Haven’t blogged for a while as I have been busy with assignments etc but this is a rather long one so hope you enjoy!
From the 10-12 April, Tyla, Aaron and I were invited to attend and speak at the PELeCON enhanced learning conference at Plymouth University. We were offered this opportunity on the back of our speech at the BETT show back in February and were eager to make the most of speaking again on ‘what it means to be a digitally literate teacher’ and how we are constantly developing this all the time.
Firstly on the Wednesday, we assisted with the Kidsmeet, where children with their families came along to have a go with either: Kodu, a games making software where you can visually programme creative games which can be used for PC and Xbox, Scratch, which is another programming software, where you can configure animations showing games as well as art. The other option for the families was using the simple program ‘I Can Animate’ to take stop frames of an image made of either plasticine, mini figures or from post-it notes. I helped a family with the Post-it notes one where they made a monster bird look like it was flying off. One overall point that struck me and many of the others working with this event was the persistence and patience of these young children to work on their projects for a couple of hours and not lose interest. I really was in awe of the dedication shown by the children to what they were doing. If this impressed me, then the results of what had been produced stunned me even more. The children were given a chance to show their projects on the cinema screen and these were of really high standard. Some children had put in some background music to their animations and really did tell a clear story with what they had animated and others had conjured up some interesting games, where the rules were clear and I was desperate for a go at playing them!
Later on Wednesday, we delivered our speeches to an excellent and responsive audience, who were willing to interact with us on the invaluable social networking site Twitter to ask us questions and have background discussions with us during the speeches. As mentioned, we spoke on ‘what it means to be a digitally literate teacher’ and what they need to be like. I opened with the role of social media in supporting learning and gave examples and reasoning of where it helped me personally so far and then the benefits and risks it can give to teachers and pupils and then balanced my argument there after. Aaron then spoke about technology alleviating some of the problems which affect children with Dyslexia and Dyspraxia and then Tyla spoke about the ‘Fear Factor’ that many teachers have with getting to grips with new technology and the fears that many have over introducing it to in their classrooms. Even now, following the changes to the National Curriculum from 2014 and the modification of ICT to computing, many teachers will have to get familiar with programming and there is expected to be a sense of reluctance and fear in doing this. Our speeches went smoothly and we were then asked some further questions such as ‘Is it possible to run whole courses online?’
Throughout the rest of the conference, we sat in on many keynote presentations such as Doug Belshaw’s Mozilla open badges one, which give open recognition and reward of a particular online skill learnt and consist of a digital image with meta data within them. I really saw how these can open up opportunites such as jobs and educational opportunities because your badge can be acknowledged via social media and can be seen by many. Another interesting concept picked up was a 7 C’s of Learning Design model consisting of conceptualising, capturing, communicating, collaborating, considering, combining and consolidating. I really did like the look of this pedagogical process for really learning anything effectively. There was also the makey makeys where you can use any objects, as weird as a banana’ as an input device, effectively acting as a keyboard. Input devices can be used for playing the piano and pacman as well as other uses. I also picked up many other new ideas which I am going to be reseaching and the amount I learnt over a short period of time was quite staggering really.
Finally I’d like to pay a huge thanks to Steve Wheeler, who was chair of the conference and kindly offered us the opportunity to come along and speak at it, Peter Yeomans, who supported us throughout and acted as our mentor and to Oliver Quinlan, who took a contunied unterest in how we were getting on via Twitter despite being over in Finland with some Year 2 students exploring the educational system there and finally everyone else at the conference who made it such an enjoyable and prodigious experience. I can take so much away from these 3 days and I hope to participate in more conferences in future years.
Thankyou for reading