Today was an interesting day as we had the privilege of a guest speaker by the name of Darren Savage who works as head of planning for Publicis London.
Darren gave an interactive lecture about the internet and the world wide web, discussing where it has all come from, where it is going and its effects on us an others. What was interesting for me was my subject knowledge was in tune with much of what Darren was saying. The internet of everything and the structure of jobs and the work place in the future and how technology is changing the way we think and do thinks.
Take the iWatch for instance, it allows wearable connectivity. How will this change the way we do things in the future, work and play become interlinked through technology.
Of interest in our discussion was the use of technology available now which could be used in the classroom. Take for instance NEST, instructed for the home market but place this in schools and we have an interactive learning tool where children can use maths skills to think about temperature, light and power usage and cross curriculum links with understanding the world and energy and the plant.
Bluetooth, WiFi are all part of out lives but how can we harness technology in the classroom?
Where is the internet and the web taking us, and what impact will this have on children’s lives for the future and how can we develop them into people that can learn from connectivity and be productive with it and from it.
A clever and interesting guy and a great conversation followed.
There was some great presentations and then there was mine. Although I felt prepared and had rehearsed the logging in process for people to interact with my blogs and create their own in real time this did not happen as I had planned. Presenting is often harder then it looks and this was difficult when I had paused for a second, realized that the technology was not working and in essence did not where to go from there. I felt the whole concept was relevant to the subject of blogging, however I did not have a back up plan so to speak. Being a teacher involves often involves being at the front of class with the children concentrating on what you are saying and doing. Losing a train of thought or IT resource can happen in class at anytime and being able to adapt the lesson at the last minute is a sign of a good teacher.
It is the first time I have head of kidSMART and it certainly offers a lot of content. There are some great links to other websites for learning about different things such as animals and great guides for accessing music legally. It has a really good emphasis on e-safety and this must seen as paramount for staff to allow the children to use this at school and to also promote the use of it at home potentially. There are good links for networking children together and could possible aid collaborative learning for the children. There is may be too much going on within the website, it seems a little bit confusing and maybe needs a little refresh and branding work to it. Its to easy to click around and not stay on something, and maybe they are trying to do too many things? Like with many cheaper end websites it is very text heavy and does not flow well with graphics and and links, but it is free and there are no adverts which is definitely not needed for children’s websites.
However, it serves a good purpose and can provide lots of valuable information for both children and adults but I wonder could it be better if there was some financial element to it?
A totally different lecture this week with all the kids at home showing off their internet speeds. My first thought before the video conference was concerned with how it would work out, would the software stand up to the task and would we all be able to navigate around the system? The discussions which followed each presentation allowed ideas and thoughts that might not have manifested themselves had we all been in the same room, there was less distraction and not being able to engage in body language the video conference potentially enabled a platform for discussion where you did not know what was coming next and by whom. This aspect highlighted the debate and the higher concentration that was needed to be engaged in the discussion made for a better experience. Being able to share documents online in real time enabled me to refer back to a presentation even though it was being displayed live, and with the inclusion of private messaging created a rich interactive experience which I fully enjoyed and felt I had benefited from. Certainly more responsibility was being placed on us students and this less teacher focused lesson created an environment where we were all treated equally.
Educational Technology is big business, Moules (2015) estimates that UK schools spending will reach nearly £1bn in acquiring technology, which raises the questions is this enough or to much and how is all this technology actually impacting on the children’s learning and development.
The chapter ‘Selling Technology Solutions’ by David Buckingham in his book beyond technology gives an interesting insight into the educational technology market within the UK, and the dominance of the BETT Show in facilitating educators interaction with the companies that propose to have the solutions they require.
Watch this video to see some of the things from this year’s BETT SHOW 2017
Education and the free market, not something that you would normally associate in the same sentence however, the decentralizing of educational budgets has placed the onus of ICT expenditure onto individual schools. Whether we agree with this of not it is hard to see emphasis being reversed and in today’s budget conscious schools the pressure on heads and ICT coordinators to spend money wisely is more evident then ever (Casio, 2014).
Having spoke to the ICT co-coordinator during my recent placement her concerns on how and where to spend money were clearly evident. The fact that this responsibility was not something she had wanted, combined with her lack of knowledge and understanding of technology available made it difficult for her to decide how and what could be used to further children’s learning and development.
The race for companies to provide e-learning solutions to educational providers is dictated by the huge profits for those that can succeed, and having visited BETT the previous year this year’s visit and the reading provided no surprises. Of interest is the comment that ICT in schools and the free market are being encouraged to work together by the government and with the rise in academy status’s individuality in school decisions on ICT spending will enable companies to profit in providing so called ‘solutions’. In defining the plethora of resources available at BETT it is understandably a mine field for teachers and ICT leaders to understand what is on offer, what could be useful and practicable with often limited ICT knowledge and experience. It was understandable that with my fellow peers our interaction with many provides was limited, there was a conscious sale pitch which was concentrated around the attendees potential purchasing power. Once our credentials were established the enthusiasm of providers retracted, this is understandable in a sales environment and having worked in sales for many years I could understand this emphasis.
Yes there were amazing ideas, opportunities and activities that were presented through both the hardware and software available. The below video shows some hardware that interested me, I can see this being used in many classroom, and enables simple technology to be accessible more of the time with a variety of different uses available.
Thanks to Michael for being immersive in this photo, here was a manufacturer who was proposing classrooms with interactive projectors that covered all walls.
This was something that I felt would be a complete game changer for the current and often stake classroom environments. Having visited the newly created House Of Parliament Education center I had seen their 360º lecture room and was inspired by what could be done with this environment. During maths, all walls could be interactive with numeracy to inspire, scaffold and allow children to work in totally different way. Seeing this concept of 360º in BETT enabled me to explain to others who could clearly see potential benefits to children’s actual learning and development. However, we all agreed that the initial configuration would be very labour intensive and without enthusiasm and commitment by teachers who possibly needed training such resources would an expense that was never properly utilised.
However, for many products I struggled to see what impact this could have on children’s learning. I questioned many companies abilities to create ideas that were practical, functional and suitable for many primary schools in today’s budget cutting world. With school’s financing ever diminishing in real terms in relation to pupil numbers, ICT is seen as option to save money. Understanding where value can be added in learning by spending money on ICT may not be best placed upon teaching staff in decision making.
An interactive clock for £24.95 seemed practical to me and justifiable but many other things were unrealistic and potentially to start-up for schools to take a risk upon purchasing.
There does not seem to be a centralized discussion or plan for ICT within main stream schools and I am not sure in the free market that is developing here there will ever be. Some even suggest that after concentrated efforts and huge spending over recent years children are using vastly out of date equipment. I agree with the criticism in the reading where people are too quick to portray technology as being too important not to embrace. However , technology and the companies behind it does not have the right to make assumptions that all children will be engaged in it, all children will learn from it and that children need to have in their schools’s to progress. Technology for technologies sake is a dangerous bridge to cross, learning from and about technology must sit side by side and be designed to facilitate this and I question as to whether enough experienced teaching staff are truly consulted on developing such technology. The corporate world and the teaching of children certainly have paths that cross, but schools should not be seen as business opportunities and this is where BETT falls down. A government centered approach would be more worth while, but government and business’s working together brings up its own challenges.
If you want to find out more then have a look at the below link to some interesting reading and blog something back about it.
Another great opportunity to visit a different school, meet staff and discuss our google-classroom, yes we were nervous speaking to real teachers but it was nice to be more in control.
Introducing ourselves and our google-classroom we discussed the resource with its advantages and disadvantages. Although based around the concept of the school council we were conscious that the school was in the early stages of pupil intake with only years 1-3 at present and how the resource might be better placed with users being of a higher age. The teacher was interested in the functionality of the voting forms we had put on and it was good to hear the teachers concerned about time management and the heavy use of paper in schools.
The teacher expressed her concerns about setting up issues, which I think were general ones with dealing with the on-line world, and appreciated that as children got older such resources would be more usable and worthwhile for them. However it was nice to hear that she could see how the younger children could benefit from early interaction with it and creates and environment for them to begin to internalize their learning.
As per our expectations the teacher was concerned with admin rights, who could post what, who could see what etc. Discussing their existing blog facilitates which operate within the general school website we discussed how safe our resource could be and she agreed with the features that were present.
Feedback options, comments, competitions and the availability for children to send in their own work and learning was of interest to the teacher and she appreciated how this could manifest itself in children’s own independent learning. It was good to get feedback from the teacher, her own honest comments and where she saw the potential benefits to the staff being users and for the children to interact with the resource as well.
A positive exercise, with Jamie and I both feeling comfortable with what we had produced. Taking the thoughts, suggesting and feedback from the teacher in context for what we are trying to do will enable us to produce a more refined and fit for purpose e-learning resource.
As trainee practitioners central to our study is the role of the teaching in understanding how children learn, their behavior for learning and realisation of the extrinsic and intrinsic motivation of children to participate in this learning. However, this is all applied in the setting of classroom through traditional learning and activities that complement this. In the relatively new are of online learning do these same theories and principles exist? Salmon (2012) proposes a new framework based on research that teachers and educators can may find useful in the learning and development stages when working on-line. Her chapter on the five-stage framework and e-activities provides a model for practitioners who may struggle in adapting their existing pedagogy to cater for on-line activities and learning.
Of interest with the reading and Salmon’s idea is that it makes sense. The notion of children simply logging on an off they go is something I have witnessed in school practice, and the level of understanding and lack of prior knowledge of the children is often represented in the teaching staff. Providing structure for teachers to work from will enable learning objectives to be well planned and incrementally achievable. Any learning is a journey and on-line learning does not differ in this sense, while barriers to entry are inevitable at the early stages, careful planning, understanding and clearly defined opportunities will enable children to progress with purpose and achievement.
The framework has similarities with the current pedagogy of mastery where learning and knowledge acquisition at each level of understanding has to be secure before successful application of this enables the learning to progress through the next logical stage of development. Understanding that a major factor on on-line learning is the freedom it exposes children to explore and develop by them self, the teachers role can be seen as am e-moderator. In relation to our google-classroom projects this highlights the importance of the teachers role in structuring children’s comments, posts and the information they wish to publish for others to see. Allowing children to post without filtering first is a big step for a teacher take, understanding how different age groups will react to such freedom will influence the teacher in allowing or restricting such activities. Knowing what is appropriate and what would benefit other learners in a socially constructive environment is paramount for the moderator.
Understating that the teacher will be on a learning curve as well, the model provides guidance for stages of continually development of the resource. This is something I have been conscious of during development and something I know an end user practitioner would be as well.
Great food for thought going forward and something that I will refer to when planing future on-line environments in schools to come.
The web is a colossus space packed with websites for anything and everything and the education sector is no different. On offer by schools, educators and businesses are examples that are effective, productive, accessible and those where the due care and attention for the audience seem to be lacking. The generic school website for all to see conveys different things to different users and its creators, take for example my placement school from last year. Its offers standard information to parents and children in a easy to navigate form or headings at the top, and includes text and pictures to stimulate the reader. There are school specific areas, but much of the website could be copied to another schools website in terms of general information. This is not necessarily a criticism but places the emphasis on the website being purely mandatory with some functionality. Where is the learning, where is the interaction, where is the children’s work or their blogs (I know they do blog).
On the other hand I found this primary school website. Interactive, videos, blogs, guides for healthy pack lunches along with links to other websites which may be of use to parents and children. Guidance is given on how to help children with their spelling which seems an excellent idea to include parents more in their children’s education. There seems so much more that this website offers, the design is often similar but content wise there seems to be a huge diversity between what schools think is adequate over what schools think is mandatory. If I was choosing a school to send my children to such websites may often reflect the school and the leadership themselves, especially in connection with the schools ethos on ICT as a whole.
External to schools educational websites vary considerably. Those that offer free poorly designed resources to those that offer clear, defined learning opportunities, to support and guidance for learners and their adults. Education City, loved by children and used in many schools provides a inviting and stimulating website which engages many with well thought out and structured activities and learning opportunities. The BBC, National Geographic and many others provide stimulating websites with a wealth of information to engage and motivate children to learn and these are ones that I will try and use when in class.
A modern day version for stickers which children enjoy and respond to, digital badges bring the a reward system into the 21st century where learning will be more online and such badges allow competence, confidence, skills and achievement to be rewarded online which can viewed by others. Much akin to the badge system created by the scout moment, the customisation of digital badges by educational provider and employees does represent a potential universal system which allows for adaption as the industry and emphasis widens. However, and it is a big however, such a system will always have its problems. Who is to be in charge of such systems, can they be made universal for all to use fairly and justly, who aims to profit for such badges and does the world really need such a tool. Yes the internet has given us many useful things that we can all use and many things that will benefit the few and the many, but are digital badges a passing phase that has good intentions, but like many things fails to take off and become successful? This is something that feel could become an idea of the past or simply used by the few.
Mozilla’s part in digital badges can be seen in their report but highlights the issue of who their attempts are aimed at. I can appreciate the concept in principle and children’s enthusiasm for badge rewards but in my recent school, the use of physical badge stickers and software such as ‘class dojo’ was frowned upon in terms of the schools overall reward policy. Positive praise, house points, earning privileges through hard work and positive behavior are systems that schools, teachers and children are all accustomed to. They are easy to implement and manage, cost effective and do not rely on the expansive use of technology which senior management often seem to shy away from. Is there value for money with such as system that will involve more teacher work and more online access for children, this question will surely be asked by staff themselves. Will such badges become too easy to access, will their worth to the receivers be diminished and will learners be overrun with the whole concept and lose interest. In school I see children’s excitement for rewards, yet the next day they are often forgotten, downgraded and overridden by the next challenge and potential reward.
I agree with the whole idea, it has scope for development and potentially a massive impact on both children’s and adult’s learning, achievement, development and success. However, like many things the internet has given us, just because we can do this does not mean it will work out in the long term, possibly ending up in the big recycle bin of things the internet promised us but that never really materialized.