EdTech Learning Journeys: A Case Study
Our resident Pre-School and Primary School EdTech blogger, Neelam Parmar, discusses her experiences in the usage of technology in the classroom and takes a look at the experiences from the teacher’s and children’s perspective. Food for thought! Do you agree? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.
In the last few months, I have ventured upon a personal journey where introducing educational technology has been an interesting and exhilarating journey for both teachers and students. Although the experience for both the educator and child starts off with striking differences when using new technology within lessons, it is also observed that both parties benefit from the learning experience whilst using creative and innovative learning approaches.
The Learning Journey for the Teacher
In the Beginning – In a session where a teacher introduces the use of the blogger app in classroom, the teacher confesses that she has never used an app before, does not clearly understand what a blog means and is unclear of the types of objectives and outcomes for integrating a blog within an English based lesson. However, good heartedly, the teacher pursues with the novel experience and introduces the technology into classroom.
Middle – With all good intentions, she explains the rules of good conduct whilst using blogs in study and emphasises that all comments will look to create positive feedback for the user.
- Lesson objective: To describe the MacBeth character in William Shakespeare’s book.
- The outcome: For children to use as many descriptive words in describing his physical appearance, his role of importance and whatever else they feel relevant, as seen in his image on the blog post.
At the End – The teacher is astounded by how each and every child is truly engaged in the classroom activity and how easy it is to set the whole user experience. More importantly, the teacher recognises that the children quickly finish off the task (and quite competently). In order to drive the lesson forward and without wanting to lose momentum, together the class decide that each one of them will create new blog posts and provide their thoughts and reflections for every chapter of Macbeth.
The Real Outcome: What was initially considered ‘a technology lesson’ in English accelerated to become a highly intellectual debate and description of English Literature. Not only were children writing descriptive paragraphs (in as much as they were instructed to do so), they were additionally found to be working alongside each other, providing technical assistance and critical feedback. Thereby, creating a cohesive and conducive peer learning environment. The teacher, taking the role of the facilitator, was able to steer the learning activity and encourage for extended learning, whilst at the same time, bearing in mind the objectives and outcomes for the lesson.
The Learning Journey of the Child
In the Beginning – As soon as the teacher informs the class that they will be using a blog and having ‘a blogging experience’ within their English Lesson, the children become excited. One boy exclaims that he is already a blogger and cannot wait to get started. Another child offers her technical expertise in setting up a blog as her parents often write on a blog and she knows ‘exactly what to do’. Imagine the surprise on the teacher’s face!
Middle – Having been instructed that the blog is a description about the main character in Shakerspeare’s Macbeth, the children follow the ‘printed instructions’ and begin to write their piece. It is observed that none of the children stop at just one paragraph. Most descriptions average to three paragraphs and more.
The children quickly finish off the task and are keen to make comments on each other’s posts. Some children agree with other posts and make positive contributions such as, ‘good use of descriptive words but try to use shorter sentences’. Other comments create a debate between a group of children which is found to encourage deeper reflection in writing and inquiry.
At the End – The children have mastered the blogger app and are able to set up their own posts and extend its use to create their own learning and writing space. The children are in complete control and there is an eclectic mix of both independent exploration and collaborative communication pedagogy taking place.
Subtle blogging benefits are found to lead to improved writing, communication and social skills. At the same time, children are learning to work with new learning technologies of the 21st century and are encouraged to improve their existing knowledge of technical skills.
Till today the children are keen users of the blogger app. They continue to blog both at school and at home on a regular basis. Amazingly, the majority of boys find writing via a blog very easy and consider the whole experience ‘very cool’.
The teacher is no longer solely in charge of technical maintenance and assigns technical ownership to two ‘Learning Champions’ on a weekly basis. These students share responsibility to monitor and ensure that blogging and comments from students are relevant only to subject content.
In terms of pedagogy, there is no longer one direct line of communication and children are found to be learning off each other. Where the teacher takes the role of a collaborator in driving extending learning, new found groups of peer learning are taking place where children are working alongside and in parallel to one another.
Crucially, where children are showing signs of driving their own learning processes, levels of engagement and motivation are especially heightened. This is a key indicator that quality of involvement and engagement can help encourage ‘deeper’ learning within challenging yet achievable experiences.