programmes are followed by student in the senior cycle of post-primary (secondary) education. Typically students are aged from 15 to 18 years.

Communities of practice

A group of teachers undertook to establish the LCA programme in the school. At the organisational level the approach taken to set up the LCA programme was unusual in that it set out with the teachers involved taking a collegial approach, in contrast to the authoritarian approach common in the school. The LCA team assumed that learning was an essentially social phenomenon and that a successful programme depended on the relationships within the team and with the students. The tacit view of the group was that learning is part of our lived experience of participation in the world (Wenger 1998: 3) Despite the dominant view that some students are good at learning and others are not, the team took the view that learning is part of human nature, that we cannot not learn (Habermas 1975) and further that we are all quite good at it (Wenger 1998).

Additional information about LCA programmes is available from the LCA Support Service at: http://lca.slss.ie/

LCA 2000Dan developed a web site to share with other students what he saw as the benefits of the LCA programme

LCA 2002The world wide web can act as a transformative technology honouring multiple forms of intelligence and the vernacular of today’s student (Brown 2002). Evidence of this can be seen in the work of LCA students. One students was so proud of his achievements in LCA that he developed a web site to promote the benefits of the LCA to other students. Click on the title to this article to access his work.

Personal Reflection and WebQuest

While working with the students I was conscious of the fact that reflection on experience in the classroom seemed to be helpful for Anne, my teacher-education student, and for me. Drawing on the dialogic nature of the action learning work in NCVA I was conscious of the lack of dialogue within my classroom. I wondered if I could find a way through ICT that would support reflection and perhaps lead to dialogue in the classroom.

click here to access the Personal Reflection WebQuest

LCA 2004Two years later another students followed his approach and developed another site to promote the work of LCA. Within his web site he developed a statistics section. In this section he presented the official statistics for achievements in LCA nationally. He observed that 29% of LCA students achieved an overall distinction nationally in 2000. 69% of the students in his own school achieved a distinction. (stats) Apart from qualitative analysis, commonly used metrics indicated that this group of students were achieving highly.

The LCA programme includes a task called the Personal Reflection task, but this had not been carried out through the medium of ICT previously. At the same time I was conscious in my research that I had been making claims that other people were learning, I could not provide evidence from the learners that they were learning. Focusing on self evaluation and personal reflection might support both of these purposes.
A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by students is online. By providing links necessary to complete the quest, the student is able to focus on the material rather than spend time looking for it. WebQuests usually have five parts: introduction, task, process, evaluation and conclusion. Following through an assignment using these steps are claimed to promote critical thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation (Dodge 1995).

LCA PowerPoint A third student followed a similar theme but chose a different technology. He presented his understanding of the LCA programme as a PowerPoint presentation to be displayed to other students as a rolling demonstration at a school careers fair.

This PowerPoint presentation and the web sites above show clearly that the students have gained substantial skills in information and communications technology. But the comments in the presentations indicate that the students have learned more than ICT skills. Anthony commented:

  • L.C.A is a different course designed to get the students ready for life
  • There is a more work friendly environment between students and teachers
  • Passing is your own responsibility

Anthony had come to understand the importance of relationships to his learning. He seems to have come to understand the self-directed nature of learning and the importance of taking control of your own life.

The outcome of the engagement with ICT was a willingness to engage in other ways and to achieve meaningful learning. These students were preparing for the world of uncertainty (Claxton 1999).

The third reflection process involved visiting one of seven web sites and reading an article there. The learner had to summarise the article and write out the three things he considered most important. The learners then had to forms groups and see if the group could agree on the three most important things.
In his account one student wrote:
" We went over the three points as a group and agreed that the damage has been done is a good point because he can’t change what has already happened. The most he can do is say sorry for what he has done. 'I learned that we can work as a group and agree on three points without any arguments among the group. You can use this in the workplace if you are working with a group to make the job a lot easier for us. It can also be used in school for setting up an event in a group."
Christopher and his co-workers were able to enter into discussion within a small group and discuss different points of view and come to a consensus on the outcome. This is a dialogic community participating in a system of intersubjective learning (Arnett 1986, 1992; Gadamer ([1960] 1982; Freire1972). Dialogic learning involves the engagement of learners and teachers, it takes as its subject matter content which is relevant to the learning and produces learning which is relevant to the learner. In Christopher’s case we can see these elements. While the prompt for the formation of the discussion group came from the teacher, through the WebQuest, the action to form the group came from Christopher.The formation of the group and the work undertaken helps develop democratic values in the educative process, supports the building of character, and assists the establishment of a community for the educative enterprise (Dewey, 1981; Friere, 1972).

Political Action through ICT and music

The Beginners Guide to the Guitar
Guitar Report

As part of their IT task two students with an interest in music undertook to design, develop and print a booklet The Beginners Guide to the Guitar. One the designer commented:
I know that plenty of the things I have learned in ICT will be useful again before I leave school in June. I also feel that the information I have learned will be useful when I go to college. One of the best things about the task is it has totally inspired me to remain studying the guitar"

Beyond this, Christopher is able to reflect on his tacit learning from experience and make that learning explicit (Varela et al. 1993) to members of his learning community. By writing his account of his learning and making it available for publication he is making his learning explicit publicly. He is contributing to the knowledge base of education (Snow 2001). Further he can apply his learning to similar situations and anticipate where this learning might be useful later. Facilitation or leading discussions is one of the ‘great difficult things’ of classroom teaching (Greene 1954) Christopher has taken it in his stride! Perhaps the main insight for the teacher from this experience is that some matters that are difficult to teach can easily be learned within communities of practice (Wenger 1998).

Soccer Coaching

How to Become a Soccer Coach
Soccer Coaching Report
One student undertook researching and producing a booklet on soccer coaching because "...up to 70% of children leave sport between the ages of eight and thirteen because it was no longer FUN!"

Reflecting on his task Chris commented I have got better IT skills doing this task. I now know that I have a lot of IT skills that I will put to use ...to get me a job... This task has made me better at soccer.... as a person I would be more confident of speaking to young children 'cause I will know what I am talking about."


You can get more details of the webquest project and other aspects of the research with LCA classes by downloading Chapter 5.

When the LCA students were carrying out their assignment through the medium of ICT they were involved in labour, work and action (Arendt 1958). Labour is ‘routine behaviour required to meet basic needs. The labour for the students was the basic ICT skills like logging-on, saving files and printing documents. When they produced multimedia artifacts like web sites and PowerPoint presentations they were involved in work. ‘Work includes activity by artists and craftspeople to make lasting objects that comprise the human world’. However as they took control of their own lives through these activities they were taking action. ‘Action requires collective interaction to determine what is good and just’ They were involved in action in that they got to know themselves better, they got to understand their capacities better, and they were able to articulate those capacities better. This was achieved through the medium of technology on the one hand but also the provision of an environment which supported collaborative work. That environment was not created on its own. The work of the LCA programme was the work of a team of teachers working together with their students; some of them using ICT but some of them using other methods to arrive at the same type of outcome. ‘ICT as political action’ was not operating in a vacuum but within the context of a group of people who were working collaboratively to support non-traditional forms of learning.

small site logo About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | copyright © 2007 Ray O'Neill