Category Archives: elearning

Appcessible – If they don’t know how to use it, they will find out!

I am someone who enjoys finding out how to do things. May be a a trait of a typical man. Throw away the instruction manual and find out yourself. I think this is something that the older generation are not particularly good at. When showing older members of my family how to do things on computers they seem amazed at how much I can do on a computer and all of this without even a GCSE in ICT but with a lot of experience in trying things out and not worrying about making mistakes.

This is one thing that the students have done very well since the introduction of the iPads at PCSA and maybe something that could be developed to involve the students teaching the teachers. Without sounding too old, students today have an excellent desire and ability to find out how to use iPads, apps or ICT.  This maybe down to the way in which apps and iPads have been developed although the ability of the students and young people to pick up iPads and other mobile devices and find out how to use them very quickly.

I have been surprised at how little guidance students require when using some apps such as PuppetPals, Comic Life and Sock Puppets. Students have been able to experiment and show their creative ability where making mistakes is part of the learning process. Producing work using the iPads provides a safe learning environment where mistakes can be corrected by simply pressing Undo or starting again.

Apple have developed a very accessible operating system on the iPad which has now been incorporated in the new OS Lion for the Mac and this shows Apples commitment to provide an accessible device for all. The video below shows how accessible the iPad is and also highlights the need of iPads in education. This child would be pretty bored with a paper version of Jack and the beanstalk and maybe an interactive copy would enrich the learning environment.

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Solar Walk App for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

Solar Walk is an excellent app for teaching astronomy to students with outstanding visualisations, short videos, information about all the planets in the solar system and a most impressive 3D feature that can be used to enrich the learning environment. This 3D Solar System model enables you to navigate through space and time, observe all the planets in close-up, learn their trajectories, inner structure, history of their exploration, points of interest and more. Use 3D mode to get a more realistic experience and zoom out to view and spin the entire Galaxy!

I used this app recently when teaching Year 9 BTEC students about the composition of the Solar System and the some what unbelievable sizes of planets and our galaxy. Students where engaged from the start as I had chosen to project the animation of the solar system rotating slowly on the board as the pupils arrived. A darkened room and the music playing set the scene for the lesson and I was pleased and amazed by the engagement of the students throughout the lessons as this app made the lesson more accessible to all students. Students where required to research all of the different planets in the solar system and produce a scale drawing of the solar system by the end of the lesson. Some pupils struggled to finish all of the tasks however this was because the students were so engrossed in using the app and finding out more about our solar system.

I would highly recommend this app to use while teaching because of the excellent realistic visualisations and also the excellent amount of information available to students at their fingertips all in one application.

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iPad Creative – iPad Creative Blog – 5 ways to start creating wonderful content with your new iPad

iPad Creative – iPad Creative Blog – 5 ways to start creating wonderful content with your new iPad.

Using ComicLife app to produce revision comics

A lesson today saw Year 11 GCSE students use the iPads as part of their revision for their forthcoming exams. Students worked in pairs to produce a revision comic using Comic Life. Students decided to use a range of different sources such as the internet, text books and their work books for information. The students had 20 minutes to produce their comic, following this they were considered experts in their chosen subject area.

Once the comics were completed one member of the pair visited other groups to learn something new from their peers, whilst the other member of the pair used the comic to teach other students within the class. Students were engaged and showed excellent team work and peer teaching skills whilst producing an outstanding revision resource that can be easily shared via email, twitter and also Facebook.

Some examples can be seen below.

The start of the future? Using iPads in the classroom.

Today saw the first lesson where I had planned to use all 9 of the iPads to enhance the learning and had planned to allow the students to be creative when demonstrating their scientific knowledge.

The students were starting a new Assignment and were asked to work in pairs or threes when using the iPads. This allowed for collaboration and continuos feedback from their peers. Students were engaged in the task from the start and enjoyed working collaboratively, where discussions with their partner were always focused on learning. Initially some students were a little dubious about using the iPad as they didn’t know how to use it. However, after a few minutes of demos from myself and their peers they had gained the confidence to give it a go and try different things.

Using Dropbox, I shared the assignment brief with all devices along with some key websites and vital information such as the success and assessment criteria. Students needed to use the internet to research all about maintaining a constant environment within the body to produce a leaflet using Comic life to hand out to runners at this years Race for life. Some QR codes were also positioned around the room which were linked to websites and useful information. This allowed curious students to discover the potential of QR codes, all of whom found them ‘amazing’ and one student commented ‘thats well cool,sir’.

Other members of the class chose to combine their comic with a document produced on Pages where they felt they had more freedom with different fonts and layout.

Some students seemed to be slightly distracted with the cameras and were very amazed by the fact that they could take pictures. Those students where quickly advised that this was not part of the success criteria and were reminded of the expectations. I feel that the pupils felt that they were privileged to use the iPads and treated them with a lot of care and a usually lively class was very quite as the students were engrossed in the iPads.

All work, once completed was then emailed to a faculty account that had been set up as dropbox does not support the ability to upload documents other than pictures and videos. Dropbox doesn’t allow you to email the files to be stored which would be a perfect way to share the work with other users and their devices, although this may be developed in the future. Overall, I feel this lesson was a good introduction into the use of iPads within education.

The power of a faculty twitter account – @PCSAScience

I previously enjoyed the odd tweet here and there but over the past 6 months have really turned into the tweeter or twit that I am today. I have built an excellent network and try to provide tweets that will help my followers as much as the people that I follow help me. After realising the power of twitter as an outstanding tool in education, I decided to start a faculty twitter account for all of the staff to use. Therefore, @PCSAScience was formed.

Initially I was surprised to discover that not many of the students use twitter and only a small handful of students are avid tweeters. After plugging the faculty twitter account with my classes the followers have slowly grown. The number of followers is just shy of 100 consisting of Students, parents, other teachers and interested educational tweeters. I hope that more students and staff will join in with the twitter action and also parents of the students to show a genuine interest in their child’s learning to develop a learning conversation over the dinner table.

I have used twitter to share websites with classes that maybe useful to develop their understanding of certain topics. Some pupils have also enjoyed relevant news stories that I have shared with particular classes to contextualise their learning. When using twitter during lessons I have used twitter to check progress of individuals and form an electronic network within the lesson. This also provides real time feedback to myself as well as other students. Some web tools such www.goanimate.com and http://popplet.com/ have the option to share the students work direct from the application to twitter and this provides an excellent opportunity for collaboration and peer assessment. Some iPad and iPhone application also have this function and with iOS5 this provides endless possibilities to share content from iPhone and iPad. Some apps on the iPad and iPhone also offer the option to share the creations on twitter such as PuppetPals, iCanAnimate and ComicLife.

#tags have been used so that followers can quickly identify relevant tweets and form an easy online revision resource that can be accessed in school, at break, at home and on the move. I hope that twitter will help students to learn and also provide an insight into lessons at Priory Community School for parents and also educational tweeters and is an excellent way of sharing best practise.

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Augmented reality in education

Augmented Reality (AR) adds a new wow factor to a number of different sectors and has true potential in eduction. AR super imposes a graphic, video or auto onto the real time environment. AR systems superimpose graphics for every perspective and adjust to every movement of the user.Augmented realty is widely used in the retail sector at present and is the future of advertising and has great potential in education.

I have used a lot of AR Web tools to date all of which are free and have an excellent impact on student enjoyment, engagement and most importantly, learning. The AR sites that I have found to be most useful and provide a big impact on student engagement and learning can be seen below.

Anti Smoking: AR Lungs

http://www.arlungs.com/

Biology: Organs

http://www.learnar.org/bio_organs_demo.html

This can be seen in action in the short video below.

I would love to here how you are using AR in your classroom. Please leave a comment with any suggestions or websites that you are using. Thank you!

Smart Phones – In the pocket or the palm?

There has been a lot of debate to whether Head Teachers should ban smart phones. According to the Guardian the view of the NAHT is that schools should continue to ban smart phones because they hold “potential for mischief and distraction”. My view on this quite bold statement will be discussed during this blog post and I am sure that this blog will be the first of many issue around this topic.

I strongly feel that the view of smart phones having the  “potential for mischief and distraction” is one made by someone who does not fully understand the potential that these devices that are currently lying ‘dormant’ in the students pockets and could have massive impact on teaching and learning. A manageable acceptable use policy would need to be in place and if these students did not use there mobile devices in the correct manner then they would lose the right to use them. A large element of trust must be placed in the hands of the students to use their devices appropriately.

We must remember that in the current economic climate schools may not have money to spend on new technology and with funds being cut to develop technology, using the pupils smart phones or mobile devices will bridge the technology gap without significant investment from the school. The devices that are now in the pockets of students is an excellent opportunity to engage students in learning in a way that can develop their own independent learning skills and also “capture the vast amount of informal learning going on outside the classroom”. The opportunities available to students to access the internet and also applications that are available on smart phones and mobile devices are endless.

I strongly feel that Smart Phones and Mobile devices should be encouraged in the classroom these will provide an engaging up to date way of learning. From first hand experience I have used smart phones and mobile devices such as PSPs, Nintendo DS and iPads to allow less able students to access key information from the internet to aid in their learning. This has really engaged these pupils in learning and increased their enjoyment within the lessons.

I am lucky enough to work within a school that provides the opportunity for students to bring their own device into school to access free WiFi that is available to all students all over the school campus. I wish to develop this opportunity with the students and would love to see the full potential that Smart Phones and mobile devices can offer in education both within the classroom and on the all over the school campus. It is no longer, ‘put your phones away!’ but ‘put your phone to good use!’

So reviewing the big question from the start… Smart phones definitely belong in the palm of the students to aid learning and provide an up to date learning environment which will engage all students.

TIM RYLANDS Using ICT to Inspire at #SWGFL11 @timrylands

Tim Rylands seminar at the SWGFL conference was a truly invigorating, inspiring and engaging journey through a range of ideas to use ICT in the classroom to inspire the learners and to make the learning journey more engaging, enjoyable and most importantly inspiring. The seminar focused on a range of Web2 tools and software (most of it FREE), hand-held devices, games and more.

 The seminar started virtually the day before with a request from @timrylands for anybody attending to bring a smart phone lighter.  All will come apparent later on.

This set a little bit of awe and wonder about the treats that may be in store for the enthusiastic and optimistic delegates who had been waiting all day for the last of the seminar sessions. So much excitement boiled over at one stage when @ICTEvangelist rushed to the front of the seminar room to proudly occupy the front row. After a slight delay (due to technical difficulties) the seminar kicked off. I can honestly say that good (outstanding) things come to those who wait!

Tim started with an excellent but amazing under estimated use of ICT, a blog with all the links to every website that he used in his presentation! Gone are the days of pen and paper, especially at an ICT conference. The delegates were equipped with (virtual) lighters and iPads ready to be enthused.

Tim stressed that ‘Fascination is a tool that can be easily neglected. This digital world, when mixed with the analogue, brings such potential for communication.’

‘Technology is not the only answer… but, it does open up some remarkable opportunities, to extend teaching and learning styles.’

This feeling towards the potential that technology in the classroom has was shared by all delegates and all left inspired, enthusiastic and landed back at school the following day clutching a number of new exciting ways to inspire learners.

The talk finished with a sing along to one of Tim’s greatest hits. Virtual lighters at the ready, Tim played a live electronic tune that was made very easily online and could be an idea for the classroom. iPhones and iPads aloft we all swayed to the rhythm of the chart topping hit!

http://www.jamstudio.com

All of the websites, apps and other uses of ICT that Tim demonstrated can be viewed at http://bit.ly/world2me – a few highlights include:

Isle of tune

http://www.isleoftune.com/

Panorams.dk

http://www.panoramas.dk/

A range of avatar makers

http://www.timrylands.com/blog/2010/07/02/a-few-more-avatar-makers/

Online Mind Mapping and Brainstorming – MindMeister

http://www.mindmeister.com/

Terragen

For creating your own worlds

Jaycut

For online video editing

Many more can be seen at Tim’s blog. Overall an inspiring seminar, which left the delegates, excited about returning to school!

You can find out more about Tim Ryland at @timryland and also his website www.timrylands.com where you can also follow links to his blog, where some pictures of the delegates with enjoyment written all over their faces can be seen.

This blog can also be found as a guest post on the following link.

http://ictevangelist.com/?p=17

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