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

 

 

Games Based Learning – Minecraft

If someone had told me before I came to university that I would be learning how to use Minecraft in an Education degree programme, seriously – I would of laughed at them. Both my stepsons have been engrossed in the same game for the last couple of years and despite them excitedly showing me their weird and wonderful creations, I never really took a proper interest in how the game worked, what it really involved or noticed that in fact it was benefiting their education in more ways than one. Today we got a really deep and useful insight into how it worked and the many purposes it serves in and out of the classroom. However today’s lesson was totally different. It wasn’t just watching tutorial videos online or having a play around the iPad to get to know my our way around it. Today we became the pupils, and a group of young local primary school pupils became the teachers! Well I never…

When we found out that children from a local primary school were coming to show us how to use and work Minecraft I was feeling positive and looking forward to the prospects of…

  1. Working with children in this class in particular;
  2. Learning from the most experienced users;
  3. Understanding the benefits and areas in which Minecraft fitted relevantly into their education and
  4. Becoming more familiar with the game and gaining knowledge and experience that I can take forward with me in my own professional career.

As a prospective teacher I feel it is vital to ensure that my technology skills are up to date, relevant and I can use them to the best of my abilities in order to enhance my pupils educational experiences. As suggested by Bray (2012) “Games-based Learning has the most transformational impact when it is combined with good learning and teaching”.  Marrying together my learning experience from the pupils today with a skillset that I am enhancing each year of my degree, I feel that Games-Based Learning in the classroom has the potential to be a tremendous success across many curricular areas. Beauchamp (2012, P.9) states that “Not only do [teachers] have to become familiar with the games, they also have to ensure that they make clear the way in which they want for the game to used.” Curricular areas that could be utilised with Games-Based Learning can include:

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

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 can work with others to generate, discuss and develop imaginative ideas to create a product of the future. TCH 1-01b

When exploring technologies in the world around me, I can use what I learn to help to design or improve my ideas or products. TCH 2-01a

It was suggested by Ofcom (2001) that “The use of computer games, particularly console games, is firmly embedded in 21st century youth culture.” If children already have prior knowledge and experience in certain areas in technology then they are set in good stead for their future in a classroom where technology is prevalent and also in a society out-with education where being surrounded by technology is now seen as the norm.

Today we were paired with 2 pupils from a local primary school. They showed us how Minecraft worked on their own tablets and gave us an informative description of how Minecraft works, how it can be used, what it can be used for and objects and building they had previously made. They told us why they liked using the game which included that they could be as creative as they wanted and there was no right or wrong thing to do. It allowed them to develop a space which they called their own and if they wanted to share it then they could do so by joining the same network as their peers and game virtually together. We were then given the opportunity to get hands on with the game ourselves, with the pupils giving us only verbal prompts and advice and were not allowed to take over. It allowed us to work as a team, use active listening and questioning skills and collaborate effectively and in turn it allowed us to gain knowledge on the game and the end product ended up being the Three Broomsticks from Harry Potter. The pupils were excellent in answering our questions and giving us prompts and advice. It also allowed me to see how much they enjoyed it and the many benefits they got out of it wether they realised or not that they were impacting their education. Some of which included:

  • Strategic Thinking;
  • Planning;
  • Communication;
  • Application of numbers;
  • Negotiating Skills;
  • Group decision-making and
  • Data Handling Skills as noted by Beauchamp (2012).

Overall, I would have to say that today’s lesson was by far my favourite. I really enjoyed working with the pupils from the school and learning from them. They were passionate, engaged, motivated and were keen to let us in on the magical Minecraft world and the autonomous potential that it can hold. Utilising a game such as Minecraft in the classroom I think would be genius, as in just the few short hours we spent with the kids today, it was evident that it engaged, motivated and held the pupils attention. They were keen to learn, keen to show us their creations and was apparent that Minecraft is not just a game. It is a valuable resource and learning tool that if used in the classroom correctly, holds the key to pupil success and education satisfaction for both them and the educator. I will certainly be taking forward with me what I learned today, and building on my knowledge of Minecraft as well as recognising and researching for other ideas and areas in which it can be used in the classroom. It has already been downloaded onto my daughters iPad and we have started to create our own Barbie Dreamhouse. We are both enjoying getting to make our own designs and already she is starting to show me what else can be done!

 

References

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

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

Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes, Ofcom (2001). [Online] Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education First Accessed: 13th March 2018

Images – Pixabay

Scottish Government (2008) The Curriculum for Excellence [Online] Available at: http://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf First Accessed: 13th March 2018

 

Mobile Devices in the Classroom – 27/02/2018

Today’s input saw us learn about the use of mobile devices in the classroom, and the benefits they can have upon both learners and teachers. Having been studying this module from the start of the year, and covered a small section of digital technologies in a previous module, I am aware of some of the resources that are used in schools such as BeeBots and Smart Boards. The resource we used today was something I hadn’t came across before – the Easi Speak Microphone. When I first got my hands on it, I wasn’t sure that I would see the need for a small recording device in the classroom, however, as the lesson went on it became more apparent how this type of technology would have its uses and linked into various curricular areas.

The Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland conducted a survey on a total of 93 children aged between 8 and 11 years. The aim of the research was to ‘help shape the approach to digital learning and teaching in Scotland’. It was found that children noted they already had access to a large amount of varying technologies at home and in their schools. Such technologies included: computers, cameras, iPods, smart phones, gaming consoles, smart watches and tablets to name a few. It is becoming evident by this type of evidence gained via research that children are well and truly exposed and immersed in the various types of technology that surround us in our environment and that they are familiar with their purposes and uses. Furthermore, research conducted by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) evidences the importance of technology in children’s education. They stated that “schools see technology such as games consoles and smartphones as playing an important role in primary-aged children’s education…” (Gurney-Read 2015). Today’s lesson allowed us to discover a new technological resource that can be used in the classroom and just one example of a way in which it enhances our young learner’s educational experiences.

The task we were given today was to create an ‘I am’ poem. This involved creating a poem of our own choice using opening lines already provided to us whilst using the Easi-Speak microphone to record sound clips from the poem. It allowed for us to be autonomous and put our creative skills to good use by writing through our own choice and basing it upon our own thoughts and feelings. The poem had to be presented on a PowerPoint presentation with copyright free images selected from a website called Pixabay. This came together as a multimodal text, as it contained sound clips, images and words along with spatial features that evidenced it to be multimodal. If this inout were to be delivered to a class there are various Experiences and Outcomes that it could cover, for example:

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

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

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/3-01a/4-01a

As stated by Beauchamp 2012 (p.81) “…Pupils need to be equipped to view language as a ‘metamode’ that enables them to access the meanings of a wide variety of texts, images, sounds and information…” If this type of lesson were to be delivered in the classroom, it would certainly support Beauchamp’s suggestion of children viewing language as being ‘metamode’. It allows for children to see that texts come in all different shapes and sizes and not solely just printed forms such as books and textbooks.

Overall, despite my initial thoughts on today’s input being somewhat reserved, I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to use the Easi-Speak microphones and viewing the end result. It supports various learning styles for children in the classroom along with bringing an element of fun into their day. Furthermore, it also supports their technological skills along with collaboration skills whilst working with a partner or s part of a group. Fast forwarding myself into a classroom of technology experts in the coming years, I look forward to putting to good use the skills and knowledge I have gained from taking this module. It will certainly set me in good stead for a career in which I can weave the many uses of technology throughout lessons and keep my prospective pupils educational journeys fun and engaging.

 

References

Children’s Parliament (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland  – The Views of Children. [Online] Available at:  http://www.childrensparliament.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/REPORT_digital-learning-consultation_Childrens-Parliament-1.pdf. [First Accessed – 27/02/2018].

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

Gurney-Read, J.(2015) Classroom Technology ‘rarely used’ by half of teachers. The Telegraph  [Online] 24 November 2015 [First Accessed: 28 February 2018]

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

Animation!

This week in Digital Technologies we were learning about the art of animation. I would consider myself to be quite a crafty, creative person so for me this really got me excited and I wanted to jump right in and get started. After those initial feelings, I started to worry that maybe we wouldn’t have enough time to create an animation as 1 – I had never actually created an animation before so I didn’t know what kind of time frame it would take and 2 – I was feeling a bit wary of the resources we had available to us.

Today’s task was to create an animation of anything we wanted. This was an individual task however we were allowed to work in pairs if we wanted to and I thought that by working with another individual, in this case then two heads were better than one. Jarvis (2015, p.89) states that ”animation involves the stringing together a sequence of static images, generally so that they appear to move.” Having never strung any images together before in order for them to appear as though they were moving, I was still feeling a little apprehensive about the task.

Firstly, we began to explore the app ‘Puppet Pals’ which gave us some depth and knowledge into how an animation app works and the types of features and tools it has to allows us to create an animation that stood out and worked well. In this app we were to create a short animation based on a classic fairytale. It had to include voice recordings, movement from the characters, the characters changing size and also have a structure – a beginning, middle and an end. This short 10 minutes exploring the app put me at ease as it showed me how animation worked and the different features that could be used to create a strong animation.

Since the start of this module on digital technologies, it has left me feeling excited as a student teacher due to the amount of technology that is out there as a prospective teacher to be able to use with my future pupils. Reflecting back on my own time as a primary school aged child, there were nowhere near half the amount of fun and valuable resources that there are now in my educational journey and the thought of being able to use them while I was at school I know that not only me but my friends and peers would have had a great time using them. This simply just evidences how quickly the times move and how fast paced the development in technology has become. As suggested by Beauchamp, (2012) ICT allows pupils to ”achieve something that would be very difficult or even impossible to achieve in any other way.” Reflecting back on my first year school experience placement, I came across numerous children who all had their own individual learning style and watching them create or succeed through the use of digital technology was evidencing just how important the use of this tool is in the classroom. Furthermore, Beauchamp states that ”e-Inclusion aims to use digital technologies to minimise the problems that pupils with learning difficulties experience.” By giving all children in primary schools the same opportunities across their educational journey but in particular through access to technology, we are closing in on the gap of problems that pupils who have learning difficulties can experience.

After exploring puppet pals, my partner and I began to create our own props and scene for our own animation. We worked collaboratively and worked within our allocated time to create a short animation using small wooden characters who were school pupils, and a pink bendy character who was the class teacher. I created a backdrop by simply drawing and colouring a school classroom and by one of us recording and the other moving the characters in order for us to create a series of stills and frames, once put together they created our short animation. We added features including a clock which we moved in most frames to give the idea of time going by and changing some of the characters to represent different emotions during different parts of the scene. Once we completed our recording, we enjoyed looking back on the final piece and were really pleased with it. It is a great way for children to use their creative and cognitive skills along with their patience and persistence in order to create a piece of work that is effective, fun and created animations to a high standard. The tutorials and Moving Image Education website provided a lot of helpful hints and tips in order to produce a great animation despite it being my first time using and creating with this resource.

Having completed our animation and after watching it back, it gave me a sense of achievement as I was worried at the beginning having never made an animation before and not being sure of where it would fit into the classroom. However, after looking through the Scottish Education Experiences and Outcomes, it became a lot clearer that what we created linked to certain aspects of these, and in a classroom this type of technology would be an effective tool across many areas of the curriculum, such as:

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

I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to create texts of my choice. LIT 1-01a/2-01b

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

Animation could be used in a variety ways through a variety of areas in order to enhance pupils learning whilst supporting it at the same time. Despite my set backs at the beginning, throughout the course of creating the animation I found it to be a great task to collaborate on and a resource that I definitely would consider to be fun and educational for children across all levels at primary school. As suggested by Beauchamp (2012, p.66) ”ICT equipment is part of pupils’ everyday life, so should be part of their everyday play.” This type of technology tool would be an ideal resource to incorporate into a child’s everyday play as it encompasses a variety of skills and educational aspects that only impose positive aspects on the child.

References

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

Education Scotland (2004) – Curriculum for Excellence; Experiences and Outcomes [Online] https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/Experiences%20and%20outcomes [First Accessed on 22 February 2018]

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

 

Movie Making 13/02/2018

When I realised today we would be making our own movies, I was quite excited at the prospect and had a few ideas float around in my head of what I thought would work well. Working in a group, we were given the task to create a short movie, using the iMovie app on an iPad. The product was to be centred around the topic of ‘Internet Safety’ and be appropriate to view by primary school children which also gave a clear message to it’s audience.

Once we got our group, we came together and brainstormed, we collaborated effectively which resulted in us combining a few of our ideas together and came up with the idea to create a short film based on a popular young wizard and his friends – but with a twist. We all had various roles in the group; actor/actress, visual technician, head of wardrobe, runner and producer to name a few. The role I undertook myself was that of one of the main characters – Hairy Snotter. Miss Snotter was a young witch who was invited to a meeting place to meet with one of her friends. Little did she know that by talking to her ‘friend’ online she was actually being targeted by a stranger posing to be her friend and in fact almost landed herself in a lot of trouble. Thankfully her friend Mermione came to the rescue and advised Hairy to get rid of the imposter by casting a spell on him. Once they worked their magic on the imposter, we came out of character to inform the audience on the importance of staying safe online and advising them on where they can seek more help and information about keeping themselves safe online.

We centred our movie around cross-curricular experiences and outcomes. These touched on areas such as Health & Wellbeing, Literacy and Technology:

As I listen or watch, I can identify and discuss the purpose, main ideas and supporting detail contained within the text, and use this information for different purposes. LIT 2-04a

I listen or watch for useful or interesting information and I use this to make choices or learn new things. LIT 0-04a

To help me develop an informed view, I can distinguish fact from opinion, and I am learning to recognise when my sources try to influence me and how useful these are. LIT 2-08a

I can communicate clearly when engaging with others within and beyond my place of learning, using selected resources3 as required. LIT 1-10a

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 online communities demonstrating an understanding of responsible digital behaviour and I’m aware of how to keep myself safe and secure. TCH 2-03a

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 / HWB 1-03a / HWB 2-03a / HWB 3-03a / HWB 4-03a

Our message to the audience was clear – you cannot be too careful when using the internet. You may think you know who you are talking to and feel like you can trust the person at the other side of the screen. However, the internet can be a very dangerous place and can cause hurt and serious harm to those who choose to use it.

As a group we all had great fun creating our mini movie. There were great laughs and enjoyment throughout the time we were in character and out of character and used various props, settings and visuals to create an effective movie which would be memorable for the right reasons. When it came to using the iMovie app it was a brilliant resource that allowed us to put together snippets of video clips and stills we had created and piece them together in a way that produced a great end result. The tutorials we viewed individually prior to starting our movie were very useful as it gave us a valuable insight into the features and tools that were available to us and which gave our movie the important finishing touches.

Crating the movie was all fun and games yes, but remembering the reason why we were dong it left quite the impact on me being a mother and also a student teacher. Being an adult and being responsible for the safety of my own child and pupils now and in the future, creating a short movie reminded me of just how scary and dark the internet can be and that it can suck in the most vulnerable and trusting of children and have terrible outcomes. It is of great importance to educate our children on the importance of using the internet safely and effectively both in and out of the classroom and ensuring they are aware of what they should and should not be doing online. It is also vital to ensure children know they can seek advice and help from trusted adults such as their parents/carers or teachers regardless of how much trouble they might think they are in or if they feel they are being targeted in any way whatsoever.  As stated by Simpson and Toyn (2012), ”If we can educate children that they always have an adult they can seek support from, we can help keep children safe online”.

Using the iMovie app in today’s class certainly demonstrated and evidenced that it would also be just as an effective tool for children in the classroom as it was for me as an adult learner. The iMovie app would allow children to develop their skillset in technology and other areas of the curriculum by allowing them to work on their own project or movie as an individual or as part of a team. It can be from as simple as taking the iPad out to film a simple literacy task such as recording items they can see in the classroom or playground that begin with a certain sound or letter, to interviewing peers or members of staff in their school as part of their IDL topic or for research on a class project. iMovie can give children the opportunity to be autonomous and create something that maybe otherwise they wouldn’t be able to create through writing, talking or drawing. iMovie allows for children to show off their creative talents and witness their end result by viewing their finished product and feeling a great sense of achievement.

Beauchamp (2012) suggested that “…the most successful schools… in terms of e-safety ensured that pupils knew what to do when things went wrong”. By teaching our future generation about the safe use of the internet, we are ensuring our children and pupils are set in good stead for a future where they will be engulfed by technology, the internet and social medias. Children take chances and make mistakes. They are testing their own boundaries and their parents and teachers. However, by implementing e-safety in primary schools we are making our children and young learners know that it is important they ask for help and advice when it comes to the internet and to trust the adult they know and can see, not the person behind the keyboard.

Overall, today was a great success. I found using the iMovie app enjoyable and it is certainly a resource I will be looking to use in my own classroom in the future. I found it to be particularly effective around today’s topic and can only imagine the other types of awareness can be raised through the use of one digital technology tool in the classroom.

References

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

Scottish Government (2008) The Curriculum for Excellence [Online] Available at: http://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf [First Accessed 13 February 2018]

Simpson D., Toyn M. (2012) Primary ICT Across the Curriculum. Sage

 

 

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]

 

 

Coding with Scratch Jnr 30/01/2018

Upon completion of today’s lesson in Digital Technologies, we were required to blog about our experience using an online resource that allowed us to revisit the concept of coding. Having previously had some experience in coding which involved creating a lesson using the programmable toy BeeBot, I was looking forward the prospect of using a different tool that would give me more depth and insight into another coding programme that I could use in both my student and professional capacity. The task given to us today was to create an interactive story through coding, using the programme Scratch Jnr. Scratch Jnr was developed for young people to help them develop creative learning skills for the 21st century. Such skills include collaboration, problem solving, logical reasoning and creative thinking. Furthermore, it was  created in such a style in order to aid more enhanced learning whilst being adaptable and can be suited to individual learning styles for our children.

So why coding? Coding allows for children to be immersed into technology whist keeping in line with a diverse and technological society that we live in. It also allows for children to use their creative skills and imagination in conjunction to write a computer programme. The Lead Project (2014) states that,

” They are learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively – essential skills for success and happiness in today’s world.”

Technology surrounds us everywhere on a daily basis; from smartphones and tablets, to smart boards in the classroom to reading flight times and information off of digitalised boards at airports. Children need to gain skills that will set them in good stead for their future as a young adult and continuing on through the rest of their life where technology is a prominent feature.  As suggested by Naughton (2012),

”Starting in primary school, children from all backgrounds and every part of the UK should have the opportunity to: learn some of the key ideas of computer science; understand computational thinking; learn to program; and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of excellence in these activities.”

Today’s task saw us create an interactive story through using coding, by using the Scratch Jnr resource on an iPad.  I felt quite confident in using the app as we had been given access to tutorial cards and online tutorial videos to view before we accessed the app which I found to be of benefit to me. It allowed me to gain an understanding of a lot of the features available on the app along with ideas and varying ways of creating an engaging and inviting story for children which would gain their interest and hold their attention. The story was to be based around promoting literacy skills whilst linking to the Curriculum for Excellence. I created a story which encompassed the following experiences and outcomes from early level outcomes the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence:

I enjoy exploring and choosing stories and other texts to watch, read or listen to andcan share my likes and dislikes. LIT 0-01b/LIT )-11b

I enjoy exploring events and characters in stories and other texts and, sharing my thoughts in different ways. LIT 0-01c

I am developing problem solving strategies, navigation and co-ordination skills, as I play and learn with electronic games, remote control or programmable. I can work individually or collaboratively to design and implement a game toys. TCH 0-09a/TCH 1-09a

The Scratch Jnr app allows children to create a storyboard which features multimodality along with promoting coding skills. Characters can be edited and moved around using programmable coding features, texts can be added and images/text/backgrounds can be edited and moved around. The lesson I developed allowed for children to use their own initiative and create their own ending to the story I had already made. This type of software promotes a wealth of benefits to the education of children, with the afore mentioned features being a few of these. It also has positive impacts on the educators, supported by The Lead Project (2014) stating that ”schools can use Scratch to aid teachers in subjects like mathematics, English, music, art, design and information technology”. This is a programme which can be used across the curriculum in a variety of ways: on an individual basis for the child or teacher; in a collaborative manner for pupils working in groups or between pupils and teachers and for teachers as individuals as well as sharing ideas with other professionals in the same career.

After reflecting back on my experience of Scratch Jnr today overall I would consider the experience of using the programme enjoyable and definitely something I will be revisiting in order to further enhance my skills and abilities on the app. I would consider this to be a valuable and intriguing resource to use in the classroom with children of all abilities in order to support them in their learning and in enhancing their skills in ICT. I look forward yo using this in both a student and qualified capacity and sharing ideas with peers in order to build up my knowledge on this exciting coding programme.

References

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

Naughton, J (2014) Why all our kids should be taught how to code Available Online at: moodle.uws.ac.uk/…/Why all our kids should be taught how to code Education The Observer.pdf First Accessed: 30/01/2018

The Curriculum for Excellence (2012) Education Scotland: Literacy and English Experiences and Outcomes. Available Online at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/literacy-english-eo.pdf First Accessed on: 30/01/2018

 

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]