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


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 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.


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 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


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 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.


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 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




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:

  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.



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

6.2.18 – Mobile Devices (eBooks)

Today in Digital Technologies we explored the potential of mobile devices in the classroom and focussed on eBook creation.

There are a variety of mobile devices that could be considered for use in the classroom such as:


Android tablet




Over the years various different devices have been trialled by different schools and it would seem most often it is the iPad that has found its way in to the majority of classrooms. I think, having used an iPad personally for years with my children as they have grown this is most likely attributable to the vast availability of apps on this platform that can be used educationally.  The apps are in general easy to navigate and manipulate and the device itself is multi-purpose.  By this I mean the iPad is capable of being a camera, a video recorder and player, audio recorder and player, a note taker, with internet access it provides instant access to vast quantities of information and through the various apps well, just about anything you could want it to be.  For example, a film making suite through the app iMovie or an interactive book designer through Book Creator.  It is easily carried and with the use of appropriate casing, robust, therefore able to support learning in any environment the teacher desires.

In 2012 a pilot scheme was run in a number of schools spread across Scotland to establish what impact personal issue of an iPad to each child would have on their learning.  The results of this scheme were documented in the iPad Scotland Final Evaluation Report by Burden, Hopkins, Male et al (2012) members of the Faculty of Education, The University of Hull.  I found this document very interesting to read and was particularly drawn to the summary relating to primary school use.  The report found “…there is little doubt that the ownership of a personal device, such as the iPad, significantly increases levels of motivation and interest shown by students in their work at school leading to greater engagement and autonomy by students.” (p.52) This is unsurprising to me as it is more reflective of the children’s lives outside the classroom where iPads/tablets/smartphones are an active part of their daily lives.  Bringing the same technology in to the classroom will undoubtedly make the learning feel more relevant, interesting and accessible.

The main focus of our class today was on the use of eBooks through the app Book Creator on the iPad.  Working in groups, we first discussed what we perceived an eBook to be and created a mind map.  Moving on, our task was to create an eBook telling prospective UWS students why they should come to our university.  Using the iPad, we went around the campus taking pictures to use for our book/brochure and then returned to the class to create our book purely because it was the quietest available space.  We could have easily sat anywhere on the campus had we wanted to, that being the beauty of a mobile device.  We decided on the layouts, background colours, text and started adding to the pages.  It was easy to edit when we weren’t completely happy with the look and the app was easy to use (I have never used it before either).

Having this opportunity to be in the position of the learner I felt demonstrated to me how vast the opportunities are to be really creative and imaginative with this tool.  I could see how in the hands of a younger learner it could encourage and even inspire them to create a text that, had they been given the more traditional tools of pencil and paper and sat at a desk may have stifled.  Not only can literacy skill in terms of written word be encouraged but I can see how it allows the child to not only be a consumer of texts but a creator.  It provides an insight in to how books are designed and created. This is in agreement with Eagle who states “Digital technologies have opened up new opportunities to learn about how texts are constructed.  Whereas in the past, producing printed texts, animations and films required specialist technology and skills, new digital technologies have made it possible for people to produce all kinds of texts from their own homes.  Using new technologies it should be possible to encourage children to acquire their own experience of being producers of texts, becoming involved in choosing to assemble resources to generate meanings”. (Eagle, 2008 p.12 cited in Beauchamp 2012).  I think this succinctly summarises everything that is good about mobile devices and applications such a Book Creator, the barriers that they break down and the world that they have the ability to bring in to the classroom.

From a teaching perspective, I see that I could use these tools to create an excellent learning environment and numerous cross curricular activities.  There are a number of Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes (Scottish Executive 2004) that could be related to this such as:

I regularly select and listen to or watch texts which I enjoy and find interesting, and I can explain why I prefer certain sources. I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to create texts of my choice.                                                                                                                                     LIT 1-01a / LIT 2-01a

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 / LIT 2-20a

I can present my writing in a way that will make it legible and attractive for my reader, combining words, images and other features.                                                                                  LIT 1-24a

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

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


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

Burden, Hopkins, Male, Martin, Trala (2012) iPad Scotland Final Evaluation Report University of Hull

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

30.1.18 – Coding

Today we were looking at coding using the Scratch Jr app on the iPad.  Previously we have looked at programming using BeeBot and I would view Scratch Jr as a progression from that.  Moving from the basic concept that pushing the buttons in a sequence programs the BeeBot to carry out that action.

Scratch Jr is aimed at children approximately 5-7 years old.  The basic principle of the app is that the user has access to a variety of different backgrounds, objects and characters etc which can be selected to be used in their own programmed interactive story or game.  Creating the program is a relatively easy process that involves joining program blocks that can be dragged and snapped together to form the code that will make the story or game work.  It involves several skill sets such as:

Creative thinking


Decision making

Problem solving


This is by no means an exhaustive list!  As a learner I found the app a little frustrating to start off with but I soon found my way and was able to create some programs.  There would be more than enough options for a user aged between 5 and 7 to create their programs, perhaps at times I felt a little frustrated that I couldn’t quite get it to do what I wanted but on reflection I think that was perhaps because my aspirations were more advanced than either a) the app is designed to allow or b) my own ability…. I created an interactive story called Jacks Dream.  Going through this process as a user allowed me to see what the possible benefits in the classroom would be over and above the introduction of coding to the children.  I felt it was clear that it would be an excellent tool to encourage and assist with creative writing tasks in Literacy.  For example, pupils could be asked to create their story within the app and then move on to writing the story out.  Some children might find this easier as they are not initially faced with the overwhelm of a blank page to write on.  It might also be helpful to children who are less confident in the use of descriptive words or struggle with story structure.  The format of creating the code will encourage them to think about logical structure and order of events and also allows for changes with relative ease instead of being faced with rubbing out or scoring through written work they were unsatisfied with.  Once the story, or start of a story has been programmed the transition to writing will be much more exciting as the idea will already be well formed in their head.  The teacher might also choose to create their own story to carry out a ‘what happens next?’ format of writing with the class.  Of course, as mentioned in The Lead Project (2014) Scratch can be used to aid teachers in subjects like mathematics, music, art, design and information technology as well as Literacy making it an excellent cross curricular tool.

It is important in this digital era, that children are exposed from an early age to the concept that in order for many of the things they take for granted to exist somebody had to create the coding for it.  I feel it affords them a greater depth of understanding and appreciation of ‘how it works’.  Accessing apps such as Scratch Jr allows them to make the initial steps from being a digital user to a digital creator. This is in agreement with the observations of Naughton (2012) who discusses why this is quite so important.  He goes so far as to say that if we fail to teach our children to code we are ‘intellectually crippling them’.  He reasons that without a deep understanding of how the systems that control most of our world operate we leave them no option but to be a latent user in a rapidly advancing world. In 2014 the Government announced that all children from 5-16 in all schools in England would be taught to code.  This can only be a good thing for not only our learners but for wider society. The Curriculum for Excellence here in Scotland supports the permeation of technology throughout the curriculum from 3-18.  Things are changing in education, and they need to, especially if we consider the thoughts of those such as Prensky (2008).  He believes the single skill that will distinguish a literate person in the 21st century is programming literacy.  To have the ability to make digital technology do whatever is required.  Some are now referring to it as the skill of human-machine interaction but simply, it is programming.

Using Scratch Jr in the classroom might seem a world away from creating the elite programmers of tomorrow but in my opinion, it is no different to the early processes of teaching a child to write who then goes on to become an author.  We start at the beginning and help them grow.



Naughton (2012)Why all our kids should be taught to code [Online] http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/mar/31 [Accessed 3.2.18]

Prensky, M (2008) Programming: The New Literacy  [Online] http://classtap.pbworks.com/f/Prensky+-+Programming:+The+New+Literacy.pdf [Accessed 3.2.18]

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

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

23.1.18 – Multimodality

Today we looked at creating multimodal presentations.  The focus of the lesson was the use of Microsoft PowerPoint and also ActivInspire, something that I was not familiar with before today.

The concept of multimodality is not completely new to me, having looked at it in my BA1 module Literacy for Understanding last term.  To summarise for you, a text would be considered multimodal when it combines two or more semiotic systems. There are five semiotic systems in total.  Those are linguistic, visual, audio, gestural and spatialIt is therefore reasonable to say that yes, most texts that would be used in a primary setting are indeed multimodal as most would contain words (linguistic) and pictures (visual).

The purpose of today’s learning was to look at how, using technology, we can enhance the multimodality of texts to make the learning more engaging and more accessible to a broader range of learners.  For example, to build on the base of linguistic and visual with audio, gestural and spatial modality to create a completely immersive and interactive text.  This is where ActivInspire is particularly good at utilising the Interactive White Board (IWB) present in almost every Scottish classroom and bringing learning to life.  The IWB is undoubtedly one of the most expensive pieces of equipment in the modern classroom and yet its capabilities are often underutilised by teachers.  This software helps the teacher to bring interactive learning to life in their classroom in a manner that they can personalise to the pupils and the topic.  Taking the relevant information and making it more dynamic and interactive and as such creating more memorable learning experiences.

As a learner today, I focused on ActivInspire.  Having never used it before I was keen to see the practical side of creating slides.  Working with my classmate we decided to create an interactive slide with a numeracy theme.  Despite having watched an instructional video we initially found it a little hard to use.  I found myself reminded that Youtube is an invaluable learning tool as we would have been lost without the video to keep referring back to!  The main initial problems I found were getting the sizing right with the various characters and self-created designs.  Often it was hard to find images within the software that were exactly what I had in mind but with patience it was possible to make modifications.  In reality, the first slide took a while to create and I found myself slightly concerned that I would struggle to prepare a lesson using this software in a realistic amount of time.  It was however, easier the more slides we created and as I became more familiar with the ActivInspire.

As I produced the slides I could see that as a teacher this would be a great way to work in group or whole class setting to introduce a new topic or to consolidate prior learning at the start of a lesson.  The colours are very bright and bold which would transfer well to the IWB screen.  Learners can be actively involved in the learning as they can be invited to come up to the board and move things around to solve problems.  This would be in keeping with the utilisation of the spatial and gestural semiotic systems.

The need for the use of software such as this in classrooms is reflected in the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) Literacy and English Framework which acknowledges the increased use of multimodal texts, digital communication, social networking and other forms of digital communication encountered by children in their daily lives.  It is much easier for children to find the learning relevant and to be able to give real world context to it when it is presented to them in ways that are familiar and reflect their daily life.  If the learning looks like a game, and even feels like a game, in that they are familiar with using touchscreen technology them combining software such as this with the IWB is I feel maximising the knowledge the learner will take from the lesson.  There is an ever increasing need and expectation on teachers to be proficient in these areas and that is why I felt it crucial to engage with this module.  I do not want to let myself and my future pupils be held back by a lack of ability on my part to integrate digital learning in to the classroom.  I wholeheartedly agree with Beauchamp (2012, p81) that we need to “…challenge implicit assumption that SPEECH and WRITING are always central and sufficient to learning…”  This is not reflective of where society is in 2018 and the classroom needs to mirror the outside environment we are striving to prepare our young people for.  It is important to recognise that technology in the classroom is not only essential but positive.  Often there are concerns that children using technology outwith the classroom are doing so in a socially isolated manner.  For example, sitting alone playing video games.  This use of the touch display technology in the classroom encourages hands on experiences that help children to learn by doing and to see the technology as a social learning tool as these tasks would primarily be designed to be group or whole class level and involve a broad range of social skill. (Prandstatter, 2014).

Ultimately, the most important positive argument for maximising the use of multimodality and multimedia in the classroom comes from the pupils themselves.  In a study carried out by Hall and Higgins (2005, p106) they found that the pupils studied “…enjoy in particular the multi-media capabilities of the technology, especially visual aspects (colour and movement), audio (music, voice recordings, sound effects) and being able to touch the IWB.  All pupil groups mentioned the multi-media aspects of the IWB as advantageous especially in engaging and holding their attention”.  What I have learned today will definitely help me to ensure wherever appropriate I am able to create lessons that enhance learning through maximum multimodality.




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

Education Scotland [ONLINE] https://education.gov.scot/improvement/learning-resources/curriculum%20for%20excellence%20benchmarks [Accessed 23.1.18]

Prandstatter (2014) [Online] http://connectlearningtoday.com/interactive-displays-early-years-classes/ [Accessed 23.1.18]

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

16.1.18 – Programmable Toys

In today’s Digital Technology class we were looking at programmable toys and their place in the classroom.

Starting off as a learner, I was first introduced to Bee-Bot on the iPad.  This was a very bright and colourful app with an animated version of the Bee-Bot toy we would later progress to using.  The app was easy to navigate and a quick way to display the concept of controlling and interacting with Bee-Bot.

We were then given our brief for the assessed task and a Bee-Bot toy.  It is immediately obvious why Bee-Bot is liked so much by young learners.  He is brightly coloured, has a happy face and is quite tactile.  By that I mean his controls, simple to understand even at early years level, are raised and provide instant feedback to the user that they have been successfully pressed through a ‘click’ that can be felt with the finger and also heard.  It is quite light and very robust.

Our task was to create a game that learners could play with Bee-Bot that had links to numeracy.  In my group we opted for a game aimed at first level learners on the Curriculum for Excellence.  This is broadly speaking pupils in primary 2 – 4. We created a game on a large grid with a money theme and called it “Bee-Bot at the Shop”.  We also created cards to accompany the grid.  One set of cards had pictures of food items you might buy at the shop and the other set had various amounts of money on them, the idea being these would be the prices for the food the player was ‘purchasing’ as part of the game.  The expectation was that the player would program BeeBot to move from the start position to the various coins and/or notes that would be required to make up the value of the item from the card.  As an extension we saw a number of options including a progression on to working out the change they would receive and showing at least one mixture of coins and notes that would make up that value using BeeBot.



We then tried out our game to assess if it was as engaging as we hoped.  I felt it was successful and would be very engaging to children in first level, that being the age group we designed the game for.    The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) experiences and outcomes that we were looking to achieve through this game were:

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

I have investigated how different combinations of coins and notes can be used to pay for goods or be given in change.                                                                                                                                                MNU 1-09b

I am developing problem solving strategies, navigation and co-ordination skills, as I play and learn with electronic games, remote control or programmable toys.                                                   TCH 1-09a

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

From a teaching perspective, todays learning along with the assessment task was valuable as it displayed to me how the use of technology in the classroom such as BeeBot is so much more than just a bit of fun for the children.  It is an excellent learning tool that allows for imaginative ways to teach subjects across the curriculum and aimed at various age groups.  Indeed, in her article ‘Robots in Early Education (2008) Alison Lyden discusses how programmable toys such as BeeBot can be used even in nursery level classrooms.   I feel that children are exposed to programable technology in their daily lives so this type of interactive learning tool is not beyond their comprehension even at early level.  The pushing of buttons to make the toy do what you want it to is almost intuitive to them.  Indeed in Lyden’s (2008) observation she noted that 12 of her class of 28 were able to use BeeBot without further adult assistance after the initial teaching input.  That is almost half of her class so comfortable with the concept of a programmable toy they were able to work unaided from the outset.  She went on to note that the children were also willing and able to assist those less familiar with the process.  This demonstrates that not only is it a good tool to teach technology and subject like numeracy and literacy, it also branches in to encouraging social interaction.  This is a notion that is also documented by the National Centre for Technology in Education (2012) where it notes the use of floor robots encourages group interaction, conversation and collaboration.  For some children I feel the presence of the toy makes it more comfortable to express themselves in a group setting.

Further to this, Beauchamp (2012, p65) mentions “ICT (in the EY) is not just a computer with Early Years software installed.  ICT is anything where you can press a button and make something happen, the beginnings of children understanding that technology requires programming and that they can be in control of making things happen.”  So aside from the fun aspects of playing with BeeBot it introduces the early concept of programming to the learner.  A foundation that will be built on as they progress through education and gives real world context to the learning.

I have been really impressed with the BeeBot and the breadth of uses it can have across the curriculum in a primary classroom setting.  I look forward to making appropriate use of it in the future as my teaching career progresses.



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

Lydon, A. (2008) Sharing Good Practice : Robots in Early Education [Online] https://oponoa-programmeertalen.wikispaces.com/file/view/BeeBot_article.pdf 

[Accessed: 16th January 2018]

NCTE (National centre for Technology in Education) (2012) NCTE Floor Robots – Focus on Literacy & Numeracy. [Online] http://www.ncte.ie/media/NCTE_Floor_robots_focus_on_literacy_numeracy_primary_12-06.pdf [Accessed: 16th January 2018]