Education Theory

Validation of an iPADs Ability to Improve Student Achievement?

Validation of an iPADs Ability to Improve Student Achievement?

Oh that www.good.is website just keeps on delivering and finding great stories and articles – if you have never been there or do not subscribe to their RSS feed – do it now! Some of their infographics are just amazing.

Anyway they have just published a recent article showing one teachers’ iPAD experiment to show that the use of such mobile technology can and actually does raise achievement. Although as the author of the post suggests this is not peer-reviewed research it definitely puts at least some positive backing to the idea of the iPAD as more than an expensive toy.

“Harmon’s experiment hardly measures up as a peer reviewed study, but one teacher’s experience is valuable too. Let’s hope more teachers take the initiative to see if new classroom technology is worth the investment.”

Jim Harmon the English teacher who undertakes the research is working in the context of a state school where students and parents are disenfranchised  with school in general and there are a large number of issues with literacy and numeracy. The research showed that the iPAD raised “excitement for learning” which I do wonder is enough to suggest that any improvement in literacy can come about due to the fact that students like playing with an Apple device simply because it is “cool” and easy to use. However the report is an interesting read and worth a delve into.

The report also provides food for thought at how we as a school go ahead with a program and then ensure that there is a way to measure its impact on the students learning and as importantly their management of learning.

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Introduction – The Critical Study Is Taking Shape…

Over the next few weeks I will be publishing drafts of areas of my Critical Study – more than anything to allow me to validate and vindicate to myself that I am getting somewhere. I do not profess anything specifically visionary, but if you fancy a read then enjoy…Picture 1

‘Technology is woven in the fabric of our lives.’(Marcinkiewicz, 2000, p. 3)

In the 21st Century there is no mistaking the impact that technology has had on every aspect of our lives, although until recently the”…technological changes that affected society left educational systems largely unchanged.” (Strommen, 1992 cited in (Kiraz & Ozdemir, 2006, p. 152) However the world of education has in recent years begun to consider the potential that new technologies might bring including e-learning tools and learning strategies.

E-learning is a broad term, which has many definitions but is often simply‘…defined as ‘…learning facilitated and supported through the use of information and communications technology.’’ (JISC, 2008) E-learning comes in many forms and methods ‘…encompassing a broad range of activities across a spectrum from using e-learning for “smarter” learner support, through blended learning (the majority of activity) to learning that is delivered entirely online.’ (E-learning at UCL, 2009) Whether the technology used facilitates distance-based learning at University or High School with organisations like Virtual High School[1] or within face-2-face school environments to enhance teaching; the most is always to improve learning. (JISC, 2008)

In recent years UK secondary schools have been required to invest and integrate the use of one particular e-learning tool, often described as a Learning Platform or Virtual Learning Environment. In 2004, FERL[2] organised an online conference to assess the progress of the use and implementation of VLE’s across all areas of education in the UK which found that ‘…many educational institutions (including schools) now have VLEs (or some similar form of learning platform.’(Minshull, 2004, p. 5) However VLEs were often found to be underutilised due to no specific aims for integration and a lack of teacher control during implementation leading to ‘…a perception that new technology and additional work is being imposed.’ (Minshull, 2004, p. 15)

These issues alongside constraints including lack of hardware, support and connectivity had led ‘…to considerable dissatisfaction within some areas of the school educational community in what is currently being offered as a VLE solution.’(Minshull, 2004, p. 15) With the UK governments’ ‘Harnessing Technology – Transforming Learning and Children’s Services’ paper published in 2004, a new agenda was set for education in England with two main goals. Firstly it was stated that ‘…developing improved, personalised learning with technology,’(BECTA, 2008) for every student was necessary through ‘…building an integrated, accessible infrastructure which supports personalisation.’(BECTA, 2008)

This has led to the VLE becoming ubiquitous in almost all UK schools and colleges, which has in turn influenced the private sector. However there still seems to be a need to understand how to improve acceptance and integration of these environments for the benefit of all stakeholders and most importantly the learning of individual students. Are VLEs succeeding in delivering the personalised learning that some said they have promised?

On a personal level after recent action research into setting up a Virtual Learning Environment within an International School, I had many unanswered questions regarding implementation and acceptance of such an environment. My research had specifically looked at development and use of a Moodle[3] based environment within the ICT department at school.(Perkins, 2006) It was noted within the evaluation that ‘…I [did] wonder at this point if teachers within [the school][4] would have the time or passion to develop a course themselves.’(Perkins, 2006, p. 24)

At the time one other department and three teachers voluntarily decided that they would like to introduce Moodle based courses within their teaching. The teachers could see how the use of such a technology could help their course development. The Business Studies and ICT department over the year successfully developed courses, but it was a small scale that thrived on the enthusiasm of a few teachers. It was however certain that the e-learning innovation would not spread or be adopted by the wider school community. This research raised the question of how such a learning environment would be accepted if set as a whole school iniative and what would be the issues and ways to make this innovation successful with high teacher adoption and acceptance of such a system.


[1] Virtual High School – an organisation for High School students to follow web based distance-learning courses with over 11,902 students as of 2009. GovVHS. (2009, September 5). About Use. Retrieved September 5, 2009, from VHS: http://www.govhs.org/Pages/AboutUs-Home

[2] Further Education Resources for Learning – an organisation for Post 16 education to enable the integration of technologies for teaching and learning.

[3] Moodle – an open source LMS/VLE system

[4] Schools names have not been included within this research paper – although all citations and sources that come from specific schools can be found within the Bibliography.

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The Wonders of Collaborative Problem Solving and Sharing…

It’s strange but it still amazes me today, how wonderfully giving and collaborative the web community is. Here are few of the recent examples in which the larger community helped:-

  • Recently I have come across problems with using Woopra on OSX and thanks to Jeff McCord was able to sort out the not insubstantial problems with Java on OSX. Note all the problems are worth it when you come to using Woopra as it is a great tool, and with a little more development will challenge Google Analytics crown.
  • The flash uploader HTTP error problem on the new WordPress 2.5 installation was another incredibly annoying problem, and one even more weird due to the uploader working on Mac OSX browsers but not through Windows. Again through searching the community I was able to find a solution, straight away rather than have to wait for a fix through a new version of WordPress itself.
  • The above problem also led me to have to find out how to create a .htaccess file, which had always been a mysterious file that my shared server provider had hidden from me. The revelation that it was only a text file and I could add these to the roots of particular installations and folders to control any Apache server problems was great.

Why this post, about these problems being solved by communities – does it have any relation to education. Most definitely and although obvious the communities of practice on the web demonstrate the power of Wenger’s theories so well. But within a traditional educational context I have still striggled to show students how important this way of learning and helping others to learn is. However much my classes use weblogs, wikis and social network based tools like Magnify I am still unsure that I am getting this message across very well. I wonder if anyone else is having more success within secondary schools not at the use of communities of practice online but laying the foundations within your students of how these communities are very powerful learning systems?

Turnitin -Does anyone use it as a Learning Tool?

I am just about to embark on using Turnitin with some of my ITGS IB Diploma students. I do so with some trepidation; although I have also introduced the many privacy, trust and other social and ethical issues which the students will come across using such a tool. I have used this tool before in my Masters studies and found it both interesting and informative, even if the Masters tutor did not discuss or even inform me that it was going to be used with my work!

I have directed my students to sites for them to find out how it works, including the following. I have also introduced that the tool is not just a tool that I use because I do not trust them but that it will be used as a learning tool and hopefully one that by the end of the two years they will see how it works, what its limitations are.

I believe as a teacher this is something that will enable a students understanding and digital literacies of how such tools work, and in the end prepare them for what they will undoubtedly come across within their University courses. I have also directed them to discussions on the issues related to copyright and privacy including this article on Copyright Issues with turnitin or this paper about the legal opposition that was attempted.

I would be interested to know if there are many other teachers within secondary schools using Turnitin, and what their experiences and students experiences have been. Look back in a month or so, to see what my students think of the tool and whether we will continue to use it?


The Tethered Self…..a Student/Teacher Quandary?

It is strange sometimes how you keep back some articles for reading for such a long while, that when you finally sit down for a supposed skim through you suddenly realise what an interesting piece you have been missing. This was true of Sherry Turkle’s article entitled - ‘Always-on/Always-on-you: The Tethered Self’ – which I believe is a chapter from a book called Handbook of Mobile Communications and Social Change. The article deals with more than the any studies into ubiquitous and embedded technologies that we can now carry and wear, by seeing how these technologies are affecting simply who we are.

She describes that we are ending up with a new sense of self which is not anymore simply a ‘separate world, plugged and unplugged.’  As Turkle describes it:- ‘The self, now attached to its devices, occupies a liminal space between the physical real and its lives on the screen. It participates in  both realms and the same time.’ As such as she describes with ubiquitous technologies like the mobile phone even if we are half way around the world, emotionally and socially because of this always on connection means we are really as much at home as away. When I traveled many years ago backpacking through such areas of the world as Kashmir I was completely along, only able through some convoluted way in the largest cities to phone home if necessary. I even remember sending letters home telling my parents where I would be in a few months so that they could send things via Post Restante to that country or city.

Still I do not have the connections with technology, that the students I teach feel. As Turkle says: – ‘Whether or not our devices are in use, without them we feel adrift.’ Social networks have taken this a step further, forcing you to always check in – being the mediator to many friendships and communications. How does this feeling of having to be always connected with technology mediating that affect our abilities to be alone. Turkle goes even further to suggest that we are not only tethered to technology for communication, we are now ‘…tethered to the gratifications offered by our online selves.’ 

So how does this al affect the world of education, well I guess most of it is pretty obvious. But how many meetings as an IT teacher have I been involved with parents discussing this very problem of being tethered to a technology, which leads to students trying to multitask entertainment, communication and work activities at the same time. We all do it – at the moment while writing this blog post, I am listenign to the football on the internet streamed radio, making a CD, browsing my bloglines account – in fact I have two computers on the go…but let’s not go there. As Turkle says :- ‘The pressure to be always on can be a burden. Teenagers who need uninterrupted time for schoolwork resort to using their parents’ account to hide from their buddies.’ The answer to the problem of ‘continual partial attention’ is a difficult one to which I have seen no real answers.

When I ask students how they cope, they often say they simply have to rely on will power. But what of those that cannot stop chatting to their friends via MSN, checking their Facebook account – especially if you take it in terms of being part of ones self, ones tethered self rather than as an addiction as some would say? Although as Katie Coleman suggests, this maybe is not all bad as the ability to work with in so many disparate communities holds many promises.

As a teacher that always shares with my students that I am not the ‘font of all knowledge’ but am in fact a facilitator able to guide all students in the right direction, maybe to the right communities to be able to learn and understand if not as such remember then maybe the tethered self will become a necessity to live and work in this century. The abilities to live and survive and depend on ones self and ones knowledge will become less and less valued.

Well as I said an interesting article that links in with many ideas, that at this moment I do not think anyone has any answers to. If anyone has the answers to give to parents about multitasking and practical ways to help their chile concentrate, please comment! The worries that Turkle brings up are however I believe a little overstated, as a final quotation from her might suggest:- ‘ These questions ask what we will be like, what kind of people are we becoming as we develop increasingly intimate relationships with machines.’

LISA conference – International Schools Conference 2008 at TASIS London

Another training day, but with so much to do was it worth it? Well yes in many ways these days can seem less that useful, but in terms of meeting and discussing with other teachers about what they are doing; it either gives you a few new ideas or makes you wonder why so many teachers are so inadequately trained. More about the workshops I went to a little later, but first to the keynote.

The keynote was by Dr Robert Evans, a psychologist specialising in school change and reform. A fantastic speaker who from obvious extensive experience discussed the issues with which schools no longer face problems they can solve but dilemmas they can only cope with in the long term. He described many funny anecdotes of the expectations of our teaching profession often likening it to the work of monks or other religious based employment. His book – The Human Side of School Change, was the obvious starting point to discussing how society has changed so much that its expectations of a school are now much more while at the same time the difficulties for children to leave school with adequate qualifications get more and more difficult. As such he suggested that school communities almost are representing a counter culture of values compared to everyday family life, and often are expected to instill these morals and values with little backing. I would suggest for more information you read around hid ideas, a good starting point would be Kathleem Cushman’s article.

So to the workshops, which were ran well by both leaders:-

Research Methods Using the Internet – was an interesting workshop with may ideas to resources, of which a great deal I had heard of. However the most interesting point, came from the ideas of how swamped teachers are with resources and websites these days. How do we cope, and if I ask that question how do students cope? Often I am swamped even though I use techniques including del.icio.us bookmarking, and reading websites via bloglines clipping all essential posts.

First Robotics Competition Workshop – was a wonderful presentation into participating in the First Robotics student robot building competition. Looks like an excellent opportunity, but very difficult to run with such a small Design and Technology department at my current school.The American School in London ran the workshop who have been entered in the competition for the last few years, they even have a website called the Griffins. Over the next few months hopefully we will research into the idea, and maybe with a few keen students branch out into the world of First.

So an interesting day in all, and great to be able to look around another private American school in the shape of TASIS. Which has a wonderful campus, but most useful was to meet the IT staff and chat through their experiences of areas including laptop program, VLE’s and much more. It is unfortunate they do not run the ITGS course at Diploma level as this might have been the perfect opportunity to collaborate with their students.

Technologically Illiterate – Rants, Arguments and More in the Small World of Educational Bloggers

Interesting that the educational blog post of the year (yes can you believe such a thing exists) is related to the argument related to whether every teacher should today be technologically literate. Terry Freedman – Techlearning Blog, sets out a set of basic rules and limits of how technogically literate you are, anything beyond this should lead to educators finding employment in another profession. Harsh, well yes and the post by Karl Fisch over at Fischbowl (the one that one the award) does suggest this but in fact both end up on the side of agreeing with the following statement:-

“If a teacher today is not technologically literate – and is unwilling to make the effort to learn more – it’s equivalent to a teacher 30 years ago who didn’t know how to read and write.”

But is it really the fault of the educator, who has to be able to move between a variety of applications, of an variety of platforms/ operating systems and has to stand in front of students who expect that you as the teacher should KNOW everything. Is the fault not on us as educators understanding and technological literacy OR that as educators we often still want to fulfill the central role rather than making sure that we and our students both understand our role is only as a facilitator who can help solve problems and points students in the right direction. As a teacher I always make this abundantly clear that I do not always know but CAN given time and also the rest of the classes help solve or find out? It is often a way that students feel is an ‘opt out’ clause, but students do eventually realise the benefits but also the responsibilities that come with this.

So maybe I can only agree with the ‘unwilling to make the effort to learn’ part of the above statement, and then on the understanding that the willing to know does not necessarily mean spending hours at training sessions and at home working to improve our technological literacy but more the willingness to understand that at a given time with students we can learn and problem solve in a collaborative group.

BETT – back from Egypt its time to hit the wonderful Education Tech Show

Well believe it or not this was my first time at BETT, the main British Education and Technology show. The show for a first timer, was as large and ostentatious as others had suggested and at points it is astounding how the use of Technology within Education is so big business. I know that may sound a little naive but after quite a few years away from the UK International Schools with limited budgets it does make you wonder how often the amount spent on Technology does result in better learning and teaching within the classroom. Below is simply a small list of some items that I cam across and thought were either useful or interesting:-

  • Mindstorms the NXT Generation – However much I wonder at the losing bits and pieces scenario of Mindstorms and therefore its longevity within a school environment Lego’s new range looks a giant step up from the yellow bricks before. The amount of sensors and the ability to build and create relatively quickly the basic robot, along with drag and drop software which enables immediate results but also lends itself to a wide variety of much more complex tasks suggests that this might be a much better learning tool and one which could link in well with a Design and Technology robotics project.
  • Gigajam – One that impressed due to the company being a much smaller player inthe BETT arena. Also there was very little music based tutorial software out there that professes the idea of facilitation to learn rather than the teacher as content provider and centre. Worth checking out, especially if your school wishes to improve the equality of access to individual music tuition but students cannot afford the prices of real tutors.
  • StudyWiz, Kaleidos, Blackboard/WebCT , Serco MIS and other MIS/ Learning Platforms definitely seems the buzzwords at this BETT. This is such a large issue to even begin to discuss I will chat about this in a second blog post in the coming week, to see whether these all consuming platforms are the way forward.
  • Activote Promethean if Learning Platforms were the main buzzwords seems the technology item that has proliferated the most, with many companies offering active voting systems that link in with Interactive Whiteboard quizzes and tests. Myself and fellow teacher James had similar thoughts that maybe this would just be a gimic but after testing the system we were addicted and could see how this would work within a classroom. The setup of quizzes seemed very easy and would enable any teacher to construct quizzes within a matter of minutes. So maybe worth investing in a set or two.
  • Terry Freedman and Miles Berry Personalised Learning -over the rush of a day with so much to see it was difficult to fit in any of the seminars available. However I did manage to pop into Terry and Miles’s seminar on Personalised Learning. Unfortunately the seminar had been pre-booked and so there was only standing room. I managed to watch the introduction by Miles Berry which set out some interesting ideas. You can watch the seminar as a Google Video over at Terry Freedman’s site, note he does mention my studies into using NING as a social network for language learning. So pop along and have a look.
  • Tablet PC’s Asus eeeePC, as many reviews are raving about this new laptop it was interesting to see one and have a little play. My fellow conspirator at the event James is an avid Linux user so he was pleased to see that a version of Linux is the operating system running on these laptops.Being all open source software is fabulous and this would be a great portable computer for students, after seeing so many students this year without their laptops for often many weeks due to problems with screens breaking, due to general damage I can see how such a small durable laptop would solve some of these problems.
  • Weather Stations for Datalogging – I have always thought that this would be a good idea, and passed by a stall selling these contraptions. You can see from Barming Primary School how such a system could be used in lower school, but I am sure the data-logging and statistics produced would come invaluable across many areas of the curriculum throughout a school.

OLPC More Problems but Still Anticipation…

Well the new term is a coupe of days away and this weblog is now finally beginning to take shape after changing themes from my old but now quite redundant Kiwi theme to the Morning After theme by Arun. Is it any good, well yes but a little tricky to setup and I am still unsure about the Internet Explorer compatibility. Over the net month or so I will begin to add to the site to get it as feature rich as under the old theme, but mainly I hope it has simplified the reading of the content.

I am still waiting for the delivery of my OLPC or XO laptop. How did I manage to order one from the UK, well luckily through a parent I was able to order from here and when they return from Alabama in the New Year they will bring the laptop with them. It is disappointing the continuing problems and negative feelings that the OLPC program is engendering. A recent article from May Wong brings up the probably inevitable news that the Intel chip maker has split from the program. All over the web is the other news that might begin to spell the end of the XO laptop program, is from Nigeria where a keyboard manufacturer is sueing the program for supposedly reverse engineering the keyboard drivers. Is everyone forgetting this is a non for profit organisation? Anyway I hope that I will enjoy playing with the XO laptop when it arrives, and use it within my classes to discuss and widen understanding of the digital divide.

Apart from waiting for the OLPC program I am anticipating introducing WIKI’s back into my classes after a long break. Last year when I used TikiWiki within a GCSE class, it was a resounding success and led to ideas that this sort of collaborative e-learning tool could be very effective and maybe even more effective than my extensive use of weblogs within the classroom. I have decided to go away from TikiWiki not due to its functionality but simply it was too erratic to control, almost lockingout all users at one stage due to a strange php error. I have recently setup MediaWiki on my server at ConstructICT but have again decided that apart from the fact that MediaWiki is much more robust it will not offer all the features that some other Web 2.0 solutions offer. So at the moment with the new ad free offers from wetpaint wiki I have opted to use this provider. There is a fabulous example of the use of Wetpaint from Shanghai American School called Wikinomics. However it is very much used as a class portal, rather than a bringing together of students to collaborate on activities. Anyway much more to come, will have to check it gets throught the school filter though?

TikiWiki Adventure Continues….

Well I knew it might be a little difficult and strange for my GCSE students to be using a wiki called CICT Wiki to produce collaborative work. BUT little did I realise how hard it would be to even get them to realise the value of being part of such a project. As I had expected after a whole year of doing individual GCSE projects always in a very competitive way, the notion or working together in small teams, helping a larger team to produce something seems utterly crazy to them.

I also realised how poor the students understanding is of plagiarism. Discussing the ideas of referencing and quoting information, has taken a great deal of time and continual reminding. Wiki syntax and the lack of a WYSIWYG editor has made this a little more difficult. But mostly the students do not really understand intellectual property rights because they are really not taught about these important issues anywhere in the curriculum.

Maybe Wiki’s and Blog’s maybe are not the right tool for collaborative work, was an inital thought? And an interesting article by Teemu suggests that maybe they are not. Blogs have a ‘me myself and I’ feel, while Wikis look at producing an artifact rather than actually discussing in a team about particular issues or problems. Definitely when it comes to ways of getting the students to think and discuss with each other, the TikiWiki they are using does not facilitate this. Although discussion does go on in the classroom itself. So maybe Teemu is right. Specifically in the fact that in trying to continually express that the Wiki they are producing is a public document, it is showing the limitations that a Wiki does not have an easy comment system which would show to students that ‘the others’ out there are listening and maybe even reading.

I chose to use Tikiwiki mainly due to me being able to host it on my server, and its immediacy of use and ability to look like a MediaWiki and of course Wikipedia. This has worked in one way, as I am able to demonstrate how a Wikipedia article is laid out and works. How referencing is needed, how the history works. And then lead this into the students knowledge and Wiki building. However I wonder if a hosted option such as WetPaint or WikiSpaces? would have been an easier option. Especially as TikiWiki’s forums and users are not nearly as active as say Moodle’s. Which has led to some weird problems including a login issue in which you now have to always click a remember me box to login? Anybosy out there that can help?
Hopefully next time, I will be able to comment on some of the work brought together so far by the students. Will it be productive, I am still waiting to see….

Wiki Troubles and “Star Teachers Grade Less”

Well although the Wiki is underway I can see problems on the horizon. After almost a whole year of competitive solo projects for their GCSE how can students suddenly manage to swap over to collaborative work? Beyond this the GCSE projects are marked to strict criteria which from day one I make open and use continuously to grade their projects with targets of how to improve their work. With this mentality drummed into my GCSE ICT students, how are they going to be motivated to produce not only collaborative work but work that is not going to be marked or to put it into the American term ‘GRADED’ in the same way. If at all, as the work will naturally be assessed by its public availablity?

You can now see the problems before me? The recent post by an anonymous author (interesting to decide why this author is still anonymous?) on the blog ‘Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn’. The post is very well written and argues that too much grading around tests and criteria can maybe inhibit learning. And instead greater emphasis should be placed simply on effort. I suppose most teachers would say that obviously if all students put in maximum effort they would achieve their maximum grade and so would be achieving to their full potential? So why look at specific tests, rather than as suggested focus on effort. Obvious really, and something I have always said often occurs anyway within KS3 Level testing where students who show effort and work ‘hard’ achieve to the highest levels. Those that do not are still down on Level 3?

Interesting arguments, and maybe something that could be used in the students Wiki project. However Egyptian students and as importantly Parents are so grades smitten, that would this work. Unless maybe effort was broken down into its constituent factors including teamwork, leadership and going the extra mile?

Along with this we have the technical problem of Wiki-Syntax which is easy to master, but students are now so used to WYSIWYG menus for whatever they are creating that this might provide a further  limitation. Well that is enough Wiki talk for now, although you should if you have time check out the ideas of mixing Blogs and Wikis together in Blikis (Yes more geek talk!)SurveyLogo

The Ning assignment, social networking and MFL is gathering a little steam. Decided to use the SurveyAtSchool website and tool, to gather information on students understanding of Social Networking to see how many students are comfortable and use a social network as much as anything so that I can see how much initial effort will need to be put into the MFL classes training in what a social network is and how to use it?

More to follow……

Working with the MFL Department – Initial Ideas…

This is definitely turning into a challenging and interesting assignment for my Masters. As usually most of the initiatives that I have undertaken have been driven by me usually within departments that use ICT to some extent or not. And so for example introducing the VLE – Moodle has expanded within the school to those departments that are interested. I suppose in almost a viral way. It was very similar with even such a basic use of ICT by the teachers, by getting email setup for all to use this year. Slowly uptake improved, until there was shall I use the trendy phrase ‘tipping point’ ( See Mr Gladwell and also check out his TED presentation for more information) and within six months everyone apaprt from a few stragglers are using email as a form of communication.

With this module as the use of ICT within language learning was outside of my realm , I have had to go to a department that although they have shown interest in ICT are reticent about its use. This is an interesting challenge – and probably a much more REAL challenge. How do I implement the use of ICT within their teachign and learning in such a way that it fulfills the objectives within their eyes. I would presume their objectives would be something like this:

  • The initiative must be easy to use
  • It must not detract from the teaching of the language in question – French
  • It must fulfill or improve on the existing way of teaching that element of their lesson – be it listening, writing, speaking…etc
  • The ICT must be transparent e.g. the students must see that French is the objective not the ICT (Hmm or maybe the opposite?)
  • The technical side of using the technology – must not impinge on their lessons
  • The technology should not impinge on how the students behave
  • It is coming to the end of the term, so it must require little planning

These are my guesses, but obviously I cannot base my initiative on this, so yet again my awful questionnaire skills have come out of the closet. I like the idea of initially giving teachers a questionnaire before a meeting, so that ideas can start to be thought through. The other weird thing is that I really want to try out a Social Network idea using NING, but I have a feeling that the MFL department will think that this is not a good idea. I have already setup a basic network to try the system out and feel, with its flexibility and obvious social network phenomenon appeal that it could work and really add to the learning of French within the school.

Anyway here is my initial draft of my questionnaire – QuestTeachersMFL, and four ideas that I will propose to the MFL department. Will report back in a week, with findings.

Delicious links for 2006-12-10 – Blimey there is loads……

    Well busy times, and I seem to be back to my Del.icio.us bookmarking best……most of the links below relate to blogs and their use as communication tools with students. I have been trying to look for academic papers related to weblog use and communication – which in the end is kind of difficult as most discussion about weblogs is on weblogs which as such is part of the so called ‘grey’ research and discussion. Hopefully my assignment can focus on the fact that  weblogs can be used in a number of communicative ways including use of chatbox, comments, many authors, as portal….and how these different ways facilitate or in fact are poor at helping with communication.

    Beyond this I came across this weblog called Purselipsquarejaw which has some great papers on such things as ‘Collective Remembering and the importance of forgetting….’ This weblog came to me via the edublog awards which you can vote on at this moment in time – definitely worth a look….Edublog Awards.

    Finally related to ICT adoption and development within secondary schools there is a very good alternative perspective on looking at schools as ecosystems and how this can then effect and allow a framework to be organised on how to implement change and obviously ICT change being one of those in a far more effective way. Yong Zhao is the man, and his video even though not very invigorating is worth a long leisurely look.

    Delicious links for 2006-11-22

    A short post today, as I have come across a great tool from Nottingham University that is free to use and seems to simply produce Flash Learning Objects which are much more accessible featuring colour changing, font size changing tools and much more..

    Will post more when I have had a proper play.

    CAA and sample assessment + Some Delicious Links…

    Well this Modules Units are whizzing by with an interesting if a little obvious chat about Computer Assisted Assessment last night. The talk did discuss in detail how computers can assist both in qualitative and quantitative assessment. Here is an example of quantitative CAA assessment using Hot Potatoes that I placed within Moodle. Although no-one has ever completed this within the 5 minutes time limit including ME!

    My ‘AS’ students are still bemused by the whole ‘Web 2.0′ social movement which is looked at in the above test even they are involved and have used many so called Web 2.0 tools:- Delicious, Bloglines Aggregator, MySpace, Piczo…it is almost why do you have to call it a name this is how the web is? I can see there point of view in one way, but maybe they are not quite able to step out of the picture to look at how this is affecting their lives. My experiments with using ‘Web 2.0′ tools within their course have been of limited success, probably as much to me dabbling with many different ideas as to them not understanding the principals and how this is good or bad. RSS is another of these technologies that I think will dramatically change how we can provide education and link in to ideas of ‘ubiquitous’ education e.g. education that invades into students lives through use of technologies that they use much more often than say for example their email account. Examples would obviously be their mobile phones and there MSN messenger account. Their are already services that can send out rss feeds to mobile phones as messages in the USA so its not far away…anyway I digress….here are some delicious feeds as I am back to loggin these through my delicious account…..

    After the chat seminar I had my first meeting with my tutor about the direction of this Modules assignment. It would seem the idea of me focusing on particular CMC web tools that I use for communication would be an appropriate assignment and maybe not go past that very short 6000 word mark… The idea of sticking to one web-tool for communication might be a little too much for my taste – but I definitely could look at how a variety of different tools affects and fits different users. Literature …hmmm well obviously the digital native-digital immigrant articles would be part of the discussion and maybe their lack of accuracy with practical uses and students. It would also be possible to look at how using email and other CMC tools affects the relationship between me as teacher and students on GCSE courses and maybe whether this would not be possible in different situation and schools.

    I am though still inclined to the use of and setting up of school email for teachers and how that has worked or not worked as the case maybe. Which would very much look into the rationales behind why a school wants to sue technologies and then how this when implemented is reacted to by teachers due to certain reasons.