When we began designing and running our ‘in person’ training events, it was important to us that we did so with an indivisibility of principles.
‘In this event or design, are we engaging safely, fairly and fully?’ is one of the questions we continually reflect upon. Over time, we have adapted, modified and created learning experiences in response to our self-reflection and the feedback from participants.
While there are times when we need to share information directly, our events are not lectures where participants are passive recipients of information. Our in-person events involve participants being immersed in collaborative problem-solving experiences. They work in small groups as they learn tools and processes, engage in reflection and feedback and develop ideas about how to adapt their learning to their individual settings. The close interaction also helps to quickly generate a strong sense of community.
We summarised our challenge in the following question:
‘In an online environment, how do we facilitate active, real-time collaborative problem-solving and nurture a sense of community when participants are remotely connected?’
We have been exploring Jamboard (Google Tool) and we are impressed with the possibilities that it offers in terms of online collaboration and communication.
During our initial 'play', we used our emoji check-in to create our first Jamboard template. If you use Google in your school/setting and it's useful to you, follow the link to get a copy that you can customise. (We've used a background image which seems to open better in the Chrome browser.)
We are thinking about creating further Jamboard templates for our toolkit - any thoughts, ideas or advice about this would be gratefully received. :-)
We are currently in the middle of a two-week project with Classes 7 and 8 in Aberbargoed Primary School - Year 4, 5 and 6 (P5, 6 and 7). It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to witness the progression in learning - attitudes, skills and knowledge.
A website has been set up specifically to capture the essence of the project - providing a place for children, parents and staff to access materials, share experiences, evidence children in action and capture the learning, reflections and connections of all involved.
Recently, we have had the privilege of speaking to one of the co-designers and co-facilitators of 'Digital Literacy Wales' - Karen Workman. We are excited about the potential of this new project, how it will grow in the next few months and what it will mean for practice across all education sectors in Wales.
The 'Digital Literacy Wales' Facebook page is now active and the first two practitioner sessions have taken place. This project is currently funded for work in the college sector. We will post updates as more information becomes available.
There are so many apps out there it can sometimes seem an insurmountable task to find the hidden gems. It is so tempting to just download as many as possible, but the danger of the iPad becoming the 'digital babysitter' can suddenly become the reality.
A few apps that have been recommended by other professionals are below. Everyone has their own preferences but these are the way that I have been using them:
iMovie - this is a free download on the newer iPads.
Great to capture evidence, record reflections and display photos. Can also be used with some of the Apps listed below. In the National Numeracy Framework (Wales) measuring time to one tenth of a second can be taught by using the trimming function on iMovies. Film clips can be edited with data imported into Numbers to generate and interpret graphs. All this can be done using topics chosen by the learners that are relevant and motivating.
Aurasma - Augmented Reality App that brings displays and student work to life. Use with Morfo Booth or Puppet Pals to animate work. An exciting way to get families working together on a project.
Flight Radar 24 - use the augmented reality function to see how many planes are in the sky above you at any moment. The map function with information boxes are crying out to be made into Top Trump cards. The links to numeracy and geography are explicit, but many other challenge based ideas could be sparked from using this App.
Animate It - stop frame animation is another great project for families to play and learn together. Planning, creating, story telling, editing and reflecting are just a few benefits of using this App well.
As with all Apps, it is the way they are used that makes all the difference. Any App can become defunct if the time to plan, play and explore possibilities is not taken.
Karen Workman (Neath Port Talbot Family Learning Coordinator) has a passion for learning, technology, empowering children and their families…and anything Maths!
The time for reflection is a key concept in any of our events. Yet finding time for personal reflection in order to reconnect and progress can be difficult. The word 'holiday' is almost alien to us - certainly in the last 4 years. However, last week we decided to take a few days and 'disconnect' from the world of technology. For the first time we activated a 'bounce-back' email notifying people that we wouldn't be online until this week. The effect of this was surprising - it prevented that 'guilty' feeling that we should reply immediately to any correspondence and created the space we needed to reflect and connect.
Find time and space to relax, reflect, reconnect. It is worth it.
A tweet arrives from @nelkcarps - Gary is in town!
We arrange to meet Gary in our usual spot for a coffee catch-up. It's becoming a regular occurrence…and one we look forward to immensely.Superb graphic from @nelkcarps.
It could more accurately be described as a play-date. A term we had not heard until recently. Basically, us big kids, arrange to meet up using the grown up 'coffee catch-up' as an excuse….but head to a play-date that is full of laughter, exploring various apps, playing on iPads, scribbling great works of art on serviettes and trying to remain blissfully unaware of the glances thrown our way from 'real grown-ups' as we become increasingly more animated and excited. We do drink coffee though. And, to be fair, the sight of an iPad being thrown on the floor to demonstrate the 'toughness' of the kid-proof case, is probably not something that is seen every day in this particular coffee shop.
The conversation jumps between edtech, learning, eat all you can buffets, IPACA, twitter, trains, apps, risk-taking, education, ribs, packing a car, more apps, lego, photography, more apps, awards, teaching, kids, 3D printing, school trips, more apps, the possibility of 4D printing, spray paint that makes anything waterproof….and the House of Lords.
The 'chit-chat' never stops…and in the middle of that we are trying out new apps and attempting to make a video and import it into the 'aurasma' app (or Lynne is, badly!).
Andrew sighs at the sight of me (Lynne) jumping between apps…with Gary quickly demonstrating his skill of operating an iPad upside down (the iPad was upside down, not him). It must be a transferable 'teacher' skill - reading a book aloud to a class, at the same time as holding it up so illustrations can be seen, requires the skill of 'upside down, reverse reading'. Only this is the 21st century version!
Andrew's sigh is related to the fact that I am likely to continue excitement at these apps way past our coffee catch up…and, with heading to Scotland for most of August, we are not needing distractions whilst in the midst of preparations. So I've promised not to play with the apps yet…but if anyone else has an iPad/iPhone and wants to try them out, search for 'Aurasma', 'Morfo' and 'colAR Mix' in the app store. You won't be disappointed.
Thanks, Gary, for a great couple of hours - we look forward to the next 'coffee catch-up'…and a trip to see you in IPACA.
Earlier this month, we had the pleasure of spending 5 days facilitating 'Designing for Learning' events in Hailsham, East Sussex. One participant from the secondary sector had asked his students to engage in an open-ended problem based task/project as part of their History lessons. The products were impressive and really provoked dialogue between everyone.
The 'History of Women's Fashion 1900-2000' caught my interest…and I turned immediately to the 1980's - my teenage era.
"Pirate style…power dressing…shoulder pads…designer labels…look as if you had made it"
I have to admit that my first reaction was to laugh loudly. Images and memories came flooding back! From clothes, we moved onto TV programmes with big shoulder pads - 'Dynasty', 'Dallas' and 'The Colbys'. Much laughter ensued.
A few days later, on a more serious note, I started to reflect on technology in the 80's. The 'space invader' game, my Spectrum 48k computer with rubber keys, our first video recorder (did we opt for VHS or Betamax?), vinyl records, telephones with cords and the dial that you operated by putting your finger in the metal ring and pulling it round.
On talking to my 14 year old nephew, he was aghast…and I think the comment went something like,
"Lynne - were you really alive in those olden times?!"
In the 90's, I was at University. My campus had the first of the internet regional servers. I remember attending a seminar, sitting on stools in the library back area. We were about to get our first taste of this thing called 'the world wide web'.
As they put in a search term chosen by us, I sat waiting. Intrigued. 10 minutes passed by…20 minutes…almost 30 minutes. And then some information popped up.
My reaction as a 'trainee teacher'…
"This internet thing will never catch on! Can you imagine having to wait 30 minutes for it to work whilst sitting with a class! What a nightmare!"
How little did I know!
(And the search term we asked for…Emma by Jane Austen! We were writing assignments on this and thought we could do with a bit of free research from the 'world wide web'!)
Reflective question for you all: When did you first hear about/use the internet? Where were you? What were your initial thoughts/reactions?
A shout out to Weebly...
After months…even a year... of debating how we were going to proceed with our website, we finally decided on using weebly.
After settling on weebly, we have to say the process was easy, the support features were incredibly useful and we are really happy with the result. Although there is a 'free' version of weebly, we opted to go 'pro' - which, in terms of what is on offer, is pretty reasonable in its pricing.
Today we have published the newest addition to the website - the 'snippets' section. Many of the people we work with tell us they are not comfortable signing up to our Facebook book page or Twitter account - this may be due to personal reasons or the result of professional 'workplace' regulations and policies. Our wordpress blog is a forum for longer blogs and articles. We needed something that bridged the gap - a place to publish quick updates and links that could be accessible to anyone. So, welcome to our new space - 'Snippets'.
We have activated the 'comments' feature and would love you to use this facility…or 'share' any posts if you are a social media site user.
Finally, if you are looking for a way to build a website, we would highly recommend 'weebly'. If you want to ask us anything specific about our experience whilst designing and publishing our new website, leave a comment and we will get back to you…