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