The Changing face of ICT, both in itself and in the Curriculum (Vision Statement)

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Posted by Shane | Posted in Cross-Curricular, Curriculum, Vision Statement | Posted on November 22, 2012

In 2012, new draft National Curricula were introduced for the core subjects of English, Maths and Science but for ICT however, which many teachers view as a core subject due to the dominance of technology in society, a rather different process was outlined. Although it has been stressed that ICT will remain a statutory part of the National Curriculum in all four Key Stages after 2014, in primary schools it has been detailed that teachers will no longer be restricted to the Programmes of Study and children therefore will no longer have to meet the set attainment targets.  Whilst it is to be expected that there will be some criticisms associated with these strategies it must be noted that the DFE outlines greater flexibility in teaching as ‘by removing this requirement, maintained schools will continue to be under a duty to teach ICT as part of the National Curriculum, but teachers will have the freedom to determine ICT curricula that best meet the needs of their pupils’ (2012). These therefore gives teachers in schools greater capabilities to use ICT in other areas of the Curriculum, a topic that, many researchers state, needs to be balanced.

One such researcher is Abbott who describes how ‘there is an unresolved tension around the issue of ICT as a subject in its own right or as a set of tools with which to deliver and absorb the other subjects’ (2001, pg 44). The arguments however for how much ICT should be used throughout the curriculum have differing view points, with Ager, for example, (2000, pg. 15) stating that ‘ICT must be used across the curriculum in the same way that a pen and pencil are used in most subject areas’ implying that it used be used very frequently, and even perhaps wherever possible. A different perspective, with a cautious view, is provided by Kennewell et al. (2000, pg. 68) who describes that ‘teachers must ensure that pupils have the support they need for developing their ICT capability, while providing them with contexts which stimulate learning in other subjects as well’, implying that whilst technology can aid other subjects it must not hinder the teaching of the ICT skills themselves.

This research therefore outlines that teachers need to achieve a level of coverage with ICT,  providing opportunities to use it in many areas, which Twining supports by stating that ‘we need to harness the potential of ICT to enhance learning’ (2004, pg. 41). On the other hand we must remember not to overload children with technology that manages to avoid developing their ICT skills. One way in this can be avoided, a method I will implement in practice is to refrain from repeatedly using certain software, with Word and PowerPoint usually being the key examples. Children must be provided with the opportunities to use as much software as possible and therefore, if possible more hardware. Children are commonly asked to either create posters or presentations using this software but instead could use video cameras to make documentaries, or use Photo Story to flash images on screen that they then explain, as opposed to reading a PowerPoint, or at a simpler level could even use digital cameras to take and use images of themselves in their work rather than internet images. Another key factor for teacher’s to remember is that whilst ICT is a powerful tool, it is not the be all and end all, and cannot replace all teaching strategies and approaches. Selinger, as an example, highlights how ‘the visuals and dynamics of ICT can play an important in developing student’s understanding of mathematics’ suggesting that model’s can be used to support children’s learning and indeed they can, but more powerful still, in many cases, but unfortunately not all due to budgeting, are physical resources that children can manipulate with their hands whether this be; weights in maths, materials in science or paints in art lessons.

Physical resources such as these however, are not the only resource to be effected by finance with ICT in many schools being drastically dependent on funding. As an example many schools will not have enough computers for a full class of 30 children, possibly due to space but more likely due to the matter of it costing vast amounts of money. This however is not the only issue that can arise, concerning the ‘ICT budget’ in schools, with another problem being highlighted by Kennewell et al. (2000, pg 69.) who state that ‘plans for ICT activities have a limited lifespan, with the need to replace them to take advantage of new resources’. The plans only have a limited lifetime as the technology only has a limited lifetime, eventually breaking, becoming incompatible with other newer software or even with newer hardware rendering it obsolete. However many schools, and especially those that are state-funded, will not be able to buy new resources instantly meaning that schools are usually not running the latest versions of software or purchasing the newest versions of hardware as they simply cannot afford it whereas children may be using them at home, leading to a potential for confusion between home and school.

 

References

 

Abbott, C. (2001) ICT: Changing Education. 1st Edition. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

 

Ager, R. (2000) The Art of Information and Communications Technology for Teachers. 1st Edition. London: David Fulton Publishers.

 

Department for Education (2012) Disapplication of the National Curriculum Programmes of Study, Attainment Targets and statutory assessment arrangements for ICT from September 2012 [online]. London: DFE Publications. Available From: http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/o/orders%20consultation%20results%20report.pdf [21.11.12]

 

Kennewell, S., Parkinson, J. and Tanner, H. (2000) Developing the ICT Capable School. 1st Edition. London: RoutledgeFalmer

 

Selinger, M. (2001) Information and Communication technologies and representations of mathematics. In: Loveless, A. and Ellis, V. (eds.) ICT, Pedagogy and the Curriculum. London: RoutledgeFalmer. Pp. 152-178.

 

Twining, P. (2004) The Computer Practice Framework: a tool to enhance curriculum development relating to ICT. In: Monteith, M. (eds.) ICT for Curriculum Enhancement. Bristol: Intellect Books. Pp. 41-56.

“You should not be playing games in my lesson!!!”

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Posted by Shane | Posted in Animations, Games | Posted on November 22, 2012

Does anybody else recognise the problem with this? Yes, ok, I know that some children will go onto games that they shouldn’t be going onto, (for example those they may use at home) but there will be children who are familiar with educational games that could actually be utilised in the classroom. This is a factor that I have seen on placement personally, with teachers using ICT based games to support the children’s learning, and also in those ‘tricky’ situations where something has happened/gone wrong and teachers need a short 5 minute activity that children can do to keep them busy. Obviously it is best to avoid this but hey we all have to live and deal with it and lets face it, it is much better if an activity can support children’s learning.

 

So as I like doing little reviews on things, and providing you with some interesting resources and fun games (hopefully) I am now going on a hunt…. for games:

 

New York Times Set Daily Puzzle

This link takes you to a matching activity where all three pictures need to have ‘everything the same’ or ‘everything different’. “What?” I hear you ask. Yes it sounds confusing but is quite a teaser activity that is nice to get children to come up to the front (Interactive Whiteboard). I used it in a Y4, 5 and 6 class and they thoroughly enjoy it, becoming very determined as a class to find the solutions… and you probably will too.

Screen-shot of the Puzzle

 

BBC Bitesize KS1

So we should all be familiar with the BBC and perhaps Bitesize, with several of you perhaps using it before but they also provide a range of games covering a range of topics for; Literacy, Maths and Science at KS1. Whilst all games may not suit all classes or children their is a good selection so it would be worth checking them out to see if you can use them as either a starter or plenary activity. All of the games are nicely animated and come with sound effects to support them.

 

BBC Bitesize KS2

As you might expect, exactly the same as the KS1 resources… No, I’m joking of course these resources are aimed for children of higher levels (as they hopefully will be) but are also aimed a lot more at children playing them independently or in pairs on a laptop/pc rather than as a class on an IWB. Children can even create lobbies so that they can play each other.

 

www.ictgames.com

This website, aimed at early years and key stage 1, features some very interesting games to support both literacy and mathematics, some of which have I have seen on placements in schools. An advantage of this website is that each game outlines the ‘objective’ it aims to achieve and again are worth, in my opinion, having a quick look at with clearly labelled sections such as; number facts, counting, addition, money etc. making games very quick and easy to find.

 

Kent ICT games

This website also offers games for both KS1 and also KS2 as well as some useful animations including some created to support the rhymes of 5 little ducks and 5 little speckled frogs (which can also support children in the early years.

 

So that is a quick look at some examples of games to support some of the subjects within the Curriculum, clearly the list will not be exhaustive but they do provide many examples of useful games for many age levels and topics so I hope that you will find them worth looking at… And have fun playing them.

 

Just another movie maker?? iMovie on iPad, iRate it highly!

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Posted by Shane | Posted in Animations, iMovie, iPad, Mobile Technology | Posted on November 21, 2012

So, iMovie?? Well as its name would suggest this app is all about the moving image, allowing users to produce both short movies and, following a recent update, movie trailers. However, with many other examples of movie making or photo merging software available, with some, such as Windows Movie Maker and Photo Story being free to access is this app worth getting?

Well, one major factor in this for schools would be the price, which may cause some issues because whilst the app itself costs just £2.99, it is made by Apple (thats the computer company) and therefore is only available on Mac’s and the iPad. This would mean that if the school didn’t already have iPads its realistic cost to use it would be at least £272.99 (the app plus the cost of a minimum spec iPad mini). However, with schools starting to implement the use of iPads and with the likelihood of more being implemented, in my opinion, increasing with the release of the cheaper iPad mini this app could become widely used in schools, providing it ‘fits the bill’.

 

So down to the ‘nitty gritty’… Is it good enough?

I would assume, like me, what you would want from any movie making software is;

1. Child-Friendly, ease of use

2. Useful help and guidance

3. Creative and effective results

All I can say is ‘look no further’, I would even go so far as saying “don’t read the rest of my review, just go buy it right now”. This app easily meets my requirements and now I will show you how.

 

iMovie Title Screen

So child-friendly? I know what you’re thinking, most technology isn’t, especially concerning videos and video editing with many buttons that, I swear, are just there to be clicked and have no obvious purpose.

However as can be seen in this screenshot (left) the buttons are clear for children to use, explaining their function and giving instructions very clearly.

But perhaps the key factor that makes this app easy and effective to use is that, on the iPad, all of the capability, is done at your fingertips on a tablet that can be taken almost anywhere, this means that video editing, and recording is no longer confined to the classroom or ICT suite. It is also important to note that as video and photos can be taken on the iPad itself, using both the front-facing and rear-facing cameras, and then imported directly into iMovie it can solve potential compatibility/connection issues that may have been experienced in the past between device and computer.

 

The Storyboard

So up next, will it help you when you get stuck? Let’s admit it we all have those moments where we are all completely perplexed by technology. It happens. However on many occasions we are left staring at a screen that makes no sense to us, not helpful in a class of 30 children all experiencing the same problem. However iMovie aims to change this by providing clear help and guidance. Too good to be true? For once, no. All users have to do is tap one little button and there issue will hopefully be solved. “Where’s this button for life in general?” I hear you ask. Whilst I don’t know about that the ell button in iMovie is shown as a question mark (yellow circle in picture right) and when pressed displays the yellow boxes that can be seen (right), with each providing a message to help the user. Whilst these do not provide a definitive guide on how to use iMovie they should be able to answer any questions they children may have, eradicating the issue of 30 children looking blankly at their computer screen.

 

Choice of Trailers

So as with most pieces of technology, the finished product, in this case the video, is perhaps the key judge regarding its success, a bit like Simon Cowell on all these talent shows. This app, in a word, produces FANTASTIC videos. The app offers a wide choice of themes for trailers (seen left) and combined with the ability to add both photos and videos from the camera roll, or take them directly on the iPad, offers a huge potential for creating dramatic, effective, creative and, in some cases humorous, videos. The integrated  storyboard also shows children the order in which their videos will be shown and also provides built in effects and transitions as well as background music or sound effects.

The video, can also be viewed whilst being created to see how it is progressing and once finished can be viewed in a number of ways. The first is for children to view it themselves on the iPad but, as can be imagined, the teacher may want to show the video to the whole class. This could be done by either connecting the iPad to the Interactive Whiteboard (requires a HDMI or VGA connecter that is bought separately) or by uploading the video to YouTube and then watching it on the internet.

A spy comedy made using iMovie.

 

So are there any iSsues with iMovie? (see what I did there?)

Well, as I am a massive fan of this app I would like to say no but there are one or two, although they are very minor issues. One I did notice, that is actually a glitch rather than a major issue is that when creating a video random pieces of video found there way into different parts of the storyboard, however these can be easily removed. Another issue is that as iMovie is not available on Windows PC’s transferring an actual file to one is very complicated and is best done with the use of iTunes and then exporting the video from within iMovie or, as mentioned, if a file is not needed it can be watched in a number of ways.

 

Its place within the curriculum?

Well, I could sum this really quickly by saying that potentially it can be used anywhere but here are a few examples to get you started:

Art – iMovie could be used to film work on a class display showing progress the unit, incorporating both photos and videos of the children working and also the finished article which could then be shown in a ‘Celebration/Family’ Assembly

Literacy – iMovie could be used to support a number of areas including; persuasive texts by filming adverts, non-fiction by producing a documentary and also reports by making a news report.

Maths – Children could produce their own ‘How do you solve a problem like…’ (No not Maria) a mathematical problem showing each step and how they used practical equipment to help them.

Science – The fact that iPads are so mobile make them highly useful for taking outside of the classroom, for example when carrying out observations or going on walks

PE – Routines in sports such as gymnastics and also dance could be recorded and played back to see where improvements can be made with a trailer then being made for events such as school dance and music shows as these could be placed easily on a school website/blog

ICT – iMovie could be used as a stand-alone piece of software that children are shown how to use (perhaps useful if future cross-curricular links are to utilised) but could then be used to make ‘How to..’ videos for other pieces of software

 

So that was my blog regarding all things iMovie, a great app that can be utilised vastly within primary schools, providing that the appropriate hardware is in place. Hopefully you enjoyed reading, please comment with any questions or queries. Thanks for Listening.

Who said that being the scribe was boring? This app changes that!

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Posted by Shane | Posted in Animations, Mobile Technology | Posted on November 7, 2012

Videoscribe is an animation tool available for the iPad. It differs from normal animation tools in that the animation is literally drawn on screen by a hand after users have chosen the images to be placed within the video. Whilst this app costs £2.99 it can be useful in different ways within the classroom.

Screenshot showing the buttons for the using Videoscape

This app allows users to be able to drag both images and text into the animation as well as backing tracks to accompany the video.

This picture shows how the different buttons in Videoscape are used to help create a video with clear buttons showing how to zoom in and out and also how to change items already added into the video.

Whilst this software is easy to use it is definitely suited as a tool for teaching with KS2 predominantly, that is KS2 children will find it a lot easier to use the software as I feel that KS1 children will be confused by all of the buttons as it took me time to get used to them.

 

Uses In The Classroom:

1. This could be used as a very nice way of introducing topics in the classroom, for example using the clock image as a way of introducing children to telling the time, asking ‘what may we be learning about today’?

 

2. It could also be used as a discussion point for children looking at a picture from several aspects, including perhaps developing a storyline or discussing emotions, possibly even leading to some drama.

 

So thats a quick look at Videoscribe and it’s uses. This is an app that I had no previous use of prior to the session but after briefly having it demonstrated to us in session and not having time to use it, I decided to buy it on my iPad and I would recommend it to anyone with an iPad as it is fun to see what you can create. Whilst there is a desktop version of this app using it comes at a cost after a seven day free-trial so I would personally stick to the iPad version. Once again, as usual I would like to say thanks for reading and have fun playing around with this app. More great stuff coming your way soon.

 

 

What are these mysterious squares??

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Posted by Shane | Posted in Mobile Technology, QR Codes | Posted on November 7, 2012

Most of us have seen them somewhere, in the most of random of places appearing on everything from movie posters to food packaging and even potentially, as will be discussed, in schools.

As can be seen the squares seem to contain random patterns that make no apparent sense to anyone, children and adults alike, or do they?..

I say this because in fact what can be seen left is readable to just about any person it just needs ‘decoding’ as it were. To do this all that is needed is a QR Reader, that is an application that can take such a pattern and read it to provide the user with its actual meaning.

There are several different QR Readers available for different pieces of hardware including a free app called ‘Scan‘, available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone Software by following the link.

Once this QR reader is available all that a person needs to do is use it to scan the QR code to read the message. Why not try it on this QR Code above, (It may not mean much to you yet).

 

QR Code 2

These codes can display any message that can be typed and can even be linked to websites and therefore videos and pictures. This provides teacher’s with many opportunities to use these both inside and outside of the classroom as well as in many if not all areas of the curriculum.

To do this teacher’s will need to create the QR Codes, which can be done using this website. Here any message can be written to fit the appropriate curriculum area and then all the teacher needs to do is print of the QR Codes and place them where desired and ask children to go around scanning them to read the message (although this technique may need to be demonstrated).

This will require the children to have the appropriate hardware however, for example iPads or other tablets. As these may be of a limited number activities such as these could be done in small groups.

 

QR Code 3

WHERE CAN QR CODES BE USED IN THE CURRICULUM:

Maths: As clues to a puzzle; for example as I have done to identify a number from given clues, or perhaps to identify a shape given it’s properties.

Science: Clues could be given as to a type of animal by describing how it is adapted to its habitats, or another example could be to list examples of food and children have to name the food group.

Literacy: Messages could contain adjectives relating to pictures (then pairing the QR Code to the picture), or they could a video of emotive acting with children then discussing the characters emotions and reasons for them

ICT: These QR Codes could be numbered with the order providing children with a step-by-step guide on either how to use a piece of software or how to complete a piece of work in an ICT. This could also include children learning how to make their own QR Codes, as it is not a difficult process, and then designing games or riddles for the classmates.

 

So that was my blog looking at QR Codes which I chose to focus on as I had little time to look at them during the session. I also felt it was important for me to look at them as I hadn’t used them before but after this I feel confident that I could use them both inside and outside of the classroom.

Thank you and Goodbye everyone

 

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