Musings from the Middle Kingdom
A corona extends from the Sun, millions of kilometres from the source, to spread light. Kind of similar to a teacher teaching virtually, to students all over the world, as the case might be.
Three months down the road from when the novel coronavirus first emerged in China, one of the biggest impact on society, apart from public health, has been on education. The kickstarting of digital pedagogy on such a scale has never been possible before. All the tech gurus and specialists put together could not possibly had such an impact in a mere 8 weeks after schools started closing across the world. Let's start by giving credit where credit is due.
The Chinese Government’s decision to offer virtual classes on a national scale was the single most important decision that set the ball rolling. Previously, schools were often shut and terms extended or holidays reduced to make up the difference. By almost dictating that the school day run as normal, virtually, they single-handedly pushed a lot of schools into the digital age. By enforcing self isolation, they removed the option of choice and travel which meant most ended participating in virtual learning.
The second is school leadership. This crisis truly highlights the massive power which resides within our school leaders. When they are truly behind an initiative the results are always spectacular. Which also makes me wonder why some school leaders were hesitant in using virtual learning before the crisis. I can never understand why certain schools spend such huge amounts on tech infrastructure, training and still not have much to show for it. I chalk this one, in those schools, to personal disinterest in tech-based pedagogy. If you lead by example, others follow.
The third is the ed-tech world at large, coming together to offer free solutions and training has helped a lot of colleagues take their first step into true virtual learning. From Microsoft Teams to Google Hangouts to Century to Mangahigh to Byju, everyone is on board to support the learning. Of course, there is always an underlying business strategy but this makes me wonder, what if post this crisis, they continue to offer their services for free? How will that help the continuation of the progress made?
Fourth, the teachers, they have been on the frontline and a lot of them struggled, often silently. Of course, we forgot to add the virtual staff room or the proverbial water cooler. They upped their game and learnt some solid skills. On Twitter, the bizz has been super positive. They identified where tech worked for them and where it didn’t. They curated learning experiences which worked for their students and these will shape the conversation on the development of education technology for years to come.
Finally, the parents, the unsung heroes, who had to look after kids at home or make arrangements. They became students themselves at times. Ensuring a child is occupied full time is a job in its own right, ensuring their education and managing your day to day, is a challenge indeed. Getting to set up a positive learning environment at home can be a challenge especially if you have dogs, cats, siblings, the odd inappropriate picture/statue in the background which can easily disrupt a virtual lesson. Not easy being a virtual teacher's assistant. Kudos to you all.
So thanks to the above teaching and learning has progressed into the virtual world but what have we learnt so far over the last three months?
Well, where it worked really well, clear structures were formed using some of the following:
Where it didn’t work:
Key problems encountered
With any digital learning experience there are always aspects of e-safety to consider so make sure that you are:
Tips for parents
Research studies have shown that positive parent engagement contributes to a successful online learning experience for children so identify how you can support the online learning process.
Hopefully, some of the above will give you an insight into some of the initial learning from the global online learning experience so far and you might be able to plan effective digital experiences both as a teacher and as a parent.
Are you intelligently disobedient?
I have been thinking about the term more and more as I visit Nepali schools and also after reading a lot of tweets and blogs from my global PLN.
In schools, admins or leaders define the vision and policies of the school. This leads to conflict in the ranks. Obviously human nature is subversive to a degree and not everyone can be kept happy. There is a lot of backbiting and gossip however the majority of us end up towing the line. We keep our doubts to ourselves and don't try to challenge the status quo. Some do but they argue with passion, anger, heart and often due to ego.
A rare few challenge with facts. They observe, they collate evidence, they research, measure impact and then they challenge. They intelligently disobey and they often end up being the catalyst of greatness in their schools.
The term originated from the animal world - where animals like guide dogs can disobey the command of their owner in order to keep them safe. When translated into the human world it means challenging the status quo at times and often voicing opinions which might prove unpopular. Intelligently disobedient people can take risks, and can come up with creative solutions, all while keeping the needs of the learners in mind.
So if you have a no mobile policy at school or feel strongly about the negative impact of that new assessment policy on your students, be intelligently disobedient. Better yet teach your students how to do that.
Oh and there is a thin line between intelligently disobedient and intelligently obedient. If you do find that what you were against actually can work really well for learners, don't let ego get in the way. Support the change by sharing your evidence & convince others.
A staple of every school that I have taught in is the staff farewell session on the last day. This year was no different. As the speeches started rolling in, one thing emerged and that was a theme of kindness and acknowledgement. It was great to acknowledge our peers who helped us and learnt with us but the 'feel good' factor was how kind and generous everyone was.
It made me think about the role of kindness in the schools. Am I kind? What does that mean? How does that look in practice? Is kindness only talking to everyone gently? Is it just being concerned for someone when they are in your class or in front of you?
Can we tap into kindness to help our wards become better learners?
Establish a relationship through kindness
By showing them kindness during their times of distress especially when they have not got that concept for the umpteenth time whilst the class has moved on or when they have forgotten their homework or equipment or so on. Yes, there is a need to teach them discipline, but remember forgetting a few times in the bigger scheme of things is not important. Even when you have a persistent behavioural issue, often kindness in the face of adversity can help that child become more empathetic, even though they might not show that at the time. As Dr Stanley Greenspan suggests empathy comes often when children are empathised with.
Below are some direct benefits of being kind, children have (Sourced from the RAK Foundation)
What about staff?
Lest we forget, the other main body in schools, staff. It is equally important to be kind to them and often this is quite difficult. I'm sure there have been times when we all haven't been as kind as we could to a colleague. Some of you might think tough love can't be avoided at times. Maybe, but there are always better ways to deal with situations than criticism or just ignorance. Often forgiving someone's mistake is good leadership. They probably have punished themselves in their head countless times. We often don't compliment people enough as it is much easier to pick on things they do wrong. As I tell my team, you might do ninety nine things right but that one thing you do wrong often gets stuck in people's head - Don't let it get stuck in yours. Care about your own well-being too. Don't criticise yourself if you do things wrong. Remember, we all are not perfect.
Is there need for kindness or empathy training in schools?
Perhaps but there is great deal more to gain through role modelling kindness both to students and staff from the top down. Not only will this create a better work environment but it will make you personally feel better and that surely is not a bad thing.
Some practical suggestions (student level - staff I leave to you)
I am sure you all can think of countless others. Feel free to tweet them at me (@KSThakral) or mention them in the comment section below.
*Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-32.
“This can’t be right”
I once observed a student say this during a discussion about a guessing game we were creating based on numbers. She believed zero was both even and odd. When another student presented counter evidence, she considered the point. “I really didn’t think of it this way,” she said.
She was displaying intellectual humility.
As we educate young learners are we creating intellectuals who are always sure of themselves or are we integrating the concept of intellectual humility.
What do I mean by intellectual humility?
To me it means an ability to say no when you don’t know an answer however that is not the end of it. It is then finding out the answer and continuing the discourse. It also means to consider alternative viewpoints from the point of view that I might be wrong. One has to understand the limits of one’s knowledge unlike general humility which is often linked to traits like unselfishness, sincerity and honesty. If you are looking for a more intellectual definition see the end of this post.
If we can teach our learners to be constantly in a state of open mindedness, receptive to new ideas and new sources of evidence, we create better learners who can engage in a civil discourse much more effectively. "A person with a fixed mind-set and a high IQ, for example, might take on an arrogant stance, presuming they “already know everything” and therefore inadvertently holding themselves back from learning something new." Once this type of mindset is embedded, it is difficult to change over the course of a person’s life time.
"Without humility, you are unable to learn," says Laszlo Bock, Google's VP of hiring. "Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don't learn how to learn from that failure." This is one of the top qualities they look for in employees. There is an excellent example of Google CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrating intellectual humility in his original interview at Google. Read here.
If you would like to learn more about intellectual humility, please follow this online course from the university of Edinburgh
So how can we start training our students in intellectual humility? As the rule of three goes, below are three simple methods you could experiment with in your classroom:
1. Encourage discussions on a topic where everyone’s view point is acknowledged.
2. Ask students to elaborate with evidence and not opinion. Teach them that distinction.
3. Role model examples from the past where once you thought you were right and now have changed your mind. Get them to share theirs.
"(Leary et al., 2016) define intellectual humility as recognising that a particular personal belief may be fallible, accompanied by an appropriate attentiveness to limitations in the evidentiary basis of that belief and to one’s own limitation in obtaining and evaluating relevant information (p1)"
"Now watch this video by Kathryn Schulz where she reflects on the notion of “being wrong,” arguing that we often have “error blindness” and that we have created a culture with an aversion to being wrong. Schulz invites us to reverse this narrative and recognise the power that comes from learning from our prior mistakes and uncertainties."(OpenMindPlatform.com)
For further reading, see Schulz’s book, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.
Children love games, in fact, we all do so two years ago we started a project to look at how gamification principles like leaderboards, levels of challenge, rewards and competitions could support learning.
Being an inclusive school, we support a varying range of abilities and one of the major challenges most international schools face is a transient student population. Students join us with varying levels of interest and proficiency especially in Mathematics and English. Personalisation is core to the school’s vision and our gamification programme focussed on empowering learners to access our curriculum based on their pace. Another focus was enabling staff to use innovative methods of instruction to support student learning.
As part of a School Action Research Project, we investigated the impact gamification makes on attitudes, engagement and learning outcomes. We reviewed a number of platforms and mapped their impact on our processes from a pedagogical point of view. A direct result was the pilot of Mangahigh in Year 5. As part of our data analysis based on standardised assessment, we identified students who were at risk of becoming disaffected and decided to use this as an opportunity to engage them.
Mangahigh uses Artificial Intelligence to generate and mark assignments so it had the added benefit of reducing staff workload. Key staff like numeracy and assessment coordinators were trained via the support that was offered by Mangahigh. Between us we worked on a strategy and decided to focus on a year group which had the most number of underachieving students.
Staff development was critical so we conducted workshops and highlighted the benefits of using gamification and continued to support them throughout the pilot. Similarly, we ran workshops for parents showcasing how the pedagogy worked and discussed how to shift the focus to education based games instead of conventional games.
We wanted to start by setting a weekly homework or a class task initially. At this point, our strategy went out the window, as students went wild with it. In the first week, they logged more activities compared to the entire month before. We saw levels of engagement increase. Within the first month, data analysis showed that some of the identified students were catching up to age-appropriate levels. Teachers were supporting students with clarification of concepts and some students were racing ahead of the curriculum. Once the pilot was over we took stock and looked at positive outcomes and issues faced by teachers, parents and students. We devised solutions and extended the pilot with Year 5 teachers now training peers from other year groups.
The focus was on developing Mathematics proficiency through the use of gamification principles across the Primary School. The programme empowered teachers to develop innovative pedagogical practices that incorporated data-driven planning.
Students take CEM tests in September and these are used to measure annual progression. Analysing data showcased higher than average gains for age-related Mathematics progression after the project was introduced. Even taking into account the highest ever annual gains historically, the year on year progression was almost half a years worth per child!
Measuring progression of disengaged students showcased huge jumps. Boy A who was -0.4 and -0.5 in his two previous CEM tests jumped to +0.98 in one year. Similarly, Girl A who was -1.5 years behind her age reduced the gap to -0.07 within one year. These success stories can be attributed to greater use of data generated via Mangahigh, which enabled our teachers to support students by reducing the burden of assessment and assignment setting and focussing on informed lesson planning and targeted interventions.
The end result was that over the course of the programme, our students won the FOBISIA Mathematics challenge (twice) and 17 gold medals as part of the annual Mangahigh challenge. More importantly, though, there were some amazing individual success stories that inspired the whole school community.
Our initial work on this project was also published by Mangahigh to inspire others on how to embed gamification successfully in schools and now it has been recognised as an example of outstanding use of Digital Technology for Learning at the education Oscars, the International School Awards 2019.
To us though the main success has been that our students have fallen in love with Mathematics again and this continues even when they don’t have Mangahigh in front of them.
This past week has highlighted that if you give staff and students the freedom to creatively explore a subject, the outcomes are phenomenal. The energy levels that they showed truly amazed me and trust me they tend to be pretty high in our normal lessons.
Now, I can spew how we used gamification techniques, planning rubrics, targeted activities, differentiated challenges and so on but none of that matters compared to what our students brought to the table.
Creativity, Imagination & Energy.
There was a sense of community, there were tears, there was grit, there was resilience, there was passion, there was risk taking, there was learning, there was collaboration, reflection and action and let’s just stop writing all the learner profile buzz words as well.
I can tell you about the teacher that came in, looked at the energy in the room, got shocked and walked out. “Oh My! This is Computer Science Week!” Or I can tell you about the group of parents that came in on a visit and ended up in the Innovation Lounge when activities were on full swing. What a way to sell your school especially when their children say out loud “I want to go to this school”.
I wish I could bottle the energy up and share it with you all. If you are interested in finding up what we got up to, please go through this Twitter collection or the YouTube vid at the end.
Computer Science Week 2018 highlights
In the end, students loved the experiences we setup for them, they engaged with the subject and brought something new to the table for each activity they took part in.
So as I sit here reflecting on the week and the lessons learnt, which student showcased what potential or how a particular child that we normally find difficult to engage with in lessons was observed leading from the front, one thing is clear, we have got to ignite that passion in our lessons as well. My teachers were on point this week and they skipped lunches, they stayed back, each day their energy quotient went up to match the students and the students responded in kind. A feedback loop of sorts and it was amazing to be part of it.
But is it sustainable every day?
So how do we go on from here, the challenge for every educator who sets up something like our Computer Science week is, what about the lessons after the event and also what about the other teachers and I do apologise to the colleagues who had to bear the lessons after us. Trust me, I have been at the receiving end of that in the past as well.
The answer to it, yes. That passion I saw in colleagues was always there and just like the kids they need a planned approach to bring it out. If you think of each lesson as a mini event and build on the principles we used in the week, there is no way lessons will not be as engaging.
The reason for designing such events is not just for the students but for teachers as well. In my view, it is one of the most effective form of teacher development, learning through action. No amount of lectures or courses one attends can ever hope to match the hands on learning that my colleagues went through this week.
Try to remember your favourite teacher, the one who got you excited about a subject and inspired you to want to do well. A great teacher has the ability to make not only the topic interesting, but also the process of learning, opening up students’ eyes and hearts so that they have the acquisition, critical thinking and self-reflection skills needed to make the most of the opportunities that are offered to them.
By training and allowing teachers the freedom to focus on the process of engaging students and inspiring their interest in learning, instead of being forced to focus on the outcomes and results of assessments, we ensure engaged students, who take ownership of their learning and develop a life long passion for the subject.
The question I will leave you to ponder with is, how do you go beyond the basics to ignite a passion, curiosity and fascination in your learners?
Books hold tremendous power over our psyche.
Nothing compares to a good book in firing up the human imagination. They help us unite in a way like no other. Stories have true power to bring about change and open us up to ideas and new thinking, thinking which we would never agree upon if someone spoke to us about it.
One of the sessions over this term whilst using the Book Creator app with primary students, resulted in some great stories and fun learning. It was a pleasure revisiting some of my childhood classics like Enid Blyton, Dickens and discovering new ones like My Family and Other Animals. How I missed that one is a travesty but I guess better late than never.
I also noticed that as we grow older, we don't share as much about the books we read. It starts becoming more of a personal thing.I witnessed this when our Primary children were so enthusiastic in talking about the books they read and sharing why and what they liked. In Secondary it is often more guarded, perhaps a more reflective view that isn't shared as often. At IB level, it is like getting blood out of stone. Even teachers fell foul to this. I wonder if the fear of being judged plays a part in it or conforming (or not as the case might be) to a particular stereotype or agenda or we simply just become selfish.
It would be interesting to find out how reading for pleasure changes as children get older. From being almost a daily thing when you are young (at least in school) to being selective as you grow. Perhaps other commitments to your time take precedent or the enforcement of certain texts as part of academic studies plays a part. It makes some of us switch off and move on to other mediums like music, films, games and so on and that I guess is the true travesty.
I think back to a visit from JK Rowling at a previous school. Inspirational does not even begin to describe it. It was a life-changing event for some of the children. There were tears, excitement, enthusiasm by the bucket load. Even those who haven't read Harry Potter (well the series has only sold 500 million so bound to have a few billion who haven't read it) were inspired as I found out when I talked to teachers and students around the school.
Why was it so good? Despite her being such a lovely lady, it was her persona, how she praised everyone who asked a question, to how articulate she was with her answers. How her passion for reading and writing stood out and how she connected with the children. How the human element shone so brightly. Her politeness, calmness and that fire when Potter lore was discussed with some true fans in her interactions. That is what perhaps translates in her stories, that ability to connect, which has made her such a success. So how does all this help teaching?
Well, I think you picked up all the traits implied and if we as teachers can tap into those then our learners are truly going to foster a love of learning right on par with the love of books.
That one child...you know the one I mean.
The one who looks lost in your lessons. The one who does not connect with the learning. The one who ends up not getting you that perfect pass rate. The one that you talk about in the staff room. The one whose parents aren't as supportive as you'd like or who is just lazy or has behaviour issues or any one of a 1000 other reasons for not doing well.
That one child is always of interest to me in my lessons. I am always curious about what makes them tick. Why is it that everything I do works for others but not them?
I delve into data, but that often doesn't help at all. I delve into the myriad of experiences offered by my colleagues on dealing with them. I work with parents, experts, differentiate, you name it and I do have success from time to time but not all the time.
So how do I deal with that one child (or more as the case may be)?
I build relationships.
Instead of differentiating more, I try to find their interests. I let them work at their own pace. I use praise a lot and I rarely criticise. I try rewards, cajole them, probably not the most politically correct term to use, groom them for learning.
In one case, I had to learn about basketball just in order to strike a conversation about the sport and in another read up on One Direction. I made a point to walk about at lunchtimes when that child was playing basketball and strike conversations or use 1D references in lessons. I take an interest in them as an individual, I start valuing their opinion. I don't try to force it and try to let it happen organically. I once had to wait more than three quarters of a year to get through to a student. A lot of learning time had been lost but the gains made in the remainder of the course helped them achieve more than what they did in their other subjects by the time I finished with them.
The end result is, that one child will work their socks off for you if they connect with you and chances are remember you and what they learnt from you for the rest of their life.
“There comes a day when you realise turning the page is the best feeling in the world, because you realise there's so much more to the book than the page you were stuck on.”
Zayn (formerly from 1D)
“Schools that provide a laptop to each student as part of a comprehensive program are likely to see measurable benefits.” (Zheng, 2016)
A meta analysis of 15 years worth of 1:1 research studies in 2016 by Professor Zheng of Michigan State University and Professor Warschauer of the University of California found that 1:1 laptop initiatives boost study scores. This meta analysis summarises the overall outcome of both positive and negative 1:1 studies over the past 15 years. The researchers found that 1:1 program, “on average, had a statistically significant positive impact on student test scores in English/language arts, writing, math, and science”.
In addition to improved scores on standardised tests, the benefits of successful laptop programs include an improved writing process. “Students received more feedback on their writing, edited and revised their papers more often, drew on a wider range of resources to write and published or shared their work with others more often,”http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2016/does-learning-improve-when-every-student-gets-a-laptop/
The IB organisation discusses and supports the pedagogy of using technology “which should be accessible to all learners” and how it prepares students for IB in quite depth and concludes that it is the mindsets of the school community that make the impact of technology transformative and to enable this change 1:1 device access is the way to go.
Case studies of 1:1 success stories in International schools - These highlight how a multitude of schools around the world have seen a positive impact of 1:1 on learning.
Bishops Diocesan College shares that laptops have created extra motivation in boys. They were willing to put in far longer hours getting something right than had ever been the case before. It was not surprising to find children using their devices to actually catch up on work whilst waiting to be picked up and even, surprisingly, deleting games from their devices to make space for school work.
The CCL project study by the University of Wolverhampton and others, based on observation of 1:1 implementation in 9 countries across Europe recommends that
"When I learnt with a book – the book is full of facts. I wrote what was written in the book and answered according to what the teacher said. Now that I have my laptop I discover all kinds of reports and scientific investigations – which might be different from what is written in the book. It is much more interesting and more up-to-date!"
Learning with Personal Laptops in School: Benefits & Gains, Obstacles & Constraints suggests that having one-to-one computers can significantly help increase student technology proficiency, because of the increased opportunities of acquiring technology knowledge and skills while using the laptops for various tasks involving learning, communication, expression, and exploration. Their findings suggest that one-to-one computers and related technologies have enriched students’ learning experiences, expanded their horizons, and opened up more opportunities and possibilities.
Technology is an enabler to equip the students to think smarter and become more creative."
"The Malaysian ministry of education introduced a smart school policy as part of a range of policies aimed at developing a more knowledge–based economy. While smart schools embraced digital technology, the more fundamental change related to the curriculum. Teaching became less driven by textbooks; learning became more structured around personal inquiry; and assessment occurred more frequently but was managed by learners themselves. The success of the initiative has depended on establishing a communications network within and between schools. emphasis has been placed on adopting learning management systems, access to internet sources, and extensive use of personal devices. The initiative has successfully taken the school system to a state of digital maturity. it illustrates how technology can be a catalyst for curricular innovation: achieving radical change in teaching and learning."
(Ghavifekr, s., hussin, s. and ghani, m.f.a. (2011) The process of malaysian smart school policy cycle: a qualitative analysis. ‘Journal of research and reactions in education.’ 5(2), 83-104)
It puts the means for "coming to know" in the palm of each child's hand, making classrooms student-centric instead of teacher-centric. Education will them move from "I tell" to "We find." - Cathleen Norris and Elliot Soloway From Banning to BYOD
Students learn how to use their device for learning. As students discover how to learn with their devices, they are able to extend their learning beyond the school day and often choose to continue participating in online discussions and collaborative activities for academic purposes" - Lisa Nielson in The Journal 7 Myths about BYOD Debunked
A study of 595 learners who used a course management system as part of a blended learning approach found that the system encouraged deeper learning and enhanced understanding by promoting constructive dialogue between learners and enabling interactive learning. Blended learning is the model we are focussing in our tech based pedagogy where technology and face to face instruction are used in tandem to get the best academic results.. (Kember et al. 2010)
Internal data analysis
Internal data analysis is also crucial as it establishes impact of change in your context. Analysis of our IB results sets over the last 10 years suggest that before BYOD our average point score per student per subject was 5.01 and post BYOD it has been constantly improving to 5.6 per student per subject denoting an improvement of more than half a grade level. Use of 1:1 at IB has definitely contributed to this and changed the way we teach and the way students learn. From use of Kognity and digital textbooks to becoming organised through the use of Managebac for CAS and Extended Essay to increased teacher student communication and peer to peer collaboration, we are using technology to teach and learn in ways that we would not have imagined a few short years ago. Even if one was to argue that teaching might have improved this fact is certain that technology has not had a negative impact.
Of course there are issues and concerns highlighted in research as well.
One concern from parents and students is that the added weight of the laptops is too heavy in their school bags (Grimes and Warschauer, 2008) but this could be addressed, as the authors suggest, through the use of a hybrids, netbooks or tablet which are lighter than traditional laptops.
Parents are generally concerned that the school might better use money in other areas like books, worried about loss of writing skills and expressed concern about the amount of time spent on the laptops (Lei and Zhao, 2008). The mixed feelings expressed by often supportive parents according to the authors stems from the realisation that “students were going to be living in a digital era where paper and pencil might not be as important as in the past; but they still wished students would have good penmanship and appreciate the value of books.”
BYOD generally frees up school resources to be devoted to other areas and the issue about the loss of writing skills and excess screen time stems from ineffective professional development of staff. Greater use of whole school PD provision and the intensive focus on the best pedagogical techniques by curriculum leaders and leadership teams actually provides an effective system of check and balances against overuse of technology. Coupled this with profile management enabling us to limit screen hours, digital citizenship and parental workshops will help ensure that the above concerns are avoided.
Discipline - Misuse of devices is covered under school discipline policies and the same rules will continue to apply as they have with school devices. Concerns related to students creating hotspots and dongles or using Virtual Private Networks which they can also do with school devices are normally covered under the same policy. Since we are here to educate children, digital citizenship courses can help them in becoming responsible digital learners.
Security/Theft - Schools can cover theft and accidental damage under a blanket insurance policy and also using tech like RFID tags ensure devices are linked to pupils. Profiles can also be installed on devices which can also protect children when they are at home.
Esafety - Schools have strong firewalls firewall ensuring they get the same protection as school devices. In tandem with our digital citizenship curriculum this will empower students to be safe whilst using their devices.
A study of laptop users in university classrooms found that students who multitasked on a laptop during a lecture performed worse on a test than students who were not multitasking. Researchers suggested that embedding “a few rules of technology etiquette that are enforced in the classroom throughout the semester” could help (Sana, F., Weston, T., & Cepeda, N. J. (2013). Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers. Computers and Education, 62, 24–31.)
The most concerns regarding one-to-one programs come from teachers. Where 1:1 programs have not had great impact, there has been little planning, ineffective supervision of device use and a substitution model of teaching using technology. Many of these concerns surrounded how the laptops impacted teachers personally. Many teachers lacked self confidence and were concerned about how they would adapt lesson plans to include technology (Donovan et al., 2007). Teachers also expressed concerns over the amount of time it takes to monitor student activities on the laptops during class time (Grimes and Warschauer, 2008; Lei and Zhao, 2008). Other disadvantages include uncharged laptops impeding work completion, network connection and technological difficulties, ease of plagiarism and the time lost due to training students in the use of the laptops.
In schools where technology is not making a significant impact, researchers have identified numerous culprits, including teachers' beliefs about what constitutes effective instruction, their lack of technology expertise, erratic training and support from administrators, and govt and local policies that offer teachers neither the time nor the incentive to explore and experiment. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/06/11/why-ed-tech-is-not-transforming-how.html
Deep rooted tech PD provision and the implementation of tech integrators along with digital citizenship courses help us avoid these pitfalls.
When you consider that majority of students at nursery have used a tablet, smartphone or an equivalent computing device before they have learnt how to handle a pencil, it is a given that as these students move through school, they'll have some type of device in hand. What's more, students will want to use something that they're familiar with, that they own, and that they won't have to change once they leave school.
Summarising the pedagogical reasons for 1:1 for us.
Anytime/Anywhere learning – 1:1 makes learning a part of students’ lives. It bridges the gap between at home and in school learning. With the increase use of Firefly, teachers can set tasks which extend learning beyond the class and send reminders or syllabi. Students can discuss homework or ask for study support using the same device.
1:1 makes differentiation easier – Teachers can use media to meet different learning needs. From auto translating to creating multiple pathways along with a huge wealth of resources available online.
Embracing tools makes education interactive – From using polls to check student understanding to the use of supplemental learning resources like digital books (imagine using an interactive 3D animation of how the heart works rather than a picture) and interactive tests that monitor progress and provide immediate feedback, having a device on hand allows in class learning to be supported innovatively.
1:1 embeds digital etiquette – Increasingly people fear devices for the potential of distractions and safety but instead 1:1 allows new learning opportunities. Teachers can teach responsible technology etiquette which is an increasingly needed skill in the workplace.
Saves learning time – Makes collaboration easier and research can be done faster. More diverse sources can be used instead of a few outdated textbooks.
Teachers in full control - Technology doesn't need to be involved if a teacher is already flourishing without any device in the classroom. Our teachers are aware that technology is a tool and should only be used when necessary. We are aware of how easy technology can distract and our school protection measures will apply to any student device offering the same protection levels as in-school devices.
We are responsible to preparing out students for the modern workplace. Teaching students how to correctly use devices for learning is necessary. There is often a duality of tech use, school devices for work and home devices for mostly entertainment. Simply assuming that they will know how to effectively use technology for learning is a great fallacy.
A recent talk given by the Dean of Warwick University highlighted the importance of technology in higher education and the workplace. The time is ripe for us to move away from the ICT for teaching to the ICT for learning and the consensus is that 1:1 is indeed the right direction to move onto in the current context.
Sources used in research:
"Information and communication technology (ICT) has revolutionised virtually every aspect of our life and work. Students unable to navigate through a complex digital landscape will no longer be able to participate fully in the economic, social and cultural life around them." OECD 2015 Report
TechConX is an annual technology conference organised by the Canadian International School in Bangalore. This year it ran over two days - 22 and 23 of Feb.
Day 1 of the conference was spent visiting classrooms from IB languages to IGCSE and Y9 Maths to Science and English to elementary classrooms. We visited a huge number of classes and first hand saw how non-specialist teachers were using technology.
Day 2 was full of tech sessions involving both local and international presenters covering a wide variety of technologies. It was an amazing experience and a great opportunity to learn from some expert educators.
I have storify'ed the conference to give colleagues an experience of the visit and highlight the core technologies seen with relevant links and finally a link to my presentation.
"We have not yet become good enough at the kind of pedagogies that make the most of technology; that adding 21st-century technologies to 20th-century teaching practices will just dilute the effectiveness of teaching." OECD 2015 Report
iTunes U: A great tool to use with Apple Devices allowing teachers to easily construct courses which can be shared with students. Allows integration of digital versions of text books and rich multimedia. View: It will conflict with Firefly as we already have a platform that supports this.
iBooks: The future, interactive textbooks with search and rich and interactive media to illustrate key concepts. Side benefits - Eco, share books on multiple devices, reduce the weight of the student bag. The list goes on and on. View: Ebooks are coming. There is NO escaping this one.
Mathspace: Amazing app. Allows students to write on a screen and checks their steps providing immediate feedback. Like having a tutor that checks each question as you do it. View: One to really look into for the Maths Department.
Kahoot and Socrative Create or used collaborative fun learning games easily on any topic. View: useful for checking student learning at a key point in the lesson. Useful for all subjects
3D Pens: Allows creating of physical art or products very easily. View: Useful to enable creativity in all subjects but predominantly is going to be useful for Art, DT and ICT
ManageBac: Blown away by how IB students use ManageBac to organise themselves from CAS projects to IAs to EE's it covers it all and that is just the start. View: One to definitely invest in.
Callido: Impressed by how effective this had been for teaching children TOK and critical thinking and research skills. Used to quickly support students coming in from other school backgrounds in IB and IGCSE who struggle with IA's, EE's and the like. View: Another one that needs to be seriously looked at.
Augmented Reality: Various apps (Flash card) - Augmented Reality is a way of using a picture to generate a video, slideshow or computer generated graphic. This allows children to view e.g. moving animals inside the classroom without any of the risk. A picture of a pyramid could trigger a video walkthrough of the pyramids. View: Definitely is going to be a game changer as the tech develops but not quite there yet from the ease of use perspective.
Google Expeditions: Teachers can run expeditions from across the world in class using Mobile devices and VR! View: One for the future, Innovation Lounge perhaps needs to experiment with this.
Google Earth / Google Maps Think of Google Earth as an interactive globe and Google Maps as an interactive map which could be manipulated to take you anywhere. Paired with Google Streeview and wikipedia links, you can explore any part of the planet. View: Are we still using globes? Why? Ask your self when was the last time you used a physical map.
Post it plus: Use this app to digitise post it notes and then share them with the class. Brilliant. View: Why aren't you using this one already?
Breakout Edu: Players work collaboratively to solve a series of critical thinking puzzles in order to open a locked box. View: Can be implemented in any subject - uses hands-on colalborative problem solving and really taxes those brain cells. Higher order thinking skills are fully utilised.
There were a number of other tools like Garageband, Google Sites for e-portfolios and various Computing and other apps like Stop motion.
The Screen-time Myth presentation: This session was led by me to highlight the danger of both misinformation on the use of technology by sharing current research and at the same time highlighting what type of screen time is bad.
"Technology can amplify great teaching but great technology cannot replace poor teaching." OECD 2015 Report
I am Sunny Thakral. If you are here on the site then you know a bit about me. If not then I am a teacher and these are my musings.