Media Education

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posted 20 Feb 2011, 13:31 by Charlie Barrow

Endless Ocean

posted 7 Dec 2010, 11:01 by Charlie Barrow

I've been waiting for the opportunity to embrace games-based learning since following the work of Consolarium at LTS. So, when I found out that my placement school was in the middle of an Ocean related theme I took the opportunity to add this element of ICT. I am fully aware that this is nothing new and that many schools have used Endless Ocean in teaching and learning. However, for anyone thinking of using this in the classroom, here's an evaluation of my experience.

Social Subjects:
The fictional island in Endless Ocean is set in the South Pacific. The diving takes place around some fantastic looking coral reefs. We did some great work looking at where the South Pacific is and comparing S.Pacific islands with N.E. Scotland. Children explored marine related jobs, tourism and marine life.

Children revisited note-taking strategies and used these while playing the game. They then used the game as a stimulus to write a diary entry from the point of view of the main character. The finished diary entries are in the process of being uploaded to GLOW blogs.

It was just a wonderful coincidence that my maths group had just begun working on compass points, and bearings when we started this projects and so the need to follow a compass and refer to a map for navigation fitted in really well.

In conclusion, it proved to be a real motivation boost for the children who all loved it. Many had used Wiis before but a couple took a while to develop the coordination skills needed with such a different user-interface. There were so many opportunities for learning through cross-curricular work, discussion and social skills. However, I think to get the most out of this, it really needs to be central to the theme. There are so many opportunities that it cannot be extra to the day's planning, as it was during my placement.

I'll definitely look to use this, or similar as a stimulus in the future. There are lots of helpful examples of things done with this on the GLOW Endless Ocean group and it is definitely worth checking out my previous blog post from the Gavinburn Primary School at the Scottish Learning Festival.

'Real' 3D video

posted 21 Nov 2010, 09:55 by Charlie Barrow

It's amazing what some minds can do and while I have absolutely no idea how this mind came up with this, I think it's a fantastic insight into the future of video on our screens. This fella has taken the new Xbox 360 kinect and somehow managed to get the data from the camera to recreate a 3D model of what it sees. Have a look at the video and see what you think. I think we'll have to wait for some time before we can find a teaching and learning problem that this technology can solve but if you think of anything in the meantime, I'd be interested to hear it.

Grow Your Own Home?

posted 26 Sep 2010, 01:16 by Charlie Barrow

Is this for real? I love the concept of growing your own home. In another of the TED talks Rachel Armstrong talks about organic buildings that complement the environment rather than being at odds with it. Mitchell Joachim has a similar vision for the future... with a meaty twist. You can make up your own mind about this one!

GLOW: Two Practical Perspectives

posted 25 Sep 2010, 12:26 by Charlie Barrow

The Education Showcase was a great part of the SLF. It did exactly what it said on the tin! I saw two GLOW showcases there, both from opposite ends of the spectrum, both full of good ideas and both inspiring me to explore the ideas with a happy middle ground in mind.

Mearns Castle High School have been using GLOW with the S2 pupils enabling them to work on a climate change interdisciplinary project. GLOW allowed all of the classes to develop their own presentations for the summit using the resources that were placed online by the teachers. The classes were then able to watch the presentations in each class by way of a web cam link therefore minimising class movement and disruption but allowing all the children to be involved in the one project.

The school also utilises the GLOW forums allowing the pupils to discuss exam practice answers in a non-threatening way. I can really relate to this as many of the tasks given as part of the PGDE programme at Aberdeen University require answers to be posted and discussed on a forum. I find it so much more humane than feeling under the spotlight in front of other pupils. It's easier to edit your answer via forum!

Homework at Mearns Castle is also posted on GLOW. This means that children can revisit the instructions for their homework, share ideas, submit and access resources all through GLOW. Children have even been known to engage with their projects during school holidays and snow days!

At the other end of the spectrum was Margo Kerr, West Lothian Council Early Years. She demonstrated the use of GLOW Meet to allow practitioners outside school to get together virtually. Children from a number of Early Years centres were encouraged to take part in book readings. These were live and accessible by other children across West Lothian. P7s read to early years children. It all looked so easy.

In fact, to prove how easy it was, Margo facilitated a live session with some children on GLOW meet. I admit, it was pretty fantastic with the use of multiple live web streams and a whiteboard for collaborative working.

As I have a 1 1/2 hour drive across rural NE Scotland to get to my 1st school placement, I can foresee some issues in January as the weather gets bad. What better excuse to get to grips with this fantastic resource and prepare some 'distance learning' using GLOW Meet. Watch this space....

A Year In Primary 7

posted 23 Sep 2010, 14:29 by Charlie Barrow

Speaker: Gillian Penny & Agnus Wilson, Gavinburn Primary School

This was a wonderfully inspiring seminar for me being both a new teacher and a self-confessed computer geek. What Gavinburn Primary School have achieved in 3 years has amazed and terrified me in equal measures. The four points that Gillian Penny identifies as key to their success are interdisciplinary learning, active learning, cooperative learning and ICT across the whole curriculum. What struck me more than any of those was the silent fifth, flexibility.

Although the main learning topics of the year were mapped out right from the start, it was clear to the school that changes and adaptations were to be made from early on. This responsive planning ensured that the learning was always fresh and exciting and the children’s learning rigorous.

Gillian introduced the idea of a Dragons Den project. Now, like me, many people reading will think 'I had that idea too' and it may or may not have been as successful as Gavinburn Primary. However, the point being that the busy school calendar quickly meant that the planning was to be adapted and so the merging of the project to include a marketing topic was implemented.

Children used the majority of the iLife suite on Macbooks to market Scotland through a video advertisement, radio piece and a website. The result was incredibly well thought out and involved all the children and a multitude of ICT skills and ideas.

For me, though, the crown of the seminar was when Gillian detailed the Band In A Box project. The P7s managed to invent a band, write and perform a pop song, manage a European tour, give interviews in French whilst touring France and even deliver acceptance speeches on the success of their song/video/band or whatever award they were given, without prior warning.

The two ex-Primary 7 pupils who got up and spoke about their year at the end of the seminar were great examples of the confident and articulate pupils that the school has shaped through these projects. I admit that I have absolutely no comprehension of how much effort it must have taken to design, prepare and deliver these projects, whilst mapping them to the CfE outcomes but as a school recognised by HMIe as example excellent practice, it's certainly something to aspire to.

Further links: Gavinburn Primary School, Gillian Penny @ Handheld Learning Conference

Why Our Young People Embrace Technology

posted 23 Sep 2010, 13:32 by Charlie Barrow   [ updated 25 Sep 2010, 15:15 ]

Speaker: Prof. Stephen Heppell

Having not heard Prof. Stephen Heppell speak before, I really didn't know what to expect. At first glance, the affable white-bearded man on stage, self-indulgently showing off images of his newly restored racing/sailing/fishing boat, does not seem the 'type' to be one of the key minds in innovative learning technologies over the past couple of decades. However, the lecture was thoroughly inspiring and really highlighted the amazing ways in which our attitudes towards learning have changed.

Why do we bang on about 21C learning? Heppell reminds us astutely that the 21st Century is really nothing new. In fact we're almost a decade into it already. Our 9 year-old children know only of the 21st Century, nothing else. So shouldn't we be moving on? He observes the extent to which our society has changed and that social space has become something that is less fought over and the emphasis is on sharing. Personally, following from his reminiscence of the Mods and the Rockers, I'd argue that there are still issues surrounding Young People's sense of owned space and problems with anti-social behaviour, as regularly seen in the news, but Heppell rightly identifies our immersion in virtual space though online communities.

What this has allowed us to do in education is revolutionary. Stephen Heppell shows images of open plan teaching spaces and of classes with 90 or 120 learners. It sounds very much like a trip back in time, with rows of obedient, cane-fearing Victorian children but no. With teachers as facilitators to manage learning, with lead teachers, teachers tackling differentiation and teachers addressing remedial issues, the children can use technology to push forward their own learning, at their own (often underestimated) pace. 'Teaching' can take place in a parallel way rather than via a limited, linear model. He provides the rule of 3:

- there should never be more than 3 walls
- there should be no fewer than 3 points of focus in the room
- the room should be able to accommodate three teachers and three classes

With over 25 years of involvement in virtual and physical learning spaces, he had some very interesting visions of the future for British education. One that I was particularly interested in was the idea of the Education Mall. In the US, whole communities are focused around a shopping mall. It caters for all material and dietary needs. What about education? Education Malls are being built where whole communities can be focussed around education instead. It's a one-stop shop for learning. In the UK, The Portland Academy Project has a vision for 0 - 21+ education eliminating disruptions to learning through the transition process. However, upon research it seems like the project has come a cropper as it is one of the discontinued BSF projects put on hold by the current government. It will be interesting to see how this vision will manifest itself.

If there is one thing that really grabbed me about the lecture, it was the extent that our needs as a society are changing, faster than I had really comprehended before. Heppell makes clear the redundancy of our town's Market Streets, Commercial Streets and now High Streets. I look at Union Street in Aberdeen, a lacklustre nod to yesteryear hosting little more than husks of old high street shops. I look at the way we communicate, as I type this blog and before I check facebook. I look at the way that the number of schools in the city is getting smaller with class size increasing and whereas I used to dread the poor chances of small rural schools, I'm beginning to think that if we, as teachers, can embrace this change (whether we like what's changed or not) and prepare ourselves for the future, then our children may just have the platform to get the absolute best out of a future that they are quite capable of creating.

As Prof. Stephen Heppell illustrated, the 90's were for lawyers, the turn of the millennium saw the rise of the geeks. It really is the teachers who are going to shine the light for the future. I'm inspired!

Tagxedo: Wordclouds above and beyond!

posted 17 Sep 2010, 05:22 by Charlie Barrow   [ updated 17 Sep 2010, 05:39 ]

I've previously posted about the use of Wordclouds in the classroom. I've found them a great way to engage children with the vocabulary they should use along with their own fantastic banks of expressive vocab that they can generate themselves. They also look great on the wall so that children can refer to them and teachers don't spend all their time re-inventing the wheel with paper and scissors.
Wordle was a great engine for creating wordclouds. Just copy and paste text, get rid of common words and hey presto, a wordcloud. Tuxedo, on the other hand, gets rid of common words for you, grabs text from URLs, news, web searches, twitter, as well as enabling you to paste in your own text.
It's wonderful, easy to use, embeddable, exportable and, in my case, new... so I can't help but play with it. And all thanks to @brentfordclc who pointed me to Tim Rylands' blog, which is an awesome collection of inspiring ICT.
My Tagxedo wordcloud is just a copy and paste of this blog - perhaps highlighting directions the blog has and could take. Hmmm.....

Issuu - You Publish

posted 14 Sep 2010, 11:57 by Charlie Barrow

I've recently found Issuu thanks to the Primary Bits and Bytes blog. I wish I'd found this last year when I was looking to create an online library of children's work. The idea is that children could type up, or the teacher could scan written work and upload. The library could then be embedded into the VLE so that other pupils and parents would be able to view the work in a slick, eye catching format. A definate wow factor for children as they see their work published like a real book - albeit virtual.

I will be investigating the internet safety access of this and the integration of it into GLOW. Any advice would be gratefully received.

Relocation RelocationRelocation

posted 2 Sep 2010, 06:38 by Charlie Barrow

After 11 years in London, the time has now come to move back home. I'll be re-learning to teach as a member of the PDGE Primary cohort at Aberdeen University. During the year I will be focussing on the use of ICT in Education, in particular the application of GLOW as the 1st national Education intranet and online learning environment. I'll also be looking more closely at games-based learning using handheld, portable consoles and the delivery of Social Studies through mobile technology and Augmented Reality.

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