Teaching

What is the future of technology in education?

This article was originally published by The Guardian on 19th June 2013

A couple of weeks ago I was asked what I thought the future of technology in education was. It is a really interesting question and one that I am required to think about all the time. By its very nature, technology changes at a fast pace and making it accessible to pupils, teachers and other stakeholders is an ongoing challenge.

So what is the future? Is it the iPad?

No, I don’t think it is. For me, the future is not about one specific device. Don’t get me wrong, I love the iPad. In fact, I have just finished a trial to see if using them really does support teaching and learning – and they have proved effective. I’ve written about the trial in more detail on my blog.

iPads and other mobile technology are the ‘now’. Although, they will play a part in the future, four years ago the iPad didn’t even exist. We don’t know what will be the current technology in another four. Perhaps it will be wearable devices such as Google Glass, although I suspect that tablets will still be used in education.

The future is about access, anywhere learning and collaboration, both locally and globally. Teaching and learning is going to be social. Schools of the future could have a traditional cohort of students, as well as online only students who live across the country or even the world. Things are already starting to move this way with the emergence of massive open online courses (MOOCs).

For me the future of technology in education is the cloud.

Technology can often be a barrier to teaching and learning. I think the cloud will go a long way to removing this barrier. Why? By removing the number of things that can go wrong.

Schools, will only need one major thing to be prepared for the future. They will not need software installed, servers or local file storage. Schools will need a fast robust internet connection. Infrastructure is paramount to the the future of technology in education.

We don’t know what the new ‘in’ device will be in the future. What we do know, is that it will need the cloud. Schools and other educational institutions will need to futureproof their infrastructure the best they can.

This should be happening now. If you want to start to use mobile technology in your school, whether it is an iPad program or a bring your own device (BYOD) program your connectivity must be fast and reliable. Student and teacher buy in, is so important. If the network is slow and things are not working properly students and teachers will not want to use the devices. Make the sure the infrastructure is there before the devices.

Teachers can use the cloud to set, collect and grade work online. Students will have instant access to grades, comments and work via a computer, smartphone or tablet. Many schools are already doing this. Plus, services such as the educational social network Edmodo offer this for free.

This is where devices come in. All devices, not matter which ones we will use in the future will need to access the cloud. Each student will have their own. Either a device specified by the school or one they have chosen to bring in themselves.

School classrooms are going to change. Thanks to the cloud and mobile devices, technology will be integrated into every part of school. In fact, it won’t just be the classrooms that will change. Games fields, gyms and school trips will all change. Whether offsite or on site the school, teachers, students and support staff will all be connected. In my ideal world, all classrooms will be paperless.

With the cloud, the world will be our classroom. E-learning will change teaching and learning. Students can learn from anywhere and teachers can teach from anywhere.

The cloud can also encourage independent learning. Teachers could adopt a flipped classroom approach more often. Students will take ownership of their own learning. Teachers can put resources for students online for students to use. These could be videos, documents, audio podcasts or interactive images. All of these resources can be accessed via a student’s computer, smartphone or tablet. As long as they have an internet connection either via Wifi, 3G or 4G they are good to go.

Rather than being ‘taught’ students can learn independently and in their own way. There is also a massive amount of resources online that students can find and use themselves, without the help of the teacher.

This of course means the role of the teacher will change.

Shared applications and documents on the cloud, such as Google Apps will allow for more social lessons. How often do students get an opportunity to collaborate productively using technology in the classroom? It isn’t always easy. However, students working on documents together using Google Apps is easy. They could be in the same room or in different countries. These are all good skills for students to have. Of course, these collaborative tools are also very useful for teachers. I for one have worked on several projects where these tools have lets me work with people across the country. Some of which I have never met.

What we must remember is that when schools adopt new technology and services, they must be evaluated. This way, as a school, you know if they are successful and what improvements are needed. Staff will also need training, you can’t expect staff to use new technology if it they are not confident users or creators. Any initiative is doomed to failure without well trained, confident staff who can see how technology can support and benefit teaching and learning.

Plenty of schools have already embraced this, but there’s still a way to go to ensure all schools are ready for the future of technology. It is time for all schools to embrace the cloud.

The Flipped Classroom – Some brief guidance

I have been meaning to write this post for ages and I have finally got around to it.

So what is the flipped classroom?

In “flipped classes” students use technology at home to watch online video lectures, demonstrations, explanations of assignments and listen to podcasts. This of course, means much of the learning can be done at home, independently. In lessons teachers can be more like facilitators and more time can be spent guiding students, offering support and assessing understanding.

What can we use to create resources for the flipped classroom?

The iPad is perfect for this and can save a huge amount of time. We could use the following apps:

Explain Everything

ShowMe

VideoScribe HD

The apps above are great for making videos using images, YouTube videos, text and audio. These videos can then be shared with students to be viewed at home.

iMovie

This could be used to film and edit a segment of a lesson or perhaps the teacher explaining something and shared with students. You could even combine Explain Everything videos and lesson segments together in one movie edited in iMovie.

ThingLink (App and website)

This can be used to create interactive images. You can tag video and text to the image to create a really engaging learning experience.

There are also web applications that you could use.

http://slid.es (works on the iPad)

This can be used to create online presentation with embedded YouTube videos and text.

Google Apps

You can create online presentations with embedded content.

Padlet (works on ipad)

You can create an online wall that you can share with students. Teachers and students can add sticky notes to it and collaborate and share information and knowledge.

SoundCloud (iPad App available)

Teacher can very easily create audio podcasts that can be shared with students. Students can even add text comments at certain parts of the audio.

These are just a few examples to get you started.

If you would like to have a chat about any of these ideas or would like some training on how to use the apps / websites drop me an email.

Creating Mobile Apps in Schools: Appshed Tutorials Pt 1 – 4

So you want to create mobile Apps with your students? Head over to AppShed and sign up.

Check out my first 4 tutorials below. These will give you a brief introduction on how to create your Apps.

If you want some project ideas, check out my curriculum:

ICT CURRICULUM 2012-2013 V1.1

Tutorials 5 – 8 coming in a couple of days.

Appshed Tutorial Pt 1 – Creating an App

Appshed Tutorial Pt 2 – Creating a Main Menu

Appshed Tutorial Pt 3 – Creating a Map and Map Points

Appshed Tutorial Pt 4 – The Standard Screen and YouTube

iPad in Education Trial 2012-2013: Report, Evaluation and Data

Back in September we began an iPad trial. I have finally written my report.

If you would like me to come into your school to talk about iPads, offer training or give you some advice drop me an email at matt@realiselearning.com or check out the Realise Learning page.

The report includes the following sections:

  • Aims
  • Planning
  • Implementation
  • Projects
  • Analysis of teacher and student evaluations
  • Conclusions
  • Some of my possible recommendations for the future
  • Integrating iPads into teaching and learning

You can download the whole report from the link below:

iPAD REPORT 2012-2013

You can read more about the trial below:

iPad Trial: Launching to Heads of Departments (Presentation)

iPad Launch to all staff – Inset: How it Worked(Resources Included)

How to Evaluate iPad use in Education

Lots of iPad video tutorials

Westminister Briefing: My Presentation on ICT/Computing and my Curriculum

Westminster Briefing

Westminster Briefing

On the 5th March I did a talk for Westminster Briefing for their ‘Computer Science in the Curriculum: Delivering Innovative Provision in Schools and Colleges‘ conference.

Unfortunately, I was only able to get there in the afternoon as I was teaching all morning. By all accounts, it was a great day and I certainly enjoyed the afternoon.

Below are the slides I used for my talk. They have lost some of their formatting when I uploaded to Google Drive, which is why some of the images look strange. Enjoy.

How to Evaluate iPad use in Education

iPad

iPad

(UPDATE: Read the final report and evaluation)

We are currently running an iPad trial at school and investigating their effectiveness for teaching and learning.

In order to fully understand the impact of these devices it is important to evaluate their use.

I created two evaluations. One for students to fill out once and one for teachers to fill out. These were created in Google Forms and a short cut was added to the iPad to make it easier for students to access.

It was important to me that the evaluations were short to encourage staff and students to fill them out.

Once the evaluation period is over, I will use the evaluations to help formulate a report.

The PDF evaluations are below:

Teacher Evaluation

Students Evaluation 

The great thing about Google Forms is that it is free, plus it gives you a great summary of results  with a selection of graphs.

There is room for both Computing and ICT in the schools

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi

This article was originally published by The Guardian on 13th February 2013

After Michael Gove’s speech at BETT last year I wrote my first ever Guardian Teacher Network article, entitled Is Gove washing his hands of ICT. Just over a year later, it is clear that Gove has indeed washed his hands of the subject that myself and my students love. ICT has been rebranded as computing. Back in May, I asked the question ‘Is it time to rebrand ICT?’, changing it to computing was not what I had in mind. I was hoping for something more progressive. The change came as a surprise to me and many other ICT teachers. Especially, when you consider that the draft programme of study (POS) back in November was still called ICT.

So, why am I so upset about the announcement?

Firstly, I would like to say that I am completely in favour of teaching computing.

I have been actively adding more and more computing into my curriculum for several years. In my current curriculum I teach programming, internal computer components as well as computing history. This will be further developed next year. As is the case with all good teachers, my curriculum is evolving all the time. However, what you will notice is that it runs alongside ICT.

The current draft POS, is a real let down to ICT teachers and their students across the country. There needs to be room for both computing and ICT. In fact I firmly believe that we are robbing our students, if the current draft stays how it is. Obviously, computer scientists will most likely disagree with me. But isn’t it our job as educators to prepare all students for the digital world they are living in? I have taught students of all abilities in both comprehensive and independent schools. It is safe to say that I think it will help ‘some’ who eventually enter a career in computer science, but will hinder many more when they realise they are being taught things that are of little relevance to them. It is important to get the balance right. It is important not to restrict our student’s digital education. Let’s improve the ICT curriculum, but let’s think of the students and not pander to lobbying from outside interests.

There is also a worry that there will not be enough curriculum time to deliver the new KS3 POS. Will schools start taking time from maths, English and science? Of course not, how can they? Did those fighting for this change think of this? Did they even care about it? People who are not teachers or do not work in education rarely think about these things. Not when they have their own agenda to think about.

Perhaps the most potent and universally recognised issue with the change to computing is training. There are thousands of ICT teachers who will require CPD if they are to deliver the new programme of study. The government is going to have to supply free training to current teachers and schools will need to free up time to allow this to happen. Then there are our future ‘computing’ teachers. Will the government be able to recruit enough teachers to be able to actually teach this new curriculum? As the UK is currently facing a shortfall in computer science teachers, where will this leave the subject over the next few years? I suspect, in limbo. Maybe all those non-teachers, pushing for the change, should give up their jobs to become computing teachers.

I suspect, if the draft stays as it is, we will see a fallout in several years time. My prediction would be that the majority of students leaving schools will not be equipped for most workplaces. How many employers will care if their employees can:

“…explain how data of various types can be represented and manipulated in the form of binary digits including numbers, text, sounds and pictures, and be able to carry out such manipulation by hand.” – Extract from the new KS3 POS.

So what would I like to see?

I would like to see a new POS that gives students a rounded digital education.

At the moment there is only a tip of the hat to ICT. This is not right. It should include equal parts of digital literacy, digital citizenship, digital creativity and computing. Lets not forget who are the most important people in this educational conundrum. A curriculum at KS3 that is too heavily weighted to computing is doing our children a disservice and perhaps may even put them off pursuing it at KS4 and 5.

There are a lot of ICT teachers doing exciting and innovative things. I attended the RethinkingICT conference last year and it was inspiring for all who attended. So many ideas, so much to look forward to.

What has transpired recently is that students and teachers have been overlooked, in favour of what I believe, to be private interest. I feel personally betrayed by this change, remember this comes from someone who sees the value of computing and believes it is an important part of ICT. In my opinion the changes are myopic and done for the wrong reasons.

I hope that Mr Gove thinks again. I hope that the final version of the POS takes my article and the swathe of dissenting voices into account. I hope it does the right thing for the young people of this country.

iTunesU Course Manager (VIDEO)

I will admit that this is not the most exciting video I have ever posted! However, it does give you an idea how the iTunes U Course Manager works and how easy it is.

It is probably not a good idea to make a video when you need sleep. Oh well…enjoy!

Students setting up their Raspberry Pi (Video)

This is a quick video showing some of my students setting up the Raspberry Pi at our lunchtime club.

They have really enjoyed coming in and putting everything together. Once they are good to go, I have given them an iPad with Readdledocs (now called Documents) installed. In the App I have supplied them with PDFs of some Python resources, that they are using for programming. The students can then annotate the PDF and make notes.

Today was excellent and there was some real collaberation, problem solving and fun going on.