At Frog (where I work) we’re getting all geared up for our Annual Conference next week (click here to register, it’s free!) I know that someone’s going to be poking a camera in my face and asking me about how learning is changing in the digital era so to prepare for that I thought I’d write a quick blog post on current trends as I see them.
Square pegs in round holes
I’ve written quite a lot about the uncomfortable times we are living in as we adjust to new ways of working with the proliferation of new technologies. This talk ‘Changing Education Paradigms’ by Sir Ken Robinson, I think, helpfully outlines some of these issues:
Blogging & collaborative learning
The barrier between teacher and pupil is diminishing more and more. Pupils are becoming teachers and non-teaching adults are becoming pupils and teachers. We are all learning from each other! One of the most exciting areas, in my view, in education is in the use of blogging for learning. Some schools are encouraging students to create blogs as their portfolio of evidence for a project (this is happening in universities and colleges as well). The beauty of a blog is that it can combine traditional text based work with video, images, animations and other media. One school that I visited recently has started using blogs with their Sixth Form media studies students. It encourages the students to think about using different media to present their ideas. It’s also a lot easier to send a link to a blog to an external examiner than a pile of paper! Other schools have collaborative blogs for a whole class. There are some brilliant examples of these in Primary Schools in particular. Two of my favourites are Heathfield’s Yr6 Blog and Alex’s Class.
All sorts of learning takes place on ‘Mr Mitchell’s’ Yr 6 blog and because it is public, comments fly in from around the world – the children are so boosted by the international visitors and it harnesses the power of the internet to give them teachers from everywhere!
Alex’s Class is a superb example of how pupils’ work can be showcased through a blog. Alex (the class teacher) also uses lots of free tools to create fantastic displays of the children’s work like this:
I have blogged about the current interest in gaming and how the behaviours associated with it can relate to learning before. I’m noticing that more and more people are picking up on this.
One school I visited recently noticed that boys in particular weren’t interested in their house points system. Knowing that his son loved computer games and watching him repeat an action over and over again in a role play game in order to receive a new suit of armour, the deputy head at this school came up with a brilliant idea. Each student has a profile picture on their Frog learning platform. The school created a series of funny avatars to replace profile pictures that could be earned by getting house points (these are awarded for good behaviour, achievement etc). The lowest level was a picture of a frog in a nappy – no one wanted their avatar to remain at that level and so worked hard to achieve the points to move up to the next level. One of the avatars is even a Doctor Who frog! Points can be traded in for rewards sponsored by local businesses – such as a bag of chips from the local chip shop! This is involving the local community in the disciplining of the school children. What a great example of gaming having an impact on learning and behaviour!
That’s probably enough for now – I might add some more thoughts after I get back from the Frog National Learning Platforms Conference – I’ll be live blogging here by the way: http://frog2011.posterous.com/