Digital Technologies Module Overview

Reflecting on the past few months of the digital technologies module, it is clear that my understanding of the potential digital technologies can have in the classroom has developed greatly. At the beginning of this module, my knowledge regarding technologies was fairly limited, in my first lesson I barely knew how to navigate my computer and struggled to even log on to my glow account. Now, I have increased my knowledge and have become aware of many ideas for lessons using many different devices and apps.

Even in my own school experience I only ever remember using technology in the ICT suite or for a reward as part of ‘golden time’ despite the school having access to iPads which we never used. However, I am now aware of the huge potential digital technologies has, as it can be incorporated into many other curricular areas such as; literacy with ‘BeeBot’, mathematics with QR codes, and social studies with Minecraft.

Curriculum for Excellence has a whole range of experiences and outcomes surrounding digital technologies, this is why it should be considered a key subject area. With the advancements in technology in 2019, children are exposed to technology every day, therefore it should be implemented into more lessons to allow pupils to expand their digital skillset. Schools often have easy access to consoles or iPads, however lack in teachers who are confident in delivering a lesson based on technology due to the fact they know little about it. It has to be remembered that children will always be better with technology as it is a huge part of their lives outside of school, but the teacher’s expertise should be within the curriculum itself.

Throughout this module, I have also gained access to many teaching resources and potential lesson plans which is very useful for future placements. I am now more confident regarding my placement next year as through experiences and discussions in this module, my teaching knowledge has developed. Also, by being made aware of the many different ways to incorporate digital technologies into lessons, this proves very useful for my future teaching career.

My confidence has also improved when presenting work to the rest of the class every week. I am becoming more comfortable to share my own ideas and opinions, and I am taking constructive criticism and peer feedback on board to improve the quality of my work. I also didn’t realise the importance of collaboration at the start of this module. For my first few workshop tasks I chose to work independently as I have always preferred this. However, when working in a group I am able to share ideas with others to ensure that the final outcome is more successful. Also, due to time limits and many of the activities being fairly time consuming, working in a group ensured that there was always a finished product to share with the rest of the class.

I have found the weekly blog very beneficial in reinforcing what I have learned the previous week, and to reflect on myself in terms of new skills acquired and confidence. I would not have noticed the expansion of my digital skillset or improvement of confidence as much if I wasn’t able to record this information and read back on my blogs.

As a general overview for the module, my personal development is clear throughout. I have always struggled with technology, which is the main reason I chose this as my optional module. I am glad I did so, as I am now more confident as a student teacher regarding technologies and I am aware of the many engaging ways to incorporate digital technologies into lessons. There are many benefits to children being digitally literate in the classroom. Not only in expanding their digital skillset, but enhancing teaching and learning, which in turn allows pupils to benefit from technology and apply this to future careers and aspirations.

Digital Technologies Enhancing Outdoor Learning 12.03.19

In our last session of digital technologies, we focused on outdoor learning in a digital context, by using QR codes. Previous to the session I was curious as to how digital technologies can be incorporated into an outdoor context. Outdoor learning is an initiative which many schools promote; it is where the outdoor environment is used to enhance learning. With the advancements of technology in 2019, it is likely that children will spend a lot of their time indoors, connecting with friends through online gaming or social media, although being outdoors is fundamental to growth and learning about the world around us. I previously thought that the digital technologies module would solely focus on using devices in the classroom, however I am now aware of the potential technology can have outside the classroom too, especially in relation to outdoor learning. Education Scotland accounts for the skills developed in this; “the outdoor environment encourages staff and students to see each other in a different light, building positive relationships and improving self-awareness and understanding of others.” (Education Scotland, 2010). Learning and Teaching Scotland also highlights the key benefits of outdoor learning; “the outdoor environment offers motivating, exciting, different, relevant and easily accessible activities from pre-school years through to college” (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010).

Other clear advantages to outdoor learning include developing critical thinking skills between a variety of curricular areas, personal development such as communication skills or problem solving and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Outdoor learning also helps children develop personal safety and provides opportunities for children to use a range of skills they wouldn’t always use in the classroom.

As well as these advantages, outdoor learning can relate to many other subjects in the classroom. For example, health and wellbeing, where children can experience and learn from challenges in the outdoor environment, science, as children can use outdoors to study the local, natural and built environment as well as habitats, and social studies, where children could take part in school trips to explore different places. This way of learning engages children as there is “challenge, enjoyment and depth” and “an adventurous approach to learning” (Education Scotland, 2010).

For our outdoor learning task, we were challenged to create a ‘treasure-hunt’ style activity using QR codes. A QR, or Quick Response code is a 2D bar code which can be scanned by smartphones or barcode readers, that contain images, website links or text. Today we discussed the potential use of QR codes in the classroom, which I previously had no knowledge of. They can be used to post book reviews in a library, treasure hunts or text clues, or to ask trivia questions, all of which could be potential future classroom resources.

The instructions regarding the task were fairly vague, which allowed us freedom for our ideas. We worked in a group of 6, and began by experimenting with different QR generators. My group found that ‘QRstuff.com’ worked best. The website was very easy to navigate therefore could be used by pupils too. Before generating the codes, we discussed a number of things to plan our activity, such as what stage we would focus our outcomes on, what curricular area, how children would record data and how they would be lead to the next QR code.

The curricular area we chose was maths, as we decided to focus on money. Our activity begins with providing pupils with a checklist of shopping items. Children would be given a sum using pennies, and the answer to this sum is the room number they will have to go to for the next QR code. For example, 22 pence take away 4 pence is 18 pence, therefore children go to room 18. They will then scan this QR code to find out the item, for example bananas are 18 pence, which they will then record on their shopping list. Again, this QR code will provide them with the next sum to find the next room number. At the last code, children should finish with a completed shopping list with corresponding costs for each item in pennies, they will then add all costs together to calculate the total cost of the shopping list.

This activity took a lot of planning as a group, I think we worked effectively and listened to all ideas. I do not feel that I would have worked better independently as I usually like to. I am realising the importance of collaboration throughout this module.

My group decided that this activity would work best for first level, relating to the Curriculum for Excellence outcome for money; “I can use money to pay for items and can work out how much change I should receive” MNU 1-09a (Education Scotland, 2019).

This is effective as it is a real-life context, however if I was to do this with a second level group I would change the number of items to that children would need to calculate the cost of more than one. For example, using multiplication and division; the cost of one apple is 18 pence, what is the cost of three apples? I could also have children working with pounds instead of pence, making numbers larger and incorporating a decimal point for a more advanced level.

Personally, I liked the ‘treasure-hunt’ style activity, and think that children would find it very engaging, however my group did have some issues regarding the type of activity. As room numbers around the university were varied, it was difficult to make the task realistic, for example a pear cost 3 pence and an apple cost 34 pence. I also found the activity extremely confusing and couldn’t understand it at first, due to my little experience with QR codes. I am unsure if this activity would work for children as they may not understand the activity.

In terms of the QR creator itself, it was an easy website to navigate and there were several options for editing the QR code; colour can be added and text can be altered to different fonts and sizes. However, pictures cannot be added to the QR code, which would have worked well with our shopping list activity. Therefore, if we had more time I would have printed out photographs of the food item and taped it to the door with the QR code, this would make our activity visually appealing and more engaging for children. If this was to be used with primary school children there could be many potential distractions when allowing children to leave the classroom on their own, resulting in incomplete tasks. The task itself may be too confusing and would require several classroom assistants. If I was using this in the classroom I would also print out instructions so that each group had a copy of the task, and I would use image for the shopping items to make connections between colour, shape and item name. It is also a worry when using this as a classroom activity that children may take the codes down from the doors which would result in the whole activity losing its flow, therefore the codes would need to be monitored regularly.

To relate our activity to outdoor learning in the natural environment, we would direct children to certain objects, like trees or benches, where they would find their next QR code. However, we chose for this activity to be completed indoors as we had a large space to work in and the weather conditions were not great. My previous experience with outdoor learning in the natural environment was during a mathematics module when studying fractions. I found it fairly time consuming, however beneficial to develop my understanding of the topic, and I felt it would be a valuable activity for children to see concepts visually, using concrete materials.

When completing other groups’ outdoor learning activities, I noticed that they were all very similar; most were mathematics based and resulted in a total cost calculation. A key factor which many groups would have to consider is time. As some activities only lasted five minutes, pupils would have to be provided with an extension task. My group’s activity lasted around twenty minutes and the feedback we received was all positive. It was easy to follow and engaging as you were exploring different areas of the university. The task also required a lot of thinking and following directions, as well as incorporating a good mix of addition and subtraction. I think it would be appropriate to use with primary school pupils in the first level.

Overall, everyone had very different approaches to similar concepts, and it was beneficial to view the different interpretations of the task. I feel that I have gained significantly more experience using QR codes, but understand that classroom activities based on them require a lot of planning, constant adult supervision and a good understanding of digital technologies from the teacher and pupils. QR codes could therefore be used not as an activity, but displayed around the classroom for pupils to access information.

Outdoor learning is also a valuable lesson to plan, and although it can be very time consuming, it enhances teaching and learning in a highly engaging way. Outdoor learning experiences are “remembered for a lifetime” and “provide relevance and depth to the curriculum in ways that are difficult to achieve indoors” (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010).

References:

Education Scotland (2010) Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning.

Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning.

Online References:

Education Scotland (2019) Experiences and Outcomes. [Online] Available at: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/Experiences%20and%20outcomes [Accessed on: 12th March 2019]

Games-Based Learning 05.03.19

During the beginning of today’s workshop, we reflected as a class on writing an effective blog. We were provided with a successful blog from the previous year, and after reading this I now feel fairly confident that I am on the right track with my own blogs. After discussing with peers, I am aware that I need to improve on my referencing to make sure it is as accurate as possible. The example blog also included reflection woven throughout, which I plan to incorporate into my own blogs as I think it works better. I think that this class discussion was very helpful as it has refreshed my understanding of what we are expected to write and my awareness of how often I am reflecting in my blogs. It was interesting to listen to how my peers had interpreted the blogs differently, it opened my mind to further expanding my blogs and adding different factors to improve them. I have also noticed my blogs becoming a more ‘chatty’ and relaxed style throughout the module, as I am usually a very formal writer.

The rest of today’s workshop focused on games based learning, in particular using ‘Minecraft’ as a stimulus for learning, and exploring ‘Minecraft’ as a learner to plan, create and design different concepts. In 2019, gaming is a huge part of many children’s lives. Ofcom Report (2011) shows the popularity of gaming in the UK with 90% of 8-11 year olds using gaming devices regularly (Ofcom, 2011).

As console games as embedded in 21st century youth culture (Ofcom, 2011), a new approach to games in the classroom is required; not only used as rewards, but as a tool to enhance teaching and learning (Bray, 2012). In my own primary school experience, I only remember games ever being used during ‘golden time’ as a reward, despite having huge potential to assist teaching and raise attainment; benefits which I am becoming more aware of throughout this module.

Bray also highlights the impact if games based learning depends on the way it is used by the teacher (Bray, 2012). This relates to schools who have access to DS consoles or iPads; how it is used and how often it is used will have great effect on the impact. ICT and games in learning can develop many skills such as; strategic thinking, communication, negotiation, group decision making and data handling (Beauchamp, 2012, p.10). However, many of the games popular with children could not be used in the classroom. For example, Fortnite is one of the most popular games amongst young people, but would not be appropriate for classroom use due to violence in the game. On the other hand, Minecraft is an example of a game which could be used to enhance learning. Minecraft is a child friendly block-based building and survival game where players can create and explore different worlds. Minecraft is embedded in 21st century youth culture; since released in 2011, the worldwide phenomenon has “taken to the hearts of thousands and thousands of gamers” (How to do everything in Minecraft, 2014, p.3). The game also develops many digital skills and problem solving and strategy skills, and as the game never finishes the possibilities are endless.

In relation to Minecraft in education, there is an education edition of the game which is good for school use. When downloaded, the free trial enables 10 log-ins therefore the school would need to fund this if it was to be regularly used as an educational resource.

Today’s workshop task was to plan and create a lesson using Minecraft in the classroom. My group began by watching tutorial videos to gain knowledge of the basics of using Minecraft, we then installed the game and experimented with the controls. Personally, I found the game easy to operate, this could be due to previous experience as a child, however some classmates did struggle with the layout of the game. We then created an interdisciplinary planner on a provided format to convey our ideas. As Minecraft can support many different aspects of the curriculum we tried to incorporate as many as we could into the topic. We decided that Minecraft would feed into the learning, rather than be the trigger of the learning. Architecture was our inspiration for the lesson; this focused on a second level topic of world landmarks. The lesson plan would be for pupils to recreate a famous landmark from a provided list of examples, such as Empire State Building, Big Ben, Eiffel Tower or Edinburgh Castle. As this is such a broad topic, it relates to many curricular areas and educational outcomes.

This activity relates to expressive arts in terms of sketching and planning what the landmark would look like on Minecraft, and learning about different architectural features. We chose the outcome; “I have the opportunity to choose and explore an extended range of media and technologies to create images and objects, comparing and combining them for different tasks.” EXA 2-02a (Education Scotland, 2019).

The activity also relates to literacy, as pupils could research their landmark to produce a fact file about it and present this to peers. This relates to the outcome; “I can select ideas and relevant information, organise them in appropriate ways for my purpose and use suitable vocabulary for my audience.” LIT 2-06a (Education Scotland, 2019).

Numeracy and mathematics can also be incorporated into this activity when pupils identify structures and shapes of buildings, and the symmetry of the architecture. This outcome which relates to this is; “I have worked with others to explore and present our findings on how mathematics impacts on the world and the important part it has played in advances and inventions.” MTH 2-12a (Education Scotland, 2019).

The last curricular area we incorporated is social studies. Pupils would be exploring different places and cultures, as well as giving detailed information about the landmark chosen through their fact file, such as location, architect and time period. This would link to the outcome; “I can discuss issues of diversity of cultures, values and customs in our society.” SOC 2-16c (Education Scotland, 2019).

By asking learners to present their work this would develop communication skills and build confidence. This activity is an effective way of putting learners in charge.

Overall I think our activity would work well incorporated into a class topic. Working as a group was beneficial as we negotiated different roles for each person. There was a good mix of those with a lot of experience using Minecraft, and those with little or no experience with the game, meaning we could help one another. There was very little disagreement and listening to one another’s ideas helped us to develop the concept to be a full classroom lesson.

When presenting our work to the rest of the class, I felt confident in my group’s final outcome. I also felt comfortable in delivering the presentation, as my ability to share opinions and ideas has grown significantly throughout my first year of university. It was interesting to hear other group’s take on games based learning, all were very different, highlighting the many possibilities of using Minecraft as a classroom resource. Every group approached the task differently, but the common thread throughout is the variation of curricular areas which can be delivered through games.

Along with these curricular areas, Beauchamp highlights that “achieving particular educational objectives through the use of games was more dependent upon the teacher’s knowledge of the curriculum with which they were working than it was on their ability within the game.” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.10). This shows that teachers do not need to be experts when using Minecraft; children will always be better, but the teacher’s expertise should be with the curriculum learning gained.

Personally, I feel that I now have a better understanding of games based learning and the advantages of it as a classroom resource. I am further developing my digital skillset as a student teacher to be an effective educator to children in the present day.

References:

Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary Classroom: From Pedagogy to Practice. Pearson.

Online References:

Bray, O. (2012) Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education. [Online] Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education [Accessed on: 12th March 2019]

Education Scotland (2019) Experiences and Outcomes. [Online] Available at: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/Experiences%20and%20outcomes [Accessed 20th March 2019]

Ofcom (2011) Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes. [Online] Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education [Accessed on: 12th March 2019]

Animation 19.02.19

Over the past two weeks of digital technologies we have focused on animation in the classroom, and we have been preparing our own animation resource to use as student teachers.

Animation involves the “stringing together a sequence of static images, generally so that they appear to move” (Jarvis, 2015, p.89). Children are exposed to animation every day, whether it is their favourite cartoon, video game or movie, therefore it is essential to educate them on what animation is and how it works. Many potential jobs in the future may regard animation, to give children a fair insight into this will set many up for their future aspirations.

Different types of animation include; cut out- being the easiest, stop motion- using plasticine models, pixilation- where real people are edited to move like artificial animals, or drawn- which is classic Disney animation style.

Animation can have big visual impact, Jarvis states that using sound and video, such as in animation, enhances the quality of learning (Jarvis, 2015, p.93). Animation can also contribute to many different aspects of learning, as a student teacher in 2019, I understand that it is essential to familiarise myself with the aspects of digital technologies that pupils encounter in their everyday lives.

Our task today was to choose a historical event and portray this through an animation. We worked in a small group, which was key to complete our animation as it is very time consuming. We started by sketching a story board so that we had a clear concept for what we aimed to create. The historical event we thought would work best was the moon landing; it is a key topic in history and the animation could be used as an additional resource in portraying the event in the classroom. By creating a story board, we were able to plan what resources we would need to create and bring to the next class, and allocate roles to create these. It was also beneficial to have a vision for the final product, and this provided us with time to think about the learning outcome we wanted to cover. The Curriculum for Excellence outcomes which we decided our animation would focus on are “I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts” TCH 1-01a, and “I am aware that different types of evidence can help me find out about the past” SOC 0-01a (Education Scotland, 2019).

As animation doesn’t always have to be complex, for example drawn or using plasticine models, my group decided to start easy. As none of us had any previous experience with animation we used paper cut outs.

We began by experimenting with the ‘iStopMotion’ app. Overall the app was relatively easy to navigate; the control commands were clear and the layout made it simple to find different controls. There was no limitation on how many slides could be added, which allows for freedom to be as creative as you wish to be. It was quite difficult to keep the angle consistent throughout the entire animation, a tripod would be necessary if trying this again. Also, the lighting changed as the sun moved, I would therefore try this again in a well-lit room with few windows. When we put the animation together the timing was very fast, we therefore had to experiment with different controls to slow this down, which was easy fixed when we found the ‘shutter-speed’ control. I liked that we could record music from other devices to insert into the animation. This meant that we could add the audio from the moon landing for an extra multimodal factor.

Although animations are effective in challenging creativity and opening doors to imagination; “ICT allows pupils to achieve something that would be very difficult or even impossible to achieve in any other way” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.54), I personally would not use my own animations as a classroom resource, as they are very complicated and time consuming to create. However, I would use professional animations to enhance pupils’ learning and teaching. I do not think pupils, especially early years and first level, would cope well if given the same task as we were today. There could be potential arguments over roles and the story, and most children would become frustrated at the time it would take to complete an animation.

After creating my animation, I have noticed that I am very patient when organising my own class materials. I am also improving on my team-work skills; as mentioned I am usually quite a controlling person, however when negotiating roles, I let other members of the group choose first, and we all contributed equal amounts of work as well as listening to each other’s ideas.

Animation has the potential to be a valuable resource in the classroom, and I am now much more confident in creating my own resource for the classroom. It is key to educate teachers to incorporate aspects of a child living in 2019’s life into their lessons. Animation is an engaging way to “breathe new life into something that wouldn’t normally move” (Moving Image Education, 2019), and enhance teaching and learning in relation to multimodal texts.

References:

Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary Classroom: From Pedagogy to Practice. Pearson.

Jarvis, M. (2015) Brilliant Ideas for Using ICT in the Classroom: A Very Practical Guide for Teachers and Lecturers. Routledge.

Online References:

Education Scotland (2019) Experiences and Outcomes. [Online] Available at: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/Experiences%20and%20outcomes [Accessed on: 20th February 2019]

Moving Image Education website. [Online] Available at: https://movingimageeducation.org/create-films/animation [Accessed on: 20th February 2019]

Movie Making 12.02.19

Today in digital technologies we had two topics to focus on; internet safety and the use of iMovie in the classroom. Both topics go hand in hand; iMovie could be used create a context for spreading awareness of internet safety- which is what we used it for today.

The Scottish Government highlights the conclusive evidence that “digital technologies can raise attainment, where effectively used” (Scottish Government, 2015). Personally, I think the emphasis is on effectively used, especially in relation to educating children how to stay safe online. This is crucial knowledge to have, considering that most young people, even as young as primary school ages, spend a significant amount of their lives on social networking sites or online gaming. Beauchamp states that “the key idea [is] that e-safety is not about restricting children, but about educating them.” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.58).

A key initiative brought in by many schools to promote internet safety is to support ‘Safer Internet Day’. ‘Safer Internet Day 2019’ was on the 5th February, and this year more than 2100 organisations and schools across the UK got involved to “inspire a natural conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.” (UK Safer Internet Centre, Safer Internet Day, 2019).

After discussing the ThinkUKnow website and viewing different examples of the videos on the site; I personally feel that ‘Safer Internet Day’ has the potential to impact and influence children in an appropriate way- not to limit them, but to educate them on using the internet safely.

For today’s workshop task, we worked in a small group to create an iMovie highlighting key points regarding pupils’ internet safety. iMovie is a video editing software where users can “create Hollywood-style trailers and stunning 4K- resolution movies” (Apple Inc., iMovie, 2019).

Our group began the task by watching several of the e-safety animation examples on Moodle for inspiration. All videos were generally about social media, therefore we decided to focus our iMovie on ‘Fortnite’, for a different approach to online safety. Fortnite is a popular online game, widely used by a variety of age groups, however it is most popular amongst primary school children. Being the newest trend with catchy dance moves, toys and merchandise, and cartoon avatars, it is certain that children will gravitate towards playing the game.

In relation to ‘Safer Internet Day’, Fortnite can be relatively dangerous for the younger players. Although advertised as child friendly with a cartoon format, it has to be remembered that the main purpose of Fortnite is to kill other players in order to win. This is exposing children to gun violence, which parents should be aware of as the game cover is quite deceiving. Children can also receive and reply to messages from strangers, who can also view their personal information through their profile. Fortnite is also susceptible to scams, which can con children of money when buying ‘V-Bucks’, most likely using a parents’ bank card. The block control itself is relatively easy to find, but children should be made aware of when to block someone if they are causing harassment; “the most successful schools… in terms of e-safety ensured that pupils knew what to do when things went wrong.” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.60).

Fortnite can develop problem solving skills and strategic thinking in an engaging way for young people, which is why our group chose it as our e-safety topic; it is a current issue and when played safely, has the potential to benefit young people’s learning.

I have previously used iMovie as a child but didn’t have a good understanding of the different features as it was used for entertainment with friends. In experimenting with the software today I found it relatively easy to operate. It was easy to add text, videos and images, and the time control meant that our iMovie would flow better. However, our group experienced a few issues when adding audio. Our initial plan was to add audio from YouTube, as there would be many different options and we could choose which sound accompanied our video best. However, the software only accepts audio from previously downloaded songs through Apple Music on that particular device, or from a list of non-copyrighted music on the iMovie app. This limited us to what audio we could add, and therefore had an effect on the final outcome of our iMovie. Other than this the app worked well.

In terms of our group, I feel that we worked relatively well together. Some people did do more work than others and were more engaged with the topic, however everyone contributed their own ideas. After today I am now aware that I am a relatively controlling person and made it my responsibility to create the iMovie on my own device. This is something I have to work on, to allow other people a chance to use the software.

As a student teacher, I would use iMovie in the classroom as a resource to add to certain topics; it would not be the main resource of the lesson, but the teacher could incorporate it as a learning tool. I do not think that iMovie would work on its own as a lesson, for example I think if children were left with the task of creating their own iMovie there could be potential disagreements and arguments. However, it would challenge creativity, develop teamwork and build confidence, as well as fulfilling many Curriculum for Excellence outcomes; digitally based, literacy based in terms of story boards or scripts, or health and wellbeing based. I do think it is a valuable resource in the classroom and is an effective way of conveying the importance of staying safe online.

References:

Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary Classroom: From Pedagogy to Practice. Pearson.

Online References:

Apple Inc. (2019) iMovie. [Online] Available at: https://www.apple.com/uk/imovie/ [Accessed on: 20th February 2019]

Scottish Government (2015) Literature Review on the Impact of Digital Technology on Learning and Teaching. [Online] Available at: http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/24843/1/00489224.pdf [Accessed on: 20th February 2019]

 UK Safer Internet Centre (2019) Safer Internet Day 2019. [Online] Available at: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2019 [Accessed on: 26th February 2019]

Mobile Devices 05.02.19

I am now on week 5 of the digital technologies module, and in today’s class I further developed my understanding of multimodal texts used within the classroom and their benefits. Multimodal texts contain many different elements; linguistic, visual, audio, gestural and spatial. Multimodal texts can be digital, paper based or live, covering media such as games, posters or performances.

Education Scotland highlight the importance that children experience many different types of text in multimodal settings (Education Scotland, 2019), it is a key part of the curriculum. Multimodal texts are also key in developing communication skills; “…such an approach would use many modes of communication including visual representation, sound, movement, gesture and language…” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.81).

Today we focused on creating our own multimodal text in the form of an eBook on the ‘Book Creator’ app. Book Creator is a simple way to make your own eBook on an iPad. Oxford dictionary defines eBooks as “an electronic version of a printed book which can be read on a computer or a specifically designed handheld device” (Oxford University Press, 2019). With over 25 million eBooks created on Book Creator it could be a valuable resource to use in the classroom, as it is clearly a popular widely downloaded app. As it is a free download there is no extra cost, therefore if iPads are available in the school it is not difficult to access.

There are many advantages to using eBooks as multimodal resources, they have some “technological features that give them advantages over printed media” (Jarvis, 2015, p.146). As they are small, very portable and hold power for several hours this allows them to be used in different environments for relatively long lengths of time.

Personally, I have not come across the Book Creator app before, I haven’t used it during my own school experience, however I have heard about it several times in university during a digital literacy lecture in a previous module. I am surprised that the app wasn’t used during any of my primary school placements, as from today it is clear that this resource fulfils many curricular outcomes in a variety of subject areas.

Today’s workshop task was to recreate a children’s book on the Book Creator app, and we were challenged to make our recreations interactive and engaging. The eBook my partner and I created was our own version of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”. I have used this book many times and built activities around the story during my placement therefore I feel very comfortable using it.

We began creating our eBook by adding in original illustrations and text from the book so that it was consistent and children were familiar with it. We were able to record audio and insert this to the eBook, we chose a clip from YouTube of the story read out in a song style, meaning pupils could sing or tap along. Throughout the eBook, we would ask learners interactive questions and for their own opinions, such as “What noise do you think the snowstorm would make?” We also challenged creativity on the concluding page, asking pupils to create their own obstacle of the bear hunt, which they could then add onto their own page of the eBook, allowing them to expand their digital skillset.

The experiences and outcomes which accompany our activity are; “I explore sounds, letters and words, discovering how they work together, and I can use what I learn to help me as I read and write.” LIT 0-13a, and “I can explore digital technologies and use what I learn to solve problems and share ideas and thoughts.” TCH 0-01a (Education Scotland, 2019).

There were very few aspects of Book Creator which I didn’t like. As we were in a full classroom it was fairly noisy therefore difficult to record audio clips, although this was easily solved by leaving the room so find a quieter space elsewhere around the campus. However, I feel that it was unfortunate that the software did not allow us to import videos or audio directly from YouTube, as this would mean audio would be clearer and there would be no limitations to what sound can be added. Also, when choosing a background only colours were available, although for the background of our eBook we decided to have the illustration images from the original book. This meant we had to increase the size of the image until it covered the background, however this didn’t always line up perfectly causing inconsistency. The app itself took quite a lot of experimenting with the many different tools and operations, but overall it was fairly straightforward to use, which means that in the classroom it can be used by both the teacher and pupils. I also liked that images could be added from the internet or camera roll, or the pen tool could be used for more creative eBooks. There was no limitation on the number of pages which gave us more freedom to express ideas. There is lots of potential with the ability to add videos, sound, pictures or text contributing to the multimodality of a text and the enhancement of learning and teaching (Beauchamp, 2012).

I found working with a partner very beneficial with this task; we worked very well together and incorporated both our ideas into the final product. We also took equal turns in using the app, to ensure we were both familiar with the app if we were to use it in the future.

As a student teacher, I would personally use Book Creator as a form of multimodal text in the classroom, it is a new and exciting resource to use with learners and could potentially encourage reading. As an eBook is a multimodal text it enhances teaching and learning, this app also allows children to express creativity and builds confidence due to the interactive features.

After this workshop, I have become more aware of the variety of ways multimodal texts can be displayed in the classroom. My knowledge of digital technologies is growing, and I am realising the endless possibilities accompanied by huge benefits of being a digitally literate student teacher.

References:

Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary School: From Pedagogy to Practice. Pearson

.Jarvis, M. (2015) Brilliant Ideas for Using ICT in the Classroom. Routledge.

Online References:

Education Scotland, 2019 Experiences and Outcomes. [Online] Available at: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/Experiences%20and%20outcomes [Accessed on: 20th February 2019]

Oxford University Press. (2019) Definition of e-Book. [Online] Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/e-book[Accessed on: 20th February 2019]

Coding 29.01.19

This week’s class focused on programming and coding resources in the classroom, which can deliver cross curricular learning. I used an iPad to create an animation on the app ‘Scratch Junior’. According to the ‘Scratch’ website (Scratch Jr, 2019), “coding is the new literacy”, which highlights the change required in many Scottish classrooms.  (Prensky, 2001, p.1) underlines the radical change in pupils’ lifestyle, and therefore the need for a change in the way they are taught in relation to the education system. As coding now is a part of a child’s everyday life, it is essential they learn the skills required to understand and excel in this.

Many skills can be acquired when coding within ‘Scratch’, for example creative thinking skills, logical problem solving skills and team work skills are all developed; “As young people create Scratch projects…they are learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.” (The Lead Project, 2014). Again, in a classroom in the 21st century, this is key to develop skills in many curricular areas such as mathematics, English, music and information technology.

I have previously used ‘Scratch’ during ICT in high school, but I have always struggled with the software in comparison to my peers, which caused me a lot of anxiety as I would always be significantly behind the rest of my class. I was therefore quite apprehensive about using ‘Scratch’ again today. When creating my own animation today, I focused on delivering two Curriculum for Excellence outcomes; SCN 0-01a: “I have observed living things in the environment over time and am becoming aware of how they depend on each other.” TCH 0-03a: “I explore software and use what I learn to solve problems and present my ideas, thoughts or information.” (Education Scotland, 2019).

My animation begins with two children in a classroom asking the pupils to help them explore different animals’ habitats. In the next slide, the children visit the desert and ask pupils what animals they can see. Before the speech icon for “camel and lizard” appears, I programmed 20 seconds of ‘thinking time’ for pupils to discuss what animals they see and why this is their habitat. Also, as a teacher I would encourage pupils to discuss what other animals they would find in this particular habitat during the thinking time programmed. My next two slides are set as backgrounds of the Arctic and underwater and both work in the same way, I would repeat this process of asking pupils what else they might see and why this is the habitat of those animals.

As the teacher is the main resource of my activity and scratch accompanies this to enhance learning, an aspect of further independent learning to include is to provide pupils with their own device and ask them to create their own habitat slide and animate the animals they think would live there, which would encourage them to explore more habitats and improve their digital skillset.

Overall, my experience with Scratch Jr today was very positive, however as there were only four possible slides to create I found this limiting as I had many more ideas to add to enhance the topic. I also had some timing issues as I wanted to allow children thinking time between characters’ actions, this issue was easily solved by discussing with my peers and figuring out how to effectively use the “stop watch” control. Other than these few issues, I found the ‘Scratch Jr’ app relatively easy to operate, especially in comparison to my high school experience with ‘Scratch’. There was a good selection of characters and backgrounds, as well as many possible controls, which were all colour coded to make the app easy to navigate. This workshop has changed my opinion on ‘Scratch’ and I am now much more confident in coding, and am aware of the importance of this in the curriculum. I think that this app has the potential to be a very valuable resource in the classroom when used effectively, not only to deliver technology outcomes, but to deliver cross curricular learning. As a student teacher, I can see myself using this to deliver lessons and plan activities.

 

References:

The Lead Project (2014) Super Scratch Programming Adventure: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games! No Starch Press.

Online References:

Education Scotland (2019) Experiences and Outcomes [Online] Available at: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/Experiences%20and%20outcomes [Accessed: 15th February 2019]

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. [Online] Available at: https://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf [Accessed: 08 January 2019]

Scratch Junior (2019) [Online] Available at: https://www.scratchjr.org [Accessed 10th February 2019]

Multimodality 22.01.19

Today in digital technologies, I explored multimodal texts and the benefit of these in the classroom. A text is multimodal when it contains two or more of the semiotic systems; linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, and spatial. Today’s advancements in technology accounts for an increase of multimodal texts in the classroom as teachers have easier access to a multitude of sources which allows them to be highly creative. This is accounted for in Curriculum for Excellence; “the literacy and English framework reflects the increased use of multimodal texts encountered by young people in their daily lives” (Education Scotland, 2019).

Multimodal presentations are displayed daily in classrooms across Scotland, due to their ability to enhance teaching and learning; “the presentation of a topic in a variety of ways can increase pupils’ understanding of it” (Beauchamp, 2012). One form of multimodal presentation widely used in classrooms is ‘ActivInspire’.

ActivInspire presentations are interactive and personalised for pupils by the teacher, and therefore they are highly engaging. They help ‘bring lessons to life’ by enabling engagement with the interactive board. This touch display can become “a social learning tool encouraging hands-on experiences, thereby helping children to learn by doing” (Prandstatter, 2014), which in turn, builds pupils’ confidence.

I have seen ActivInspire presentations used throughout my own primary school and high school experience, and although used in different ways, I always remembered the interactive activities significantly more engaging therefore I performed better. ActivInspire was also used to accompany almost every lesson I observed during my primary school placement, and children always enjoyed the interactive side to lessons. It enabled all children to be engaged as they all had a turn, and for the teacher to demonstrate the information in several different ways which was exciting for the learners. There are endless possibilities of what you can create on ActivInspire, you are not limited at all, therefore it can be altered to use in all curricular areas.

As I was absent to class this day I had to catch up on workshop activities at home, I downloaded ActivInspire to my laptop and experimented with the features. As well as presenting notes, pictures or videos, text and images can be highlighted and annotated. Also, I thought that the pen tool was very easy to operate with a good selection of colours and pen sizes which can be used for drawing and labelling. There is also a shapes section and well as a ruler option which I feel would be beneficial during maths lessons. I also thought it was a key feature that slides could be printed out, saved or shared to be completed by pupils or in a teacher directed activity, this highlights the variety of ways ActivInspire can be used.

After familiarising myself with ActivInspire and all its features, I am aware of the importance that teachers are digitally literate when using different multimodal sources in the classroom; “the ability of ICT to present ideas in a variety of ways can help to structure new experiences but only if you as the teacher have sufficient understanding on the area itself” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.100). This highlights the need for teacher training in the digital world.

Personally, as a student teacher, I would use ActivInspire in my own classroom in the future, as it is easy to use and enhances not only teaching but the overall learning of young people by displaying information in a variety of ways. It would be an effective teaching tool especially when used as an introduction to lessons or used for children to engage with activities on the interactive board. Although debate turns to how long ActivInspire has been used in classrooms, perhaps it is slightly outdated, however I view this as a reason for its continued use; many student teachers will be comfortable using this in lessons if they themselves have experienced the engagement provoked in their own school years. Overall, I think that this is one of the most valuable resources for the classroom in the 21st century. By experimenting with ActivInspire as a multimodal resource I feel more comfortable to deliver a presentation using the software and it has opened my eyes to the endless possibilities and huge advantages of multimodal texts.

References:

Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary School: From Pedagogy to Practice. Pearson.

Online References:

Education Scotland. (2019) Literacy and English: Principles and Practice. [Online] Available at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/literacy-english-pp.pdf [Accessed 20th March 2019]

Prandstatter, J. (2014) Interactive Displays in Early Years Classes. [Online] Available at: http://connectlearningtoday.com/interactive-displays-early-years-classes/ [Accessed 23 February 2019]

Programable Toys in the Classroom 15.01.2019

After another valuable workshop in my digital technologies module I am writing again to expand my blog and reflect on my strengths, areas for development and personal opinions. Today’s workshop focused on the benefits of programmable toys in the classroom, one toy in particular: “Bee-Bot”, which I will come back to later.

Programmable toys have been used in the classroom for many years now, even as far back as 1960, when Seymour Papert created the programming language website “Logo”, which is still used in many schools today. Logo Foundation highlight Logo’s importance through the connection between learning and the social context in which learning occurs, as artificial intelligence develops, the way children learn must be adapted to accompany this. (Logo Foundation, 2015). I myself experimented with Logo programming, having never come across it in my own school experience I could look at it from a fresh, non-biased perspective. I found it difficult to work at first but very soon got the hang of it, and the website itself was very simple to navigate.

Also for the past near 20 years, “Roamers” have been used in many classrooms, and with careful planning can “enhance learning with young children” (Lydon, 2008, p.1), however pupils often require close help when using roamers. Now, in 2019, with the swarm of “Bee-Bots” into most Scottish classrooms, the roamer soon after became extinct. Bee-Bot is significantly easier to program for children and it a more attractive toy therefore more engaging.

As well as being highly engaging, many benefits come with using programmable toys in the classroom. Education Scotland explicitly understands the potential of programmable toys in making connections across many curricular areas and the contemporary world (Janka, 2008, p.2). Programmable toys also encourage interactive practical learning, develop creativity and problem solving skills. A sense of independence is created as students are in charge of their own learning, (Lydon, 2008, p.2) comments on this; “[The children] gained independence faster than I anticipated. Twelve out of 28 were able to use the Bee-Bot without any adult help after the initial instructions.” As well as this independence, coding toys evoke enjoyment, and further connections between home and school. I think that Bee-Bot could be a valuable resource in group stationed activities in the classroom, where independent learning is key.

The activity for the workshop today was to choose a Curriculum for Excellence outcome, then plan and create an activity using Bee-Bot to deliver this learning. According to the Bee-Bot website, Bee-Bot is “easy to operate” and “a perfect tool for teaching” (Bee-Bot, 2016), both of which I agree with after my experiences with the coding toy today. It is extremely simple to use and operate, and personally I think it would be beneficial in delivering many CfE outcomes. During my primary school placement, I observed a directions lesson using Bee-Bot in early years. The primary one class were asked to move Bee-Bot left, right, forwards or backwards as part of a stations activity about directions and position. Learners found the Bee-Bot task most enjoyable of all stations and were highly engaged throughout.

To show the variation of curricular areas Bee-Bot can cover, I chose one literacy and one technology based outcome; “I understand that sequences of instructions are used to control computing technology.” (TCH 0-14a) and, “I listen or watch for useful or interesting information and I use this to make choices or learn new things.” (LIT 0-04a) (Education Scotland, 2019). For my Bee-Bot activity I was inspired by a task I have previously led with primary two pupils, regarding the children’s book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” I based my learning intention on the sequence of a story, and read the book in a song style and encouraged pupils to tap along, and I provided them with chorus sheets to join in. I then provided learners with a story map template to clarify the definition of a story sequence. As an extra task pupils could add in their own obstacle of the bear hunt and write their own verse to deliver to peers. I have attached some images of children’s examples (which were extremely creative) and the resources I used. However, had I engaged with Bee-Bot sooner, this would be a great resource to have used in this activity.

My Bee-Bot activity begins at a house and ends with a bear. At first, I sketched obstacles in order, however I decided to change this to make it more challenging, as there would be a backwards option. I also spent a while going back and forth with the idea of incorporating a blank square to add in the child’s own obstacle, challenging creativity, however I feel that this activity works better with a story map. Therefore, if I was planning this lesson I would have children in different stations, including the Bee-Bot map, and the story map. I used a wide range of resources, as can be seen from attached photos such as card, pens, tissue paper, googly eyes and lollypop sticks to create different textures and colours so that children would be engaged by the attractive map. As some aspects were 3D, I realise that if I was using this in the classroom I would have to laminate the mat so that Bee-Bot would run smoother over the surface. As I chose to work independently I found this very effective in being able to contribute my own ideas into the final product, also as I hadn’t completed this in class time I could work out when was best for me to complete it, not having to worry about arranging a time and place that would suit someone else too.

Overall, my outlook on programmable toys in the classroom is very positive, I have gained a good knowledge of the history and development of coding toys, and view them as a powerful and useful tool for teaching.

 

 

References:

Bee-Bot (2016) Meet Bee-Bot! [Online] Available at: https://www.bee-bot.us [Accessed: 15th January 2019]

Education Scotland (2019) Experiences and Outcomes [Online] Available at: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/Experiences%20and%20outcomes [Accessed: 18th January 2019]

ICTopus Article (2008) Sharing Good Practice: Robots in Early Education by Alison Lydon. [Online] Available at: http://moodle1819.uws.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/39830/mod_resource/content/1/Reading Programmable Toys/ICTopus – Sharing Good Practice – Robots in Early Education  .pdf [Accessed: 15th January 2019]

Janka, P. (2008) Using a Programmable Toy at Preschool Age: Why and How? [Online] Available at: http://www.terecop.eu/downloads/simbar2008/pekarova.pdf [Accessed: 15th January 2019]

Logo Foundation (2015) Logo [Online] Available at: el.media.mit.edu/logo-foundation/what_is_logo/logo_and_learning.html [Accessed: 15th January 2019]

Introduction to Digital Technologies 08.01.19

Hi! My name is Abbie, and I am currently studying education at university. My own journey through education has inspired my career choice, through experiences with teachers, several school placements and leadership programs it is clear to me that primary school education is the path for me. Through my university journey so far, I have gained an understanding of many elements of teaching, in particular the importance of communication in the classroom as “communication is, and always will be, at the heart of teaching and learning” (Pollard, 2008, p.332).

However, in 2019, communication is not solely the art of pen on paper or engaging in conversation, digital technologies are widely used and are therefore responsible for expanding this definition. Digital technologies incorporate skills such as investigating and researching for new information or creating original material, and through this, digital technologies can “enhance teaching and learning.” (Education Scotland, 2018).

Relating to a class discussion during my new module today, when used effectively digital technologies can increase pupil achievement, especially children with ASN, and can remove barriers for learners who may not have access to these technologies at home, perhaps for poverty related reasons. Digital technologies also increase pupil creativity and ambitiousness by engaging learners, and overall “lead to improved educational outcomes” (Scottish Government, 2016). I feel that it is a necessity for children to learn basic ICT skills as a compulsory ability in 2019 everyday life, and to prepare for future employment or further education. This is the main reason I have chosen the digital technologies module.

As my own primary school experience contained very few digital aspects, other than one whiteboard which was rarely used, I have limited knowledge when it comes to technology relating to learning. I did however get the opportunity to observe games based learning during my two-week primary school placement through an interactive maths and literacy website called ‘sumdog’, which was used regularly across the whole school. Although this particular school encouraged the use of digital technologies in the classroom, I am aware that this is not always the case. A high percentage of children possess the skills of being digitally literate, however do not get the opportunity to develop this through their learning in school. (Beauchamp, 2007, p.1) highlights the “pedagogic way of thinking which underpins the use of both hardware and software”, personally, as a student teacher, I plan to incorporate both digital technologies and traditional methods of teaching, to enhance the learning of myself and pupils. During my placement, it became evident to me that using technology hand in hand with learning engaged pupils as they could associate this with digital or online activities at home.

(Prensky, 2001, p.1) underlines the radical change in pupils’ lifestyle, and therefore the need for a change in the way they are taught in relation to the education system, which this module will enable me to do by incorporating interactive, digital learning into lessons. I hope to broaden my knowledge of modern resources used in the classroom to engage learners, and to expand my own skillset for self-fulfilment. This blog will enable me to reflect on my own progress and identify my strengths and areas for development within digital technologies, to overall improve my teaching abilities. I look forward to this reflecting process and posting about my journey throughout the module!

Abbie 🙂

 

References:

Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary School: From Pedagogy to Practice. Pearson.

Pollard, A. (2008) Reflective Teaching: Evidence Informed Professional Practice. London: Continuum.

Online References:

Education Scotland. (2018) Enhancing Learning and Teaching through the use of Digital Technology. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/enhancing-learning-teaching-through-use-digital-technology/pages/2/ [Accessed: 08 January 2019]

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. [Online] Available at: https://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf [Accessed: 08 January 2019]

Scottish Government. (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/enhancing-learning-teaching-through-use-digital-technology/ [Accessed: 08 January 2019]

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