During this month the project has moved forward in a number of ways.
Recruitment of students to attend the summer camp in 2018 began in the Autumn with verbal announcements to the two courses involved (BA Primary and BA Special Educational Needs and Inclusion). The application details were then updated on the blog with a specially designed poster and formal Announcements signposting these were sent to the two cohorts. The initial deadline for applications was Friday 12th January 2018. At this point we received fourteen applications in total, five from students on the BA SENI course and nine from the BA Primary course. During a project meeting it was decided that we would extend the deadline to see if we could attract more applications. Although we could fill the expected number of places to be offered exactly we would not have any flexibility about whether to offer to students or not and there would be no reserve places should students pull out. The deadline was therefore extended by one week and this generated three additional applications. The team feel that this puts us in a strong position about selecting the best candidates and being able to guarantee a full cohort of students travels to Hong Kong in the summer. The interview date has now been set for 7th February with all project members potentially involved in the process. Rooms have been booked and we are seeking the assistance of students from last year’s camp in the selection process. Materials will be adapted from last year but a significant new emphasis will be placed on questions about Changemaker and the provision of resources for the project bank.
Although the project is feasible without Hong Kong summer camp involvement this would be a key aspect of enhancement. We were therefore very pleased to hear on Wednesday 17th January that the team at Woofoo would like us to send two groups of seven out to Hong Kong this summer. A few days later we also received confirmation of the dates for the camp – 1st July to the 5th August 2018. Confirmation of this aspect of the project is most welcome as it will provide a real life context for the developing resource bank and will allow Activity Theory to be used as an evaluative tool in schools in Hong Kong. This has been a real boost for the team and we are now working hard on selecting and training the best students to send on the camp.
Following our meeting on 10th January the team feel that the Changemaker aspect of the project is one we can really develop. We plan to invite a colleague from the Changemaker team to look further into the Changemaker Award section of the project with a possibility of a twilight webinar to support the students selected by the interview process. This innovative approach is needed because students on the BA Primary course will on school placement no long after the interviews have taken place.
During the meeting on 10th January Qian explained Activity Theory in detail and the ways in which it can be incorporated into the project were further discussed. During the creation of the resource bank it is proposed that we ask students to tag each resource as AT or ABL (Activity Theory or Active Blended Learning). The students will then provide a one sentence summary of why the resource is tagged in this way. For example AT resources would be those regarded as tools, roles or have a community aspect or outcome. Those regarded as linked to ABL would be linked to experiential, hands-on-learning or collaborative learning. It has also been agreed that we contact the cohort from last year and invite them to evaluate the resources they created in the same way. In these ways we hope to embed Activity Theory and Active Blended Learning in the project outcomes.
The challenges for the coming month are to complete the interview process and select the best students for the camp. We will then need to look at how to induct them and instil the values of the project into their preparations for the trip and into the resources they contribute to the bank. The team also feel that the students travelling to Hong Kong deserve some support from staff in the form of a visit at some point in the camp. We will need to explore funding options in the coming months to enable this to take place.