Have you noticed what's happening in your child's school? Technology. There's rarely a lesson taught, be it math or science or health, that doesn't include some form of technology to enhance its message, increase its reach, improve its communication. If you haven't been in the classroom lately, drop by this week when you pick up your wonderful student. There's likely to be a Smartboard (or some sort of interactive screen) on the wall, a pod of computers (if not 1:1 laptops) overflowing from a corner, maybe iPads on desktops or in a mobile cart, a digital camera and microphones to record events, streaming video from Discovery Channel. Those ubiquitous samples of student work that traditionally clutter the walls now include many created with computers.
Today's education happens by standing on the shoulders of technology innovation.
Earlier last month, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, marked the launch of the new iPad by declaring that we live in a ‘post-PC world’. Regardless of whether you agree with Cook’s statement, it would be difficult to deny that ICT in schools has moved far beyond desktop computers.
Tablet PCs, MP3 players and even handheld gaming devices are being used increasingly in UK schools to deliver learning in engaging, inspiring and flexible ways. Although using mobile devices in the classroom can benefit both pupils and teachers, just like traditional teaching methods, mobile learning needs to be properly planned and managed.
Here are my five tips for managing mobile learning in the post-PC world:
The use of mobile technologies in the classroom certainly divides opinion amongst teaching professionals. Having worked with schools across the UK, there are clearly two distinct camps when it comes to the use of consumer-technology in the classroom: those who use it and those who don’t.
For those who use technology, the benefits seem endless, but for those who don’t, the arguments they present are numerous too.
I am hoping to share insight from schools from across the UK, both private and state, in affluent and disadvantaged areas, where consumer-technology has found a valuable place within the classroom and the wider learning environment.
Recent statistics from a survey of secondary students in a Basingstoke school showed that a staggering 50% of their students owned an iPod Touch and 35% owned an iPod Nano. Whilst I recognise that these are not national statistics, they do reflect what we are finding from school to school.
We are continually seeing new trends in education technology. In 2011, we saw the prominence of social media, QR codes, and the use of iPads™ in the classroom. So when twelve months roll around and a fresh year begins, we can’t help but wonder what developments will arise in the near future. This is an important thing to ponder considering our desire to keep our classrooms competitive! With this said, we would like to reference five ways to have a digital classroom in 2012.
Bring your own device (BYOD): While this trend has been around for a short while, it will continue to gain popularity in 2012. Allowing students to bring their own device to school for learning opportunities is an effective and inexpensive way to incorporate digital elements into lesson plans. In particular, mobile learning will become increasingly abundant as more and more students will become connected through mobile phone usage. Some other BYOD include tablets, e-readers, laptops, and iPod touches™.
Privacy and security: With the ever-present use of social media in education these last couple years, much attention has been turned towards the issue of student privacy and security. Expect to see more awareness and ways to keep student secure online. In fact, use 2012 as another opportunity to teach about digital citizenship and cyber-bullying in the classroom!
Have you ever wondered what happens to the thousands of old computers that we get rid of everyday?
These days you can’t just throw IT equipment out and leave it for the dustmen. The WEEE Directive (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), which was made law in 2007, means all of us have to dispose of our old computers carefully and safely.
This is because all computers are full of toxic materials. Circuit boards contain heavy metals including mercury, while monitors contain up to 4kgs of hazardous lead. We can safely sit just inches from these hazardous chemicals when they are locked away in our computer, but if they are poorly disposed of they can harm the environment.
Currently there is a gap between what students at the secondary and post-secondary levels are learning about human rights violations, and what is being done to stop them. Many humanities’ classes and curricula have genocide and human rights as a unit, but assess their students using traditional assessments.
As I sit here in my office, the head of a large all boys comprehensive, it’s easy to look back at the days free from National Curriculum, massive testing, APP’s, league tables and Ofsted and think how stress free those days were and how free I was to prepare my lessons in any way I saw fit.
Oh yes, walking into school knowing that my imaginative English lessons could be a riot of inventiveness that delighted the students into obedience. And then I hit the text book, filled with pages and pages defining nouns, adjectives and adverbs in dull, black print. Chapters from stories that no-one had heard of and, least of all, of any interest to inner city, Liverpool boys who had never been fox-hunting or to Corfu. Worst of all, you moved from boring text book level one to rigor mortis text book level 5 with nothing else really available until……… along came the banda machine, a revolutionary device designed to liven up any lesson. And what was this technological breakthrough? Well, its main components were: a large drum with a handle; a compartment into which you poured ink; large sheets of paper covered with film which was attached to carbon paper. You filled the drum, attached your sheets of hand-written, innovative lesson planning to the drum, then turned the handle and, miraculously, you had thirty copied sheets of hand-written lesson which you handed out to the awe-struck students individually. There were, however, a couple of drawbacks: the ink, if still fresh, would smudge the sheets into illegibility and cover the students, and your, hands; the success of the sheet depended entirely on the legibility of your handwriting and, if you were very brave and typed your sheet, you could never be sure that the carbon sheet would align with the top sheet, so you had a hand-out that was at 45 degrees.
Next, we had the overhead projector. It was a frightening invention because you needed electricity to use it. You had to plug it in and the bulb lit. Then you placed further hand-written acetate sheets onto its surface and the writing or drawings were beamed onto a screen or wall to the delight of the students and you. But for some this was too much technology and far too risky. What was wrong with text books? Why was the purity of the profession being diluted by this new fangled device? Until one day the penny dropped, you could actually put what was in the text books on to the overhead projector. You could copy or type swathes of pages from the text books and beam them on to a screen or onto the banda sheets. Joy abounded.