Observations on LwF: So much innovation, so little time!

Our roaming graphical artist/reporter Anna Bailey attended the Learning Without Frontiers conference at the end of January and here she captures some musing of her day there….

Learning without frontiers showed me how things are changing within the classroom due to Leading Innovators within the field.

In my experience teachers have a reluctance to teach using technology. This is often because the children in the classroom know more than the teacher. But after attending Learning without frontiers there seems to be a lot of progress within the class room concerning technology. Innovative teachers have now started to develop ways to get around this problem. Many of the Teachers at Conference have embraced the idea of digital leaders. These are children within the school that go around and help teachers with technology and also help out with other students. They teach fellow students how to use the technology and also help teachers. This means that both teachers and students become more confident in their knowledge about modern technology.

Lessons now seem to be moving towards being more practical. This comes as the government are moving the curriculum towards computer science in order to appeal to the growing need for experts within the industry. This was also apparent within the BBC learning pod. There, the BBC were show casing many practical ways to teach subjects to children. This included practical lesson’s from the programme Bang goes the Theory and also showed how programming can be used within the class room. This could be where games really can come into their own in regards to teaching. It would give teachers a chance to teach children in an interactive way and give them a chance to apply what they have learnt. It would also mean that children explore subjects that would be closed off to them for many different reasons. This could help to engage disinterested children and could also help to encourage those who already have an interest.

Teachers are now using games and other similar methods to encourage challenging students. One example was a programme which helped to build text adventures. These were very popular in the 80’s and meant people could make their own stories and share them with others or could follow a story and pick out which path they wanted to follow. This is now being adapted within the classroom. With some children struggling to engage with books, this gives a chance for them to create their own story. They can use the interest such as football or history and then use the programme to develop their text based adventure. The teacher found that the students were much more engaged and enthusiastic about English. This was also used by other teachers in different areas. In this instance the teacher would make the adventure and then the students would have to go through and pick up the items and solve the problems using science. He found that the students were much more engaged. This could then be developed into games and could help children, especially those who struggle to engage with the subject, to learn more and be captivated.

Another interesting use of technology was the use of an IPad within a P.E lesson. The teacher used an app to take footage of a professional basketball player putting the ball through the hoop. He then used the app to slow down the footage and then mark out how the player took off and landed. The students then used this information and tried to apply it when putting the ball through the hoop themselves. The teacher then filmed them scoring and showed them the video and how they could improve. This example of how technology and apps can work together to really improve teaching quality. This shows the potential that there is currently within schools for learning applications and games.

An augmented reality app was also showcased which showed how a snake injects venom into a mouse. This cut away showed how it all worked and means that children can understand something more deeply than if they were shown on a real snake. This shows how much potential there is for apps like this in the learning marketplace. This could be teamed with other educational games to make a truly interactive experience.

It was also very encouraging to see many people now using Prezi. This included many of the children helping to present as well as the adults. This way of presenting is much more appealing and interesting and (to my delight) it finally seems to be catching on.

With Teachers now using technologies from IPads to the Nintendo 3Ds within their classrooms, it’s opening up a whole new world of learning for students. This development needs to be encouraged and explored though the use of games and other applications and could really improve the quality of teaching that students receive.

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