8 January 2016

The positive impact of the Study Hub in our school

This post is a culmination of knowledge acquired over the last few years, I have listed my interpretation of key concepts from a few MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) and how it inspired the study hub.  The latter could be a way to change the ICT learning environments in schools, by sharing this I hope it you find something of interest. 
The question we could ask is, how will we spend the money/grant allocated for ICT facilities in 2016 to obtain maximum efficiencies and synergies.  Will we update or create a new computer, or buy iPads for mobile use, or create an ICT learning space??  
To set the background,…. I have included the following extract that illustrates an existing problem in the USA but it could be true of Ireland too, unless we proactively plan our approach to learning/teaching ICT from a whole school perspective. 

Why Ed Tech in Not Transforming how Teachers Teach 
Published Online: June 10,2015 
Student-centered, technology-driven instruction remains elusive for most 
By Benjamin Herold   Public schools now provide at least one computer for every five students. They spend more than $3 billion per year on digital content. And nearly three-fourths of high school students now say they regularly use a smartphone or tablet in the classroom. 
But a mountain of evidence indicates that teachers have been painfully slow to transform the ways they teach, despite that massive influx of new technology into their classrooms. The student-centered, hands-on, personalized instruction envisioned by ed-tech proponents remains the exception to the rule. 
"The introduction of computers into schools was supposed to improve academic achievement and alter how teachers taught," said Stanford University education professor Larry Cuban. "Neither has occurred." 
Indeed, a host of national and regional surveys suggest that teachers are far more likely to use technology to make their own jobs easier and to supplement traditional instructional strategies than to put students in control of their own learning. Case study after case study describe a common pattern inside schools: A handful of "early adopters" embrace innovative uses of new technology, while their colleagues make incremental or no changes to what they already do. 
Researchers have identified numerous culprits, including teachers' beliefs about what constitutes effective instruction, their lack of technology expertise, erratic training and support from administrators, and federal, state, and local policies that offer teachers neither the time nor the incentive to explore and experiment. 
"There's nothing transformative about every kid having an iPad unless you're able to reach higher-order teaching and learning," Ms. Wilson said. "If schools take all this technology, and use it like a textbook, or just have teachers show PowerPoint [presentations] or use drill-and-kill software, they might as well not even have it." 
In the digital age, the ISTE standards say, teachers should be expected, among other strategies, to "engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources." They should also "develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress." 
REF:Benjamin Herold. (10/06/2015) Education Week. Available at : http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/06/11/why-ed-tech-is-not-transforming-how.html?cmp=eml-eb-popyear15+122915 [Accessed:12/12/2015] 

Open Access to ICT facilities in Coláiste Mhuire Co-Ed 
The study hub comprises of 5 computers in the main assembly area, the latter is always supervised at break times and is in close proximity to the principal/deputy principal offices'.  Students can use it before school and during break times, in addition, it is used during class time by some teachers, and is valuable for SEN classes with a few students.  

Initially, we were concerned that students would just use it to play games but this is not the case, students are using it to do project work and teachers are able to give ICT based homework in the knowledge that all students can complete it, regardless of ICT/wifi access at home.  The study hub has a wifi connected printer, students can print without gaining access to a computer room which would have to be supervised. The hub is such a success that Management want to create one in the PLC area also. 
To further develop the hub, we need an interactive white board (IWB) (but lack finance) in this area thus enabling students to teach and learn from each other.  The possibility of students learning/teaching computer programming is a viable option but before this, I think there is a need to learn apps which will allow students to complete class work eg Padlet, screen-o-maticpowerpoint, explain everything, podcasts and so on.  If students could teach each other in such an open learning environment, would n't that make the teachers life easier.  Empowering students to learn new useful apps and sharing their knowledge with each other.  I have seen students who would not always be highly motivated to learn, engage fully when using the interactive white board in class so why not provide an interactive white board in such a public learning space to enable them to teach each other. The use of Station learning is possible, as 60% of students have ipads, we have lunch tables in this area and if we had an IWB, it could be an open plan classroom/learning environment.  Stations could include a research area at the tables paper based and/or ipad based, students without ipad could use the PCs and a group could use the IWB to present findings.   
"Why? The learning stations, as well as learning at stations, station maintenance, station work, Learning circles and learning counter (counter or teaching), is a teaching technique in which students self-directed and self-employed usually prepared using materials that are placed in stations to learn. When? Goals of teaching with the development of open learning content, social behavior, self-organization, joyful learning with all senses, introduction of new teaching methods from the point of learning by doing, education for personal responsibility and independence." REF: Gaidies R.M.,Bodingbaue L., Available at:       http://www.teachingmethodsonline.com/80-learning-station/  [Accessed 12/12/2015] 

What if some classes were timetabled for this area periodically to train students thus enabling them to use it effectively on their own at  break times.  Perhaps we would learn from them, what interests them and what they want to learn.  Could the study hub idea address the issue of empowering students to take responsibility for their own learning and even teach each other, so we all benefit.  

I participated in a Bridge 21 inservice in 2014, run by  Trinity College and sponsored by Google. It focused on teaching methodologies of ICT, including group work whereby each member has their own role but to achieve the overall  objective all team member's task must be accomplished.   It was based on the premise that while students may not have adequate knowledge of computer applications, if they were given a task eg. create a social media campaign for a product, that they would figure it out.  At that time, I thought this is not very practical for a classroom, but I think now, maybe it is possible, if some students are shown apps and then they teach each other.  Could the study hub enable this? 

Bridge 21 Handout   REF: Bridge 21 Learning, Draft Document, [accessed 2013]  http://www.bridge21.ie/ 

The following video shows how computers were inserted in the walls of streets in a poor area of India, and children with no formal education started to teach each other how to use them.....

This post provides a snapshot of some MOOCs that inspired me to think of the study hub.  The future learning classroom MOOC shows a link to a  "Handout on Future Classroom Learning Lab" worth looking at.  This course introduced me to the concept of open access learning. The second MOOC "ePortfolios: Using digital tools for content creation, collaboration and assessment (Post Primary) via PDST", it provides an insight into using ePortfolios effectively, it allows for interaction with other teachers via padlet and shows best practice. I also felt adequate time was allowed to complete the 5 module course (1 hour per week) at your own pace.  The feedback from other teachers showed that some are concerned about lack of ICT facilities.  The third MOOC UK based, "Resources via Future Learning Computer Science (CS) MOOC" this provides information to help teachers introduce the new UK Computer Science curriculum.  The links included provide valuable sites which facilitate independent learning. 
1. Future Learning Classroom via    http://www.europeanschoolnetacademy.eu/   
The future classroom lab (FCL) has been created to help visualise how conventional classrooms and other learning spaces can be reorganised to support changing styles of teaching and learning. It has been designed as a “Living Lab” for how ICT can be implemented in schools and where policy makers, ICT suppliers, teachers and educational researchers can come together to: Rethink how new technologies can support the educational reform process at both  national and European level.   
REF: European Schoolnet academy, April 2013, Future Learning Classrooms.  Available at: http://www.europeanschoolnetacademy.eu/   [Accessed 1/4/2013]. 
As part of this course, I completed a learning story completed in 2013, would improve it now!! as I know more.  An integral part of the course was using the Flipped Classroom pedagogy. 

2.TL 21 in Kilkenny Education Centre: While doing TL21 (Teaching and Learning for the 21st century), we focused on assessment for learning.   I adapted the SAMR framework to meet our needs, as I was team teaching with an English teacher. The SAMR framework is based on the principle of using ICT for useful integration whereby enhanced learning takes place.  The study hub would facilitate students reaching the modification and redefinition stage.   
Edited version from......REF: Common Sense 

3.  ePortfolios: Using digital tools for content creation, collaboration and assessment (Post Primary) via PDST  
This ePortfolio course for teachers in Ireland comprises of 5 modules and it estimates 5 hours duration at your own pace. There are videos of best practice and text to work through, periodically a padlet with a question allows for teacher interaction. This MOOC showed examples of assessment for and of learning, the examples of best practice showed schools with computer rooms fully equipped to enable students to complete their ICT based work.  From looking at other teacher comments, many teachers' seem to be concerned about a lack of ICT facilities in their schools and ICT training.  For now I think the use of padlet to enable teachers' to anonymously give feedback is beneficial, however in the future or in addition to,  I would like to see a forum discussion included whereby teachers are identified as this will facilitate connections being made.  I know from twitter and connections I have made, that when I meet these people in person, I almost feel I know them and would be more likely to talk to them.  Therefore, in time, the possibility of connecting with peers through online CPD would also be beneficial.



EPortfolio - this template is available at  www.assessment.ie  
We are currently trialling this ePortfolio template with first years, it is early days, the students like the idea of having the PDST logo and the list of apps shown.  
But, I wonder would it be better to have the list of apps at the end of the page (secondary) and the top bar down the side where, when each link is opened it is 
easier to see subpages and so easier to see the content the students create themselves.(Primary Content)  Students can use the study  hub to update their ePortfolio, it is vital we create an inclusive learning environment for all students, as some do not have internet access at home. 


4.Resources via Future Learning Computer Science (CS) MOOC  www.futurelearn.com     

I was curious to know how they integrate ICT in the UK and what MOOC CPD is available.  The key aspect of this course for me was,
I learned as much from other teachers as I did from doing the course content.  We had to submit a lesson plan which was corrected by another teacher. 
The learning process is dependent on other teacher and the feedback provided, I found the forum/discussion to be a valuable source of information and
a good way to make new contacts. This MOOC focused on AFL's, how to teach computing and gave information about websites which enable independent 
learning.  eg www.codecademy.com  Students could use such websites at the study hub enabling differentiation and independent learning. 

"In September 2014, a new curriculum began in schools in England, with the aim of preparing pupils better for life after school in the 21st Century.  
The new curriculum puts a clearer emphasis than before on three core areas.  
  • Computer science - how computers work and how to write algorithms and solve problems to eventually create a computer program. 
  • Information technology - how data is represented and managed on computers. 
  • Digital literacy - how to understand digital information and interact with it safely and appropriately." 

International Thinking Schools:                           

BBC Bitesize Computing:                        
BBC Make it Digital resources- open access learning for students:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5pz65GHsSfy9mDY7M4510Qc/discover-more-with-our-partners 
Computer Science unplugged:                          http://csunplugged.org/ 
To conclude, the changes in current curriculum require new pedagogies from us, I believe there is a need for this but to reduce pressure put on teachers
we need to put some responsibility back on the students, so we all benefit.  The study hub provides a learning space to enable them to take this
responsibility and share their learning, which will prepare them for college and the work place in the future. 

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