Module Overview

Through participating in the Digital Technologies module, I have learned so much more than I had previously thought and I have had a very positive and enjoyable experience. It has highlighted to me how influential technology is in our daily lives and how this can be brought into a classroom setting. At the start of the […]

Through participating in the Digital Technologies module, I have learned so much more than I had previously thought and I have had a very positive and enjoyable experience. It has highlighted to me how influential technology is in our daily lives and how this can be brought into a classroom setting.

At the start of the module, we were asked to evaluate how we felt about technology and I cannot believe how much my technology skills have developed through such a short period of time. This module has allowed me to deepen my understanding of technology in the 21st century and to analyse how technology can be integrated into lessons throughout all areas of the curriculum.Throughout this module, we have been given many different ideas and tips of ways in which technology can be used in lessons which have all been very helpful and interesting.

Through further reading for this module, I was able to see how strongly many theorists and educators feel about technology being embedded within the curriculum. I believe that I now have the same opinion on technology following this module. I can now see how important technology is with regards to education and I believe the two go hand in hand.

I believe that I will take everything that I have learned throughout this module with me into my teaching practice and it has allowed me to become more comfortable with technology and fully grasp endless ways that technology can be used in the classroom.

Thank you.

Digital Technologies Week 11 – 20th March 2018

For the final session of Digital Technologies, we were learning and discussing the use of QR codes and ways to increase outdoor learning. Learning and Teaching Scotland states that “outdoor learning experiences are often remembered for a lifetime. Integrating learning and outdoor experiences, whether through play in the immediate grounds or adventures further afield, provides […]

For the final session of Digital Technologies, we were learning and discussing the use of QR codes and ways to increase outdoor learning.

Learning and Teaching Scotland states that “outdoor learning experiences are often remembered for a lifetime. Integrating learning and outdoor experiences, whether through play in the immediate grounds or adventures further afield, provides relevance and depth to the curriculum in ways that are difficult to achieve indoors.” This statement teaches us that outdoor learning is very important as it allows learners to achieve and develop skills that could not be obtained within a classroom environment.

“The core values of Curriculum for Excellence resonate with long-standing key concepts of outdoor learning. Challenge, enjoyment, relevance, depth, development of the whole person and an adventurous approach to learning are at the core of outdoor pedagogy…” Education Scotland (2010). Outdoor learning is key to the curriculum as without this it would be difficult to achieve all of the key concepts of learning. It also allows young people to be active outdoors and learn to be safe in the outdoor environment. Outdoor learning can be used across all areas of the curriculum and allows children to gain an in-depth knowledge of the curricular area that they are studying.

After discussing outdoor learning, we moved on to discuss the SHANARRI wheel which also links to outdoor learning, which is as follows:

  • Safe
  • Healthy
  • Active
  • Nurture
  • Achieving
  • Responsible
  • Respect
  • Included

When discussing the SHANARRI wheel, my partner and I agreed that outdoor learning links with respect in the sense that when young people are outdoors they must respect the environment. They must also respect property, animals and, people. It is important to introduce children to the ways in which they could influence the surroundings while they are participating in outdoor learning.

Following this, we moved on to the practical side of today’s session. We were examining the application Pic Collage and we were asked to create a collage based on a particular theme. We then moved on to discuss the use of QR codes and the ways that this resource could be used in a classroom setting. We were also shown how to create our own QR codes. We then went outside as a QR code activity had been set up for us to take part in. This involved finding the QR codes placed outside and scanning them with our iPads. We then had to answer the question correctly that corresponded to the specific QR code that we had scanned. Following this, we had to select a letter from the question and once we had scanned all of the QR codes and answered all of the questions a word could be made. While taking part in this activity, another member of our group were taking pictures on a second iPad for us to use in a Pic Collage.

After returning from our outdoor activity, we were asked to create our own lesson using QR codes. My partner and I decided that the subject of our lesson would be mini beasts. We created several questions that corresponded to a specific QR code and the questions must be answered correctly to reveal the secret word at the end of the task. The experiences and outcomes that we listed for this activity are as follows:

  • I have observed living things in the environment over time and am becoming aware of how they depend on each other. SCN 0-01a.
  • I can explore digital technologies and use what I learn to solve problems and share ideas and thoughts. TCH 0-01a.
  • In movement, games, and using technology I can use simple directions and describe positions. MTH 0-17a.

In conclusion, today’s input has allowed me to gain a better understanding of the benefits of outdoor learning and how important it is within the Curriculum for Excellence. It has also allowed me to learn about QR codes and see how they can be tailored to any area within the curriculum. I look forward to taking the knowledge that I have learned through today’s session into my teaching practice.

References

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

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

Digital Technologies Week 10 – 13th March 2018

During today’s input, we were continuing to discuss games-based learning, however, this time with Minecraft as a stimulus for learning. A study by Ofcom (2011) highlights that 86% of five to seven year olds and eight to eleven year olds use gaming devices frequently. This conveys how influential gaming is to the next generation of young people and how it […]

During today’s input, we were continuing to discuss games-based learning, however, this time with Minecraft as a stimulus for learning.

A study by Ofcom (2011) highlights that 86% of five to seven year olds and eight to eleven year olds use gaming devices frequently. This conveys how influential gaming is to the next generation of young people and how it can impact on their daily lives. The gaming world is expanding at a vast past and in order to keep up with this demand, schools must try to incorporate gaming into the curriculum. Gaming allows lessons to be interactive and creates a positive environment within the classroom.

Bray (2012) states that in a classroom setting, games should not just be used as rewards or for entertainment but as a whole new approach to learning. This statement is important in justifying that gaming should be integrated into lessons and not only for enjoyment. Gaming should be used in the classroom as it can be introduced into various topics and throughout different areas of the curriculum. Bray (2012) continues to support games-based learning as he states that Games-based Learning has the most transformational impact when it is combined with good learning and teaching. This suggests that games-based learning has a great potential impact on learners and this is a resource that could allow young people to engage in learning and to create positive experiences.

Some people may state that there is a lot of worry and confusion with regards to teachers using games-based learning within their lessons. This may be due to them not having a full experience of games-based learning or simply because they are unsure of how to use it. However, Beauchamp (2012, p.10) states that “…achieving particular educational objectives through the use of the game was more dependent upon a teacher’s knowledge of the curriculum with which they were working than it was on their ability with the game.” This is vital as it effectively highlights that the teachers knowledge of games-based learning does not need to perfect in order for the learners to benefit from using games-based learning within the classroom.

Students from a local primary school joined us in today’s session to help us gain a better understanding of the game Minecraft. In their school, they had been working on and creating their own worlds within Minecraft and they were very pleased to saw us what they had been creating. It was very fascinating to see all of the different things that could be achieved through the game and how all of the pupils could interact using the game. During the session, us as the student teachers were able to have a try at navigating through Minecraft with the help of the primary students. This was a fantastic experience as all of the pupils were very eager to help us and they were extremely understanding of our abilities. I was a little apprehensive at first as I had never experienced Minecraft before, however, the pupils were very helpful in guiding me. It was clear that the primary school students were enjoying this experience as much as we did as they could be the teachers rather than the pupils. Towards the end of the session, I was able to create my own house which consisted of two levels. This was a particularly good achievement for me after never have experienced the game before. Several of the experiences and outcomes that are aimed at today’s session are as follows:

  • I can extend and enhance my design skills to solve problems and can construct models. TCH 2-09a
  • I can convey information, describe events, explain processes or combine ideas in different ways. LIT 2-28a

Overall, today’s session was extremely beneficial and enjoyable for me. I learned a lot from today’s session and I plan to embed games-based learning into my teaching as I am now a lot more comfortable which how to integrate the resource into lessons. I believe that the primary school students also benefitted from today’s session and it was clear that they felt a sense of achievement when the session was complete. Games-based learning is a fantastic resource that should be used in the classroom to allow learners to be creative and interactive. This resource creates endless opportunities and I look forward to using it throughout my teaching practice.

References

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

Bray, O. (2012) Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education. [Online] https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education [Accessed 13th March 2018]

 

Digital Technologies- Outdoor Learning/QR codes/Module Overview 20/3/18

For our last digital technologies lesson, we focused on the use of technology for outdoor learning specifically the use of QR codes as well as Pic Collage. Prior to today’s […]

For our last digital technologies lesson, we focused on the use of technology for outdoor learning specifically the use of QR codes as well as Pic Collage. Prior to today’s lesson I had no previous knowledge of what QR codes were or how to use them. A QR code (Quick Response code) is an image-based hyperlink that can be used as a link to a website, images, text, a map or an audio recording. I had experience of using the Pic Collage app however I would have never considered using it in the classroom setting. This lesson really educated me on the multiple ways I could introduce QR codes and pic collage into future lessons and the many benefits of doing so for my practice and the young learners in my classroom.

The lesson begun with us familiarising ourselves with the Pic collage app and attempting to incorporate the use of all the app features into a collage. As I had previous experience of using the app I found it very easy to navigate and to construct a collage. After this Graham informed us that we would be working outdoors in a QR code cracking task. To complete the task, we had to work within a group using the QR reading app to find scattered QR codes and answer the Scottish based questions in the text attached to the link. It was undeniable that all participants were having fun throughout this task. The task brought out the friendly competitive side in all of us as well as team work. Despite my group being the last to complete the task we all enjoyed working together outdoors in a new and exciting setting.

As a learner using pic collage I found the app very easy to navigate and to use the apps features. I enjoyed taking the pictures of my friends to include in the collage and customising each phot with stickers, text and backgrounds. For the outdoor task, I was excited to start the code cracking treasure hunt and eager to participate in the outdoor learning as when I was in school I had very little experience of it. While participating in the task my group and I remained energetic, engaged and excited to complete the task. I feel this is very important as despite being adults, we were all running around outdoors eager to win the task thus I feel if this is the level of enthusiasm from adults the enthusiasm from children doing this task would be double and therefore we should aim to integrate outdoor learning with QR codes into curriculum lessons.

From the perspective of a student teacher I feel after participating in this lesson as a learner that I must continue to experiment with outdoor learning and QR codes, so I may use them for future lessons. Education Scotland (2010) spoke on the advantages of introducing outdoor learning to young learners “the outdoor environment offers motivating, exciting, different, relevant and easily accessible activities from pre-school years through to college.” As well as these advantages, outdoor learning can also aid children’s personal development through learning problem solving and teamwork. Young learners are also educated on personal safety by being given the responsibility of working outdoors in the community their road safety, respect and sense of stranger danger are tested. Additionally, introducing outdoor learning promotes a healthy lifestyle for young learners by encouraging walking, running, cycling and active play. By introducing outdoor learning to future lessons, I hope to encourage and aid inclusion for all as outdoor learning provides an opportunity for children to showcase new skills they may not be able to show in the classroom.

Furthermore, Learning and teaching Scotland detailed that outdoor learning “provides relevance and depth to the curriculum in ways that are difficult to achieve indoors.” (Learning and Teaching Scotland 2010). Firstly, outdoor learning can be linked to science through outdoor experiments in natural environment as well as social studies lessons through organised field trips.  Additionally, outdoor learning can be linked to health and wellbeing lessons as it encourages children to experiences challenges in the outdoor environment as well as promoting safety. This links to the curriculums SHANARI wheel (wellbeing wheel) which shows how outdoor learning can link to the eight wellbeing indicators: Safe, Healthy, Active, Nurture, Achieving, Responsible, Respect and Included.

Overall after reviewing to the benefits of using QR codes, Pic collage and specifically outdoor learning I feel I must aim to ensure I include these resources in future lessons. After today I am confident and full of ideas of the ways I could link these resources into areas of the curriculum.

In reflection of my time in the Digital technologies class I feel my knowledge and understanding has significantly developed since my first lesson. For my first lesson I barely knew how to navigate my apple mac computer compared to now where I have the experience, knowledge and confidence of using multiple technologies and apps. During my first lesson I rated my knowledge of apps such as Scratch Jr, ActivInspire and Puppet Pals as 1/5 due to having no prior knowledge or experience of using them. However, on our last day we were asked to rate our knowledge of these apps again and this time I chose much higher ratings of 4/5. At the beginning of this module I was naïve to think that technology was used only in the ICT suite, as a reward for good work or to fit only technology curriculum outcomes. However, now I understand that technology can be used as an aid for multiple curriculum lessons and outcomes such as Numeracy, Literacy, Science etc. Finally, over the course of this module my confidence has increased greatly. During the first few lessons I had little to no self-belief that I would be able to understand technology like Programmable Toys and ActivInspire or find the ideas to use them in future lessons. Yet today I feel confident in using all apps I experienced within this module and am full of ideas on how to integrate these apps into future lessons so the young learners in my classroom can experience the educational benefits of technology.

References:

Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning. [Online] Available: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/cfe-through-outdoor-learning.pdf [Accessed 20th March 2018]

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

27.3.18 – iMovie & e-safety

The themes for today’s class were internet safety and also the use of iMovie in the classroom.  I have two children aged 11 and 13 and so the subject of internet safety for children is a very relevant and current one for me.  It is a constant source of worry, even though I know I … Continue reading 27.3.18 – iMovie & e-safety

The themes for today’s class were internet safety and also the use of iMovie in the classroom.  I have two children aged 11 and 13 and so the subject of internet safety for children is a very relevant and current one for me.  It is a constant source of worry, even though I know I have equipped them well to be safe online.

Having looked at the resources we were given links to it is reassuring to that that there are so many forums dedicated to helping children, and adults, to stay safe on the internet.  I particularly like the Hector’s World animation on the “Think you know?” website and can see it would be an excellent talking point in a classroom.  There are many discussions as to who the responsibility should lie with to teach children to be safe online.  In my mind it is just another aspect of child protection and as such that responsibility falls to us all…teachers, parents, guardians and the wider community.

Research by The Scottish Government (2015) into Raising Attainment has shown evidence that digital equipment, tools and resources can improve the speed and depth of learning in science and mathematics and improve aspects of literacy and numeracy skills.  This resonates with the discussions in previous blogs of the importance of having digital technology in the classroom.  When we bring this equipment in to the classroom, including internet access, then we do have a responsibility ensure the children are equipped use it safely and responsibly and direct them to take those skills and knowledge out with the classroom environment. It is important to approach the topic in a manner that encapsulates the concept “…the key idea [is] that e-safety is not about restricting children, but about educating them.” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.58) Indeed he goes on to discuss further that generally the schools most successful in teaching e-safety were those that placed an emphasis on ensuring pupils knew what to do when things went wrong. (Beauchamp 2012).  I can see how this would be a successful strategy as it is not about restricting what the children can access or about making them terrified about being online but it recognises that things that go wrong and focusses on equipping children with the knowledge and skills on what to do next.  I think it is important that children feel comfortable that they have those skills and equally importantly, that there are adults within the school that they can go to with anything that concerns them about their safety online.

The use of iMovie to create a short video about e-safety was the next part of the lesson.  Working with my class mate we first decided on the storyline and the genre we would use.  We looked at the iMovie app on the iPad and liked the style of the trailers so used that for our creation.  We opted to use toy characters and still shots so I can see that this is a task that could be done in the classroom in groups but equally we could have opted to act and used various locations inside and outside as the set.  This would definitely encourage children to be creative in their storymaking! It is Porter (2004) who noted that “digital storytelling begins with the notion that in the not too distant future, sharing one’s story through the multiple mediums of digital imagery, text, voice, sound, music, video and animation will be the principle hobby of the world’s people.”  I think we are there now.

Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes that I would link to this are:

I understand that there are people I can talk to and that there are a number of ways in which I can gain access to practical and emotional support to help me and others in a range of circumstances.                                                                                                                        HWB 0-03a/1-03a/2-03a/3-03a/4-03a

I have experienced the energy and excitement of presenting/performing for audiences and being part of an audience for other peoples presentations/performances.                EXA 0-01a/1-01a/2-01z

I can explore digital technologies and use what I learn to solve problems and share ideas and thoughts,                                                                                                                              TCH 0-01a

I can extend my knowledge of how to use digital technology to communicate with others and I am aware of ways to keep safe and secure.                                                  TCH 1-03a

I enjoy creating texts of my choice and I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to suit the needs of my audience.                                                                  LIT 1-20a/2-20a

REFERENCES

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

 

Porter, B. (2004) Digi Tales: The Art of Telling Digital Stories. Bernajean Porter Publication.

 

Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive

 

The Scottish Government (2015) Literature Review on the Impact of Digital Technology on Learning and Teaching.  [Online] http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/24843/1/00489224.pdf [Accessed: 27.3.18]

20.3.18 Outdoor Learning – QR codes & Picollage

Today we looked at QR codes, Picollage and how to use them to enhance outdoor learning.  Firstly, we had a class discussion on the benefits and importance of outdoor learning in the curriculum.  We all agreed that we could remember more vividly the moments in our own time at school when we were involved in outdoor … Continue reading 20.3.18 Outdoor Learning – QR codes & Picollage

Today we looked at QR codes, Picollage and how to use them to enhance outdoor learning.  Firstly, we had a class discussion on the benefits and importance of outdoor learning in the curriculum.  We all agreed that we could remember more vividly the moments in our own time at school when we were involved in outdoor learning than we do about our classroom time.  Those experiences ranged from school trips to just being in the playground carrying out tasks. This is one of the things specifically noted by Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) “Outdoor learning experiences are often remembered for a lifetime. Integrating learning and outdoor experiences, whether through play in the immediate grounds or adventures further afield, provides relevance and depth to the curriculum in ways that are difficult to achieve indoors. Learning outdoors can be enjoyable, creative, challenging and adventurous and helps children and young people learn by experience and grow as confident and responsible citizens who value and appreciate the spectacular landscapes, natural heritage and culture of Scotland.”  Looking back at those times I am sure that I was more focussed on the excitement of being outdoor and the fun than I was on realising I was still learning.  This is a particularly important aspect of outdoor learning, especially for children who struggle for whatever reason to engage in the classroom environment.

Another aspect of learning outdoors is it allows both the pupils and the teachers to see different sides to their peers that are not always obvious in the classroom.  In this respect it allows for improved understanding of others and positive relationship building (Education Scotland 2010).  This can be particularly important in relation to inclusion of pupils who may otherwise normally feel on the outside due to varying support needs.

We highlighted the fact that it can be hard for teachers to identify suitable locations for outdoor learning and we discussed Beauchamp (2012) point that “…children are citizens of their localities, making contributions to the communities whether playing sport, interacting with others or simply hanging out with friends…” (Beauchamp, 2012, p. 126) from this we concluded that this is an area where the children could be actively involved in planning their learning.  Without doubt they will know the best part of the playground for a given task or in the wider local community.

We then broadened our discussion to look at the Shannari Wheel and how we could link aspects of outdoor learning to each area on the wheel.  It was surprising just how many different ideas we could come up with in a very short space of time which demonstrated how beneficial outdoor learning is to wider learning.

We are fortunate that the core values of Curriculum for Excellence align with long-standing key concepts of outdoor learning. Challenge, enjoyment, relevance, depth, development of the whole person and an adventurous approach to learning are at the core of outdoor pedagogy. Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010).

Having idenitifed the massive benefits of outdoor learning we then looked at how we could link digital technology in to the outdoor environment using QR codes.

QR codes are basically a more advanced version of the barcodes you find on the back of any product you buy from the shop.  These basic barcodes can store up to 30 numbers but a QR code can store 7089 which is what enables it to allow access to far more detailed information via an ‘image-based hypertext link’.  It can link to a short bit of text, an audio recording, a website, a phone number, an email address, a map location, an calendar event.  I have used QR codes in the past but I had never considered how they could be used educationally.  Our lecturer demonstrated how we might integrate them into our learning by creating a treasure hunt style quiz.  He had placed various QR codes around the campus which we had to locate, scan with the QR code reader on our iPads and answer the question the link took us to.  Dependant on the answer we chose it gave us a letter that would form the jumbled up answer to the final question.  There is no denying that we had great fun and got more than a bit competitive!  Having been through the experience allowed me to see that the topic of the treasure hunt could have been anything at all so as a teacher I could use it as an excellent revision tool for a subject that had already been covered in class across the full curriculum.  It could even be discreet assessment to identify knowledge gaps yet the outdoor fun aspects has completely drawn the children away from the fact they are being assessed.

Once back in the classroom we were asked to devise our own quiz and create a QR code treasure hunt.  My classmate and I decided to use maths based questions and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to create which is definitely a big bonus when we get to the stage of planning lessons.  Some Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and outcomes that I have identified that link to this are:

I explore and experiment with the features and functions of computer technology and I can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts.           TCH 1-04a/TCH 2-04a

Opportunities to carry out different activities and roles in a variety of settings have enabled me to identify my achievements, skills and areas for development. This will help me to prepare for the next stage in my life and learning.                                                                                                 HWB 2-19a

Within and beyond my place of learning I am enjoying daily opportunities to participate in physical activities and sport, making use of available indoor and outdoor space.                               HWB 1-25

As we went along we also took a few photos to document our outdoor experience.  We then used the Picollage app to create collages with those images.  It demonstrated well how an app like this could be used to log student learning in a more engaging way.  It would also be an excellent way to display photos from school trips or collection of work done by the children for display on the wall or to be shared electronically with parents.

Looking back….

This was our last lecture in Digital Technologies today.  It was definitely a fun topic to finish on.  Since the start of the module I feel I have learned a great deal not only about the actual digital equipment I could take in to my future classrooms but more importantly why it is so important that I do that.  I have a much deeper understanding of why technology needs to be an everyday part of school learning, because it is an everyday part of life.  I have learned that without its presence in education today’s learners struggle to see the relevance and the real life context of what that are being taught.  I understand that it is well documented that used effectively, learning across the curriculum is greatly enhanced when digital technology is used to support and facilitate the learning.  But I have also learned to be cautious not to use technology ‘for the sake of it’ but to focus on when it is the best option.  I feel that moving forward I will be much more confident when I become a  teacher that I will be able to include innovative lesson plans that will engage the minds of my learners and that I will broaden my thinking to find the best resources to do it.

REFERENCES

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

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

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

Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive

13.3.18 – Game Based Learning – Minecraft

Today’s class was a continuation of game based learning (GBL) this time looking at how Minecraft can be successfully used in the classroom.  Today we had a nice break from the norm and had a group of primary 6 pupils visit us from a local school. Two pupils joined our group and demonstrated to us … Continue reading 13.3.18 – Game Based Learning – Minecraft

Today’s class was a continuation of game based learning (GBL) this time looking at how Minecraft can be successfully used in the classroom.  Today we had a nice break from the norm and had a group of primary 6 pupils visit us from a local school.

Two pupils joined our group and demonstrated to us the world they had been creating in Minecraft as part of their class topic which was Harry Potter.  It was fascinating to see how excited they were to show us and talk to us about what they had created despite never having met us before. This to me was active demonstration of how GBL can enhance inclusion in the classroom for all pupils including those with additional support needs.  Minecraft is a game that hundreds of thousands of children and adults have been playing on consoles at home since its release in 2011. (Magbook, 2014).  This would make it a forum where most children would feel comfortable and confident so its inclusion in the class can then be used as the vehicle to encourage the development of social skills.

It was explained to us that when all of the iPads are on the same network in their school they can all sign in to the same ‘world’ and work collaboratively as a whole class on designing and creating the content of that world.

It was then our turn to try out creating a world.  I have seen Minecraft over the years as both my children were very into it a couple of years ago.  I would have to admit to never paying that much attention to it but I always thought it looked easy….I did not find this to be the case when I started using it!  I was putting blocks in the wrong place, I couldn’t fathom out the camera angles, I was turning the opposite way to that which I was trying to….I was ready to give up but the p6 pupils were great at helping me to find my way and I soon got the hang of it.  I think this is a valuable lesson in itself that a teacher shouldn’t be afraid to use the skills of their pupils to enhance a lesson.  It is ok to not know everything and it undoubtedly gives the children a sense of satisfaction to share their knowledge with others.

Once we had all had an opportunity to use Minecraft our creations were assessed by the pupils and we were given feedback.  I could see how that could be used in a real class setting as part of a literacy task. Reviewing and then writing the review of an aspect of the game.

After today’s input I still would not think of myself of competent in Minecraft but I have seen enough that I am won over to the benefits of using it to enhance a class project.  I would not be held back by my lack of knowledge of the game in the sense of actual game play because the learning that we seek in the classroom does not come from the game itself but from the context that we are using it in.

The use of computer games in school can help to overcome what is referred to as ‘digital disconnect’.  “Children engage in rich and extensive uses of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) at home but this knowledge and experience is then kept outside of the school gates” (Buckingham, 2007 cited in Learning and Teaching for Scotland/Futurelab report: The impact of console games in the classroom: Evidence from schools in Scotland).  The Curriculum for Excellence is very much designed to try and address this issue and as such technology is both a curricular area on its own but also one which is very much geared towards learning with and about technology across all subjects.  It is important to keep pushing forward with this immersion of technology within education so that we can move away from the situation Veen and Vrakking warn of whereby children “…now possess evolutionarily distinct advantages over adults. They are ‘active processors of information, skilled problem solvers using gaming strategies and effective communicators’ who ostensibly ‘consider schools as disconnected institutions, more or less irrelevant to them as far as their daily lives are concerned. … In fact, Homo zappiens (children) are digital, and school is analogue” (Veen and Vrakking, 2006).

Some Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes that I see as relevant to todays discussion are:

When I engage with others, I can respond in ways appropriate to my role, show that I value others’ contributions and use these to build on thinking                                                                                     LIT 2-02a

I can create, capture and manipulate sounds, text and images to communicate experiences, ideas and information in creative and engaging ways                                                              TCH 1-04b / TCH 2-04b

I can use exploration and imagination to solve design problems related to real-life situations                                                                                                                                                                                         EXA 1-06a

When listening and talking with others for different purposes, I can:

  • share information, experiences and opinions
  • explain processes and ideas
  • identify issues raised and summarise main points or findings
  • clarify points by asking questions or by asking others to say more LIT 2-09a

REFERENCES

Futurelab & Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) The impact of console games in the classroom: Evidence from schools in Scotland [Online] Available at: www.futurelab.org.uk [Accessed 13.3.18]

MagBook (2014) How to Do Everything in Minecraft

Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive

Veen, W and Vrakking, B (2006) Homo Zappiens: Growing up in the digital age London: Network Continuum Education

Images from Pixabay.com

6.3.18 Game Based Learning – MarioKart

Today’s lecture introduced us to the concept of games based learning (GBL).  Not having experienced this before I was interested to find out that my preconception of this meaning children are spending a lot of time in classrooms playing computer games is completely misguided.  Indeed, what I have taken away from today is that the … Continue reading 6.3.18 Game Based Learning – MarioKart

Today’s lecture introduced us to the concept of games based learning (GBL).  Not having experienced this before I was interested to find out that my preconception of this meaning children are spending a lot of time in classrooms playing computer games is completely misguided.  Indeed, what I have taken away from today is that the actual ‘game play’ time is a very limited part of the session plan however, that is sufficient to capture the enthusiasm of the children and their passion for these games and transfer that passion into their learning. This is in agreement with the Highter Edcuation Academy website where it states “Digital Games-based Learning is the integration of gaming into learning experiences to increase engagement and motivation.” (Higher Education Academy website)

In all of our classes in this module we have always placed an emphasis on ‘relevance’.  That if the learning experience feels relevant to the learner then they will engage with it and be motivated to learn.  Bringing commercial off the shelf (COTS) devices and games in to the classroom will undoubtedly pique the attention of the learners.  In a talk on The Future of Technology in Education, Ollie Bray, Headteacher at Kingussie High School, Scotland discussed many and varied ways to integrate GBL into the classroom.  Many of the points he made resonated with me.  One of the main points he made was in relation to the fact that a teacher can introduce many levels of learning through digital games and it will not even occur to the children that they are learning.  These can often be subjects that in another setting, the child would struggle to engage with, however, by including it in a cross-curricular lesson facilitated by GBL the children engage with the topic with ease.  Bray referred to the teacher as the ‘learning architect’ and this links to the guidance from Learning and Teaching Scotland when using GBL:

  • Game is used as the core within a broad range of activities
  • Role of the teacher – ensuring effective implementation of games, discussion and plenary
  • Be clear about learning intentions
  • Use appropriate games for tasks
  • Make clear links to experiences and outcomes
  • Be selective – use parts of the game relevant to meeting the intended outcome

(Learning and Teaching Scotland)

Our task today was based around the game MarioKart on the Nintendo Wii.  We were shown apsects of the game and under normal circumstances would have had an opportunity to play the game however due to problems with the console this was not possible.  This was not an issue as I have experience of this game having played it at home with my children.  I could see how this game time would have introduced me to the topic for the lesson and created quite a buzz in the classroom.  We then moved on to designing our own Mario kart and character individually, displaying a link between GBL and Art & Design.

 

We then moved in to group work where our brief was to discuss and then map out an Interdisciplinary learning plan around Mariokart.  Our efforts are displayed in the picture below!

We saw opportunities to have learning under the curricular areas of:

  • Expressive arts
  • Technology
  • Numeracy
  • Drama
  • Literacy

The Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes we linked to this lesson plan were:

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 specific tasks.            EXA 2-02a

I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance learning in different contexts.                                                                                          TCH 1-01a

I enjoy creating, choosing and accepting roles, using movements, expression and voice  EXA 1-12a

Inspired by a range of stimulae, I can express and communicate my ideas, thoughts and feelings through drama.                 EXA 0-13a            EXA1-13a             EXA 2-13a

By considering the type of text I am creating I can select ideas and relevant information, organise these in a logical sequence and use words which will be interesting and/or useful to others. LIT 1-26a

I can use money to pay for items and can work out how much change I should receive.  MNU 1-09a

I can manage money and compare costs from different retailers, and determine what I can afford to buy                                                                                                                                                MNU 2-09a

Having explored a range of 3D objects and 2D shapes I can use mathematical language to describe their properties and through investigation can discuss where and why particular shapes are used in the environment.                                                                                                                      MNU 2-16a

Going through the Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and outcomes for this task really drove home for me just how many could be achieved all steming from the use of a computer game in the class.  Reid states “Although game-based learning has had a ‘difficult history’ with teachers who may have felt threatened by children becoming more expert in technology than they are, there is no denying that such platforms offer them a way to engage the pupils in a way they understand and can relate to.” (Stephen Reid, Immersive Minds, cited on Future Scot online article)  I am feeling more and more confident through this module that I will not be fearful of integrating as much technology in to my classroom as is appropriate to provide the best learning environment I can.

REFERENCES

Edutopia website [Online] Available at: https://www.edutopia.org/article/3-ways-use-game-based-learning-matthew-farber [Accessed 6.3.18]

Futurescot.com website [Online] Available at: http://futurescot.com/educators-encouraged-open-minds-possibilities-games-based-learning/ [Accessed 6.3.18]

 

Higher Education Academy website [Online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/gamification-and-games-based-learning  [Accessed 6.3.18]

Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive

27.02.18 Mobile Devices – Talking Tins & Easi-speak Microphones

Today’s lecture was our second look at the use of mobile devices in the classroom and more specifically we were using Talking Tins and Easi-speak microphones. To start the day I was asked to consider the question “should mobile devices be used in primary schools?” and post a response on our class forum.  Reading the … Continue reading 27.02.18 Mobile Devices – Talking Tins & Easi-speak Microphones

Today’s lecture was our second look at the use of mobile devices in the classroom and more specifically we were using Talking Tins and Easi-speak microphones.

To start the day I was asked to consider the question “should mobile devices be used in primary schools?” and post a response on our class forum.  Reading the articles related to this subject was very informative.  In particular, reading the Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland The views of children Consultation by Children’s Parliament for Scottish Government February 2016.  I found this document fascinating.  It contains a consultation that involved discussion groups with a total of 93 children, aged between 8 and 11 years old and evenly split by gender.

The children’s opinions on the variety of ways technology could be maximised in their learning environment was inciteful and in my opinion, realistic.  They were not looking for ways to escape learning, they were digitally aware, and had knowledge of a number of ways technology could be better used in their classroom.  The comment that really resonated with me was “Children would like to be able to suggest apps and sites that help them learn” – I agree with this.  Children should feel able to contribute to the development of their learning. Teachers are still for the most part, Digital Immigrants (Prensky 2001) and should not be closed to the reality that many children, as digital natives, will be far more aware of the availability and capability of certain technology/games/applications that could be of benefit in a class. As Beauchamp says “Although teachers may be worried by new technologies… we need to be sure that this is not transmitted to young children, or that other obstacles are not put in the way of their natural curiosity and willingness to explore new technologies.” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.66)

Sophie Curtis wrote an article in The Telegraph “Digital learning: how technology is reshaping teaching” documenting her experiences in a classroom experiment.  She participated in one lesson where no technology was used and the methods would be considered “traditional teaching” and a second lesson when technology was used for the entire lesson. Curtis commented that after the second lesson “I’m not sure I learnt any more… but at no point during the second lesson did I find my mind wandering, which is half the battle teachers fight every day.” (Curtis, 2014) This highlights the importance of technology in the classroom for me, it is not about learning more it is about making the learning better.

The devices we used today were both audio in nature.  The Talking Tin is a device that was originally designed for use by blind people.  It would be placed on top of a tin can and the user would then be able to press the button and listen to a recording that would tell them the contents of the tin.  The device has now made its way in to many schools with its ability to be used to enhance the learning environment for both teachers and pupils clear.  Some of the ways the device can be used are for the teacher to record pronunciation and/or spelling of words for individual pupils and then attach it using its magnet to the pupils dry wipe board allowing them to work at their own pace or when the teacher is not available.  It can also be used as part of modern languages where a recording could be made of the word for an item in the class and the talking tin placed beside it.  Learners can play the recording and learn the word in another language.  The device for me felt easy to use and I could see great possibility especially for pupils with additional support needs.

We then moved on to our task for the day which was to create a poem and display it in a PowerPoint presentation with images and audio attachments.  The audio recordings were made using the Easi-speak microphone.  A brightly coloured, small microphone with easy to understand operational buttons capable of recording and saving a good amount of data.  Working with a classmate, we created an “I am…” poem and recorded one line at a time on the microphone.  Once the full poem was recorded the transfer of data to the computer was very simple.  The Easi-speak can be plugged directly into the computer via usb port.  We were then able to take the recordings and attach them to the PowerPoint slides.  Images were selected from licence free online sources and attached to the same slide to represent the spoken word.  The line from the poem was also written on the slide.  This really linked back to our previous knowledge of multimodality and was an excellent demonstration to me as a teacher of how a PowerPoint presentation for a lesson could be made so much more interactive.  Becoming familiar with the use of the microphone was also good.  I can see how it could be used to assist and assess things such as reading aloud.  For example, if a child is struggling through nerves and shyness to read in front of the class or even just the teacher they could be given a microphone and go to a quiet space and read out loud in to the microphone and the teacher could then listen back to it for assessment and feedback.  The microphone can also playback instantly a recording and so a child could self-assess their work which would also build their confidence.

As I continue with this module it is opening my eyes to the variety of equipment there is out there to enhance the learning experience and also to manage the vast range of needs I will have in my class. You can never have too many options!

Some of the Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes that I see as relevant to the use of these devices are:

I am aware of and able to express my feelings and am developing the ability to talk about them.                                                                                                                                 HWB 0-01a/1-01a/2-01a

Within real and imaginary situations, I share experiences and feelings, ideas and information in a way that communicates my message.                                                       LIT 0-09a

I can explore digital technologies and use what I learn to solve problems, share ideas and thoughts.                                                                                                                           TCH 0-01a

I enjoy exploring and playing with the patterns and sounds of language, and can use what I learn.                                                                                                                              LIT 0-01a / LIT 0-11a /LIT 0-20a

 

 

REFERENCES

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

Curtis, S. (2014) Digital Learning: how technology is reshaping teaching [Online] Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/11051228/Digital-learning-how-technology-is-reshaping-teaching.html [Accessed: 27.2.18]

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On The Horizon Vol 9(5).

Children’s Parliament (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland: The View’s of Children

[Online] Available at: http://www.childrensparliament.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/REPORT_digital-learning-consultation_Childrens-Parliament-1.pdf [Accessed: 27.2.18]

Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive

20.2.18 – Animation/Movie Making 2

Today in Digital Technologies we were looking at animation.  This is an area I had no prior experience of and so I found it very interesting.  Exploring the Moving Image Education website (MIE) I found out that there are 5 main categories of animation: Cutout – generally considered the quickest and easiest Stop-motion – example … Continue reading 20.2.18 – Animation/Movie Making 2

Today in Digital Technologies we were looking at animation.  This is an area I had no prior experience of and so I found it very interesting.  Exploring the Moving Image Education website (MIE) I found out that there are 5 main categories of animation:

  1. Cutout – generally considered the quickest and easiest
  2. Stop-motion – example is plasticine models
  3. Pixillation – humans become the puppets
  4. Drawn – example is the classical Disney animation
  5. Computer – also known as CGI and found in games and movies.

(Moving Image Education website)

I could see that the first three categories could easily be taken in to the classroom to explore a variety of topics in a way most pupils would never have experienced before.  This is in agreement with Bertrancourt  who suggests there are 3 ways animation can be used to enhance learning:

  1. To enhance learners’ visual representations.
  2. To illustrate processes.
  3. To provide an interactive element.

(Bertrancourt 2005 as cited in Jarvis 2015, p92)

I had never previously considered that something I would have once thought of as ‘playing’ could provide stimulus across the curriculum.  For example, the animation could be representing a piece of literacy work in the form of a story created by the students.  Or it could be an informational piece recreating a historic event, or the link to learning could be through the materials used to create the animation such as leaves, twigs, stones for a nature topic.  Regardless of the topic the use of this medium would encourage and enhance social skill, decision making, problem solving, collaboration which are all essential life skills.

I was eager to learn more and so in the role of learner we were introduced to PuppetPals and instructed to create a story using the app.  This gave me an initial taste of basic animation and the processes I would have to consider to make it look and flow properly.  Having mastered this, we moved on to using iStopMotion on the iPad.  Working together with a classmate we created an animation loosely based on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  We called it “Golden Bear and the 3 Aliens”.  Using paper and pens we created two backgrounds and also some speech bubbles for our characters.  The characters were plastic toys from a selection provided for use in the class for the lesson and as the title suggests….a small yellow(golden if you use artistic licence!) and three posable alien figures.  It was easy to let our imagines run and come up with the short story as we went.  It involved discussion and agreement, sharing of tasks, problem solving to get the animation made.  The actual filming of the animation was admittedly quite time consuming because each frame involves a minimal movement of the character/s.  This is something that Jarvis warns about “…using sound and video should enhance the quality of information processing and hence learning. However, it can be very time consuming.” (Jarvis, 2015, p93).  However, the same would apply to the use of an animation app as with any game based learning, the teacher has to make clear the way in which the game is to be used (Beauchamp 2012) and set the parameters which in the case of animation could be stipulation of the amount of frames per second and the animation length.

It is important that we acknowledge the benefits of technology to enhance learning. Beauchamp (2102) refers to it as e-inclusion.  Using digital technology to benefit children with learning support needs to minimize the problems they experience and to maximise their inclusion in the class learning. Bringing animation in to the classroom I see as an excellent tool to facilitate this.  As the Film Education website highlights, “Animation is a co-operative exercise and will utilise the varying skills of the children in the group getting the best out of them. You will find that where some children can draw well, others will be good at operating equipment or playing instruments; or performing voices or acting as artistic directors”.  I believe this exemplifies that there is a role of everyone in a task like this.

Some of the Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes that could be linked to this 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

I have the opportunity to choose and explore a range of media and technologies to create images and objects, discovering their effects and suitability for specific tasks.                                EXA 1-02a

I enjoy exploring events and characters in stories and other texts and I use what I learn to invent my own, sharing these with others in imaginative ways.                                                    LIT 0-09b / LIT 0-31a

 

As I move through my time at university and into teaching I hope to be able to use this technology in learning.  Today has been a great learning experience for me.

 

REFERENCES

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

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

Moving Image Education website: [Online] Available at: https://movingimageeducation.org/create-films/animation [Accessed: 20.2.18]

Film Education website: [Online] Available at: http://www.filmeducation.org/resources/primary/teaching_with_film/primary_animation/introduction/ [Accessed 20.2.18]

Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive