Childhood in the Digital Age (Week 4) #FLdigitalkid15

1) Intro Video

Looking into the future, and particularly how technology has/is affected/ing education in the classroom. How do parents support what is going on in the classroom?

2) What could the future look like?

The Khan Academy, it’s popularity, and the notion of the flipped classroom. Khan sells the notion of the platform as being able to help teach the individual, rather than what the whole class needs to know – it sees where the gaps are, and gives the material that is required to fill the gap. We hear children who are using the material, how excited they are by their avatars, how it changed the way a teacher teaches – she can see what particular skill has been mastered/where student is struggling (and how long student sent/how someone struggled) – and can intervene quickly. Issues of ‘Big Brother-ish’, as can see most of what students are doing, but children are excited to get points, badges, and upgrade their avatars.

Many of the comments from other delegates indicate that they think that it’s impossible to replace face-to-face learning with technology, but that the technology can really enhance blended learning.

3) Flipped Classrooms

Allows for more personalised learning, rather than the teacher standing between the student and the knowledge, s/he is a coach/mentor – faster students are no longer bored, and slower students are no longer frustrated – each student gets the support they need as they work through the material at their own pace, using the face-to-face time more effectively than chalk’n’talk, with personalised supervision and/or peer group work.

A powerful concept is that teachers don’t have to spend precious classroom time on explaining basic concepts; in a traditional class they can’t focus on specific problems or address the needs of their individual students. The flipped classroom model clearly aims to maximise the time teachers have available for each student and often implies a turn towards technology-enabled teaching methods.

If you’re seeking to promote independent learners, this is key – but of course, not unproblematic – especially dependent upon access/accessibility of technology/internet, etc. at home.

4) Creating a New Curriculum

In 2014, learning coding became a key part of the national curriculum.

Coding using algorithms and computational thinking will help children develop a language, together with systematic thinking and problem-solving (through simulation, trial-and-error) and storytelling skills that should prepare them for the future.

See, e.g. Dept for Education computing curriculum, ‘Computing at School: Advice for Primary Teachers‘, Guardian article. Industry has praised the move, whilst others have criticised it – is it the most useful use of school time? Are teachers digitally literate enough to teach this?

5) Virtual Schools?

This section looks at the possibility of e-learning, especially in developing countries where schools can typically have 90 students to one teacher. An experiment between Malawi and University of Nottingham found the student’s learning progressed immeasurably more with the virtual learning than they could in such mass classrooms – instant feedback, and the ability to learn from where they had gone wrong being key. BBC Report, Uni Nottingham report.

Comments on the course highlight the stress that people still place on face-to-face teaching (is this just for what we know, or supported by research?), and there are questions about how much information has been retained a year later?

6) The School in the Cloud

Looking at Sugatra Mitra, building on his Hole in the Wall (led to Slumdog Millionaire)… felt that children learn even more without adults around … wants to take this thinking inside the classroom – ‘Self-organised learning environment’ … Ask them a big question, leave the children with a computer to work together to look up the answer (how does hair grow?). Huge amount of positive reinforcement (“well done”) was key. Again, there’s a feeling that this works in developing countries where there is very little other education – but are questions as to whether this works in e.g. the UK.See ‘The Granny Cloud

The TED talk referred to in the audio:

 7) Your Own Views on Education and Technology

  • Do you think children can really speed up their own learning with the use of digital technology and limited teacher input?
  • Could the same set of skills be achieved with just a carefully designed piece of technology alone and no teacher input?
  • What do you think teachers can bring to children’s learning and development that computers and other technology cannot?

I think both teachers and technology have a place, and it’s worth thinking about how they are used in a ‘blend’, and how teachers can use the possibilities to give each individual student the best possibilities. Algorithms are still not as sophisticated as human beings (and will they ever be), but human beings don’t have the capacity to monitor personally to the extent that computers can.

8) One Laptop Per Child

An inspiring looking project providing low-cost laptops to those in developing countries – at least 2 million in 42 countries distributed. Not without criticism:

Children need training in using the laptop and teachers also require considerable professional development to successfully embed such new devices in their classrooms. Technical support is often unavailable when things go wrong and schools lack the necessary resources or funding to make repairs. It may also be simplistic, if not naive, to assume that the same technology will work equally well in a different context or cultur

9) Tablets & Digital Applications

Huge debates as tablets, etc. play increasing part in the classroom – some are enthusiastic, others are wary. As always, important that the content/focus of why they are being used is key, and teachers need to be well-versed in the use, to enable the technology to be used well.

See piece in The Conversation outlining much of the thinking rules before iPads enter the classroom

10) Can apps help children learn?

Representing some of the key thinking of Natalia Kucirkova – questions to ask of an app before seeking to use it for educational purposes. See The Open University ‘Our Story’ app.

11) What does the research evidence say?

See this report from Flewitt et al, and this quote from the MOOC:

The point must be emphasised that it is not the technology alone that supports learning; careful planning and sensitive support by confident teachers is needed to ensure the technology meets its intended goals.

12) Accelerated maths learning in Malawi and UK

Returning to the story about the maths app, created by onebillion, so successful in Malawi, that potentially being brought back for UK school children. Fun tasks, easy steps, the opportunity to repeat ‘wrong’ answers, and a certificate when completed. Scores are ‘rocketing’. In the UK, 6 weeks, 30 minutes a day – accelerated 18 months of learning (and the kids are keen to go outside once the half hour is up!).

I’m thinking this can work with subjects with have right/wrong answers. 

13) End of Course Poll

Some “interesting” questions re what effect you think technology is having on children/life/learning!

14) A New Educational Future

Present/future possibilities.

Who says people don’t complete MOOCs?


Life Explorer, HE/learning, Christian, cultural history, WW2 posters: Keep Calm & Carry On, digital world, coach, ENFP, @digitalfprint, @ww2poster

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