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Top 100 Tools for Learning

Did you know that Twitter is the number one tool to support learning?

Check out the Top 100 Tools for Learning compiled by Jane Hart, the founder of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT).  The bank of 100 tools are great for teachers and students,  and anyone who is interested in using technology to support learning using innovative and creative solutions in the modern, connected and collaborative classroom. There’s no excuse to be old school! 🙂

Chick here to visit Jane’s website.

 

Digital Leaders

This post discusses advantages of appointing Digital Leaders within school 😀

Digital Leaders are students who have a responsibility to support students and staff with technological issues. The idea to appoint Digital Leaders in my school came from @gr8ict at an ICT conference I attended earlier this year. To support development for Digital Leaders in school, there is a live chat occurring on Twitter every Thursday at 21:00 (GMT) #dlchat, and an online Digital Leader Network.

Presently, I have one Digital Leader who is encouraging other students in school to become Digital Leaders. This week he has:

  • Supported staff members by solving technological issues at their request.
  • Chaired his first Digital Leader Meeting with three members of staff after school.
  • Presented a Nearpod interactive presentation to staff attending the Digital Leader Meeting to inform them about the role of Digital Leader.
  • Appointed two members of staff as Staff Digital Leaders (after reviewing their application forms and discussing their skills and the role of Staff Digital Leader with them). Staff Digital Leaders work under the guidance of Student Digital Leaders.
  • Created Staff Digital Leader certificates and presented them in assembly.
  • Booked the Meeting Room for the next Digital Leader meeting and contacted with admin staff via email.
  • Emailled IT technicians with issues that need resolving (and had a faster response from them than I do!).
  • Created Digital Leader posters to display around school.
  • Decided to create a Digital Leader blog to support staff and students.
  • Emailled me with his ideas, advice, and suggestions about how he can further develop his Digital Leader role in school.

It has been great to see his confidence and enthusiasm grow with having this responsibility, he has taken complete ownership of his role as Digital Leader!

 

Smore Review

I discovered Smore recently and think that this is a fantastic online tool for the classroom. There are so many ways that Smore can be used in the classroom with students. Create amazing Smore interactive magazines with images, text, hyperlinks to support students’ learning!

And it’s free to create a Smore account!

A few ideas …

  • Students can create digital magazines about a topic they are studying.
  • Teachers can create a digital magazine to provide an overview of a topic.
  • Create magazines to support Project Based Learning.
  • Create a magazine as a Scheme of Work as an alternative to a standardised Scheme of Work format.
  • Create a Newletter at the end of term to share with parents.

Click on the image below for an example Smore magazine

Smore Review

Twitter CPD

Thank you Dr Bennett, for introducing me to Twitter. I have found that Twitter is a fantastic tool to support my professional development as a teacher.

With a Twitter account, you can create your own Personal Learning Network (PLN) to share ideas and resources with other professionals, locally, nationally and internationally. Many professionals tweet about all things associated with any topic in the teaching world. You can search for specific topics by hashtagging key words such as #iPaded, #edtech, #ukedchat. With Twitter, you can also join synchronous chats about specific topics, one of my favourites is #TweachCode which has lots of ideas and opportunities for contributing ideas and resources with other teachers who teach Computing.  This session occurs every Monday evening at 8pm (GMT). Another synchronous chat is #edchat although this occurs at the same time. However, with TweetDeck, you can easily manage the live stream of feeds you are currently involved in much easier than with standard Twitter view mode.

Twitter has continued to be a great tool that I use to support my academic studies. Anything useful I discover to support my studies I will usually Tweet for easy access at a later date. I am now coming towards the end of my MSc, and my Tweets are useful for references that I may include in my dissertation. Using the tweet feed, I can easily gain a quick visual overview for anything I may have missed out.

 

ICT for Education Conference

Yesterday I attended an ICT for Education Conference, there were guest speakers and products and services offering ICT solutions for educational establishments. Guest speakers included Simon Thomson, an elearning university tutor who spoke about his model for integrating technology for learning, the 4e Framework, and a guest speaker from Computing at School (CAS), Roger Davis who spoke about the new Computing Curriculum.

A Head of Department from a secondary school, Chris Sharples, discussed the positive impact Digital Leader badges are having on his students. Digital Leaders are students who help and support other students and staff with ICTs. Bizarrely a couple of days before the conference, I had come across a Twitter chat #DLchat, that occurs on Thursday’s evenings (9 – 9.30pm), but I had forgotten to join in, although #DLchat came up during Chris’s presentation.

Chris mentioned an organisation called makewav.es, who offer Digital Leader badges and a blogging platform for schools. I have come across this organisation before when I researched different blogging services for my students, although at the time it appeared quite expensive. However, teachers can create free makewav.es accounts and students can earn Digital Leader badges. A further bonus is there is no financial cost for schools if students are earning the Digital Leader badges. I do like the idea of Open Badges and it appears they are an alternative to traditional qualification paths, and educational establishments may welcome and value this new method of accreditation.

The discussions were very useful and all presenters have inspired me to pursue using Google Apps for Education in my school. Many schools, colleges and universities use Google Apps to support learning and speak highly of Google’s free educational services. Google enables students to collaborate in real time, and the account administrator decides what content is available for students to use. The main purposes of ‘Going Google’ for me, is so my students can have email accounts so they can communicate with staff and use free web 2.0 tools available from other providers. By signing in with their Google accounts, students do not have to create accounts with the service providers, rather they can have one email account for all.  For example, Powtoon is a great presentation tool to support learning that can be accessed via a Google login.

Roger Davis, speaking on behalf of CAS, eased my mind in terms of what I am doing for my dissertation as a few weeks ago I came across Seymour Papert, a MIT computer scientist and educational theorist. Roger spoke about Papert’s influence upon the new Computing Curriculum. Papert is cited as the founder of constructionism which appears to have similarities with constructivism although the former term seems to be fit in line with the notion of computational thinking.

To sum up, I enjoyed the day, and would recommend you sign up and go along to an ICT for Education Conference if you are interested in ICT solutions for your educational establishment. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get around all the stalls although there are links on the ICT for Education website.

Pi Project

During the past couple of weeks, my students have been learning about the Raspberry Pi credit card sized computer. Each student has now had between one and four lessons.  Some of the things students have done include:

  • Identified and labelled the Pi components, such as USB ports, RAM, HDMI and GPIO pins by exploring the Raspberry Pi’s and then labelling the components on an image of the Pi.
  • Identified what they would need to set up the Raspberry Pi.
  • Set up the Raspberry Pi.
  • Explored the GUI and CLI.
  • Discovered videos that explain what a breadboard is and what it is used for.
  • Browsed online using the Midori web browser.
  • Identified what they will need to install additional plug-ins, for example to watch YouTube videos, as the students have discovered there is no flash player installed on the Pi B+ Model.
  • Researched how to install Minecraft Pi on the Raspberry Pi website and from watching YouTube videos.
  • Used the LXTerminal to install Minecraft Pi edition. Students have written commands to install the software and learned shortcuts for writing their code.  They have learned that their code needs debugging if incorrect.
  • After installing Minecraft Pi, students have played the game and then reviewed what they have done.

Next steps include how to use Python programming language with the Raspberry Pi.

Here’s a link to the students posts about their Raspberry Pi Adventures!

With many thanks to the Raspberry Pi Foundation for the Teach, Learn and Create resources!

Dissertation Word Cloud

I think word clouds are great for creating a visual representation of a narrative.

I’m currently working on my Dissertation, here’s a word cloud generated from what I have written so far …
Dissertation Word Cloud

 

Here’s a word cloud for the National Curriculum Programme of Study for Computing (Key Stages 3 and 4):

DfE Computing PoS

 

Click here for the original PoS for Computing.

 

 

Here’s a word cloud for the Computing at School Computing Curriculum for Key Stage 3:

CAS word cloud

 Click here for the original CAS Computing Curriculum.

 

Here’s a word cloud for the Naace ICT Curriculum Framework for Key Stages 1 to 3:

Naace Curriculum Framework

Click here for the original Naace ICT Framework.

And finally … 

Click here to create your own word cloud.

 

 

 

Qualitative Research Methods

My thoughts and understanding of qualitative research methods …

Phenomenology

Phenomenology is the study of subjective experience, often credited to the philosophical work of Edmund Husserl. Interpretivist researchers assume subjective experiences cannot be separated from the physical world therefore experiences cannot be measured scientifically or objectively as in scientific methods applied in the physical world. Hence, phenomenology attempts to study the whole phenomena, i.e. the subjective experience and the subjective perception of contact with the outer world.  An understanding of subjective experience is achieved through the phenomenological interpretive process therefore, for a researcher this would involve applying an interpretivist methodology and methods. The phenomenological data analysis process of bracketing qualitative data aims to seek a deeper understanding of lived experiences through interpretations of these experiences, alongside language analysis and applying imaginative processes.

 

Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics is the art of interpreting verbal or written texts and was originally applied to the interpretation of biblical texts and the arts.  It is assumed that a hermeneutical approach may achieve reinterpretations that are closest to reality, although with hermeneutics, we can never know reality as each individual has perceptions that cannot be experienced by another person.  The hermeneutic process is cyclical through the act of visiting and revisiting texts to reinterpret them more accurately gaining deeper insight along the way, in light of social and historical times, whilst attempting to reveal narrators’ intentions. Known as the hermeneutic circle, this process appears as constantly swaying between narrative parts and the whole narrative, in a cyclical manner, to achieve temporal, momentary, understanding.  However, the whole and its parts cannot be understood in isolation therefore they have to be revisited and reinterpreted simultaneously.

For me, hermeneutics appears to rest with my understanding of action research, as the latter is also a cyclical process that is never completed.  With hermeneutics and action research, reflexivity is central to the research process. Therefore, for a researcher undertaking a hermeneutical enquiry, reflexivity is introspection to unveil personal beliefs, which are considered in light of political, social and historical times.

 

Hermeneutic Phenomenology

This form of qualitative research appears to tie phenomenology with hermeneutics therefore this entails studying experiences phenomenologically together with hermeneutical narrative analysis.  The readings of Paul Ricoeur appear to fit within this branch of philosophy as he suggests that by studying experiences, and applying metaphorical language to interpret experiences and via analysing others’ metaphorical language in narratives and stories, this may gain a clearer interpretation of reality.  However for Ricoeur, it appears the self can never truly know the self, as interpretation of any form is a reinterpretation of reality.

 

Conclusion

It appears that an interpretive methodology will be the most suitable approach for my dissertation since I will be studying students and their actions, and my interpretations of their learning, in the context of Computing lessons.  Positivist methods may not gather reliable data since human experiences cannot be measured or quantified.

In light of current and previous literature, and reflections upon teaching practice and the teaching profession, it appears that the UK education system often applies positivist methods.  This seems evident in league tables, assessment levels, performance criteria, and Ofsted.  Every aspect of human behaviour appears to be categorised and measured against desirable standards.  The more I read, the more my mind ponders over the damaging impact that this may have.  For example, within a special school context, it appears that many students fare less academically, when compared by others’ to mainstream students and other standards they are measured against.  At times, this be interpreted as a battle, whilst aiming for the best outcomes for all students, they may be continually exposed by a system that reveals and creates vulnerabilities.

References:

Laverty, S. M. (2003). Hermeneutic phenomenology and phenomenology: A comparison of historical and methodological considerations. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 2 (3).