TAKING LEARNING OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

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The last few months has seen a radical change in the way that we impart and receive information. Students are being taught in different ways than before from self learning to flipped classroom approaches, we have seen technology make a considerable impact on learning and teaching methods.

Collaboration

Technology has made it possible for everyone to connect, discuss and enact upon situations collaboratively, helping to improve understanding and increases engagement. E-learning tools are very popular but it is their features to share and discuss which improves their usability. You will now find teachers and students interacting with each other and more often. There is a down side of course in terms of workload, but teachers are now much more accessible now and positively can act as mentors to help students in their overall development. This also enables students to interact with each other, building interpersonal skills and confidence.

Learning outside the classroom

Mobile based devices have taken learning outside the classroom. With mLearning and eLearning growing in popularity, students are able to learn at their own pace and time. In a previous blog about the future of learning I outlined some practical tips on how eLearning could be harnessed. Internet connection is becoming less of an issue with offline reading capabilities and the deployment of eBooks to help support understanding.

eBooks can be embedded with annotation tools, hyperlinks, dictionaries and search functions making learning more flexible.

Social Media

Ten years ago I was hauled up in front of the Headmaster, the schools IT team had noted that I had been using Facebook excessively and that I should understand the dangers of using social media. yet ten years later and I was right, I had spotted the positive aspects if harnessing social media as a learning tool and had stated sharing content via this medium. I had found a way to communicate to an audience that was changing the way it accessed information. Educational settings have stated using social media as a communication tool, where students can interact with their peers teachers, sharing study materials, opinions and projects. Social media has changed to be more image based with Instagram much more popular than Facebook or Twitter with young people. The move away from Facebook is a direct result of Mums and Dads adding their offspring as friends, after all who wants their parents to see what they really get up to on a Friday night?

The real benefit of social media is the that students can comment on someone else’s post or share links to other websites, whilst building networks and enhancing their online experience. Teachers should allow the use of social media as part of the learning model because it helps to keep the student interested in their course and increases engagement. Like it or not, social media is here to stay and building it into schemes of work will not only enhance delivery but also lead to an enhanced learning experience. The point I made to Mr Dawkins ten years ago.

Interactive classrooms

Classrooms with technology in are much more interactive and lively than those without. I have direct experience of this in one week, on supply in a tech school with Ipads and google classrooms and another which has banned any use of mobile technology whatsoever. There is some context here with one a new gleaming academy built in the last five years in a new housing estate and the other an old style secondary school with a hugely challenging cohort.

The flipped classroom model has allowed a more dynamic approach to learning. Online lessons are likely to support teachers rather than replace them, we are all very familiar with programs such as Active Learn and My Maths, this frees the teacher up to teach core skills in the classroom, along with other fundamental skills such as health and wellbeing, socialisation and social care, with content covered in a flipped learning model at home, accessed via a medium which the 21st century student is comfortable with. Teachers can now assist and guide students with their homework in class and allow for discussions and activities in classrooms, creating an interactive classroom where students are completely involved in the learning process.

Data management and Analytics

Cards on the table, I am a huge fan of using data to help inform progress and identify learning needs. Technology has made this process so much more convenient and allows for teachers to have complete analytics of a students performance, not just with test results but question by question analysis. Homework and assignments can be assigned to the entire class at once and teachers can evaluate the results online. This kind of automation has enabled teachers to focus on individual areas of the curriculum and offer in depth guidance to students.

Analytics either generated by platforms or through datasets have become an important part of online delivery, with successful deployment of quizzes and question completetion it enables a measurement of a child’s engagement and academic performance. The data can also reveal a troubling pattern or a collective issue with performance. #

The future – AR and VR

The introduction of augmented reality and virtual reality could radically change the classroom even further. Learning has become much more immersive, students can now view enhanced models on their mobile devices, learning is becoming a compelling experience.

Whilst augmented reality provides an enhanced view of a real image, virtual reality gives a false perception of the reality around them. Both these techniques have taken digital learning to new dimensions. Where AR and VR have come into their own is trying to explain complex concepts, from atoms to planets and from Egypt to the Colosseum, students can explore an learn much more.

Gamification in education

Gamification has always been in education, from leaderboards to reward points, badges and stickers, they have each been used to increase participation, engagement and particularly for boys a sense of competition. Students always engage more when they are actively involved in classroom activities and are therefore incentivised to learn. Teachers use games as a means to increase engagement, boost motivation and create an interactive classroom environment.

The future is based on how we can harness this technology, deploy it more effectively and trust the students to be proactive in their learning needs.

staying safe online

Safeguarding is the primary responsibility for schools both in reality and in the virtual world. With cloud storage the only viable way to store the large amounts of information needed to be shared easily and accessibly. However there are inherent dangers to this, student information like names and dates of birth are held as are test results and assignments. Educational institutions are are having to invest in the best data security measures to protect all those that work within.

There are constant changes in technology and education is desperately trying to keep up. innovations in the way students harness technology should be used by teachers to enhance the learning and teaching practices. It is time for the sector to fully embrace these developments and prepare students for the 21st century.

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