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Frank BS March 2014 Design Narrative - Digital Tools in the Classroom
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25 March 2014
I was host of a seminar for teachers from SW England who came to explore how digital tools can be used to enhance learning inthe classroom,
This was an afternon session beginning with lunch held in a modern school library. All participants (eight in all) were mostly female teachers, some of whom knew each other as colleagues. It was intended to be a peer-to-peer exchange. Although the levels of experience using computers in the clasroom was varied, all seemed keen to develop their use of technology, primarly as a motivatinal tool. The setting is airy, spacious and calm and lunch enabled extensive interaction to take place before the main part of the discussion began. The chief limiting factor was that I was given two days notice of the event so the preparation time was very tight. A key factor in the physical location was the availabilkity of tablets (Surfaces running Windows RT) and an wireless internet access.
Participants should leave with a number of tools which they could use in the classroom for both teaching and assessment purposes and which they would feel confident enough to share with others. This would be assessed by verbal feedback and by response to activities.
1) Found a list of participants.
2) Looked for clues and used personal knowledge of some to decide where to pitch the opening statement.
3) With no specialists apparent, I decided to provide some illustrative examples from my own experience using Prezi as a vehicle. To engage the group, to show the ease of embedding video in Prezi and to show how learning can take place without any direct intervention form teachers I used clip of Amira Willighagen (aged 9) singing an aria on a Dutch talent show.
4) To encourage participation and to give experience of using tools I had the group access a site (mural.ly) on the tablets which is a virtual noticeboard and asked them to post comments.
5) I asked the group to share their own ideas and to discuss what they had seen and done.
The chief obstacle was passivity - none had come with ideas to contribute so what should have been more of a discussion became something of a lecture. I was glad that I included an interactive activity and some strong visual elements. The discussion, once it had begun turned on the ways in which the tools I had identified might be used without any new suggestions being made. Fortunately this was free flowing
Expected outcomes -
- using and discussing the ways in which digital tools could be used by classroom teachers for a variety of purposes. Discussion and the responses on the practical exercise confirmed that the group might use and could see applications for them.
- Develop the range of tools open to the group. It was apparent from discussion that these mostly new to all the other participants. I ddi not pick up any new tools though the range of ways in which they might be used was expanded.
Evidence: discussion revolved around how teachers specialising in different subjects might use tools - for example using an e-picture-book for story-telling or story-writing. The use of the interactive session showed both inposts and discussion its potential for brain-storming and informal assessment. While the greatest discussion took place over the active session, the most enthusiasm seemed to be aimed at Prezi and
Additional outcomes: a list circulated to all participants of the tols discussed and a summary of the discussion ideas for there use. The list was planned but the tabulation with suggested uses was not.
Be prepared for those who would rather listen quietly than participate and expect that even after a good lunch it may tae time before anyone is comfortable to air their own opinions. Do not expect anyone else to come with any ideas of their own - or at least not the willingness to share them. If doing this by purely digital means, it may be necessary to force participation if the purpose is to be achieved. Never under-estimate the importance of a hook when trying to capture an audience: the 9-year-old opera singer was a knockout. It may be difficult to gauge reactions over the internet - for all the passivity of the group, all were attentive. This is difficult to see remotely. Participation works. So does listening quietly.