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.
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.
Whilst considering possible examples of well-designed sites, the first school I thought of was Christchurch Primary School as it was the school I attended and completed a voluntary placement at. I immediately thought of this school as I am aware of the excellent level of education it provides its students being rated “Outstanding” by Ofsted as well as having exceptional ICT facilities for students to use. Whilst going through their website I liked several features including the bright, clear and structured format which is immediately evident on it’s homepage. I also warmed towards the welcoming home page as it allows users to select a language. A big proportion of students who attend have EAL so this assists parents enabling them to keep informed about their child’s education in a way they can understand. It additionally has different areas for Staff, Students and Parents. A feature I particularly liked was the ‘parent view’ page which gives parents the chance to tell Ofsted what they think about their child’s school so the school can be thoroughly inspected.
On the other hand, I also looked at another primary school which is fairly local to where I live. Snaresbrook Primary School is a fee paying school and by the looks of it’s website, a stereotypical private school it is. The lack of vibrancy and colour does not reflect a primary school, whilst looking through the website, it seems quite impersonal and does not provide opportunities for children to engage and access materials from home. Neither does it display any recent updates of children’s work or show anything which reflects a fun learning environment. In my opinion, the website is far too structured and seems to be active as a business opportunity rather than a website which celebrates the achievement’s of the school and the students that attend it.
How would teachers act like an e-moderator
In order for e-activities to work successfully in a classroom the 5-stage framework of teaching and learning has been implemented.
For every platform to work successfully each stage needs the “participants”, in this case the students, to work successfully. Each stage focuses on building the correct personal identities for individuals to collaborate and share information. Students would have to master certain technical skills and good human intervention and assistance is required for students to achieve this level. For example, if we put stage 1 and 2 in to context for an e-learning platform it would include children uploading pieces of work and sending comments to other students on their work. The class teacher would act as an e-moderator to assess whether the comments being made are appropriate, whether the audience are engaging well, providing students with helpful feedback and general maintaining an active online collaborative community.
A key area that e-moderators need to maintain includes motivation. One of the key messages of the text includes teachers having the responsibility of “enticing” children. This means a constant sense of engagement is required. As an e-moderator, teachers would need to ensure that the e-learning platform is kept current. For example, introducing new topics of discussion and tasks regularly in to the e-learning area. This means students will not get bored as there is live action taking place which takes up on to the next stage of arriving. Some students may not arrive and be active on the e-learning platform, they may require an extra push or level of encouragement. Therefore, a good design of the e-learning platform is crucial, making it fun and presentable. As a designer, it’s important for me to understand my audience, the students abilities and understanding their interests. If we do suitable research and exchange information well, we can construct an area of knowledge that can be shared amongst a wide community but is mainly specialized for the students we aim the reading club purpose for. Lastly, the point of maintaining the e-learning platform is another area of a successful frame of teaching. As mentioned above, children need to be kept interested as they often get bored. How would I plan to engage my students successfully? Well, of course, keeping the e-learning platform up do date and current is an important area, however, allowing the children to lead the focus of work is also important. Perhaps opening a room discussion on asking what students would like to read, giving them opportunities to share anything they have seen or experienced that is interesting etc.
Overall, the teacher acts as managers of learning, however, I see it as children being the directors of the assigned tasks as they lead the frame of discussion. Therefore, as e-moderators, it is important we listen to what children want and are interested in.
Whilst reflecting up on the effects blogging has on students, it made me realize the power and effect children portray from blogging. For example, the NeverSeconds blogger Martha Payne continuously blogged about the poor quality school meals she was provided and due to high popularity and interest she received from the media. However, there was a lot of controversy about her posts to the point of which she was banned from uploading them at a certain stage.
Other methods of blogging have become increasingly popular in schools such as the 100 word challenge where students create a piece of work that others can comment on and join a community of reading other people’s work. For example, here is a response I gave to a student’s blog:
Appropriate advice should always be provided where students fully understand the negative connotations they can be faced by so that they are aware and cautious of the signs.
However, if an appropriate filtering system is embedded into a school’s blogging system then there is a wide range of potential and opportunity children can access.
A summary of the reading included what makes good educational practice. Barrs and Horrocks listed this as “effective discussion and good writing skills”, the overall outcome of these topics when being taught and practiced by students found that children work most responsively when inviting topics of discussion are posed.
Overall, a project was conducted to allow teachers to reflect up on their practice, observe pupils closely and document their observations. Blogging was the main method of assessment and was a key area for children to provide a reflection of what they understood. However, the study showed that teachers often form a generic basis to a blogging task, for example, posing a simple question for the children to respond to. However, an effective blogging area should really generate a stimulating environment to engage students. for example, placing videos, an article or interesting resources which can work as a starting point for children to generate ideas and thoughts.
Barrs and Horrocks reflected up on using videos and them being highly successful when developed in to teaching. Children are very responsive to good science videos and should therefore be encouraged by teachers as they should use them more to stimulate the minds and thinking process of students.
The study showed that children thoroughly enjoy writing, composing stories and writing plays so therefore, this should be embraced in to blogging. Good writing must be for a real purpose and in context and the writer must truly understand ho the audience is/will be. Good writing is creative and expresses something, be that feelings or humor.” Therefore, it is agreed that good writing has real meaning and purpose with a strong sense of a reader/audience being present.
To conclude, if blogging is effectively pushed by teachers, it can generate a big frame of learning opportunities and practice for children to benefit from.
Learning communities can range from a variety of sources. For example, a learning community may include group study groups within a classroom, a reading club and even group study chats on mobile applications such as whatsapp. The main point is that a learning community should benefit an individual by adding new experiences to their learning journey.
As mentioned in the previous lesson, e-learning platforms are an effective way of achieving a successful learning environment. Not only does it provide learners with a wide range of scope to work from, it is also organized, manageable and easily accessible for a large audience which may include students, teachers, parents, governors etc. The benefits of using e-learning platforms has been widely recognized by many establishments and institutions even to the point of the government pushing forward online workspaces. The Department for Education and Skills highlights the benefits of using e-learning strategies for the 21st century as they can offer personalized support, online communities, flexible study, tools for innovation, collaborative learning etc. attributes which are all necessary for leading a progressive and successful learning environment.
When reflecting up on the benefits of an e-learning platform, it made me reflect and plan upon the properties I would like to incorporate in to my e-learning platform. The characteristics I would like to integrate in to my e-learning platform would include supporting teaching and learning (by allowing teachers to have a platform where they can communicate and collaborate with students) and unifying learner support (allowing students to learn from each other). Revolutionizing teaching by embracing the shift from traditional whiteboard lessons to online classrooms is something “Braincert” is passionate about and emphasizes on the increased opportunities for collaborative and interactive learning.
However, some may be reluctant to use e-learning platforms as traditionalists may not see the benefits of moving the focus away from personal tutoring. Therefore, there is confrontation within the teaching community as how to beneficial and effective e-learning platforms can be.
The article discusses the positive use of ICT to promote community cohesion within the education system. Historically, education in Northern Ireland has always been divided in to religious denominations and this has caused an isolation and conflict between between Protestants and Catholics. However, interventions have been made to resolve this although it has not been quite successful as planned. For example, plans had been made by the Department of Education to build 10 new schools of different denominations who would share facilities. So although there are clear efforts being made to build community cohesion, it is proving to be quite difficult amongst different communities.
As a result, ICT has been used to link schools together in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The ePartners ICT programme set up by Ulster University aimed to integrate 16 school together through the VLE, Fronter. The results showed that although some found it difficult to use the programme and other teething problems such as limited internet connectivity, overall it proved to be fairly successful. Overall, students worked collaboratively on a task through Fronter, they also built upon their ICT skills and developed good working relationships between other schools and students.
Based upon this investigation, it is evident to see that ICT does support community cohesion. Firstly, VLE’s allow teachers and pupils to work alongside each other in a relaxed and non-judgemental environment. This makes students feel more comfortable to approach teachers and share their ideas with them. In terms of collaboration, ICT allows pupils to work with individuals they would not otherwise do so in realty. For example, collaborating with people from other countries or regions. Creating links with other partnering educational institutions is important and ICT allows these links to develop and strengthen. Lastly, e-partnering programmes also allows schools to make the most of the materials they have. A lot of the time, IT equipment is not used to it’s full advantage because there is likely to be a weak programme ICT leader to push its use or there is a lack of training. However, e-partnering means that schools can benefit from other partnering institutions experience and they can share tips and learning material.
Overall, ICT and e-partnering programmes are highly beneficial, specifically for when social cohesion and community integration needs to be improved.
As a child the web was primarily used as a search engine. A place I would go to search for answers quickly and something which was easily accessible. However, as Berners-Lee highlighted in his article, the web is a strong tool for communicating. In relation to this, there has been an increased use in educational social networking platforms where students could share and read users’ resources and comment on them. I used several sites during exam seasons that contributed to my learning journey. For example, the student room was the most commonly social learning platform I used. It enabled me to ask students doing the same subject for advice on particular topic areas, past paper model answers, helpful resources etc.
Additionally, online tutorials and learning exercises played a central role to learning. Websites such as BBC bitesize and MyMaths allowed me to consolidate and build upon the lessons which had been delivered in the classroom and online tasks were assigned onto MyMaths so teachers could assess our understanding. This was a positive learning aid as it was made interesting and engaging. Various teaching models such as videos and diagrams made the topics more fun. Both of the above reflections demonstrate formal learning experiences influenced by the web however, I also used the web to access learning in an informal manner.
For example, I used games to shape my learning. This started from a young age as I would play the CD games on my home computer. However, the development of online gaming resulted to me learning online more frequently. A personal favourite was a website called Digger and the Gang. Although it is no longer active and has been archived, it interested me due to the story line children could follow of the different characters. The resource covered all the foundation topics and broke areas up in to age phases making the website appropriate and interactive for a specified age targeted audience. Online gaming has grown in popularity and so has been embraced by educational communities.
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