2 October 2016

FÉILTE 2016- Panel Discussion on Digital Education

My reflection on participating in the panel discussion on "Digital Education", chaired by Tomás Ó Ruairc, participants included Harry McCann, Digital Youth Council; Myself, Post PrimaryTeacher; Mary Cleary, Irish Computer Society; Cormac Cahill, Primary Teacher.

I was a little nervous initially but soon relaxed.  All panel participants (included 17yr old Harry) shared a passion for using ICT to enhance learning and sharing of knowledge with others to help achieve tasks/activities that cannot be achieved without ICT. 

I found that the structure of the panel discussion by its nature, is fluid and difficult to predict in what way the discussion will go, consequently, I spoke about some topics that I had not planned to talk of and omitted information that I wanted to say. So I wondered what could I do to address this issue.  
In addition, I thought of how the opportunity cost of attending the panel discussion is not attending a workshop. Workshops tend to incorporate getting a handout/resource or "takeaway" that can be useful in the classroom/school.  Let's be honest, teachers love handouts! So how could we add value to the panel discussion structure.
So my conclusion is to further develop a panel discussion for TEACHERS; I think if each participant could post a written version/summary of the main points they want to make/or useful resources and then publish it (after the discussion)on twitter, or teaching council Féilte website to facilitate a takeaway for teachers who attend.  

After the discussion, I had questions to ask Cormac about the book his students produced, questions to ask Mary about her ideas on coding being integrated rather than an isolated Senior cycle subject, and Harry I am not sure what I would ask Harry but know if he posted his ideas I would learn from him too!

So the following is what I would post about my ideas on Digital Education....my ideas are based on practice/pedagogies from Coláiste Mhuire Co Ed, and  MOOCS:

1. Team teaching with English teachers to find the best way to integrate ICT in the English Classroom via ePortfolios.

Main findings:
Students had to be taught basic ICT skills to create content using google apps for education, to collaborate to by creating padlets and develop oral skills by creating screencasts.  www.padlet.com   https://screencast-o-matic.com/

To evaluate the use of ICT based on pedagogical needs/learning outcomes we used the SAMR model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura.  "SAMR” is an acronym that stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition.  It is based on the premise that deeper learning takes place at the Modification and Redefinition levels.  At redefinition level, the teacher should be achieving something with ICT that is impossible to do without it.
An example of Substitution would be typing a task as opposed to writing it, and Augmentation could be using a Thesaurus or read,write gold to enhance creativity. Both stages enable enhancement.  But transforming learning takes place at the modification stage eg facilitating collaboration via google drive/blogger/eportfolio as homework so students are collaborating at home on a task/activity.  The redefinition stage is about making content public, eg. either students produce work and publish it publicly via ePortfolio/blog and potentially put a creative licence on it and/or perhaps skype an expert and bring outside knowledge into the classroom.  When students create online content and share it, they are creating their online academic presence. 
So when deciding what apps to use we considered the SAMR model and pedagogy needs.  We found some students lacked confidence when recording the screencast and video recording, even students who are high attainers.  In fact, some students who may not have been strong academically excelled in the oral and communication skills and helped higher attainers to create screencasts.  So mixed ability classes worked well, as students saw how each student had a valuable contribution.

To conclude subject teachers do not have class time to teach the ICT skills so they must be taught in a computer class.  We found as we were only using padlet and screenomatic in English class, students did not become proficient in it use due to lack of repetition in other subjects.  However, we are working on this currently....

2.Study Hub:
Open Access to ICT facilities in Coláiste Mhuire Co-Ed to reduce the digital divide, promote student autonomy  of learning and enable teachers to give ICT based homework. To create a learning space that encourages collaboration, the study hub was very busy during classroom based assessment period.
 (70% of junior cycle students have iPads)
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.  

3.Sharing: We need to share resources both within and between schools.  Could schools be twinned from different towns???  Where can be share more effectively??

4.While investment is required in ICT hardware, it must be married with relevant CPD, as Investment alone does not mean teachers will use ICT effectively.

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] 

Just to say thank you to Tomás Ó Ruairc who asked me to participate in this discussion.

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