ActivInspire Presentations 23/01/2018

Today in Digital Technologies we explored the ActivInspire software as a class and individually by viewing tutorial clips online and working in pairs to create a lesson directed for either an early, first or second level outcome. The online tutorials gave us a virtual experience allowing us to be guided through the software, by giving hints and tips on how to use the software effectively and to maximise the usage of this valuable tool in classrooms as a student teacher and as a qualified practicing teacher in the near future.

ActivInspire software allows for information that requires to be communicated to learners, become multimodal. Multimodality is the term which describes a set or forms of texts to adopt two or more semiotic systems; linguistic, visual, gestural, spatial and audio. Using digital technologies within the classroom allows for information to be communicated to learners in a variety of different, attention grabbing ways and by making texts multimodal, enhances the learners experiences in education whilst keeping in line with technology in society today.

The Scottish Government set out a strategy to implement the use of digital technologies in Scottish education for both learners and educators. The four objectives it is focusing on are:

1. Develop the skills and confidence of educators in the appropriate and effective use of digital technology to support learning and teaching.

2. Improve access to digital technology for all learners.

3. Ensure that digital technology is a central consideration in all areas of curriculum and assessment delivery.

4. Empower leaders of change to drive innovation and investment in digital technology for teaching and learning.

By using technologies in the classroom, it allows for children to be introduced and immersed in digital technologies that they may otherwise not be encompassed in at home or in other areas of their educational journeys.  It is stated by Beauchamp (2012, p.8) that ‘The multimodality of technology is another reason to use it, as it allows teachers to present ideas in a variety of different ways to help pupils understand it.’ By delivering young learners lessons involving multimodal texts it has the capability to  further enhance their understanding of lessons across curricular areas such as literacy, numeracy and science amongst others. It also allows for children and young learners to understand that ‘texts’ do not just come in printed form, but instead they come in many shapes and forms and can in fact be multimodal. Further supporting this suggestion, ‘pupils need to be equipped to view language as ‘metamode’ that enables them to access the meanings of a wide variety of texts, images, sounds and information.’ Beauchamp (2012, p.81). The use of ActivInspire today gave us the opportunity to create a lesson for a first level outcome in a Modern Foreign Language lesson.

My partner and I decided we would combine both our ideas and once we completed the online tutorial videos of how to effectively use the ActivInspire software, we proceeded on to the task and got to work on creating our multimodal lesson plan. We made various flip charts which included sound clips, images and interactivity through use of the smart board pens and various tools such as the spotlight and revealer. We created a Spanish lesson which allowed children to work in individually and with peers and allowed for the children to come up to the smart board to write down their answers and ideas.

Using the ActivInspire software excited me as it gave me an insight into a resource that is used widely across Scottish schools and gave me a quick glance into the different tools and aspects that the software has to offer. At first we found the software a great resource as it allowed us to create an extensively interactive lesson that would grab pupils attention and included all of the semiotic systems across the many Flipchart pages we made. When it came on to using different ‘wow’ factors of ActivInspire I personally really enjoyed the fact there were different attention grabbing tools that children would find exciting and would further encourage their investment and interest in the input being given. However, upon near completion of the lesson plan, when using the revealer tool we encountered an issue whereby the revealer would not stay on the Flipchart page we required and instead went onto the other pages and we could not in turn remove it off of the areas we did not need it on. This really frustrated us and put us slightly off course as we invested more time in trying to fix this issue than completing the task in the time given.

Overall, the use of ActivInspire in the two hour time slot we were given really impressed and excited me. I find it really encouraging to see that there are these resources in place for teachers to use whereby enhancing their lessons and I am very eager to use it in my own class as a student and professional educator. I will most definitely be revisiting the online tutorials and spending more time exploring the software in free time to get more familiar with it and also experiment by creating more lessons and sharing resources with peers in order to gain more knowledge and in depth experiences of the ActivInspire software.

References

Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/Digital%20Learning%20and%20Teaching%20Strategy%20for%20Scotland (First accessed on 23/01/2018)

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

Programmable Toys (16/01/2018)

Today in our second class of Digital Technology we were introduced to the concept of programmable toys, with the main focus in particular on Bee-Bot. I had prior experience of using this programmable toy as we had previously undertaken a lesson in Semester 1, which introduced us to the unit, gave us an understanding on how it works, areas in the curriculum in which we can utilise it whilst interlinking Curriculum E’s and O’s across the three early level/primary school levels – early, first and second. My first experience using Bee-Bot I thoroughly enjoyed, as it gave me my first proper experience of getting hands on with this type of programmable toy and made me feel excited at the prospect of using it in the classroom with pupils. We had created a game which focused on literacy outcomes, whereas today we focused on numeracy and chose a first level outcome in which as a group we to structured an activity around.

As suggested by Janka (2008, P.2), ‘The curriculum introduces programmable toys as a good example for developing knowledge and understanding of the contemporary world”. Being able to integrate technology into the classroom I feel is important as it provides young learners with having experiences of technologies that surround them consistently. Furthermore, the National Centre for Technology in Education (2012, p1) states that the use of floor robots impose a variety of benefits on young learners. These benefits include: Developing skills such as logical sequencing, measuring, comparing lengths, space orientation and expressing concepts in words; encouraging group interaction, collaboration and conversation swell as providing a vehicle for the introduction of key concepts to young learners in an easy and friendly way.

The first level outcome which we used as a framework for our Bee-Bot activity was MTH 1-17a; ‘I can describe, follow and record routes and journeys using signs, words and angles associated with direction and turning’. We chose to base the theme of our activity on worldwide flags and famous landmarks, with direction and navigation being the prominent focus. We created brightly coloured images on the activity mat along with a set of questions that gave instructions to the participants. Bee-Bot required to be programmed to reach the specific destination along with a set of directions for each question tone recorded by those pupils in participation.

Overall, I felt we produced a brilliant resource which could easily be adapted to allow early and second level pupils to also use this is a learning aid. The use of the Bee-Bot today highlighted the importance of making activities intriguing and fun whilst eliminating the potential of repetition. Bee-Bot is a format of digital technology that if I am able to have access to, I will certainly endeavour to use in my future career as a rimy educator. I feel that it is an exciting and autonomous piece of equipment which brings children together in their educational journey to work as part of a team and also promotes their creativeness if they wanted to produce their own game or resource for the floor bot and also develops their problem solving and critical thinking skills. I look forward to seeing what next week brings in Digital Technology as I felt today’s lesson and activity was of great benefit to me as a prospective teacher.

 

Digital Technology in Scottish Education & Personal Reflection

Upon completion of my first class in Digital Technologies, it has opened my eyes wider and allowed me to discover the real potential and benefits that Digital Technologies have in the Scottish Education system. As a first year student, the thought of using technology in the classroom to me feels natural due to being surrounded by technology along with the ever-changing society we live in, thus keeping in line with modern technology that encompasses us naturally on a daily basis. I feel as being both a parent and a student undertaking a degree programme in primary eduction, contextualising every day situations for young learners is crucial in order to provide like for like examples of everyday living. This can be done throughout various areas of the curriculum including numeracy, literacy, health and wellbeing and science. The importance of using digital technologies throughout education will be explored and analysed along with evidence supporting the cause of using this autonomous learning tool throughout schools for children and young people.

Having accessed and read through the Scottish Government published document ‘Enhancing Learning and Teaching through the use of Digital Technology – A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland’ (2016) it allowed me to gain a greater understanding on the proposals set out by our Government alongside crucial evidence which supports the basis for their strategies. The Scottish Government intends to expand the use of Digital Technologies in educational settings in order to achieve four goals:

To develop the skills and confidence of educators in the appropriate and effective use of digital technology in order to support learning and education; to improve access to digital technology to all learners; Ensure that digital technology is a central consideration in all areas of curriculum and assessment delivery and empower leaders of change to drive innovation and investment in digital technology for learning and teaching.

These strategies if met, will ultimately benefit Scotland’s children between the ages of three and eighteen. Research has been conducted in order to gain a deeper insight into what beneficiaries really think of their current educational system in regards to digital technology within their classrooms and the results of these were which intrigued and surprised me by far. A Children’s Parliament consultation which seen ninety-two children between the ages of eight and eleven take part provided researchers with an insight into how they believed technology impacted their education. It was concluded that participants stated that the use of Digital Technology makes learning more fun and they would like to see it used more (but not over-used).  They also stated that their access to Digital Technology in school was constrained due to a lack of digital equipment and their teachers being limited in skills in relation to the use of Digital Technology. Similarly, a separate consultation conducted by Young Scot which saw 250 children between the ages of eleven and twenty-five participate, gave an outcome of similar stance. They stated that teachers lacked knowledge of how to use the technological equipment they already had and also noted that the resources they do have could be unreliable and misused. However, on a positive note, they also found that Digital Technology was an important learning aid in the classroom, a good tool for revision and provided and interactive learning experience.

Furthermore to the evidence given by our own young Scottish learners, the Independent Literature Review on the impact on digital technology on learning and teaching proposes that there is potential for digital technologies to support and contribute to five educational priorities:

Raising attainment; tackling inequalities and promoting inclusion; improving transitions into employment; enhancing parental engagement and improving the efficiency of the educational system.

From the resources I had access to, to allow me to base my reflection upon it has became highly evident  to me that indeed Scottish education needs to crucially implement the proposed strategies in order to give our future generations the best chance to succeed in life. This can be done by meeting their proposed goals of raising attainment, improving employability and learners skillsets along with keeping young people and educators up to date with the technology that surrounds them in the society they are surrounded by. As a prospective teacher I am feeling very encouraged by the plans and strategies outlined in order to give pupils and teachers the best educational results for both parties and look forward to continuing my Digital Technology module by gaining new skills and ideologies that will support me in my own classroom one day.

 

References

Scottish Government (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland.  Edinburgh: Scottish Government (Online) Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/0050  [Accessed: 09 January 2018]