ICT in Primary Education: Transforming children’s learning across the curriculum – COURSE JOURNAL (WEEK 5)

INSPIRING EXAMPLES AND IMPLEMENTATION CONCERNS

This week, we will look at some of the challenges and obstacles we may encounter when integrating ICT, and some of the inspiring solutions and practices that teachers and educators have used, though creativity and innovation.

First, I will consider the Darwin experiment, a project for fostering scientific teaching with hypermedia technology.

From my point of view, this innovation is very inspiring, because it faces students with real researcher tasks and produce a very visual and attractive (and functional, all of which is highly engaging) final product.

While implementing and developing this project this team of educators have might faced the following challenges: complex task, if not very familiar with the tools, and very time consuming even if so, lack of confidence among pupils and difficulty to engage external experts who could not be very positive to enrole in this effort if perceived as a time loss.

I find particular inspiring the plan to look for scientific advisor and the commitment to act as experts, a compromise with quality and seriousness, the well developed web page, the way it promotes scientific activity (investigation, indoor observations, field observations), the very clear basic principles and the bet for cooperation, long term effort and learning for transfer.

Other example of projects which did well after overcoming some challenges is this one from Canada:

 Using iPads, a small innovation which can make a big difference: While reading, if the pupil does not understand a concept, they can google the word and get some clarifying images. Of course, they must learn telling appart “good” and “bad” information and questioning sources. They have clear rules on how to behave when something inappropriate comes up. Another risk is “cutting and pasting”, which they avoid by forcing the students to fill in a form citing original sources (critically evaluated) and the information in their own words.

In fact, I alerady thought that critical use of information is one of the most urgent aspects to develop to advance in digital literacy.

An exercise which I have used more than once, and that can be adapted to any educational level, is to assign different groups the same question they have to research using different sources (group 1: wikipedia, kalipedia…; group 2: on-line enciclopedia (e.g. encarta): group 3: an educational website; group 4: informal users forums (Yahoo answers…), etc.). We then gather together the information and make a joint analysis on various aspects:
– quality of the information. completeness. Are there mistakes? Is it updated?
– does it cite original sources? Is the writer identified and confidable? Is it objective?
– quality of the design. Grammar or spell mistakes.
– understandability and appropriateness of the content to their educational level

The objective is to know and be able to categorize information sources and develop a set of criteria to use them properly. The objective is not that every pupil gets convinced that Wikipedia is evil and educational webs are perfect. In fact, they learn some strategies to make the best of each tool (Press: novelty; Wikipedia: may be very useful to make a broad idea which can then be confirmed or completed in educational webs, enciclopedias or specialized sites)…

But how difficult would it be to implement ICTs in my context? (financial constraints left appart). Would it be feasible to apply the Moscow school’s example in the video, where pupils work in pairs or triads with digital microscopes and a laptop?

We don’t discover anything new if said major obstacles are money, time, lack of support (hindering effective implementation), lack of involvement of the families or schools managers, poor or outdated infraestructure and, last, teacher’s involvement and self – confidence. These are more or less the same issues reported in ICT in Primary Education, Volume 2. Chapter 4: Limitations and concerns (UNESCO, 2014).

Let’s remember, however, that issues and concerns can be transformed into opportunities!

See the CONCEPT MAP:
ICT implementation_ challenges and issues

Also reccomendations by experts focus on profesional training, involving parents, promoting adequate infraestructures and creating a positive culture.

We can identify two major avenues for change: sharing experiences and recources and instructional design: ICTs will succeed if they have a strong pedagogical background.

ICTs AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR EVERYBODY

Some children may suffer from communicational disorders, which may affect children’s life in terms of their psychological, intellectual development, their relationship with other people and on their learning progress. Other Special Needs may include gifted or talented students, children in need, ethnic minorities or refugees or students which need support in the instruction language. And ICTs may support a better integration of these pupils. Technology can be the greatest effect in people with the greatest needs: “Assistive technologies” can help students overcome puntual disabilities (e.g. visual impairment), activities can more easily be tailored to particular learning needs or multiple intelligences, and help close the gap in students with relational difficulties.

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