IPad project at WCS

It is not about the technology. It is about how the learning technology readily allows and the avenues technology opens up for students to demonstrate their learning. iPads readily allow all our learners to create, collaborate and communicate. Last year Woodenbong Central School purchased and trialled a class set of over 20 iPads with our primary students. The project is co-ordinated and lead by our Kindergarten teacher.

In 2011 Kindergarten students used iPads to augment their Accelerated Literacy lessons. They used iPad apps to make movies and ebooks: allowing students to collaboratively design and produce work and have themselves heard or seen in the finished product. Videos, photos and voiceovers have provided the students with greater ownership and sense of pride in their projects than any other throughout the year.

The iPad project has also provided students with an opportunity to demonstrate and describe their learning, as the embedded videos in a previous post.

This technology has also assisted the students to become independent learners and problems solvers. As the teachers says:

It was rare for anyone iPad lesson to happen in the Kindergarten class with only me being the teacher. Through investigating and exploring the students learnt a lot about the apps and were able to show me new things. The most impressive part of the program for me has been watching and listening to the discussions from young minds as they work together to solve problems. To many people they are simply playing but as we listen to their language it is clear that they are learning new skills from every activity.

In 2012 Woodenbong Central School will continue with the iPad trial. One area we will explore is music and the possibility of developing a GarageBand Band.

This project has also highlighted the role of social media in 21st Century learning. Educational blogs and being able to put questions on Twitter have readily resolved issues as they arose. Personal Learning Networks on social media are an important asset for teaching today.

It is not about the technology it is about good pedagogy. iPads are engaging but without an educational purpose and being seen as value to the students they would readily lose their novelty value.

Technology enables students to demonstrate and evaluate their learning

It is not about the technology. It is about what the learning that the technology readily allows.

Our K-12 school recently purchased and have began trialling a class set of iPads.

This technology allows students to demonstrate and evaluate their own learning. When our kindergarten students practise their letter writing they use an iPad to photograph their work. They use an app such as Showme to:

  • describe how they wrote the letter; and
  • evaluate their written letter. Pick their best attempt and justify their choice.

 The following videos not only shows students describing and evaluating learning, it  also show students pausing, thinking, looking for the right words.

 

It is not about the technology, it is what the technology allows you to do!

 

 

Why are we so slow to adopt new technologies in education?

 In a recent blog Doug Johnson agrues that value of creating “tech savy” educational administrators yourself and not wait for formal training. This leads to a bigger questions: Why in education are we so slow to adopt new and emerging technologies (both hardware and software)?

In educational jurisdictions across the world new technologies are banned, filtered or have restrictions placed upon their use. For example there is considerable debate on whether to ban or allow mobile technologies within schools. Web tools such as YouTube, EDMODO and social media are unavailable to teachers and students or they are only available to teachers or the are available to teachers and some students. 

It can take time for technology to be incorporated into educational practice. Email has become a tool used by teachers. However, often email is used as an administrative rather than an educational tool. Some may argue that the rise of email in education, especially from centre, is a cost cutting measure: reducing paper cost, mail cost and the cost of faxes. In some jurisdictions students (K-12) have recently  been provided provided with systemic educational email accounts. Given that email is about 40 year old technology, it has taken decades for it to be used in most schools. (By the way, the fax is over 150 years old).

Why does it take so long to adopt new technologies in education? Is there a reluctance to change practice, fear of making a mistake, a natural tendency to risk aversion or is it hard for big bureaucracies to be nimble and able to readily change?

Whatever the reason our students and their learning that is missing out.

Sir Ken Robinson has discussed the need to change educational paradigms.  Mark Treadwell states: without a paridigm shift schools cannot improve and that there is a need to move to a new concept curriculum . “One size does not fit all” and there is also a need to personalise learning. Technologies along with emerging technologies can assist with both the shift to and the delivery of the new curricula. 

Technology should not be used in an educational setting just because it is technology or because it is new. It should only be used because it supports the purpose of education in the 21st Century. It enables students to learning to be creative and innovative; to become effective communicators and to connect (learn) with others.

 Can education wait another 30 years before mobile technology and social media are embedded within educational practices? We need to identify and address issues that are prevention the adoption of technologies in classrooms. It would be better teacher students to become responsible digital citizens than to filter or ban Internet access.

Why are we slow to adopt new technologies in education? What are the issues? How do you address them?

Wordle: technology

 

Our learning Journey with technology

Recently, one of the teachers at the school sent me a text message inviting me to their classroom. Attached was a picture of a student leading the learning. Shortly after another member of staff used her phone to email me during a staff meeting for URL of a site I just mentioned. Both these events have made me reflect on our journey with the use of technology in the classroom.

A few years ago technology, especially computer technology was not used a great deal in classrooms. The school had two computers rooms. Data projectors were used by some teachers.

It was necessary to move the school to embrace technology as a tool for teaching and learning. There were many reasons for this change. These include:

  • technology engages students in the learning process,
  • technology assist teachers do their job better,
  • technology provides an avenue to overcome geographic isolation, and
  • technology provides opportunities for students to create, collaborate and communicate.

Today there is greater access to technology for staff and students. In addition to the two computer rooms there is an interactive whiteboard in every classroom, every classroom is connected to the Internet via WAN and wireless, every student from year 9 to 11 has a net-book, students from kindergarten to year 8 have access to to the net-book in their classroom, kindergarten to year 6 students have access to a class set of iPads and each teacher has a net-book.

Today students and teachers use Web 2.0 tools within the classroom these include EDMODO, Prezi, Glogster, Storybird and Wordle. Teachers have access to social media (Twitter and FaceBook) and YouTube.

Teachers have been supported in the use of technology in the classroom. Professional learning in both hardware and software has supported teachers. This year we have introduced a “technology coach” a teacher who works with teachers inside and outside the classroom assisting them integrate and reflect on technology, software and Web 2.0 tools in their teaching practice. 

I have found that social media has become an increasing important tool over the past year. Twitter allows me to connect with other educators and to form powerful learning networks. Facebook has provided another avenue to connect and communicate with our parents and local community.

 We are still on our journey. We continue to work on:

  • assisting students become 21st learners. Developing citizens that fully paricipate in our society (now and in the future). Helping them to be responsible digitial citizens.
  • Individualise learning
  • Investigate how games based learning can enhance learning.
  • providing engaging learning opportunities for all learners

 Technology by itself does not mean 21st century learning. The interaction between technology, the teacher, the student and the curriculum provide these opportunities. technology does make it easier for students to create, collaborate and communicate within and beyond the classroom.

In many ways we have only just began our journey. It is an exciting journey: this may be the most exciting time to be involved in education.