Noelene Callaghan           

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How do I use Infographics?

Posted on September 11, 2016 at 11:50 PM

Asking for new and innovative ways of receiving assessment tasks for students can be a little tricky and with 30 students submitting powerpoint presentations for every assignment, it is easy for students to use the same creative decisions that they continuously make when using animations and transitions. Using new tools such as infographics allows students to create data based posters that are both informative and creative.

 

What is an infographic?

An infographic is [a visual representation of information or data, e.g. as a chart or diagram]

 

How to use infographics in the classroom?

• Teachers to present information

• Students to collaborate and present information

• Students to complete as a task (non-assessable and assessable)

 

When students create infographics, they are using information, visual, and technology literacies. This page includes links to help you develop formative or summative assessments that have students creating infographics to showcase their mastery of knowledge.

 

Which one do I use?

There are so many infographic websites available, it purely comes down to personal choice. You may want to perhaps consider the templates that each of them provide and determine their relevance to the topic that you are learning in class to ensure that it is simple for your students to adapt into a masterpiece. As a teacher, I personally don’t spend too much on the background design but ask students to spend ample time in collecting their information whilst ensuring its accuracy. The design element should come naturally to them and not dominate the overall activity.

 

• Piktochart

• Venngage

• Vizualise.me

• Google Developers

• Easel.ly

• Infogr.am

• Visual.ly

• InFoto Free • Dipity

• Get About

• What About Me?

• Many Eyes

• iCharts

• StatSilk

• Photo Stats

 

 

Why use an infographic?

The goal of infographics is to help students distill the most important pieces of information from any given text and form a conclusion. A good graphic can fit these standards by reinforcing to students that their conclusions should be grounded in evidence and by challenging their ability to organize their information hierarchically. Infographics can also offer a rare chance for crossover between math and language arts, something that many teachers find difficult to do.

 

How to ensure validity and accuracy of information presented by students

It is important that students have the skills to validate the accuracy of the information that they are presenting on their infographic. This can be done by showing them good and poor samples of infographics and have the class to critique it together. These skills will enable them to critique their own and encourage them to check their own work. Teachers can also opt for students to work in groups and ask for each group to share the narratives and conclusions they drew from each other’s infographic. This way, they are able to support their conclusions with evidence. This can also prompt a classroom discussion on the differences and similarities between each group’s findings.

 

 

 

App Review - Classroom

Posted on September 11, 2016 at 11:50 PM

Finding an LMS that suits your class can be difficult and time consuming. Moreover it can be confusing to students if we switch from one to another mid-term. Google Classroom is a great online LMS that is suitable for all students of any age that allows them to access and submit their classwork. Available as an app on both android and iOS (for free) permits Google Classroom to be accessed anywhere at anytime. What makes this a great teaching and learning app is that it provides its users with notifications so that both teachers and students know of any announcements being made so everyone is kept in the loop all the time.

 

BYOD - after implementation

Posted on September 11, 2016 at 11:40 PM

What the concerns, the obstacles, the myths?

 

BYOD – Bring Your Own Device. A pedagogical practice that many schools have integrated. Albeit that many schools are at different stages of implementing this new technological program to support 21st century learning in their own schools, they have all overcome similar obstacles and experiences that schools whom are about to implement BYOD could learn from. Overall, BYOD in Australian high schools has been highly successful. Those schools whom have implemented it, are continuing their programs with few refinements. BYOD has proven to increase student learning by providing real-time access to information and the ability for students and teachers to collaborate and communicate with other.


From the Principals Desk

As a Principal of a rather large high school, there are a number of factors that must be considered. Implementing a BYOD program is not as simple as asking all students to purchase a computer to use in the classroom. A number of stakeholders must be consulted prior to the implementation and their input must be considered and used to formulate the correct BYOD program that will best accommodate the needs of our students and teachers. I place great faith in my staff and their level of expertise and in doing so, rely on them to inform me of the best practice and the best way to proceed with going forward with implementing BYOD.

In addition to working with my staff, I was also required to ensure accessibility to resources by all staff and students. Creating an equity program is pivotal to ensure that all students are able to partake in the program. My key role is to ensure that the program is coordinated and implemented efficiently and effectively and to assist the school community, namely parents and students to be accurately informed of the schools’ requirements when purchasing a new device that can be used.


From the ICT Integrators Desk

Whilst BYOD has been successful in our school which is measured by the overall number of students who has commissioned a device, a key obstacle that we are continuously trying to overcome is students purchasing a device that is not compatible with our technical specifications. Along with a Privacy Policy, a BYOD Policy, we also created a Technical Specification Sheet that all parents and students needed to abide by when purchasing a device. We have taken into consideration that families may already own a device so have incorporated measures to enable them to bring in these devices, however, we are still finding that parents are purchasing newer devices (primarily in tablet/iPad form) that will not connect to our schools wifi. Unfortunately, in these instances, parents are also claiming that sales staff at local stores are informing them that the chosen device does fit the technical specification which is incorrect.

Apart from this, the overall process of commissioning and using devices in the school has been seamless. Students rarely experience a technical problem when using their device at school.

From a Professional Development point of view, teachers have really embraced using BYOD in the classroom. They are seeking for assistance when needed and are taking more and more risks in the classroom. We are not finding any teachers reluctant to introduce and use technology in their classrooms which denotes that teaches recognize the importance of BYOD.


From the Teachers Desk

From a teaching perspective, BYOD has worked better in some classes than others. It can get frustrating when students either don’t have a commissioned device or have not brought their device to school. Although there are school policies in place to encourage students to be ready for learning with their device, as a teacher, I often have to prepare worksheets as an alternative for those students who don’t have their computers with them.

When all students do have their devices, the lessons work so well. I am able to do Project Based Learning with my students and they are so engaged. My students have been able to increase their skills and demonstrate their understanding of the content to a very high degree. BYOD has definitely changed the way that students learn and how I teach. It is definitely something that I have and will continue to embrace.


From the Students Desk

I am a year 8 student and so far I have mixed feelings about BYOD. This is because it is still pretty new in my school which means that some teachers use BYOD and others do not. What makes it difficult is that I still have to carry books in my bag as well as my computer which makes my bag quite heavy to carry (especially when I need to carry my PE uniform and schools).

I love it when we use BYOD in the classroom, because it’s a fun and an easy way to learn. We learn how to use new tools every day and all of my teachers show me something new which is great. I really like that I get to use my own computer and not a school computer because it makes it even easier to be consistent in my learning because I’m confident when using my computer and know how it works without asking for help. I think the best part about BYOD is that I can access my homework on the Internet so I don’t have to worry about writing my work down in my diary or in my books. Everything is online and if I need help from my teachers, I can just email them and they will usually reply to me pretty quickly.


From the Parents Desk

As a parent of four children, it is a concern when schools introduce BYOD programs namely because of the costs involved. However, our school has been very good in allowing us to purchase any type of computer provided that it meets a basic technical specifications guide. This allowed me to buy relatively cheap devices that would provide my children with the best learning experience that they could gain when using a computer at school. Although it feels like my children are always on the computer at home, I have noticed that they have changed the way they complete their work. They don’t just use Word, but a lot of tools that I have never heard of and when they show me what they have created, I am always impressed with their abilities. I cant believe how much that they can achieve academically by using their computer and can already see the benefits of them using it to learn.

Using Robotics in the Classroom

Posted on September 11, 2016 at 11:35 PM

The use of robotics is becoming a key resource that is being used in classrooms from K-12. No longer is this subject area limited to just Stage 4 students as the new curriculum allows its integration into numerous teaching and learning activities in all stages. Using robotics is more than simply just building a moving toy whilst having a lot of fun. Using robotics permits data computation which means that students can use coding techniques based on how they would like the robot to move. This develops student higher order thinking skills as well as their critical and creative thinking skills. But how does a teacher who has never used robotics before get started?

 

Why implement robotics into your teaching and learning program?

It may be necessary to convince your colleagues that a robotics kit is a necessary tool to use if you are in a school whom is yet to use them. The best feature about the latest robotics tools is that they can be used on any technological platform that you already use in your school. This meaning, if you are an iPad school or a PC or MAC school, the majority of robotics kits will be compatible and work with the technology that you already have.

 

More importantly, robotics supports 21st century learning as it promotes active, self-directed, goal orientated, authentic, interest driven and just-in-time learning. It supports collaborative learning spaces that are agile and student centered which encourages students to challenge one another as well as value independence.

 

Which robot should we use?

There are a plethora of robots on the market today. Ranging from the traditional NXT models to spheros to drones, there are many, many types of robots that you can select for students to use. In order to determine the best robot for your school/class, it is best to ascertain the learning outcomes that you wish to attain and then determine which robot is most appropriate. However, teachers must realize that these kits can be costly and it may not be financially feasible to invest in all types of robots. Some robotics kit for 30 students could cost from $1,000. So, it is important to remember that there are a range of kits available and the most advanced (and expensive) robotics kit doesn’t need to be purchased and will still work with your student.

 

What do I need to consider when buying a Robotics kit?

Conversations need to be had regarding the storage of the robotics kits. Where will they be kept when not in use, who will complete an inventory before and after its use and what will the school process be to check them in and out of a class? Although basic considerations, it is essential that this is worked out prior to its first use and some kits have very tiny pieces and without proper inventory control, you could be replacing robotics pieces very early into your investment.

 

Staff development is always a key consideration when introducing something new into a school. It is imperative that all staff feel safe and confident in using the new robotics kits and are given a platform to gather and share their ideas of how they will use the robots in their classrooms. It is also a great way to ensure that all staff understand the curriculum and remember how to make quality teaching links with lesson outcomes.

 

More importantly, remember to have fun. It is ok if your students know more than you and you are allowed to learn with your students. Document your fun and share with your colleagues.

 

 

 

App Review - Snapchat

Posted on September 11, 2016 at 11:35 PM

As ironic as it sounds, Snapchat is one of the fastest growing app being used by teenagers and it is for this reason that schools are jumping on board to use it as a means of communicating with their students. High schools in particular are using Snapchat to converse with their students in determining what activities their students would like to participate in as well as well as gaining more feedback about certain school events such as the Athletics Carnival, Harmony Day and even the school play. This free app which is available on both Android and iOS is a great way to capture stories about the school in real time which could be used as historical files in the future.

 

How do I introduce a Digital Curriculum to my students?

Posted on September 11, 2016 at 11:25 PM

With an emphasis on BYOD and meeting the ICT National Capabilities, may teachers are now dreading the mammoth task of digitalizing their resources and more critically, modifying the way in which they deliver content to maximize learning in their classroom.

 

This entire process is actually not difficult however it may add some time to your planning to get it right until you get into the groove. The first thing to do is start. By adding one technological tool into your lessons a day, you will soon build a library of technological tools that you can use on an ongoing basis. These tools that I am referring too are different than just ‘’teaching tools’’. It is not determining which tools you should use to deliver content. Teachers need to be introducing technological tools that can be used WITH their students collaboratively. That is, all students and the teacher on the one site at the one time.

 

Step 1. Keeping track of what you do

When I began incorporating these digital tools into my lessons, I began making a note in my day book. This was the best way for me to keep a record of all of the work that I had done. At the end of the year, when it was time to program, I simply referred to my daybook and added all of the tools that I used to the following years teaching program. Keeping your programs flexible and open to change, as we all know, is a key to success. Today, I produce stickers to teachers who stick these in their books. This is now a school-wide procedure that all teachers have fully embraced.

 

Step 2. Make mistakes and be ok with that!

Try, try, try. It is ok to make a mistake and admit to our students that something hasn’t worked. I have found that when I do this, my students will either tell me of a similar tool that I can use or our students will plan an alternative activity. This collaboration is just as important as the lesson that you were planning to deliver.

 

Step 3. Share the tools that you use with your colleagues.

Whether you are using Kahoot.it, padlet, Google Sites, Office 365, Slideshare, popplet or many, many more, it is important to share the tool with your colleagues. The more exposure a student has to a particular tool, the more developed their digital skills will be in accessing and using any technological tool.

 

 

 

_______________________________

Noelene Callaghan

Noelene is a teacher at Glenwood High School, the Honorary Treasurer of The Teachers Guild of NSW and a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator

 

FotoRus - Photo Editor Pro

Posted on May 8, 2016 at 6:25 AM

With more students getting online and using either an LMS or a cloud based website to complete their school work or home work, it is imperative that students have a selfie on their account that they are confident to showing their friends and classmates. A great activity for students is to take the selfie and then alter the photograph using an App such as FotoRus - Photo Editor Pro. This free app that can be downloaded on Android and iOS allows students to manipulate pictures without the complexities that Photoshop and other tools offer. This is an easy to use tool that can be applied to many types of images and not just the classical selfie.

 

 

 

How do I introduce a Digital Curriculum to my students?

Posted on May 8, 2016 at 6:20 AM

With an emphasis on BYOD and meeting the ICT National Capabilities, may teachers are now dreading the mammoth task of digitalizing their resources and more critically, modifying the way in which they deliver content to maximize learning in their classroom.

 

This entire process is actually not difficult however it may add some time to your planning to get it right until you get into the groove. The first thing to do is start. By adding one technological tool into your lessons a day, you will soon build a library of technological tools that you can use on an ongoing basis. These tools that I am referring too are different than just ‘’teaching tools’’. It is not determining which tools you should use to deliver content. Teachers need to be introducing technological tools that can be used WITH their students collaboratively. That is, all students and the teacher on the one site at the one time.

 

Step 1. Keeping track of what you do

When I began incorporating these digital tools into my lessons, I began making a note in my day book. This was the best way for me to keep a record of all of the work that I had done. At the end of the year, when it was time to program, I simply referred to my daybook and added all of the tools that I used to the following years teaching program. Keeping your programs flexible and open to change, as we all know, is a key to success. Today, I produce stickers to teachers who stick these in their books. This is now a school-wide procedure that all teachers have fully embraced.

 

Step 2. Make mistakes and be ok with that!

Try, try, try. It is ok to make a mistake and admit to our students that something hasn’t worked. I have found that when I do this, my students will either tell me of a similar tool that I can use or our students will plan an alternative activity. This collaboration is just as important as the lesson that you were planning to deliver.

 

Step 3. Share the tools that you use with your colleagues.

Whether you are using Kahoot.it, padlet, Google Sites, Office 365, Slideshare, popplet or many, many more, it is important to share the tool with your colleagues. The more exposure a student has to a particular tool, the more developed their digital skills will be in accessing and using any technological tool.

 

Exploring with VR

Posted on May 8, 2016 at 6:20 AM

Virtual Reality is quickly becoming a tool that individuals are enjoying for leisure use and businesses are using professionally (in-house and as a professional development tool). Within education, Virtual Reality is taking the classroom experience to a whole new level.

 

What is Virtual Reality (VR)?

The technical definition of VR is that it is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. On a computer, virtual reality is primarily experienced through two of the five senses: sight and sound. It is essentially experiencing a real-life experience through the use of a computer which makes you feel like you are actually standing in the room and actually seeing and touching the things that you see. Its almost like watching a 3D movie that projects objects at you.

 

How can Virtual Reality be used in the classroom?

I began using VR over a year ago when Google Cardboard came out. I didn’t purchase the kits, but found some great websites that should me how to make the Cardboard head piece which was both cost effective and easy to do. My students and I had a great time making them and then using them (http://www.noelenecallaghan.com/maker-spaces). More importantly, these could be modified to suit the size of each students’ mobile phone.

 

Today, as technologies advance, I purchased a rather inexpensive VR headset which led to the purchase of a class set for students to experience a number of learning opportunities.

 

My Stage 6 Multimedia (Industrial Arts) class use the VR headsets to learn about and develop their own animation and motion pictures. By using the headset, students are able to grasp a clearer idea of how to create their own work that would support cinema vision viewing. They are also able to develop their skills in creating action movements such as explosions and other special effects.

 

The VR headset is also being used in my Year 9 IST (Information Technology) class so that students attend virtual excursions. Coinciding with the topics learned in class, my students can visit any location in the world as though they are actually there. There are thousands of apps that can be downloaded onto iOS and Android phones that each have hundreds of locations that your students can visit. In this class, my students are spending some visiting locations where technology is prominent such as places that include roller coasters, high tech computers and much more.

 

In our French classes, students have visited the Eiffel tower. They have claimed that the experience was so life like, that they could see the view from the top of the tower and had the feeling of actually being there.

 

The benefits of using Virtual Reality in the classroom.

There is a lot of supporting data that states that Virtual Reality is of benefit in the classroom. Studies show that a virtual environment can “stimulate learning and comprehension, because it provides a tight coupling between symbolic and experiential information”. This is great way to increase knowledge and understanding.

 

Additionally the use of Virtual Reality experiences can be used to achieve the “feel” and “understanding of the qualitative dimensions of the phenomena they study, providing a foundation for students' conceptual and higher-order learning.

 

I personally have discovered that VR allows students to learn from a non-symbolic first-person experience. As they are able to ‘experience’ the excursion or activity as though they are actually there, students are capable of mastering the concepts that lie at the heart of ICT they that could not possibly learn in the classroom without such technology. It also encourages in this particular subject for students to think outside the square and consider how they too can create virtual reality experiences for their peers as part of their classwork or assessment tasks. This can be accomplished by students allowing extreme close-ups of their projects, for instance, a microscopic insect or technical component of a computer.

 

I have also found that virtual reality motivates students. The attitude of students towards virtual reality as a tool in the educational process, and towards virtual learning environments in these various KLA’s are extremely favourable. This is perhaps because it requires interaction and encourages active participation rather than passivity. This could be due to the fact that it permits students to work through an experience during a broad time period not fixed by a regular class schedule, at their own pace. In a collaborative space, virtual reality can assist with text access providing equal opportunity for communication with students in other cultures and allows the student to take on the role of a person in different culture.

 

Researchers who have used virtual reality in their own teaching experiences such as Mantovani (2001) discusses these potential benefits of the use of VR in education and training: visualization and reification, an alternate method for presentation of material; learning in contexts impossible or difficult to experience in real life; motivation enhancement; collaboration fostering; adaptability, offering the possibility for learning to be tailored to learner’s characteristics and needs; and evaluation and assessment, offering great potential as a tool for evaluation because of easy monitoring and recording of sessions in a virtual environment.

 

I used the Google Maps app when using the VR headset and found that students could go into more detail about the terrain and the locations that they were to research. Additionally, the maps that they were to recreate using Adobe Photoshop were a lot more comprehensive than those students that I taught in the past whom completed the same activity but used Google Earth as downloaded on a typical PC. The VR headset in this instance permitted my students to go inside the location, walk around, and become familiar with its parts. It also provided students with a different perspective on the interconnections between buildings, streets, and open areas.

 

VR can change the way a learner interacts with the subject matter. The participant who interacts with the virtual environment is encouraged to continue interacting by seeing the results immediately. VR provides an opportunity for the learner to make discoveries previously unknown. New perspectives are made possible by modeling the real world, and studying the model can provide insights never before realized.

 

Attaining classroom and course outcomes using Virtual Reality.

Not only does virtual reality allow the attainment of syllabus outcomes, but I have found that it also permits students to develop their literacy and numeracy skills as well as attain other cross-capabilities. This is because the type of instruction associated with using this technological tool develops the cognitive skills and attitudinal skills of students. This is perhaps due to the fact that the simulation that virtual reality provides are authentic and relevant scenarios, make use of pressure situation that tap users’ emotions and force them to act, they provide a sense of unrestricted options and they can be replayed.

 

It has also been found that virtual reality contexts contends that “students should know that simulations make it possible to explore new domains, make predictions, design experiments, and interpret results”.

 

My recommendation is that if you have access to a VR headset, whether it is a Google Cardboard or an authentic device, as an educator, you should try it. At least once. You will quickly realise the potential of this fantastic technology and be able to use it regularly to support the teaching and learning of your students regardless of their age, ability level or KLA.

 

 

Increasing the Literacy of Stage 6 Students

Posted on March 23, 2016 at 1:50 AM

As teachers, we all spend a great amount of time teaching and reiterating the key concepts of literacy to our students. Regardless of the subject matter that we teach or the age or learning ability of our students, learning literacy is critical to brain development and overall educational success.


 

I have seen many primary teachers spend countless hours teaching young children components of literacy, key terminology and encourage them to practice those techniques over and over again until they are mastered. Such learning is necessary in order for our students to progress through the school stages and to possess the skillset that is necessary to learn the content learned in other KLA’s such as Maths, Science and PDHPE.

 


When students arrive in High School they have been drilled with reading and comprehension skills and can more than likely define every key literacy term including what a pronoun is. Unfortunately, much of this is lost throughout high school as there is very little space in the teaching timetable for students to solely learn literacy as its own subject area. Many teachers in various KLA’s (and in particularly, English) spend considerable time discussing the necessary literacy skills that are needed to complete particular class work tasks and assessment tasks.

 


With a huge emphasis now on NAPLAN tests, teachers are also studying the story behind the schools results and are working tirelessly to create and implement strategies that will assist their students beyond the national test and better prepare them for the HSC and future education.

 


As a stage 6 teacher, I have spent countless hours and lessons observing my students, asking them to write task after task in order to determine what literacy skills they need to work on. Within a matter of weeks, it was quite observable of what I needed to do to push my students from a band 4 to a band 5 or 6. And all they needed was to was be guided in a few key areas. I chose to do with some scaffolds that they could modify to suit their own personal needs.

 


Step 1.

I recorded all of the areas that all students in my class required assistance with. Even if there is just one student who doesn’t proofread their work, I still included this in my resources as I believe that all students would benefit from the skill. I then used Microsoft Powerpoint to create my Literacy Cards.

 

 



Step 2.

This is a really easy step, but just so long to complete. I simply printed enough of each Literacy Card for my 30 students (I chose a different colour paper for each literacy concept), laminated them all and cut them up.



Step 3.

I bought shower curtain rings from Bunnings (a Hardware store) for about $2 for a package of 8 rings. I simply hole punched the cards and inserted the ring. Now the cards are ready to be used by students.



 

My students are very positive about the cards and now ask me to provide them with the cards when they are working on their writing tasks (in particular, their extended responses and their reports). I have observed that my students are more conscientious of their work and are more determined to improve in their own writing each time they complete a task.



 

 

Keeping Afresh with Tech

Posted on February 25, 2016 at 11:00 PM

Term 1, 2016 marks a new start for many teachers, including myself as I continue my teaching career at a new Western Sydney high school. Beginning or resuming teaching in a new school can be quite daunting particularly in the space of technology.

 

 

Investigate, plan and share to successfully teach with technology.

 

Many schools are implementing BYOD programs that require all or a huge group of students to use their own computing devices to complete their classwork, which then places a demand on teachers to also use a device as their teaching resource. Although this can seem very, very overwhelming, it really needn’t be. So what considerations do I need to think of?

 

Technology platform

 

The first thing I did this year was find out which technological platform the school already uses. This could be Google Classroom, Office 365, Edmodo, Moodle etc. By finding this out, you will be able to create and establish an online space that you and your students can go to at the beginning of every lesson whether you are present or absent (which is particularly great for primary school teachers who have an RFF allowance). I find that if used consistently, students will automatically log onto the technological learning platform at the start of every lesson with minimal teacher instruction. Once you have selected a technological learning platform, you can add your teaching and learning instructions and resources on it.

 

Digital curriculum

 

Now that a technology platform is in place, it is time to digitalise your curriculum. There are many online collaborative and independent activities that your students can complete online. By using the Capabilities Framework (via the BOSTES website), you will be able to map your course content to learning activities that are stage appropriate. By aiming to include one digital/online task a week, you will soon be developing an innovative and savvy curriculum.

 

 

Professional development showcase

 

Professional development is not just attending a course or listening to your principal talk in a meeting. Sharing resources and showcasing your work to your colleagues (primarily to those in your faculty or year group) is imperative for a technological platform and digital curriculum to be successful. Many teachers simply need to know that a particular digital tool does in fact work and by implementing it into the classroom, there will be minimal risk of failure (or wasting time). I showcase a lot of my work to my colleagues and also through my social media platforms because I truly believe in the motto of working smart not working hard and that all educators should work together to provide our students with the best learning experiences ever!

ABC iview. An App Review

Posted on February 25, 2016 at 10:55 PM

Teachers often want their students to complete a module of work independently and are then hit with obstacles when they would like their students to watch a clip on YouTube but it is blocked for students, so the class must watch the clip together (and usually, just the one time).


ABC iview have a great collection of videos/clips that are not blocked by the DoE which allows students to watch them independently and as many times as they need to, so that they obtain a full understanding of the content.


This free app is available via iTunes contains a huge collection of videos that are suitable for students of all ages and in all subject areas.

How to introduce Blended Learning into your classroom?

Posted on February 23, 2016 at 12:20 AM

There has been much debate lately of how much technology in the classroom is too much technology and at what point does it become unproductive. Unless students are only using technology and devices to play games, they will always learn something skillfully and/or cognitively.


As many schools move towards using Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) and putting an emphasis on using digital resources in the classroom, it is pivotal that Blended Learning pedagogies are used to maximise the learning of all students, and not those that are advantaged (technologically) outside of the classroom.


Blended learning is about effectively integrating ICTs into course design to enhance the teaching and learning experiences for students and teachers by enabling them to engage in ways that would not normally be available or effective in their usual environment. Using Blended Learning simply means that a range of resources are used to complete one task. The resources can range from laminated handouts, to using digital cameras to take photos of tasks to using the Internet to search for and create information.


Blended learning offers many advantages to schools. It can provide more flexible access to programs, increase the amount of in-class participation, enhance students’ sense of connectedness, and potentially be more financially efficient. However in order for blended learning to be successful, schools need to provide appropriate technical support, teaching assistance, professional development, and pre-equipped learning and teaching spaces. Additionally, adequate workload allowance needs to be provided to teachers teaching in blended synchronous mode to account for the extra time commitment it requires during preparation.

 

Who is Blended Learning suitable for?

Blended Learning pedagogies are suitable for all students in all year groups regardless of KLA. By using a Blended Learning approach, all students are advantaged of developing their cognitive and behavioural skills. In many cases the act of “blending” achieves better student experiences and outcomes, and more efficient teaching and course management practices. It can involve a mix of delivery modes, teaching approaches and learning styles. This is due its flexibility of attaining goals of any level of Bloom’s Taxonomy meaning that all students benefit.

 

An example of a task that used Blended Learning pedagogies required year 9 students to use traditional resources that support digitalised learning. Once students read newspaper articles, they completed their analysis on their e-portfolio. All images that were taken of their work (their pen and paper sketches) were also uploaded on to their e-portfolio. Students completed short quizzes to reinforce key terms and also used multiple online tools to maximise their learning. In this instance, students worked in many groups (that changed for each task). More information about this task can be accessed at https://sites.google.com/site/minecraftrhhs/minecraft-incursion

 

How do I design Blended Learning?

Designing for blended learning requires a systematic approach, starting with:

 

Planning for integrating blended learning into your course,

  • What so students do when they are learning well in this subject?
  • What do they need to support this learning?
  • What learning and teaching activities would best support the students’ learning?
  • How might the students demonstrate their learning and achievements?
  • Designing and developing the blended learning elements;

 

Why do I want to develop it

  •  What do I want students to do? Is it compulsory?
  • How will it help students’ learning?
  • Why would a student be bothered to engage in the blended learning elements?
  • How will I know/measure if students have achieved the desired outcomes?
  • Implementing the blended learning design;
  • Do you feel competent in using these tools and in guiding your students in how to use them?

 

Have you noted what some of the common problems or difficulties may be for students in using the tools you have chosen

  • Have you prepared (or have sourced) student help guides or training activities in the use of the blended learning tools/technologies you have chosen?
  • How can you manage student expectations about learning in the blended environment you have designed?

 

Reviewing (evaluating) the effectiveness of your blended learning design, and finally;

  • When should I evaluate?
  • What should I evaluate? (pedagogies, resources, delivery strategies)
  • How should I evaluate?

 

Planning for the next delivery of your course then involves improving the blended learning experience for both staff and students.

 

What are the challenges of Blended Learning?

Although there are a plethora of advantages of using Blended Learning, it is worth noting that some students feel that blended learning has a negative impact on their experience and learning. This is due to the on the teacher’s role in successfully creating these environments. Teachers who are unable to manage students completing different tasks simultaneously could please more effort in one particular component than another which will reduce the effect of the blended learning activity.


Students’ technical skills and familiarity with the communication platform are also issues that warrant consideration before attempting to teach using blended synchronous learning approaches. This requires teachers to spend significant time to explain and model how to use such tools.


However, as for any use of technology in education, it is important to not attribute the success of the learning experience to the technology itself. The teacher and the quality of their pedagogical practice is the main determinant of the student experience. To that extent, teacher practice, development and support should be the primary focus of any blended learning initiatives.


Starting all over again

Posted on January 31, 2016 at 6:20 PM

 

This year I have commenced working in a new school and as a result all of the technological platforms that i created and embedded and fully utilised with my students at my last school are left with that school (as they were created with a school account and cannot be transferred to another school) and thus i must start all over again.

 

I dont see this as a burden but as an opportunity to perfect my practices and pedagogies. As this school is still in the very early stages of introducing BYOD, I have the opportunity to use technology platforms that i have not been able to use to their full functionality previously. The key learning platform that i plan to use with all of my classes is Edmodo. I have chosen to use this for a number of reasons, but primarily because many teachers within this school use Edmodo and therefore simplifies the accessibility for students to use. Students will access all of their classwork, assessment tasks, and assessment notifications via Edmodo. Moreover, Edmodo permits teachers to create quizzes an polls which can act as a tool to determine the students knowledge before and after studying a topic of work or to prepare them fr formal examinations.

 

The best part of using Edmodo is that has collaborated with Office 365. This means that i can create online word documents, PowerPoints, excel spreadsheets and more than can be accessed via Edmodo by my students. It also means that they can collaborate and work on the same document in real time.

 

I am also combining Edmodo, Office 365 with Google Apps that i can access via the Departments intranet. At this stage i am simply using Google Sites which will contain additional resources that my students will need to access. This will ensure that they gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of all content and be able to extend themselves outside the classroom. Google Sites is a very powerful tool as it permits students to view YouTube vids, download files as well as follo links to specific information. The best feature of Google Sites is that it is flexible and.dynamic and I can continue to use this for as long as im teaching (so for at least the next 20 years).

 

So what about students who haven''t yet jumped on the BYOD bandwagon? Thats not a problem. These resources are available for them to access when they are at home. Students can still use their exercise books and pens during class time and view all of the electronic work via my computer which is projected. I have always been a huge fan of blended learning and will always to push this as a necessary teaching and learning tool.