Week 4: Moving on with the conundrum and using digital tools

This weeks session was all about digital resources and as teachers and learners both have access to SMART boards in a classroom (and at the request of participants the previous week) I thought it would be interesting to look at the way we perceive SMART Boards. Would we get better use from them if we called them 'Giant Classroom iPads' instead? I show cased some great web browser apps for the participants to investigate, that were transferable from the 'Giant Classroom iPad' to smaller mobile devices to get everyone involved. I also thought it important to look at the SAMR model of effective technology use in education. This week really was an 'eye opener' to current teacher and student classroom technology practice.

We started off with a “food for though” activity

The staff and trainees immediately began to reflect on their own practice and concluded that at present they spend a lot of time demonstrating and promoting the use of different digital resources when teaching and leading sessions, but afford little time in class to their learners using these digital resources. It is when the learners are “doing” and tutors are “embedding” that digital literacy skills of learners can be improved. I think it was quite an “enlightening” moment for many of the participants and a great start to this particular session.

  • This weeks lesson is all about the way we perceive SMART Boards. Would we get better use from them if we ca

This was not the only “enlightening” moment in this session, we also investigated the SAMR model

I already knew at this stage, that staff and trainee teachers would be at the bottom half of the model. The majority using technology as a direct tool substitute and few using it at Augmentation level with fewer actually including learners effectively at this point. But with this model in mind, I looked to shake up their classroom a little and investigate some digital tools and analyse them with regard to SAMR model.

So we investigated the SMART board again, looking back a previous practice a few weeks earlier, then some google chrome apps and curation sites to take digital tools to the next level and eventually I showed them some examplar Xerte content just so they had an awareness of it. It seemed to go OK and when comparing tools with the SAMR model they could see the potential of Xerte being a tool that could “redefine” practice and learning. Obviously, we need a few more sessions to get the staff and trainees exploring Xerte more but I see this as being a spiral curriculum and aim to scaffold their skills with Xerte as we go along. Today was just the first step.

Week 3: Getting Started with Digital Literacies

After the initial two weeks of working with college staff and my own trainees to build confidence in the project and a little bit of bribery (SMART training) I have started to look at the first digital literacy skill “Find, Evaluate and Apply Information” with some internet navigation fundamentals. We firstly looked at some basic search terms for Google Chrome and Windows Explorer, highlighted sites that curate sources and materials into topics and themes in addition to the usual HE data bases and journals. We discussed how their learners would initially find information them selves, the importance of evaluating and 'vetting' sources of information and this debate left us very little time to delve into the relms of skillful application of information into their own content.

Staff and trainees reflected on the benefits of developing this skills with their own learners and the difficulties faced when not making a conscious effort to alter their habits when using google as a first point of reference. My own personal reflections on this session are that it was quite interesting to see that the staff and trainee teachers within this session did not have the basic digital literacy skills of “find, evaluate and apply information” in some cases. Where some participants in the session did, they were not as effective as they could be. Which made me think 'how can staff and trainees develop their learners digital Literacies in class when they do not have the ability or confidence them selves?” Again I felt like this was a another “back step” in the project and something I will need to consider further.

With this in mind, I think there is potential to change the projects phase 1 strategy and scheme of work to build on staff and trainee skills before moving onto more complex skills and even using Xerte for that matter. I think that Xerte can be brought into the 14 week programme at week 10 and almost fast track participants and the project through at that stage. No doubt I will conclude on this concept as the weeks go by.

As this session concluded, we created something of a “take a-way menu” to try and put some of this learning into practice and this was the result…

  • Options
    • Create a 'Help Mat' resource on effective internet searches for students to use in class
    • Create a top ten list of 'Brilliant Teachers Websites' to share with your collegues
    • Find an 'Outstanding Lesson Resource' and share it with your collegues
    • Get your students to use an 'interactive resource' on the SMART board and record evidence of this
    • Evaluate your learning today and create three actions that you will complete to improve your skills

It was quite interesting to see that there is little activity on “evaluating” information but much focus on “finding” so this skill needs much more development. If staff and trainees are doing little of it them selves, how can we expect the learners to pick up good habits? Without physically going into their own lessons, how can I improve staff skills quickly so that they can work on digital Literacies skills with the variety of learners the college admits each term? I think I have my work cut out.