Great to be invited to “top and tail” the day at the British School in the Netherlands, Voorschoten, near The Hague, for their second annual all staff conference. The BSN Staff ICT Conference is a one-day event to which all BSN Staff (teaching and non- teaching) are invited. Part of the focus this year is about the creative use of ICT to enhance learning.
Martin Coles – Principal, at BSN, introduced the day with these thoughts:
It is now commonplace to say that the world is changing fast and the pace of that change is accelerating. To achieve some perspective on the pace of change it is interesting to explore a few facts that illustrate those areas impacting on the learning world of our young people. For instance, do you recognise this figure: 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,00 0,000,000,000. That figure is the number of new Internet addresses that will be made available over the next year. All 4 billion addresses currently available have been used up. 90 billion emails are dispatched each day, a five-fold increase on 2003. Information on the web doubles every 90 days.
The web gains 75 million first time users every year. 150 medical research papers are published on the web each day. Google processes over 1 billion web searches each day. The number of text messages sent each day overtook the number of people on the planet back in 2007. Our students can access more information in a week than their grandparents might access in a lifetime.
Clearly we do not want our students to leave us beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists. But today’s students are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach. We need to engage, motivate and prepare our students for a new world. For most of our students information technology is no more intimidating than the TV or toaster is for us. Of course if you are intimidated by a toaster then there is no hope for you! A Hebrew proverb makes this point in another way: “Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they have been born in another time.”
We need then to keep under examination the culture, attitudes and methodology of learning in our school – to remain receptive, open minded and critically aware of developments in our understanding of how the world impacts on what we should be doing. This is what this conference is about – not hardware, not the wires of information technology, but what comes down the wires and the way we use technology to improve teaching and learning in the school, and also the efficiency of our organisation.
In May last year Steve Jobs and Bill Gates met for the last time before Jobs’ death at 56. Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson tells of how they reminisced and amongst their topics of conversation was education. They had both at times dreamed of transforming schools through the power of computing but admitted that they had failed to do so and that technology had so far had much less impact in education than it has in other realms of society such as medicine, business and the media.
There remains a certain scepticism about the use of technology in schools. That’s actually quite healthy. The idea that an app on an iPad can teach our students maths better than a teacher can is ridiculous. As is the idea that a small child can learn all they need by sitting in front of a screen rather than being out exploring the real world. The technology is an aid to teachers teaching and administrators administrating and not a replacement for human intelligence and interaction. It’s what you do with IT that it important, not the IT software or devices in themselves. Perhaps the state of play with computers in education is explained by the market research company Gartner. It has tracked the use of technology in various contexts through a cycle – a cycle which follows pilgrim’s progress through the ‘technology trigger’ stage, to a peak of inflated expectations, through a trough of disillusionment, onto a slope of enlightenment and then the plateau of productivity. I hope that this conference will take us some way along that journey at least, and perhaps onto a slope of enlightenment.
In our two keynotes our focus was on how technology can be used to enhance creativity and learning, how ICT is about communication more than technology and that, ultimately, it should be FUN! We presented some accessible tools and ideas for raising the levels of creativity, writing, speaking and listening among children of all ages. We looked at the powerful effect of using games, Web 2.0 tools, software, handheld devices and more and explored a way of teaching that focuses on quality learning, rather than the latest gadget. While pressures on educators can push enjoyment, inspiration, creativity and fun out of the classroom, teachers recognise the need to inspire young people and fire their imaginations, enhance their creativity and confidence, encourage resourcefulness through challenge and motivate a love of learning for life.
There was a great range of workshops as well today. Two good friends, Dughall McCormick and Julian Coultas, came with us out to Holland
Dughall is passionate about technology in education. With a background in classroom teaching, he is now involved in working to support schools’ use of technologies for innovation and creativity. Dughall has considerable expertise and knowledge about e-learning, games-based learning, digital literacy and the use of technology within and beyond the classroom. He believes strongly in sharing and promoting good practice through tools such as blogging and social media. He currently sits on the Board of Management of NAACE – the national subject association for ICT in the UK. Dughall believes firmly in the role of technology to facilitate innovation and transformation in education.
We met Dughall after first communicating on Twitter and his first workshop was on the potential of this 140 character gem, the world’s most powerful educational tool? Twitter is about so much more than finding out what celebrities have for breakfast. In his workshop he investigated how Twitter is being used by educators and students the world over. He helped folk discover a global community of friendly, benevolent teachers, advisors, and school leaders. The educational community on Twitter are constantly sharing resources, supporting one another and advising on key issues. Used with learners, it can give their voice an audience of thousands!
In his next session, entitled Come on! Collaborate!, Dughall explored how you can support exciting, collaborative learning with students using some freely available tools.
Julian works as a freelance Apple Distinguished Educator and Apple Education Mentor.
He has over 20 years’ experience of working with Apple technology in education, including five years working at Apple UK. Julian has a Creative Arts background, but now works across all curriculum areas and sectors. He runs Apple based professional development workshops for teachers and education leaders and has supported many schools with their adoption of iPods and iPads.
Whilst he is based in the Peak District, in the UK, Julian works a lot internationally too.
He gave an introduction to iOS Devices (iPad and iPod Touch) and introduce teachers to using these devices in the classroom. He looked at capturing and sharing learning with video, voice and combinations of text and image, the use of some games to develop literacy and numeracy skills as well as exploring the potential of e-Books for learning.
In an Intermediate iPad and iPod Touch hands on workshop, Julian took another group through some more sophisticated uses of iPads and iPod Touches in the classroom. He covered how simple workflows and combinations of apps can enable students to capture ideas and present things such as: planning: mood boards, storyboards, and mindmaps, collaborating – sharing files with devices; creating engaging slideshows and re- purposing existing PowerPoint slides; editing movies, combining titles, working still images and recording voice overs; the iPad as personalised interactive whiteboard; creating e-books; working with PDFs and annotation; designing posters and e-book covers; creating music on the iPad and iPod touch; creating podcast recordings; downloading and editing YouTube content for learning materials; exploring cloud based possibilities; when to use iTunes to manage bigger projects; and quick look at the new iBooks authoring tool for student and teacher generated textbooks.
Many of the workshops today were led by memebers of staff from across the schools that form The BSN. Junior School Leidschenveen, (known as JSL), Junior School Diamanthorst (or JSD), Junior School Vlaskamp (JSV) and the BSN Senior School in Voorschoten, where we have been today.
Our host, David Hellier, introduced his group to creating interactive quizzes and ‘how to’ videos using Adobe’s easy-to-use Captivate software, to turn static PowerPoint presentations into engaging interactive content and to create quizzes and video demonstrations to support student learning. He showed the best ways to output content to enable students to access it for revision, homework or to support more personalised learning in the classroom. No technical or previous experience was required, amazingly
David has been the Director of e-Learning since April 2010. He is interested in looking for ways to use a range of technology to enhance teaching and learning and thereby raise standards. Part of his role is about helping staff to feel empowered to be able to use the technology in a meaningful and engaging way and to ensure that the technology doesn’t get in the way of learning. He has previously led a range of sessions including film-editing, podcasting, animation as well as Web 2.0 in the classroom and is currently working with teachers at the Senior School to explore ways of using iPads to enhance learning.
Category: 1) Events and Training days
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