Presenting in front of a large audience can be a nerve-racking experience at the best of times. For young school students it can be a harrowing experience. Introverted learners, who prefer to quietly think and assess a situation, can feel incredibly uncomfortable being heard in class. This presents challenges for students and teachers alike as great ideas and input can go missing. It is therefore vitally important for teachers to find ways to help these students contribute in class.
Ludlow Junior School is a medium-sized school with an above-average proportion of disadvantaged pupils. Focused on raising literacy levels, staff introduced various strategies including TA-led intervention groups and restructuring the library to introduce Accelerated Reader. However, the resource that generates the most excitement in the classroom, and which all the pupils want to talk about, is ebook website Fiction Express.
On Saturday 23rd January, Bournemouth University will host the Digital Citizenship Summit UK, a free-of-charge conference organised to promote “positive, practical, and action-based solutions towards safe, savvy and ethical technology use”. An event that began as a Twitter conversation, #DigCitSummitUK is the British evolution of the Digital Citizenship Summit, who enjoyed their inaugural gathering in Connecticut during October 2015.
To set the scene for my thoughts, I first want to share with you that one of my pet peeves in the learning environment is the use of PowerPoint presentation software. Not that there is anything wrong with PowerPoint software – it can be an incredibly powerful tool when used in the right environment. But when used as a lecture tool in schools, attempting to provide students with information on a particular subject, it can become a cold, one-way communication tool.
Today I saw something amazing! I watched in awe (and travelled with) a group of 30 students to the moon. Crystal clear, fully immersed and wandering the craters, with colleagues and children next to me sharing their excitement. I am, of course, talking about Google Expeditions. If ever there was a positive retort to the relentless technology bashing in the online world, this is it. Not the visual experience. Not even the chance to see something that most of us will never truly experience in our lifetime. It was the awe and wonder created through the digitally convergent experience. It has been many years since I’ve seen the spark in the eyes of EVERY child in the room (after they’d removed their Google Cardboard glasses, of course).
After the anticipated arrival of beacons into the (almost) mainstream the education world has a genuine opportunity to consider how in our modern age we can benefit from proximity-enabled learning solutions. Recent technical advances claim to give us the opportunity to enhance learning and collaboration, through on target content distribution that supports students by providing content that can enhance their learning journey through triggers, based on time, location and the students profile.
The subject of technology and education is hotly debated. For every evangelist who promotes the benefits of classroom technology, there’s a report like the OECD’s recent study, which claims that investment in edtech does little to improve pupil performance.
It’s 10.30am and fifteen Year 2 boys are huddled inside an old army parachute dappled in green and brown light, the noises of gunfire rattling in the distance, while outside they are confronted with life-size images of young soldiers in battle. Each child whispers to their partner as they write down their experiences. Which of these children are unengaged? Looking at the wonder and anticipation in all of the children’s faces as they scribble words and drawings on their paper, it’s hard to tell. And while we know each child will have different levels of engagement across different learning approaches, it reminds us that everybody has the capacity to be engaged.