QR Codes and Outdoor Learning – 20th March

And so it has arrived, our final class in Digital Technologies. Today we explored and learnt about the use of QR (Quick Response) Codes and the benefits of Outdoor Learning. I have had some previous experience using QR codes but mainly through working in retail and through simple day to day tasks like shopping and using social media. I had never once considered the thought of using QR Codes in the classroom, until now. The theme of today’s lesson was to partake in an outdoor activity where we had to locate six hidden clues, answer the multiple choice questions and scan the QR code to be able to continue to the next clue. Once all the clues had been found and answered, each answer gave us a letter which in the end had to be unscrambled and the correct word made up. This word linked to a Scottish IDL topic. The purpose of using the QR Codes in this activity was designed to enhance our (and future pupils) outdoor learning experiences. This was just one example of how they could be used effectively and successfully as I and the rest of my team thoroughly enjoyed the activity.

The effectiveness of Outdoor Learning in education is outlined by Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) who state that “…it’s clear that the outdoor environment offers motivating, exciting, different, relevant and easily accessible activities from pre-school years through to college.” This was certainly evidenced today in our group’s case as we all found the task fun, rewarding and enjoyable and found working outdoors also promoted other positive factors such as learning about the environment and creating memories that will be remembered for years to come. We collated images taken from our time outdoors in an app called PicCollage. PicCollage allows for many images to be organised together in various styles in the one image and is a great way of sharing with others in order to give a quick insight into a particular event or activity.

The Curriculum for Excellence support Outdoor Learning and this too is highlighted in the 7 Design Principles:

Challenge & Enjoyment; Breadth; Coherence; Personalisation & Choice; Relevance; Progression and Depth.

“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 offers a variety of positive effects on both student and learner: It allows for pupils and teachers to learn and communicate in other ways that maybe hadn’t been achieved previously in a classroom setting; promotes the building of positive relationships between both peers and professionals along with enhancing self-awareness and the understanding of others. (Education Scotland 2010). Along with the aforementioned aspects of Outdoor Learning it also promotes other advantages to our young learners such as: Developing their critical thinking and problem solving skills, personal development and achievement; promotes a healthy lifestyle and can lead to lifelong recreational hobbies such as walking, cycling and swimming; provides opportunities for children to develop skills in order to assess and manage risks; promotes inclusion and equality broadly and can lead to resolution, increased feeling of self-worth and confidence along with personal achievements.

There are many areas that both Outdoor Learning and QR Code activities could be used within the curriculum including Literacy, Health and Wellbeing and Modern Languages. The activity we completed today would encompass the following experiences and outcomes from the Curriculum for Excellence:

I can communicate clearly when engaging with others within and beyond my place of learning, using selected resources as required. LIT 1-10a

Through taking part in a variety of events and activities, I am learning to recognise my own skills and abilities as well as those of others. HWB 1-19a

I work on my own and with others to understand text using appropriate resources, demonstrating my
understanding by matching written words to pictures and by reconstructing the text in a logical sequence, for example. MLAN 2-08a

Upon completion of our class task, we then gathered back into the classroom to create our own activity based on the same ideas and principles of the one we had just completed. I chose to create a quiz based around the topic of Easter and was similar in format to the one we had just finished as a class. By doing so, it showed me just how easy it was to create a simple yet fun and fulfilling activity that I know children would get excited and geared up for and thus encourages their learning and enhances their experiences of education. In just 20 minutes I had created a relevant and educational activity that children would find engaging, fun and that they would certainly get excited about whilst being educational at the same time.

Overall, the use of the QR Codes in the outdoor learning activity allowed me to see yet another fantastic resource that could be utilised in many different areas of education whilst giving young learners fun and memorable educational experiences. I will certainly use this resource in the classroom as a professional and look forward to seeing my pupils reactions when they are participating and having fun outdoors. I know that they will get just as much as enjoyment and fulfilment out of a similar lesson as we did today in our last class of Digital Technologies.

So, today sees us at the end of our Digital Technologies journey with this being the last instalment of what I can only describe as being one of the most rewarding and educationally rich experiences I have had so far throughout my time at UWS.  Since starting the module back in January, taking us up until now – almost at the end of March – I can honestly say that my attitude towards technology both in and outside of the classroom has changed significantly from the opinions and feelings I presented towards it at the start of Trimester 2. I have gained a wealth of knowledge, ideas and skills through undertaking this module and I am so glad that I choose it as part of my BA1 learning experience. The lessons throughout the module have evidenced to me the clear links to education and curriculum and have allowed me the opportunity to delve deeper into areas of digital technology that I may never of had the chance to do so beforehand and for that I feel grateful and rewarded. I look forward to putting the skills and knowledge I have adopted in this short space of time into practice into what I hope will be a long and successful teaching career.

References

Curriculum for Excellence: Experiences and Outcomes. [Online]  Available at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf. First Accessed: 21st March 2018.

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

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

 

 

eBooks in Education… 05/02/2018

Reflecting upon today’s class of eBooks, I firstly found myself thinking about how fast the Digital Technologies module has gone in so far. It seemed that not long ago we were faced with a range of modules in which we got to select our own choice for undertaking in our second trimester. When I first looked over the options, Digital Technologies was the one which certainly caught my attention first. I assumed that it would be a module which explored the use of ‘teacher’ resources in a classroom such as SmartBoards or getting to grips with printers and photocopiers – quite naive, I know. But knowing that I had areas I needed to develop to become more competent in the technology field, I was looking forward to getting started and expanding my skillset and knowledge. However, looking back at the first class and receiving our introduction to the module, I quickly realised that it was going to be a module that not only enhanced my own learning and knowledge, but also that of the pupils I teach in the near and distant future – wow!

When we were asked the question of, “What is an eBook to you?” I immediately thought ‘kindle’. This then led me to think of the prospect of children sat in a classroom, with their heads bowed, stuck in a smart device reading their reading books or taking instruction or direction from what I can only assume would be another hand held wifi enabled device they would then have access to. Not that I am against technology, but I do find that children in society today are easily pacified with their iPads or mobile phones which when I was younger, I never had access to. I find myself quite a traditionalist when it comes to books. I thoroughly enjoy the experience of reading a ‘real’ book. Flicking through the pages, eager to find out what happens next; convincing myself that at the end of each chapter i’ll put it down and go to sleep but knowing that really i’m lying to myself and I will instead fall asleep and wake up with it somewhere at the side of my bed; being able to mark my page with the homemade bookmark my daughter made me which is adorned with hearts and kisses. I love the feel of a real book and so was a bit sceptical at first when I was wondering where eBooks would fit into a classroom.

The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of an eBook is as follows:

‘An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose’.

Up until today’s class, that is exactly how I interpreted what an eBook was. However after today’s input I can gladly say that I now no longer have the aforementioned perception.  After discussing in groups with peers what we considered an eBook to be, I gained a lot more in depth understanding of eBooks. Not just used for novels, but can be used in the kitchen for cookbooks and recipes, for online shopping and accessing catalogues along with academic texts and journals.

One of the tasks we were given today was to create an eBrochure as a group, designed to give information on life as a student at the University of the West of Scotland, using the Book Creator app on an iPad. The beauty of the Book Creator app was that it allowed us to turn what could have been just text and images to inform others, into a multimodal text; containing sound, moving images, and text along with spatial and gestural aspects. In completing our task, the Book Creator app highly appealed to me as both a student and prospective professional primary educator. Simply, taking a novel or short story and creating a multimodal eBook that contains a host of different, eye-catching and attention grabbing features allowed me to see the real benefits that eBooks would have in a classroom and most definitely gave me the answer to my question – ‘where do ebooks fit in a classroom?’

Our final task today was to take a children’s novel and create our own eBook version of it, which was focused around a literacy outcome. After having created the eBrochure I was enjoying exploring the different features of the app and found myself keen to get to grips and become more familiarised with the app. I wanted to create an eBook that I thought would be of benefit to a learner/learners who have different learning styles but also for children of all abilities in order to enhance their learning experience through digital technologies.  The use of eBooks have a variety of benefits on children and young learners; from assisting children who require different resources and tools to suit their own learning style, to enhance children’s skillset and knowledge on ICT equipment in the classroom and to also give children an equal and fair chance of discovering what type of technology is available to not only access but to use to its maximum capacity. This is evidenced and supported by Beauchamp (2012), who  stated that “The first, and perhaps most important reason for using ICT in the classroom is that it can have a positive effect on attainment.” The findings by Beauchamp evidence that technology can in fact have positive impacts on raising attainment and assisting in closing the gap.

Technology in the classroom covers a wealth of subject areas, not only literacy. It can be used in science, arts, health and wellbeing and numeracy to name a few. Although our task today was centred on literacy, it also covered another area of the curriculum – technology. The following experiences and outcomes were the ones in which i focused my eBook on and evidence that technology in the classroom does not cover only one area of the curriculum.

I am learning to select and use strategies and resources before I read, and as I read, to help make the meaning of texts clear. LIT 1-13a

I regularly select and read, listen to or watch texts which I enjoy and find interesting, and I can explain why I prefer certain texts and authors. LIT 1-11a/LIT 2-11a

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

Overall, today’s input has managed to successfully change my viewpoint on having eBooks in the classroom. By taking a simple text and creating a multimodal creation out of it, it will allow me to engage my pupils in the future with technology effectively and also deliver lessons which they will not find repetitive and mundane. In conclusion, it was found by ‘A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland – The Views of Children’ that,

 

“Looking forward, children thought that accessing iPads or other classroom technology should be seen as the usual/normal thing to do, and not just something offered as a reward or part of Golden Time.”

Our children and young learners in Scottish education feel that technology should be incorporated into a daily teaching environment and should not be seen as a reward or accolade for them. Using the Book Creator app is certainly a resource that I endeavour to use in my classroom as a professional along with many other exciting and beneficial programmes I have discovered throughout the course of the Digital Technologies module. While still enjoying the thrill of a paperback book myself, I certainly now see the benefits for myself as to how the Book Creator app and eBooks can have a staggering affect on children’s education, while increasing my own knowledge and skillset as a prospective teacher.

References

Beauchamp, G (2017) Computing and ICT in the Primary School From Pedagogy to Practice 2nd ed. London: Routledge.

Oxford Dictionary (2018) – E-Book Definition. Available online at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/e-book [First Accessed: 9th February 2018] Author: Oxford University.

Scottish Government. (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland.  Edinburgh: Scottish Government. Available online at: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/0050  [First Accessed: 9th February 2018].

Scottish Government (2008) The Curriculum for Excellence Available online at: http://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf [First Accessed: 10th February 2018]

 

 

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]