E-learning or using technology to support learning comes in many different shapes and sizes.
I’m always being asked to give advice and ideas on different online tools or iPad apps that can help with learning in the classroom. It’s always a challenge to balance the needs of the activity, with the skills of the learners and often too the greater challenge is to raise the confidence of the teachers.
I often hear from teachers about how they want to achieve more effective learning using technology, but often don’t have the software resources to achieve them, which is often due to finances. This article aims to give you my top free online tools to support learning in the classroom.
Photo credit: Danny Nicholson
Just as we’re getting our heads around ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) and their usage in schools and in the workplace, there’s a new trend on the block - now it’s about Bring Your Own Application (BYOA).
With the availability of thousands of ‘applications’ (apps) for free, or at exceptionally low cost, BYOA is gaining momentum and users are choosing apps which are easily accessible and best suited to their needs.
The likelihood is that individually preferred apps will drive the way forward as using your own device for education and work purposes has. Fundamentally, an increasingly mobile student cohort or workforce are able to connect to the school or business network from their own laptops, smartphones or tablets enabling them to study and work from remote locations.
Interested in finding out how easy it is to use your iPad as a digital whiteboard?
As our experience and confidence in using the iPad in the education sector expands, using your iPad as a digital whiteboard may seem obvious. But whether you’re a confident Apple educator or just getting started, you might be unsure about how best to go about it.
Perhaps you want to broadcast a tutorial or e-learning resource to your students or maybe create a collaborative task that can be viewed by the whole class. I’ve trawled the app store, and reviewed some of the most highly-rated whiteboard applications and recommended our favourites. I’ve also provided a short set-up and installation guide to help you connect your iPad and project or TV.
This article originally appeared in the September 2012 Innovate My School magazine.
The iPad is perhaps the most talked-about piece of technology in teaching. Enthralled by tales of educational potential and egged-on by technophile staff, head teachers might be forgiven for investing in the trendy tablets without fully considering how they should be used.
Google Earth is certainly good for familiarising children with foreign geography. Socrative provides a quick way to gauge a class’s progress. The Numbers app enables pupils to produce spreadsheets and graphs, and the Math Bingo game can help them learn arithmetic.
But these programs (or very similar ones) are available on any computer with internet access.
The point is that for many tasks - including essay writing and accessing information - iPads are probably no better than desktops or laptops. Lacking a keyboard, they may even be considered inferior for some purposes. And are the mathematical benefits of Math Bingo really best realised when every pupil in the class is playing the game on a separate device?
Many of my posts look at ways to use the iPads in Literacy and Numeracy to enhance learning and engage, motivate and inspire children. But how can using the iPad also help children in other subjects like Science, History or Geography?
Here are some ideas about how using the iPad can help students to show, share and develop their learning in these subjects, with a distinct focus on Science.
As part of the proposed new draft primary curriculum for ICT, there is a significant emphasis on computer science. Below I've included a selection of apps which can be used in both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. The apps included range from basic skills in coding a Beebot to more advanced skills in coding games and simulations in apps such as Hopscotch and Codea.
I've also included some other useful 'ICT' apps, which can be used to develop a pupil's typing skills and spreadsheet skills.
As the Government abandons its plans to replace GCSE’s with English Baccalaureate Certificates, it has unveiled proposals to strengthen the national curriculum in England. The consultation exercise includes plans for a new computing curriculum designed to equip students with the basic skills and drive higher expectations and standards. Under the new approach, schools will be encouraged to shape the curriculum to meet the aspirations and priorities of pupils. But it overlooks one thing: how do you cater for and engender creativity and flair?
It was Albert Einstein who famously said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” For many students, seeing the germ of an idea flourish and grow empowers them with a renewed confidence and teaches them so much more about themselves. As such, it is incumbent upon teachers to try and develop lesson plans that capture the passion and drive that resides in everyone and help draw it out. Nowhere is this more apparent than in app development work. There is something unique about app development that sparks the imagination and fires a student’s creativity and ingenuity. For teachers and education professionals alike, tailored lessons based on app development may provide the seed that engenders a spirit of discovery and engagement that ultimately can be built upon across the entire computing curriculum.
2012 has been an amazing year for my growth as a professional. The main catalyst of this growth was when I started engaging with like-minded educationalists around the world on Twitter in January of this year. In particular, I learnt about new methodologies like brain-based learning, flipping the classroom and a variety of technology-based teaching aids.
The area I explored most fervently was the bewildering array of educational software and apps for learning. In what follows, I would like to offer a round-up firstly of the apps I found particularly useful, as well as those which disappointed and annoyed me. I will finish by listing some of the most promising apps I would like to trial next year.
Photo credit: Sean MacEntee
1. Comic life - creating conversations as a comic.
I remember being taught French at high school, and the first thing everybody had to do was a simple conversation with a partner. This is my third year teaching Spanish to Year 6, and I have always started with that same topic. To freshen up this tried and tested formula, though, I have the children create comic strips of their conversation. Most children use pictures of themselves (using the iPad's camera) Whilst others will copy pictures from the internet, or even use images from their photo library of other family members, friends or even pets to create a 'Que tal' conversation.
The use of apps in the classroom is now commonplace. The challenge speech and language therapists face is knowing the best way to use apps in this environment. With the sheer magnitude of apps available, it can be difficult to sort through and find an app which targets specific communication goals. Many of the available educational apps can easily be incorporated into the therapy setting to collect data, record conversational samples, motivate students or be used as an augmentative assistive communication device.
Considerations as to whether the student can work using apps on their own, or need an assistant to monitor or provide prompts when using an app, need to be made. Some students will be able to work through an app if the app has a clear journey and the interface is intuitive. However, in most situations, the app would be better used with involvement from the speech therapist, who can not only monitor use, but also encourage and observe how the app is being used. Often, a student’s use of an app may provide interesting information about how they problem solve, their attention, and their memory of how to use the app.