An article by Richard James Rogers
Illustrated by Sutthiya Lertyongphati
ICT offers a whole new world of discovery and adventure to the learning process, but how many of us actually use it strategically?
Tragically, many teachers are still ‘ticking the boxes’ with ICT, using it as a means to impress an observer or inspector, or to fill in an obscure rubric.
This is concerning.
Last week, we looked at ways in which ICT can be used to support instruction and support learning, and we emphasized the fact that the full use of computer systems can even save you massive amounts of time and energy in lesson planning and assessment.
This week, we will focus on exploratory and collaborative ICT systems, and how they can revolutionize learning and improve student grades.
Exploratory and Collaborative ICT
I’ve grouped these methodologies into one category as groups of students often use ICT to explore and create content at the same time. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to implement this into your teaching.
Allow opportunities for research
If you are trying to teach a large topic (e.g. cell division, transformations of functions,
the Battle of the Somme, etc.), then you’ll naturally have lots of content to get through. Why not try the time-tested method of the market place activity, whilst using ICT at the same time? Follow these steps:
- Split the class into groups, each with a specific task and roles to play (this is crucial). For example: Team 1: Rosie (Information researcher using iPad), Charles (Prezi creator using laptop, receives info from Rosie via e-mail), David (voice narrator using the AudioMemo app on the Smartphone), Thomas (Final editor and team leader, ensures good communication flow between members). Teams 2-4 would be constructed in the same way.
- After a suitable length of time, get the team leader to quickly go to another team and find out what they’ve been studying and researching. After about five minutes, the team leader can come back and report his or her findings to the group, so that they can put it into their presentation.
- At the end of this lesson (or the next lesson, if time is limited), allow students time to present their work. Perhaps each group could peer assess each other?
Think of novel ways to create content
Part of a new wave of educational culture focusses on achieving success criteria. This is language that you’ll have to teach to the kids, but once it’s in place it can work wonders in your classroom.
For example: Let’s say you are leading a Year 8 art class on city-scape images. The objective is to create an image of a metropolis from the perspective of an alien visitor. But what are the success criteria? How will the students know that they have achieved this objective, and what methods will they use to achieve it? If you plan in advance and you’re smart, you’ll let your students decide how to tackle the problem by themselves, using whatever technology is available.
Now a traditional artist would quickly get to work with brushes, paint, pens, pencils and the like. But why be limited to this? Try providing the students with a wide-range of materials to use, including technology (e.g. Tablets, smartphones, camera’s, digital sketch pads, 3D printing, etc). Perhaps you can group the students, and allow them some planning time first, before they embark on their project.
Does this sound scary to you? Some educators and schools would frown on this, saying that students should never direct the methodology of the lesson and the teacher should always lead from the front. This ‘sage on a stage’ approach, however, doesn’t adequately provide students with the key skills that employers and universities are really looking for these days. Take this quote, from targetjobs.co.uk, for example:
Teamwork is one of the fundamental skills employers look for and it’s on the graduate recruiters’ high priority list. The best way to show off any skill is to explain how you used it to get results. However, with teamwork you will have to show how you achieved a group result.
So try killing two birds with one stone: Get your students working together and using ICT at the same time. They’ll be engaged, they’ll be learning and they’ll be building up their key skills.
Use, create and edit videos
You’ll notice that I’ve created my first ever instructional video this week! (Well, I would be a bit of a hypocrite if I didn’t!).
Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to do this. Videos can be used in all sorts of ways. See this extract from my book:
When it comes to editing movies, iMovie (Apple) and FilmoraGo (Android) are great apps you can use. Why not ask your school’s ICT department to download these onto your school’s iPads or tablets? In addition, get your students to share their videos on the school’s VLE or official Facebook, Vimeo or YouTube site. This is great PR for the school and gives the students a wider sense of purpose to their work as they can inform a wide audience and showcase their project to their parents.
Try stop-motion animations
I’ve sued these many times in my career and they are great. Some of the earliest forms of film-making involve taking still images of a scene and then sunning them together to make a ‘moving picture’. Students can do this with model building to illustrate any process or strategy. Take a look at this video, for example, of a stop-motion animation illustrating DNA replication:
Collate data in unique ways
These extracts from my book show how smartphones and tablets can be used to collate and present data:
Try using social media
It’s unstoppable: Social media platforms continue to grow in both influence and functionality. The following infographic outlines some cool ways in which you can use social media in education. Can you think of more ideas?
I really hope that both this week’s and last week’s blog posts have given you some tips that you can use in a practical way in the classroom. Please feel free to comment below with any extra ideas you have, and please feel free to contact me through any of the social media buttons on the top right of the page if you have any questions or comments.
The following summary extracts are taken from my very popular debut book. I hope they’re useful.
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