Transforming Learning

“Digital technology can enhance learning and teaching across the curriculum and equip all of our learners with the essential digital skills they need to succeed in life, learning and work.” – Angela Constance, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

The world we live in is surrounded by digital tools and spaces that everyone is consuming and using within everyday life. It is important that, within primary schools, we are improving the access children have to digital technology and enhancing the use of it in our classrooms. From my point of view, I think it is clear that we have a rapidly growing set of digital tools that can be used but the question is, how are we going to use these as educators to enhance the learning spaces we have?

“We define digital literacies as the capabilities which fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society.” – Jisc

I think it is fair to say we are most definitely seeing children grow up in a digital society: social media has exploded over the years and the resources available to use online has become unlimited. Therefore, it would be wise to think about how to utilise some of these iterms within the modern classroom.

The Scottish Government have taken a major step forward with the development and recognition of the ever advancing digital tools and spaces we have. September of 2015 marked the consultation on the development of the Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. When it ended in December, Angela Constrance stated: “The Scottish Government will now work with key partners across education and IT to develop a Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland to be published in summer 2016.” 

This is a sign that the government recognise he potentials of digital tools and spaces and realise how important it is to get it embedded within Curriculum for Excellence.

Let’s think about Mozilla. They have a mission statement which is all about allowing everyone to own the Internet. They have a strong belief in web literacy which is the basis of how we are able to “read, write and contribute effectively on the web.”

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Mozilla are a company that believe web literacy is about exploring, building and connecting. Under each heading are a set of skills that were discussed during a consultation and these are the skills that Mozilla believe are the most important ones to be developed.

But, how can we ensure that digital tools and spaces are understood and used effectively to ensure that a COLLEGIATE, COLLABORATIVE and SHARED learning culture is established?

Mozilla Webmaker provides many resources that have the potential to be used within the classroom. However, there are three main tools offered by the company: X-Ray Goggles, Thimble and Webmaker. During our input yesterday we looked at X-Ray Goggles and I believe this a tool that you could easily bring into your teaching and learning.

Teaching: X-Ray Goggles is an excellent resource to use at the beginning of a topic. As a teacher you can remix some web pages to captivate your learners from the start.

Learning:
“There’s no better way to learn the mechanics and culture of the web than by playing around and hacking it in a safe, fun environment.” – Unknown

I completely agree with the quote above. Using X-Ray Goggles is a great way to bring in the learning experience of getting to know how the web really works. Mozilla have brought out a tool that can teach children the mechanics of the web just as they would need taught the mechanics of a car.

Glow Scotland offers a great opportunity to use Microsoft Office. Within that, there are various resources that can be utilised within your teaching and learning environment. Microsfot’s Word, PowerPoint and Excel, for example, provide an excellent chance to introduce collaborative working using digital tools and spaces.

Pupils can share their work with others in their group allowing the whole group to work on the project together at any given time. This is a brilliant way of encouraging a collegiate and collaborative environment, especially if you feel aprhensivd about the digital society we are quickly approaching. These programmes are commonly used within schools, so why not make use of them in innovative ways?

Glow Scotland also gives access to Microsoft’s OneNote. This is a superb tool to incorporate into your learning environment and, again, it allows for collaborative learning. Creating a notebook for separate groups allows pupils to co-authorise different pages of information about topics that you might be studying in the classroom.

“We need new forms of education. We need to reform our learning institutions, concepts, and modes of assessment for our age. Now, anyone with access to the World Wide Web can go far beyond the passive consumer model to contribute content on the Web. We can customize and remix, alone or in collaboration with others, located anywhere on the Web. That Do-It-Yourself potential for connected, participatory, improvisational learning requires new skills, what many are calling new “literacies”.” – Davidson, 2012

I have a particular focus on the classroom within this video (1:49-3:06). What is portrayed at this point is the standard way that everyone knows of the classroom layout: typically children sitting in rows and listening to the teacher delivering the lesson at the front of the room. So, you may be sitting wondering what exactly has changed apart from the addition of advanced technology for learning?

I have taken a different perspective of this and thought about what we can take from this video. There are so many tools and spaces that have been introduced here that could be seen in the future of education. It is from here that we consider the way in which the learning environment is set up and how we provide the learning to our pupils.

Personally, I believe this links in well with what Mozilla believe: the need to make changes to “our learning institutions, concepts, and modes of assessment for our age.” If what we have witnessed in the video is to become the future of our schools and classrooms then there has to be a change in the way that we provide it. Many will find this difficult to think about and I understand this will, again, make people apprehensive about the way the provision of education is going. However, learning in the future should become far more pupil-led and centred through the use of digital tools and spaces.

So, in terms of what the video portrays about the classroom, it would be ideal to look at it and instead of asking what has changed consider what can we change to make the future of education the best it possibly can be?

I am a strong believer in incorporating digital tools and spaces within the classroom because the global community is moving into a digital society. I understand that there will be apprehensions around the idea of using digital tools and spaces but it is something we should really embrace and think about for our own future and for the future of our children.

Websites used:

  • http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Education/Schools/ICTinLearning/DLTStrategy
  • http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/resources/d/digitallearningweek.asp?strReferringChannel=educationscotland&strReferringPageID=tcm:4-615801-64&class=l1+d86716
  • https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-students-digital-literacy?utm_content=buffer647f4&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
  • http://mozilla.github.io/webmaker-whitepaper/

5 thoughts on “Transforming Learning

  1. Derek Robertson

    Great post! One point I would make is when you watch the Corning Glass video I want to know where the change in practice is in what is portrayed in the classroom. What’s changed? It looks like everyone in class sitting in rows, doing the same thing listening to the teacher deliver a lesson from the front of the class. Is this just the same methodology as we all know with the added expense of the new shiny shiny technology in the mix? Watch it from 1:46 to see what I mean.

    Reply
    1. Danielle MackayDanielle Mackay Post author

      Thank you for your comment! I definitely understand the point you’re making and agree that when you watch the video not much seems to have changed. I think what could be better within that is the way things have been laid out. As you pointed out, it looks like a typical classroom with children sitting in rows and the teacher at the front. However, I think it would be fair to say that from the video, we can take ideas of resources that may occur in the future and change the way in which the learning environment is set up and the teaching is provided.
      Personally, I think that would link nicely to what Mozilla believe: the need to make changes to “our learning institutions, concepts, and modes of assessment for our age.” If what we witnessed from the video is to become the future of our schools and classrooms then there has to be change to the way things are provided. That involves thinking about and making changes of the standard layout of a classroom and positioning of the teacher. Learning, I believe, should become far more pupil-led and centred if this is to be the future.
      So, in terms of what the video portrays about the classroom, it would be ideal to look at it and instead of asking what has changed consider what can we change to make the future of education the best it possibly can be?

      Reply
  2. Richard Holme

    This is a really thought provoking post – I am now off to discuss the use of the photovoltaic glass technology with Derek! I think there are endless possibilities – but require the teacher to be open-minded and prepared to make the most of such developments – and not just use this as a gimmick or add on. Don’t you think?

    Reply
    1. Danielle MackayDanielle Mackay Post author

      Thank you for your comment Richard! I completely agree with your point and I think that’s where I see my viewpoint of this too. The use of technology and the advancements being made in this day and age really do need people on side with an open-mind in order for things to get up and running. If we weren’t open-minded about technology like this then I believe there wouldn’t be as much change as we wish to see. I’m definitely one to believe in trying new technology out within our schools and classrooms. There is no harm in trying and having it fail – at least that way you know you tried.

      Reply
  3. Con Morris

    Thanks Danielle, it got me thinking too. I agree with the Derek that digital sometimes just transfers poor pedagogy and doesn’t transform learning in any way. I say sometimes because I have seen many examples of teachers and learners genuinely co-creating their learning using Glow tools and other online spaces like Minecraft. Here’s one I had a small part in https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/eslb/2015/09/22/digital-storytelling-at-the-scottish-learning-festival/ where teachers’ feedback was really good.

    On another note, I have been following UOD Edushare for quite a while now and am a big fan of how folk are making your professional learning visible!

    Reply

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