March 8

Session 10 Reflection: Darren Savage Presentation

During our lecture we received a presentation on the changing state of the internet, how it is being developed and the various changes that are being made to progress this world in to a more web led culture. The reality is that the internet has no owner, society has the freedom to publish content they would like freely. Everything is being made freely available and this was described to being a ‘connective fabric of society’ by Darren Savage.

New products such as wearable technology is becoming increasingly popular. For example, apple watches and google glasses. Having products which essentially have the power to organise and schedule one’s life. Personally, although progression such as this is impressive, I can’t help but think that we are slowly being governed by technology. We are taking the responsibility away from human control and human power, and society is encouraging and marketing this to occur through introducing new technology products. However, there are benefits to such developments. When reflecting upon how it can be used within the classroom environment, wearable technology such as “Google glass” would assist children with autism. Delgado, R. comments on how wearable technology can help children with autism. His comments on how google glass assists children with autism to read emotions and feeling fascinated me. Technology often holds connotations to being robotic and impersonalised, however, google glass is an excellent example of how software can be used to bridge the gap of someone with autism to accurately interpret an individuals expression. The developments made by google glass has been given positive recognition by NBC News through stating ‘Glass and wearable technology are the future. They’re going to play a pivotal role in how we understand, manage and diagnose disorders like autism,’ said Robert Ring, chief science officer at Autism Speaks.

Other wearable technologies such as ‘Reveal’ also considers emotional moments for children by monitoring wearer’s heart rate, sweat levels and body temperature. Factors such as this are important then practising inclusion within a classroom to ensure all children are involved within their learning experience.

Wearable technology obviously has its downfalls. The most obvious one being cost. Schools are not able to fund for such expensive equipment. Wearable technology has been criticised as being ‘Expensive, bulky, and most often associated with experimental and research-based tasks, these devices lacked an aesthetic appeal and meaningful purpose for consumers’. (Sultan, 2015). This view is definitely relevant, especially when considering the aesthetic appeal, the cost does not always correspond to the service or product customers receive. This is a significant limitation in education as schools can not afford to spend their budget aimlessly on products that do not have a beneficial and worthy cause. However, wearable technology within education has been praised for benefiting the virtual learning experience of children. A report by insights states, ‘With budget constraints that have reduced the number of field trips in many schools, teachers have also pointed out to the possibility of using virtual travel to replace or supplement class trips to zoos, planetariums and other common field trip destinations’. (Roland, J, 2015)

As Darren Savage suggested, ‘The law of a network increases proportionate to the number of people who have the ability to understand, access and benefit from it’. Examples which illustrated this is through a company called ‘Ivyrevel’.

Image result for ivy revel customization

A bespoke business which tailors outfits based on the lifestyle one lives. This presents a theme of customisation and we can apply this concept in to the classroom setting. How can we personalise and customise teaching to the needs of all pupils through ICT? Well, tailoring learning to your classroom would be a start. Instead of using generic websites available for a general audience, a teacher can personalise learning to create a social environment. For example, websites such as Edmodo enable teachers to personalise learning based on the learning taking place within the class through posting homework, regulating chat rooms for help, sharing resources etc. Essentially, the equivalent of a social networking site for students. However, an issue with wearable technologies would include how long they would be used for. In the UK, a survey by Accenture indicates that ‘less than 30% of the population is interested in wearables devices.’ and continues to explain ‘…a third of users abandon their use at six months’ (2014). This means in order for wearable technologies to be successful, they need to be consistently used but sufficient research shows that its uses are not being used to their full advantage, therefore, not being worthy investments for schools.

After seeing this example, it made me reflect up on one of our prior lectures. The use of Class Badges offers this tool of personalising learning through the use of ICT by individually recognising children’s achievement’s and awarding them with awards by making it exclusive to the child rather than being a generic reward system. Sites like this inspire children to achieve their next step, a progression that is focused and exclusive to themselves.

However, incorporating such advances in to classrooms is arguably unrealistic in many cases. Firstly, schools do not have the sufficient funding to buy products like this, however, there is also an issue of not having the experienced staff members to research and find the appropriate tools. This is why conventions such as BETT are so influential in the progression of implementing teaching tools in to school which are technology based.

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March 7

BETT Show 2017

As a student, I have never been to a BETT show and therefore did not know what to expect. My initial thoughts was it being a convention with large education related businesses trying to sell their up and coming products. Buckingham recognises this through stating, ‘As the number of teachers leaving the profession has grown… educational technology has become an attractive opportunity for potential entrepreneurs…’ (2011:9). I could relate to this opinion as I personally felt that businesses were there for private interests rather than the focus being primarily open for  educational platform. However, there is a contrasting opinion which considers the need of having to sell technology to school in order to enthuse children about ICT. This is stated in the Becta Report, ‘Without some effort to ‘sell’ ICT based learning in this way it is unlikely that young people will force any ‘bottom-up’ change in schools’ uses of ICTs. Pupils clearly have an important role to play in the development of future forms of school ICT use, but it would seem that the lead should be taken by schools and other education technology stakeholders if meaningful change is to be initiated.’ (2008:40). This stance presents that there is a need for commercial advertisement in order for ICT and computing to progressively evolve in schools.

Nevertheless, the experience alone was a beneficial one as there were a range of interesting talks and presentations delivered. Upon arrival, it was easy to sign up as a student and enter the hall. After being phased by the busy and large spread, I decided to wonder. After walking around it was evident to see the variety of technology based products that were up for sale. My perspective on most of the items which were up for sale was that they were unnecessary. Although classrooms do require an element of technology based learning resources, there is no need for items such as a “Robotic Arm Education Kit”, which is essentially an kit which helps bridge children from using coding programs Scratch to more sophisticated areas such as Python. I personally did not see the benefits from an educational perspective, the main focus just seemed to come from a money making stance. However, an area which seemed to be quite popular included the use of interactive and physical approaches to learning through whiteboards. Using projector boards to present games where children can physically move and engage in an activity was interesting to me as it was a tool which could be used across many subjects. This is a strategy which I have seen being used in the children’s area in McDonalds, but until seeing at the BETT show, I never thought about the benefits of introducing the concept in to education. The Alliance for Excellent Education and the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) also recognises the advantages of interactive learning and by stating, ‘…that technology – when implemented properly -can produce significant gains in student achievement and boost engagement, particularly among students most at risk.’ (SCOPE:2014)


Whilst at the BETT show I watched a presentation by John Galloway which discussed inclusive approaches to teaching programming.

He discussed how introducing practical activities in to teaching can contribute to a child’s understanding of the concept of coding. For example, asking children to write the directions of their journey to school, this forms an algorithm and develops their understanding of computational thinking. Allowing children to make connections with real life situations is important because coding is a topic many students feel intimidated by. However, incorporating practical activities makes the subject easily relatable. I would personally use this technique, especially for lower KS1 students and is something I would consider planning for during my next BSE placement as I teach in a year 1 class.

One aspect of John Gallway’s presentation particularly interested me. When discussing coding he discussed how ‘coding can be a hands on experience’ and suggested the resource ‘cubetto’ as a prime example of how learning coding does not need to taught through computers. Instead, it’s a playset which is based on touch. A learning resource which would be particularly beneficial for KS1 students.

The above example demonstrates that although BETT can be criticised for driving a consumerist market, simple learning tools like this continues to place educational values at the forefront of the conventions philosophy.

My overall experience of the BETT show was that it was interesting to see the different products that are out there, however, I found that many of them are unnecessary and are simply not needed. In terms of the BETT show as a whole, it was  busy and many of the stands did not seemed interested in students, they were more interested in making sales to bigger companies. Would I take my future class for a visit? Perhaps upper Key Stage 2 so they could experience the community, especially if there are children who are interested in such products. However, I would ensure to take them to a talk or presentation which would inform their learning.

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March 7

Video Based Conference

The Horizon Report addresses areas which focus on how technology can change the outlook on how we teach and deliver lessons. During our last lecture, the video conference enabled us to collaborate and present an area of the Horizon Report where we discussed and delivered information on a particular area. This was beneficial because we were able to not only converse in a large group, however, we could also chat, ask questions, brainstorm ideas etc. all through the tools that were provided online. This manner of learning was effective because it provided an alternate stance to sitting in the lecture room, instead, we as students led the learning. The area of discussion I presented included “Redesigning Learning Spaces”. It was interesting to find that there had recently been a shift from a teacher-centric approach to student-centric pedagogies. We learnt that simple changes such as the infrastructure of a school can deeply effect the academic performance of a student. For example, a study from the University of Washington stated that simple adjustments such as better lighting, a collaborative based layout, interactive whiteboards and so on, meant that academic performance increased by 15%. The use of technology can also be adopted in to re-creating a learning environment, this led on to making me think that the video based conference which we were engaging in mirrored such practise. The learning environment was through our laptop at home, however, it enabled us to participate in active learning where we listened to others, commented and partook in discussion. In the future, I would include this approach in to my own teaching practise, although I understand children may not be able to carry out video conferences at home, we could try to incorporate it in to the classroom as a group. For example, setting up video conferences with students from other parts of the world to benefit and learn from their experiences. Through reading, it was interesting to see how the use of ICT has also been used to embrace learning difficulties. The article,‘Embrace ICT to curb learning difficulties in children’ (https://www.newsday.co.zw/2017/03/06/embrace-ict-curb-learning-difficulties-children/) discusses how technologies such as c-pen readers and dragon dictators (scanning pen reader to assist dyslexic students) can assist children with SEN. Spectators are often quite skeptical about using technology to assist students with particular needs, however, if it positively assists them then surely we should be adopting them in to our education system? Therefore, it is vital we discover the various learning tools out there as technology provides us with such a wide scope for learning. E-learning approaches are becoming particularly popular and our video conference enabled me to understand why as I benefited from the alternate approach to engaging with education.

 

March 6

Discussion with the teacher and recommendations given

When we went to Rutherford House School to present our VLE to the teachers, we conversed in a good discussion which both benefited us so we knew what improvements to make, however, it also provided a learning opportunity for the teacher. Google classrooms was something that the teacher was not aware of and seemed quite apprehensive about introducing something new in to the school (bearing in mind that the children are in years 1-3 and are therefore, quite young). However, once we modelled the different function within google classroom, the teacher seemed to be interested and was pleasantly surprised by the overall function as she found it simple and said that it was something which could be fairly easy to integrate in to the school. However, once we reviewed our plans and showed the different areas of the VLE, several recommendations were given. For example, the teacher appreciated the activities although she did point out that some of our activities may need refining. For example, instead of providing written instructions, we could add a link which gives verbal instruction which would be more appropriate for the younger students. Additionally, the teachers suggested uploading work on there in the future which would encourage group work. Shared tasks would mean children would have to collaborate online through actively commenting and cooperate more. One of the key areas the teacher highlighted was to include more resources. For example, expecting a child to write their work up in a separate word document and attach it to the VLE is not realistic. Instead, we should provide templates which students can print off, complete by hand and then ask parents to upload a picture of the work. This would mean the reading club area would be accessible to children across the school instead of those at the higher end. Overall, the teacher was impressed by the concept in general and seemed enthusiastic to contribute ideas as she displayed a motivated attitude towards the concept. This meeting was beneficial as it gave us a thorough indication of how to improve the e-learning area.

 

March 6

Salmon, G. (2002) Chapter 2: The 5 Stage Framework and e-Activities.

Salmon, G. explores the model of teaching through e-learning. The model includes the teacher motivating the pupils within the e-learning environment and builds up to online collaboration, information exchange and development. Salmon highlights that the concept of an e-learning environment is to engage the participants, if they are motivated then an online community will be created whereby the members (students) will collaborate and engage. This ideal relates to the expectancy theory, if the learning activity has value to the learner then the learner is more likely to succeed. Therefore, when creating a VLE, it is important that the teacher is aware of the learning intentions and the educational purpose. When reflecting upon the Reading Club VLE we are currently creating, once it goes live the teacher will an e-moderator. The resources we include in the classroom will be functions the class teacher will hopefully continue to adopt using with the class. This is why it is important to include resources and activities which children will be likely to show an interest in. Salmon’s general philosophy states that the level of student involvement indicates the level of student motivation. As a result, the activities we include in the VLE have to be interactive in order for them to be successful. The e-moderator (teacher), can continue to use themes we adopted such as giving opportunities for children to connect and communicate, input videos, sound etc. This will hopefully result to maintaining an active e-learning platform which academically contributes to the children’s learning. A benefit of the teacher being an e-moderator enable them to formatively assess the children’s learning, they can pose questions, read their thoughts and comment in a manner which does not present direct assessment. However, the only issue with the teacher acting as an e-moderator includes the possibility of them having to experiment and make mistakes if they are not familiar with how to use the site. If this is an issue then sufficient user guides will need to be provided, this is an aspect we may need to consider once handing over the Reading Club VLE.