Technology and innovation is at the heart of Sandymoor School, a Microsoft globally recognised Showcase School in Runcorn, Cheshire. As a teacher of Computing at Sandymoor, I have always been interested in how the use of technology can be embedded within teaching and learning to create a 21st century learning design.
A new resource to help students to learn the early stages of phonic spelling, the Spellzone Starter Course is an entry-level resource aimed at older students who are still struggling with basic spelling concepts, Primary pupils, and lower level users of English such as ESL and EAL students.
Visible learning is not just about John Hattie. This is not to take away from Professor Hattie’s research, merely to say that creating visibility around student learning can redefine a learner’s understanding of the world. When in classes facilitating, I often open with the question “Do you know how many people in the world have access to the internet?” to which there are a myriad of guesses from the students. Very few get anywhere near the 3.1 billion internet users suggested by websites such as Internetlivestats.
In 2014, we saw the development and growth in adoption of online learning methods in both business and education. While the UK has been more reticent in implementing online learning programmes than the US, with the lift on student cap, British universities and schools will look for ways to become more international without juggling student capacity in order to compete – and online learning could be the answer. Beyond simply making documents available across devices, online learning or e-learning can ensure education is never compromised and becomes accessible whenever and wherever the student may be.
Collaboration between schools has recently been said to be the key to raising standards, with experts sharing good practice whilst learning from one another. Throw in an international element with two schools collaborating across the globe and you’ve got some pretty excited students and staff! How often do students in the UK get to meet, chat and dance for students on the other side of the world and then have the technology available to immediately judge and give feedback on these performances? Well that’s exactly what happened at Woodham Academy in County Durham and Merton Intermediate School in Wisconsin, America earlier this year; sharing good practice and resources, and collaborating on creative and innovative projects.
Pupils at South Cave CE Primary School have been collaborating on descriptive writing activities with teacher Mr Tatton. The classroom has no wi-fi connectivity. Each pupil had an iPad mini and used the new Airdrop feature in iOS 7 to share work with each other and to send finished content to the teacher's iPad for display.
The teacher shared a Pages document with each pupil's iPad using Airdrop. The pupils were able to open the document and followed the prompt, which was to select an image and begin to imagine and describe what it might like to be there. The pupils then shared their work with an agreed partner who provided feedback and improvements before the work was presented to the class in the form of a Tellagami animation.
As someone who has traditionally used live and creative methods for teaching young people - such as theatre in education - I wondered if I should be the first in the queue to rail against the insidious rise of online learning.
How can online learning possibly replace an interactive learning experience between real people? Maybe to see technology as an enemy is to miss the point and misunderstand the potential uses of online. Actually, it should be a love affair. Live engagement brings all the benefits we are already aware of: flexibility, responsiveness, immediacy, and relationship building, kinaesthetic learning, the list goes on. But online learning brings much more too – sustainability, reach, economies of scale, connecting with the world beyond, and the ability to store, record, and measure.
So why should we consider these things polar opposites? What if they were perfect partners?