ICT in Primary Education: Transforming children’s learning across the curriculum – COURSE JOURNAL (WEEK 1)

I. RESOURCES

Here a review of ICT tools for use in Primaty Education: ‘Emerging Technology Enhanced Learning Tools’.

Among the resources built in this Scoop site, I would like to reccomend these ones:

– The Epic BYOD Toolchest (51 Tools You Can Use Now). A terrific collection of resources classified by category (Presentations, Link sharing, Electronic Note Taking,Screencasting and Capturing What Happens in Class…).

The Future of Learning: Compelling, Customized, Connected & Competency-Based. A reflection on the possibilities of newly developing ICTs to to boost student achievement and improve working for teachers.

II. ICT PROMOTING EACH TYPE OF LEARNING

According to the author, there are 6 types of learning: learning through acquisition, discussion, investigation, practice, collaboration and production. Ideally best learning environments combine all of them, but there is no software or technology that can help achieve all of them at the same time.

Another important though from the video is that ICT are the tool, but the teacher must set the goals, closely track the process and decide on quality of the learning that is happening.

III. BUT… SHOULD WE EVEN USE ICTs AT PRIMARY EDUCATION?

Most participants in the MOOC think that ICT should be an important part of everyday teaching and learning. I’m, myself, a bit more conservative but still think they should be used by both teachers and pupils.

It’s true it’s important to introduce the use of ICTs to increase motivation, interactivity and boost creativity, and to promote digital competence from earliest courses. But I’m a bit reluctant to make them the axis of our methodology from the very first courses. I’m a bit afraid that introducing ICTs would restrain the lust for inquiry and investigation in contact with the real world. I.e. mainly educational reasons, according to the classification in the UNESCO report ICT in primary education.

Other reasons I would like to include after reading this document are that digital technology is an increasingly important part of our society, so much that technology is a style of life (external reasons), strategic development of ICT may enhance leadership in the school, and perceived improvements in effectiveness and efficiency of the teacher’s work (internal reasons) and the range of opportunities being opened up for improving teaching and learning with technology (educational reasons): mainly, ICT improves que quality and effectiveness of the learning experience for all children, and makes possible access to some learning experiences that are not otherwise not feasible (e.g. through virtual worlds and digital simulations). It enables interaction with children from all over the world and independent learning skills.

III. USEFUL EXAMPLES

Among the examples provided in ICT  in  Primary  Education (chapter 4) I would like to mention the experience at Jamestown Elementary School (Arlington, VI).

The  school  mission  is  to  educate  all  children  in  an  optimal  learning  environment,   preparing   them   for   success  in   a  global  society.  The  vision  for  technology  use  is  to  reach   every   student   and make   learning  engaging,  relevant,  and  connected  to  real  lives. They  accomplish   this   through   actively   engaging students   in   challenging   learning   experiences  empowered   by   the   use of   a   multitude   of  interactive  and  mobile  technologies  which  inspire  higher  order  thinking,  creativity,  and  solving  real  world  problems.  Digital  learning  is  at  the  centre of  pedagogical  innovation.   Classrooms   are   equipped   with   digital  toolkits  that  include  a  variety  of  mobile  devices,  laptops,  and  interactive  whiteboards.  These  digital  toolkits  enable  students  and  teachers  to select  their  preferred  tools  for  learning;  individualizing  how   students   access   information,   collaborate,  express  their  creativity, and  share knowledge.

Digital  technologies  are  integrated  across  the  curriculum facilitating   different   ways   of   learning  and  providing  immediate  access  to  relevant  curriculum  resources.  Students  engage  in  challenge-based  learning  with  multidisciplinary,  collaborative   learning   experiences   in   which   teachers   and  students  work  together  to  learn  about  compelling  issues,   propose   solutions   to   real   problems,   and  take  action.

Through  our  digital  connections,  students  participate  daily  in  global   learning linking  them  with  students  from  around  the  world  to  carry  out curriculum   projects   in   science,   history,   geography,  music,  and  world  languages.  Together  with  their  international  partners  they  share  learning,  culture   and   customs   that   promote   a   global  awareness at  a  young  age.    For  example,  in  the  “Rock  Our  World”project,  students  from  around  the  world  create  music  together  using  digital  recording  studio  software,  share  their  experiences  through   digital   movies,   and   communicate   using  online  chat.

IV. HOW MUCH HAVE ICTs CHANGED LEARNING?

It’s undeniable ICTs are pervading our classes.Even within the western industrialised countries of Europe, with a degree of political and economic similarity, there is the full range from total provision to no provision of ICT in primary schools.

But how much do they have changed our education system? Do we just have a computer doing the work of a teacher, but following the same transmissive model? Primary schools are changing –slowly, it’s true, but digital technologies are now making classroom learning more varied and challenging, and also much more challenging for the teacher.

(Do not miss this webpage by the European Comission on Pillar VI: Enhancing digital literacy, skills and inclusion: Internet Use, Digital Skills and Online Content)

IV. SUPPORTING TEACHERS’ NEEDS

Teachers know what ICT can do, they have the confidence to use it, but how to use it effectively for the important aspects of children’s education? That’s where they need more help than they are currently getting.

An effective implementation which would take maximum profit from technologies would require intensive and much better focused teacher training programms.

This coincides with the issues identified by the report Survey of Schools:
ICT in Education (European Schoolnet Academy, 2013), which in fact haven’t changed that much from those identified by BECTA in 2008 (Harnessing Technology Review 2008:The role of technology and its impact on education). Interestingly enough, the former reports that teachers are confident, positive to the use of ICT and use them more and more frequently, and are likewise eager to get trained, often in their spare time. Still, the ESA’s report recalls that boosting teacher professional development makes a difference, and appears to be a condition for an effective and efficient use of the available infraestructure.

As such, my priorities for teachers’ and leaders’ needs as they plan the integration of ICTs would be (based in UNESCO, 2014. ICT in primary education):

– support teachers and remove external constraints where possible, and recruit people who can work with learning technologies.

– inspire teachers and provide consistent and frequent technology training sessions, and give them good conditions for their work, acknowledgement of their activities and opportunities to take part in conferences.

WHAT IDEA WILL I TRY NEXT?

I was so before I even took this module, but now I’ve reassured  in my idea of investigating whether ICTs are really able to promote learning at higher levels of the Bloom’s taxonomy and the real possibilities of flipped classroom with Primary School students.

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