Reflections on my ICT Learning Journey

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Apps, My interest | Posted on November 7, 2014

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I created a short VideoScribe to take a look at some of the key points I felt I have learnt about ICT in schools during my training. I had never used this app on the iPad before and really enjoyed using it. I think it looks extremely effective, and I can see how this could be a really good way of displaying children’s ideas. It was a little tricky to get used to using at first, but it was quite simple once you knew what to do. I think there is a good choice of fonts and pictures, and I really liked how you could animate some of the pictures. I think the children would find this really fun to use.

Planning For The Future – A Vision For ICT in Education.

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Directed Tasks, My interest | Posted on November 6, 2014

The world of technology is constantly evolving at a faster pace than ever. Technology doesn’t stand still. As teachers we are helping to educate the next generation using technology that may be redundant by the time the pupils leave school, and to use technology that has not yet been invented. This provides teachers with a real challenge of how we prepare our next generations for these changes.

                                                                                                                      

ICT in the Curriculum.

The importance of ICT in education is demonstrated by the inclusion of the subject in both the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and the National Curriculum.  Within the EYFS ICT learning can generally be found within Understanding of the World and children should be taught the understanding that a variety technology is found and used in places such as their homes and schools. Children should also be taught how to select and use technology for a specific reason (DfE, 2014). It is never too young to introduce children to technology and ICT. Even with our youngest children ICT can help to support their learning. It can be stimulating and engaging and can provide children with an insight into the world around them. Even the youngest children will have been exposed to technology in the world around them from parents using mobile phones, to seeing cash registers whilst out shopping. Introducing technology to young children can feed their curiosity and they appear to enjoy experimenting with the hardware. Children love to take photographs, record themselves or use iPads or whiteboards for drawing for example. When the National Curriculum was amended for implementation in 2014, the role of ICT was adapted to meet the perceived changes in technology and its use in the future. Within the National Curriculum the Government suggested, “A high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world” (DfE, 2013 p1). The new National Curriculum aims to provide children with a good understanding of current and future technology, computing skills and for children to be able to write and debug simple programmes. I think it is important that Computing is taught to children across all Key Stages. Teaching children more about ICT than just how to use an iPad or how to play games, should help children prepare for the future. Learning key skills such as computer coding and debugging will only aid our children in inventing and using new technology.

 E-Safety.

Internet or e-safety is a big concern for many schools, parents and children. It is essential you repeatedly reinforce eSafety messages, whilst allowing children to see there are also gains to using the internet and sharing their work with the world (Naace, 2012 p17). Cyber bullying is also a big topic due to the rise in popularity of social media platforms. Cyber bullying can take place 24 hours a day and can have more impact than face to face bullying as it is not always as visible to other people (Metcalfe et al. 2012, 123). The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) was created to help provide support to Parents, People working with children and the children themselves to help stay safe whilst on the internet, and to help prevent and provide a safe pathway for the reporting of exploitation (National  Crime Agency, 2014). I was fortunate to attend an e-safety training evening at a placement school and this offered me invaluable insight into the dangers and how to avoid them.  I believe it is important that schools have robust policies for teaching children about e-safety, and that all adults and children are taught to adhere to them rigidly. During the e-safety training I was introduced to CEOP’s website, Think U Know and Hector the dolphin. I think these are both fantastic resources for teaching children about staying safe on the internet, and I would certainly encourage the use of this kind of resource to help protect children in my care.  More on the support provided by CEOP can be found at: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk. I hold the view that is also essential to ensure the safety of all adults working with the children when they are using the internet either themselves or in the classroom. I will aim to provide a safe environment where children are aware of the dangers of cyber bullying, and where they feel confident in reporting anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or hurt.

       

Digital Literacy.

Digital Literacy is something that is growing in importance. Digital Literacy can be defined as, ‘the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and create content using information technologies and the Internet’ (Cornell University, 2009). Communication through technology has massively increased and children need to be taught the ability to find and share information, as well as be able to communicate with others effectively. “Digital Literacy as important as reading and writing”, stated Gurney-Read. (Gurney-Read, 2013). I firmly believe children should be taught how to communicate through emails and messages, but I do not believe this should be taught to replace written or verbal communication. I have been part of a group who through my son’s school were communicating with a school in the USA. I saw the enjoyment that the children got from sending and receiving emails to each other as well as making video calls. This is a form of learning which can span the curriculum and this is a project I think would be really valuable to the children in my class in supporting their digital literacy and communication skills. I think creating this kind of learning within my classroom also demonstrates to children that technology and communicating through ICT is a feature of life worldwide.

ICT can be taught online or offline, and I consider that both these methods are as important as each other and will strive to support both within my classroom. I have experienced a child who didn’t know the answer to a question and when he asked his friend, the response immediately was, “use Google”.  It’s fantastic that children as young as 5 years old have this awareness of where they can source information, but I think it is important that they are taught there are alternative ways to source information. I want to teach children that ICT isn’t always about using computers or iPads, but that it can be using calculators, cameras and other forms of hardware. It can be writing codes or alogorithms on paper, or it can be giving a verbal algorithm to complete a task. It has been shown that ICT can improve thinking skills especially when relating to problem solving. Wegerif stated,” Computers can help develop children’s thinking skills when used as part of a larger dialogue about thinking and learning” (Wegerif, 2002). ICT learning should I believe be delivered through effective collaborative learning. The teacher needs to help to set the learning whilst at times allowing educational programmes and apps to support and lead to some independent learning. I aim to allow my children some freedom to explore the technology and the ways in which they can independently use it, whilst still introducing them to aspects that are important in the curriculum.

Cross Curricular Learning.

Computing within the classroom and using ICT to support cross curricular learning is something that I am very interested in. C ross curricu;ar learning using ICT can help to bring subjects to life and can offer opportunities to learn in ways that may not be possible without the technologies.  For example children can take a virtual tour of a castle, or they can use slow motion cameras to capture a seed growing in science.Using ICT or technology within the classroom can make the learning more accessible to all. ICT may engage and stimulate in subjects where a particular child does not normally show an interest. It is suggested that using ICT can engage a child in an area of learning for longer than they would normally spend on it, thus increasing learning (Higgins. no date, 8). ICT may support children who have a special educational need, perhaps for example a visual impairment or physical disability. Some children may also require their own ICT equipment to support their learning needs and access to the curriculum. It is important to create an environment that is flexible in regards to using the technologies that are required to allow some children to learn. This is a view supported by Caldwell et al who suggest that children should not feel stigmatised for being different. (Caldwell et al, 2014 p59). I think it is crucial to embrace these needs and look to provide ways of introducing learning through technology that allows these children to engage, participate and enjoy. I aim to promote the use of  ICT to support children with EAL as this could be of benefit for these children In including them in the learning. I will  look to build a collection of resources and ideas that will support the learning of English.  Simpson et al suggest “Children for whom English is an additional language will also flourish where a visual, hands-on approach and collaborative project development is encouraged” ( Simpson et al, 2012).

 

My Vision For My ICT Teaching.

 During my time at the university I feel I have learnt many valuable ideas of how to use ICT to support learning, how to keep the children and adults I work with safe and have developed a deeper understanding of the technologies available. I believe I have learnt to widen my views on what ICT and Computing actually is and the hardware needed to provide this. It doesn’t have to be all expensive computers and technologies, complicated apps and software as I first thought. I feel extremely confident about using ICT within my classroom to support and extend the learning of my class. 

I thoroughly believe that the use of ICT within the classroom has its benefits in supporting our children in learning life skills and how to prepare for the new technologies of the future. I believe that its use should be encouraged to stimulate learning and to engage with a subject. It should also be used to create new ways of learning and sourcing information to help with learning. I am of the belief ICT should enhance the learning of new skills, but it should not be used to replace traditional methods of learning completely. Children still need to be taught the skills of reading a book and written communication using pens and paper. I want children to feel safe, secure and confident about using various forms of hardware and software, and I hope to stimulate their curiosity in computing and technology evolution. I also envisgae making childrens learning visible to parents. I think it is a good idea to look at possibilities of introducing parents into the classroom to share in ICT learning to help them develop their own skills, but to also allow them to feel more confident in supporting their child. I would also like to intorduce blogginf to my classroom to allow parents and the rest of the school community to share in our learning. ICT is a very exciting area with new evolutions of technology coming thick and fast, and I am relishing the opportunity to help the next generation get the benefits of embracing computing.

References.

Caldwell, H. and Honeyford, G. (2014) Computing and Digital Literacy. In: Smith, P. and Dawes, L. Subject Teaching in Primary Education. London: Sage. p43-64.

Cornell University. (2009) Digital Literacy Is. [online]. Available from: http://digitalliteracy.cornell.edu/. [Accessed 2nd November 2014].

DfE. (2014) Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage Setting the Standards for Learning, Development and Care for Children From Birth to Five. London: Crown Publishers.

DfE. (2013) Computing Programmes of Study: Key Stages 1 and 2. [online]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/239033/PRIMARY_national_curriculum_-_Computing.pdf. [Accessed 2nd November 2014].

Gurney-Read. (2013) Digital Literacy as Important as Reading and Writing. [online[. Available from:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationopinion/10436444/Digital-literacy-as-important-as-reading-and-writing.html. [Accessed 2nd November 2014].

Higgins, S. (no date) Does ICT Improve Learning and Teaching in Schools? [online]. Available from: http://dysgu.cymru.gov.uk/docs/learningwales/publications/121122ictlearningen.pdf. [Accessed 3rd November 2014].

Metcalfe, J. And Simpson, D. (2012) Learning online: the internet, social networking and e-safety. In: Simpson, D. And Toyn, M. Primary ICT Across the Curriculum. (2nd ed) London: Learning Matters.

Naace. (2012) Naace Curriculum Framework. [online]. Available from: www.naace.co.uk/naacecurriculum. [Accessed 2nd November 2014].

National Crime Agency (2014) About CEOP. [online]. Available from: http://ceop.police.uk/About-Us/. [Accessed 2nd November 2014].

Simpson, D., and Metcalfe, J. (2012) Creating, Processing and Manipulating Information. In: Simpson, D. and Toyn, M. (eds) Primary ICT Across the Curriculum. (2nd ed) London: Learning Matters. P52-76.

Wegerif, R (2002) Literature Review in Thinking Skills, Technology and Learning. [online]. Available from: www.futurelab.org.uk. [Accessed 2nd November 2014].

Apps and Web Based Learning Tools.

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Apps, Children's Learning, Early Years, My interest | Posted on October 11, 2014

There has been a huge increase in the number of apps and web based programmes designed to support learning both inside and outside of the classrrom. Today in our ICT lecture we took a quick toour through some of these apps and webbased programmes to discuss how they could be used and where they link to with regards to supporting children.

Having two primary aged children of my own, I have seen the increase in the amount of web based and app based learning that takes place in schools. Both of my children have recently been issued with access to a website called Reading Eggs designed to help children develop further their reading skills. This website uses games , songs, puzzles and activities to encourage children to read. My children do not access this website very frequently, but when they do they really enjoy the learning and can spend large amounts of time completing activities. Children can earn golden egg rewrads every time they complete a challenge which allows them to open up more activities.

To watch a short video about Reading Eggs, please click the link.

   

Another app and web based learning tool I have become more familiar with recently is Mathletics. Again my children have been issued with a login via their school. Mathletics allows children to complete learning tasks and then test themselves on various areas of learning in maths. The learning tests get progressively more difficult as the child moves through the learning. The children earn points as they progress through the challenges and this can be used to purchase items to adapt their profile avatar. These poi ts can also be collected and stored and when a set total is achieved, the child can print off a certificate of their achievements. Mathletics also allows children to take part in global challenges, and their is also a global score board that they can feature on if they earn enough points. This app has been particularly good for supporting my eldest sons maths development, and he will frequently access this app. As a aprent I have enjoyed using this app with him and I really like the way the app looks and fuctions. To find out more about Mathletics, click on the picture below.

 

We were introduced to apps and web based programmes that can help teaching staff create a digital learning journey for their pupils. These apps and programmes may be used intstead of the tradiotonal written versions to create an end of Foundation Stage profile for example. This is something I have never had the exeprience of using, but having spoken to teachers who have used them they would appear fairly popular. Any member of staff can access them and they are often considered quicker and easier to use as there is no loose papers to be stuck into books and they can contain video clips to show the childs progress.

 

 

My Early Years Blog Goes World Wide!

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Early Years, My interest | Posted on January 21, 2014

While I was updating my blog today I thought I would take a look at my mapping tool showing me where the different visitors to my blog have come from. I was so surprised to discover my blog has been visted by people in 33 different countries!

To me this suggests Early Years Education  and ICT must be a topic of discussion all over the world, as we all want the best educational start for our children no matter where we are. Hopefully people are finding my blog interesting or informative and are finding some of my thoughts about ICT use in the Early Years interesting. It would be great to get some thoughts from around the world on ICT use in the Early Years, so if you could leave any comments on your own experiences or ideas for using ICT in teaching that would be fantastic!

Kids Apps, Good or Bad For Our Children?

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Directed Tasks, Early Years, My interest | Posted on February 28, 2013

We were asked to wrote a piece about something that interested us. I decided to stick with the theme of ICT and look at an issue which was being featured frequently in the media. It is also something I have some personal experience of.

There has been an explosion in apps flooding onto the market place for mobile phones and tablets all aimed at our children, but how good are they for our children to be using?
It’s amazing how many children are able to pick up the latest phone or tablet and begin swiping away to access games and apps on the devices. Even the youngest children appear to have developed the ability to swipe the screen as soon as they are able to get their hands on a device! This video demonstrates this!

Many of these apps are marketed as being of educational value to our children, but are they really a good thing? The use of these apps and games is dramatically increasing the amount of screen time our children are getting. Is this preventing them from developing other skills and interests such as being outdoors or reading? Are adults partly to blame for this rise in screen time if they themselves are role modelling the frequent use of these devices and apps?
Professionals have been warning for a number of years that the amount of time children are spending in front of televisions and DVD’s has been increasing, and now they are warning that the new generation of gadgets is increasing this further. I read a very interesting article recently which discussed the rise of children’s apps on the markets. Part of the article discussed research carried out by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggested for children 2 years or younger all those screens can have a negative impact upon children’s development. It suggested unplanned play is a better brain booster for our youngest children in society.
Many parents admit that providing their child with the opportunity to play on a tablet or phone, they are able to take care of other tasks they may need to do for example cooking the dinner. But should we be allowing these gadgets to become babysitting devices and does this increase both the child and adult’s dependence upon them? I admit I have allowed my children time on their tablet and games console to get work done and it is very easy to allow these play times to go on for longer than originally planned because it’s keeping them quiet. However as a parent I also see the importance of my children playing in the garden, being creative and sitting quietly reading. I can see how a child sitting for hours on end could impact upon other areas of their development for example physical development, but I can also see the benefits too. Both my children enjoy being able to use the Internet, my oldest son to do maths homework online for example and the younger one to access CBeebies to practice his phonics.
If you go online for example to the Google store or Apple store it is quite obvious just how many apps are available for children. There is everything from teaching your baby words in other languages to nursery rhymes and story telling apps. It is interesting that some apps which may be considered adult apps are advertised alongside our children’s apps such as Angry Birds.

   
There have also been recent articles in the media about parents receiving huge bills for apps children have downloaded themselves whilst using smart devices. Is it too easy for children to download these apps or is this partly the fault of the adult for not supervising enough what the child is doing? Many of the apps children are able to access entice children in with a free download but the children are encouraged to buy further parts to the game for example furniture for imaginary houses. Children are also given options to buy their way through to the next level using payments through the phone, again creating high bills for unsuspecting parents.
With more and more apps and devices hitting the market is this a trend that will continue to grow? Are we exposing our children to more ICT and technology than they actually need? And is all of what they access really a positive experience for the children? These are arguments that many people have different views upon but one thing the many agree upon, is that allowing our children to have some access and experiences with ICT is a positive thing for our children’s development as long as it is supervised and time controlled.

To access the article I read about kids apps follow this link:http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-11-17/business/35281254_1_app-stores-smartphone-samsung-galaxy

To access an article on the cost of these apps follow this link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21042379