"Here is a shared Google Doc...go and collaborate on a project...."
"Go to the Collaboration space and make a plan together....."
"Share the work on this interactive tool....."
Technology can be a great tool for collaboration and yet many teachers do not understand why it continues to fail in their classroom. Collaboration is not something that automatically happens when you add technology tools. It is something that needs to be facilitated and taught by the teacher.
I love using Minecraft Education Edition with students. It creates conditions that are beneficial for learning, and particularly for engagement, collaboration, and creativity (Riseberg, 2015). But having students join your server and collaborate on a project without any structure will result in chaos. I learnt this the hard way the first time I attempted setting a construction task. Minecraft could be replaced by a multitude of different platforms but the message remains the same. Teachers need to consider how the collaboration activities will work with certain technology tools. Does it change the dynamic of the collaboration or make it easier for one person to sit back and let others do the work for them? Technology tools are not always the silver bullet they are made out to be. Often it takes extra work to get them achieving what you want them to. This can be the reason why it is so easy for teachers to fall back on what they know works.
For me, the way I can help my students collaborate using technology is by persisting with it, supporting them and structuring its use in a way that is going to ensure their success.
Risberg, C. (2015). More than just a video game: Tips for using Minecraft to personalize the curriculum and promote creativity, collaboration, and problem solving. Illinois Association for Gifted Children Journal, 44-48.
I am part of an eLearning Coordinators Network that meets each term. It seems that every single time we meet, we end up discussing mobile phone policies. The debate is ongoing in the group and there are certainly arguments for each side that make perfect sense. I personally believe they can exist in schools, but there needs to be very strong policy around their use. No matter which side you choose, I think it has to be about the culture around the decision how it is followed up in the environment. Too often the teachnology is blammed and not the structures around it.
Both the scenarios below show school with phones in the classroom:
The first picture demonstrates phones being used to support learning. Mobile learning activities lend themselves to contemporary learning theories, specifically behaviorist, constructivist, situated, and collaborative learning (Crompton, Burke & Gregory, 2017). As well as snapping classroom information, students may use phones to record lectures, enter reminders into their calendars or participate in interactives classroom quizzes. Not just facilitating participation, mobile phones can be a creative technology that allows users to create and share their content (Granito, 2011).
The second picture demonstrates mobile phones being an active distraction in the classroom, with the user listening to Spotify instead of the teacher. In both cases, the teacher and the classroom expectations are the influencing elements - not the phones themselves. Just becuase students have a phone, doesn’t mean they will automatically do the wrong thing. The first teacher allows the use of phones for educational purposes and students know what they can and cannot do. In the second classroom poor choices with mobiles phones seem to be an issue and yet this may be solved with some strong rules and consequences. If it leads to a total classroom ban - so be it. But I believe it is good to give students the chance to learn to self-moderate and be responsible instead of tying their hands behind their backs.
Crompton, H., Burke, D., & Gregory, K. H. (2017). The use of mobile learning in PK-12 education: A systematic review. Computers & Education, 110, 51-63.
Ganito, C. (2011) "Transparent classrooms: How the mobile phone is changing educational settings." International Journal of Cyber Ethics in Education (IJCEE) 1 (3) 59-69.
School Screen Time + Home Screen Time = a LOT of Screen Time!
There's no doubt that parents are busier than they have ever been, often both working. Many adults seek their own down time on their devices and often also let their children do the same. Parent screen time is the strongest predictor of child screen time according to Lauricella, Wartella and Rideout (2015). iPads are the babysitters of the new generation, the way that TV was 30 years ago. However, when this is added to classroom screen time at school, students can be spending multiple hours on front of screens per day.
There is a push to continue to use technology in bigger, better ways starting right from the Australian Early Years Learning Framework. Unfortunately this educational perspective on digital technology use by young children contrasts with the public health guidelines (Staker, Zabatiero, Danby, Thorpe & Edwards (2018).
How can teachers help? Results suggest that policymakers should consider the family environment as a whole when developing policy to influence children's screen media use (Lauricella, Wartella & Rideout, 2015). Teachers should always be focusing on pedagogy first and be mindful of the amount of time their students are spending on their devices in the classroom. Break it up, add in movement and make students focus on things across the room to help give their eyes a rest. Additionally, consider any digital tasks being set for homework.
Lauricella, A. R., Wartella, E., & Rideout, V. J. (2015). Young children's screen time: The complex role of parent and child factors. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 36, 11-17.
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.
Straker, L., Zabatiero, J., Danby, S., Thorpe, K., & Edwards, S. (2018). Conflicting guidelines on young children's screen time and use of digital technology create policy and practice dilemmas. The Journal of pediatrics, 202, 300-303.
Part of my role in previous years has been teaching Digital Technologies. There are a variety of Web-based tools that you can use to support this. In this blog I will share about Scratch and Microsoft Make Code. Both platforms are free to use and allow for completely open ended creation with code. As students move from being consumers of content to engaging in the subject matter by creating computational artefacts, they discover opportunities to extend their creative expression to solve problems and develop new knowledge (Yadav & Cooper, 2017).
Microsoft Make Code
Microsoft Make Code is a free, open source platform for creating engaging computer science learning experiences that support a progression path into real-world programming. It includes a simulator, block code editor and java-script editor that work with a variety of different components. This is a great tool for facilitating project based learning using Micro:bits. These handheld, programmable micro-computers, can be used for all sorts of creations and I really enjoy letting my students go and seeing what they create.
Other Cool Online Tools for Teaching Kids to Code
The Hour of Code website provides a library of free activities that engage children in coding. These are not open ended like Scratch or Microsoft Make Code, but they do help children learn the basic concepts of coding in easy to understand projects. When I am looking to extend students to some of the deeper concepts of programming, I connect them with Khan Academy. Their Computer Programming course is interactive and self-paced and is perfect for motivated learners who want to learn more.
Yadav, A., & Cooper, S. (2017). Fostering creativity through computing. Communications of the ACM., 60(2), 31-33
The birth of Web 2.0 tools changed the way we used the interent. It allowed individuals to collaborate with one another and contribute to the authorship of content, customise websites for their use, and instantaneously publish their thoughts (Alexander, 2006, Heafner and Friedman, 2008). This naturally had an impact upon education and the way technology was used in the classroom.
In this blog post, I describe 3 positive ways Web 2.0 can be used in teaching.
While classroom and student collaboration is an easy to identify benefit of Web 2.0 tools, the rise in global teacher professional learning networks (PLN) are largely enabled by Web 2.0 tools. Social networks such as Twitter connect teachers from all over the world. Teacher forums, blogs and online groups allow teachers to not only share resources but dicuss common issues and support each other. It seems that Web 2.0 are enhancing the teaching profession in and out of the classroom.
Some think that Flipped Learning is all about making videos children watch at home. It is not. According to Sams and Bergmann (2013) it's about how to best use your in-class time with students. Technology tools can helps teachers move away from direct instruction as their primary teaching tool toward a more student-centered approach. Teachers can curate content for students to work on or set individualsed tasks on a waide array of educational platfroms, in a sense freeing them to work with groups and individuals.
Alexander, B. (2006) Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning? Educause Review, 41 (2) (2006), pp. 32-44
Chaiyo, Y., & Nokham, R. (2017). The effect of Kahoot, Quizizz and Google Forms on the student's perception in the classrooms response system. In Digital Arts, Media and Technology (ICDAMT), International Conference on (pp. 178-182). IEEE.
Heafner, T.L. & Friedman, A. M. (2008) Wikis and constructivism in secondary social studies: Fostering a deeper understanding. Computers in the Schools, 25 , pp. 288-302
Sams, A., & Bergmann, J. (2013). Flip your students' learning. Educational leadership, 70(6), 16-20.
The nature of a 2-in1 device means that it can be used as a tablet or as a full laptop. This is highly enabling for younger students who can then detach their keyboards and move around the classroom with their device to film or take photographs.
The Learning Tools found natively in a variety of Microsoft software applications, also provide students with disability or learning difficulties the opportunity to take ownership over their own learning. Roblyer and Doering (2014) describe these tools as assistive technology, which are technology tools that offer increased opportunities for learning, productivity and independence (p. 434). In her research study, McKnight (2017, p. 5) reported significant gains in students’ reading and writing when using the Immersive Reader and Dictation in Microsoft’s Learning Tools. The capability of the tools to provide equity through access, support student choice and personalised learning was also highlighted (p. 6).
McKnight, K. (2017). Leveling the playing field with Microsoft Learning Tools. Washington, DC: RTI, Centre for Evaluation and Study of Education Equity. Retrieved December 16, 2018, from http://edudownloads.azureedge.net/msdownloads/Learning_Tools_research_study_BSD.pdf
Oviatt, S. (2012). Computer interfaces and the impact on learning. Redmond, USA. Retrieved December 19, 2018, from http://download.microsoft.com/download/0/1/2/012FC5FD-750F-4BDE-96EA-83BC0199EC51/Microsoft_Computer_interfaces_and_their_impact_on_learning_widescreen.pdf
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.
Student-centred learning is largely associated with constructivism (Tagney, 2014, p. 276). Constructivist theories of learning suggest that learners are active participants and create their own knowledge by connecting new information with their existing knowledge, experiences and ideas (Harris, Spina, Ehrich, & Smeed, 2013). This counters what are considered direct models of teaching, where knowledge is transmitted, and students are passive recipients.
While I, like many teachers, love the concept of constructivism, the realities of implementing a genuinely constructivist approach in the classroom has its challenges. Curriculum and reporting requirements, assessment techniques, classroom environments and common pedagogical approaches still support direct models of instruction. Contrast to beliefs, the addition of technology tools does not automatically change this.
I do think the reality is that classroom approaches cannot be a binary option of one or another. Instead we need to merge the best aspects of both approaches and make decisions based on the needs of each individual situation. So many technology tools lend themselves to and enable more constructivist approaches and so it can be a gateway to enabling student-centred learning. When planning to integrate or used technology in learning, I think teachers need to consider what role the tool is playing in the learning. Thinking of constructivist models when planning can help teachers leverage these tools to their full potential. For me, it often comes back to using technology to enable the 4 C's:
Harris, J., Spina, N., Ehrich, L. C., & Smeed, J. (2013). Literature Review: Student centred schools make the difference. Melbourne: Australian Institute for Teaching ad School Leadership. Retrieved 12 18, 2018, from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/default-document-library/literature-review---student-centred-schools-make-the-differenceba338e91b1e86477b58fff00006709da.pdf?sfvrsn=fadbea3c_0
Tagney, S. (2014). Student-centred learning: a humanist perspective. Teaching in Higher Education, 19 (3), 266-275.
In this Blog post I share about two software tools I have had significant experience with. Both offer great ways for students to reflect on learning and for teachers to give feedback.
Flipgrid promotes the platform in claiming that it gives every student voice in the classroom (see video below), making learning social and adding a personal element to online discussions (Green & Green, 2018). It taps into social media culture and feels similar to how you might use Snapchat, Instagram or similar platforms, which is naturally appealing to students.
The platform is a great tool for facilitating reflective learning and formative assessment. Children can upload videos from their device, which also makes it a great tool for collecting summative assessment items. Some examples of our use this year include:
"Flipgrid acts as a compliment and an alternative avenue for reflections and synthesizing thoughts. In addition, it helps students begin to hone their public speaking skills without having to stand in front of the entire class. Flipgrid is low stakes, as students are able to practice with the technology and provides a platform for reserved students to have a voice in the overall conversation of the class."
Green, T., & Green, J. (2018). Flipgrid: Adding Voice and Video to Online Discussions. TechTrends, 62(1), 128-130.
Madden, J. (2018). Feeding Forward. School Reform: Case Studies in Teaching Improvement, 192.
McClure, C., & McAndrews, L. (2016). Going native to reach the digital natives: New technologies for the classroom.
Given my role as eLearning Coordinator at my school, I have a passion for and firm belief in the application of technology in education. This does, however, rest on a couple of key understandings. Firstly however flashy and exciting, technology is a tool and like any tool, the outcome depends greatly on how it is used.
The statement quoted by Comi et al. (2017) from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) aligns with my beliefs
The availability of ICT-related educational devices (such as computers, tablets, software or educational programs) is not enough to improve student achievement, but it is the actual practice that teachers make of these devices – together with teachers’ digital literacy, level of ICT skills and ICT-related beliefs – that makes the difference.
The second understanding is that, again like any tool, you need to learn how to use it. Young people do not speak the digital language until, like preceding generations, they learn how to do so (Smith, Skrbis & Western, 2013). Not too long ago in my personal Blog, I argued that Digital Natives are a myth. The work of Prensky (2001) coined the term "Digital Native" and from it grew several assumptions about the new generation of learners:
Too often I see teachers throwing technology at their students and wondering why a lesson fails. They blame the technology or worse, the children. This approach generates anxiety in learners and lessens teacher trust in classroom technology. At the beginning of this year, I launched a technology training program with some of the youngest 1:1 students at my school. It focused on explicitly teaching then the skills to get the most out of their devices and the native software installed. Teachers of these students reported high rates of success in their classroom compared with previous years in relation to the application of student 1:1 devices.
My final understanding is that a balanced approach is best. New digital technologies are not the perfect solution for every learning experience. Coming from a primary education background has instilled a love of hands on experiences, play based learning and learning by doing. There is immense value in creating with your hands, reading a physical book and writing with pencil and paper. There are times when technology offers experiences or provides access in ways that we have need been able to achieve in the classroom. Learning should be engaging and fun and I love how school principal Adrain Lim speaks about this at the beginning of the video below:
Video URL: https://youtu.be/M_pIK7ghGw4
Having technology in schools doesn't mean that Schools have to let go of other things. Again it comes down to how the teacher leverages it and what they choose to use it for. There doesn't need to be a binary argument of one way or another. With a balanced approached, schools get the best of both worlds. In contrast, schools that are actively working to not incorporate technology are doing their students a disservice in my opinion.
Comi, S. L., Argentin, G., Gui, M., Origo, F., & Pagani, L. (2017). Is it the way they use it? Teachers, ICT and student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 56, 24-39.
OECD (2001) The practice and professional development of teachers, in learning to change: ICT in schools. OECD publishing, Paris. URL: https://www.oecd.org/site/schoolingfortomorrowknowledgebase/themes/ict/41289267.pdf
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1–2.
Smith, J., Skrbis, Z., & Western, M. (2013). Beneath the ‘Digital Native’ myth Understanding young Australians’ online time use. Journal of Sociology, 49(1), 97-118.
Mishra's discussion around the concept of technocentrism aligns with my previous thoughts on technology being the silver bullet. It ignores content and pedagogy. Yet it seems to be common in education. "Throw some technology at it and that will solve the problem" or "we need to look like we are innovating...quick, get a laptop in here", sometimes seem to be what drives technology implementation. The consideration needs to be much larger and requires to make connections between the application of technology, content and good pedagogy.
Technology is a disruptive force...
In his keynote, Mishra provides the example of school students that are allowed to access the internet in an exam. This changes the nature of the exam questions from the regurgitation of knowledge to its application and perhaps even analysis. While the technology isn't doing the work for these students, it is changing how they go about their work, a reflection on the way technology is changing many aspects of our lives. It could be argued that type of test requires a deeper understanding of the topic. Furthermore, why test what can be Googled?
BUT technology alone is not going to bring about change.
Did the students come to learn or understand the ideas for that exam because of technology? No. This is where teachers bring their unique pedagogical approaches and content knowledge to the table. Purposing technology in education is a creative and innovative act. Many schools have people in technology coaching roles to support this. From my experience in being in such a role myself, predicting the potential use of technology across many subject areas is no easy feat. This is why Mishra, encourages teachers to explore, create and share, building a community of professional learners. One teacher might see how another teacher uses a technology tool and then apply that tool in a completely different way in their own classroom. What is important is that the tool is being thoughtfully applied based on the needs of the students, pedagogical goals of the teacher and context of the classroom.
Video URL: https://youtu.be/4TtBubdpzxE
Hello, thanks for stopping by! I am Laura Bain and this is my reflective blog for ESC515. This is my 4th subject in my Masters of Education, in which I am specialising in Information and Communication Technologies. Very excited by the coursework for this subject and looking forward to reading what everyone's thoughts are along the way. Thanks for taking the time to visit and reading my entries.