Posts tagged ‘Classroom’
Technology has permeated our everyday lives, impacting and changing the way in which we communicate with others and complete day-to-day jobs. So with the ever-growing reliance on the internet and computers my thoughts turn to the Technology in the Schools of the Future. Some people might say that I can’t tell them what it will be like but I can merely predict or give my ideas’, which yes it true. But if we look at what we have today compared to that of a few years, let alone a few decades ago, we can see the difference and advances which technology has made and surely it will only keep growing.
You’re already aware that I am a BEd Primary ICT student in year 2, however I’m currently studying an ICT module where we have been looking into the use of a VLE in a school and classroom environment and how it can or should be used as a collaborative tool for learning, as this to me is part of its purpose. A VLE in my eyes should aid, enhance and extend both teaching and learning by pulling everything together in once place. Many schools use their VLE as a main website or access area for the children to use and provide them with a login and access to their emails. They are designed as a space to gather everyone’s collaborative and individual learning and contributions to lessons alongside all of the subjects they are currently studying and generate tools for assessment. In the view of Vygotsky, as cited in John and Sutch (2005, p.27), the ‘zone of proximal development’ is where through different types of social interaction such as ’discussion with a more advanced other, a learner can develop their ability.’ VLEs allow and enable learners to communicate and share information, anywhere at any time using discussion boards, in order to enhance and enrich their knowledge and understanding of that particular subject.
So on paper VLEs sound good, however in application are they used to the best of their ability?
Many of the VLEs I have seen and used, from what I remember in my high school (as they weren’t around when I was in Primary School), have never been used correctly and a lot of the teaching staff alongside students never really understood its use or even how to use them. In University we use a sharepoint AKA Tulip as our ‘Portal’ which, to be honest, (and im being very opinionated here) works ok for certain subjects and modules and not so well for others. It’s not organised correctly and people who aren’t ICT specialists or know a huge amount about website navigation, struggle to find lecture notes and module handbooks. There aren’t really, in my own opinion again, any fantastic tools for sharing ideas and therefore a lot of us have started creating our own blogs and sharing our own ideas through other means such as www.blogs.plymuniprimary.com , Twitter and Facebook. So here comes the OLE – Online Learning Environment, Yes its similar to a VLE, with regards that it’s a collaborative tool, it’s all online and can be accessed anywhere, at anytime. However, one of the main advantages for me is the amount of money it saves and there’s not as many restrictions for the administrator of the site so if someone wants to change something within school or add something they can! Our challenge for this section of our module was to find out if we in groups could create a learning environment for free (or in this case, as little as possible!) This is what we came up with;
(Click this image. It will navigate you to the OLE we created!)
All you need is a domain name and if you’re a school to register this through google, add all of your users and off you go. We added Google App tools, which are free for education, as you can then access documents and create them collaboratively (cloud storage?), create a class blog – which can be used in lessons to share ideas or recount what learning has just taken place, use Google search engine, leave comments, upload photographs and much more. Learners are essentially teaching each other, gathering information and sharing it collaboratively, peer assessing, being involved in an inclusive education and developing their own independent learning skills at the same time.
So what are the effects this has on the class and how it can be used? It’s intentions to me are the same as that of a VLE to develop, enrich and extend a child’s knowledge and understanding of different subjects within school. Yes, it will inevitably take time to update and manage constantly, however the is more freedom with an OLE. I feel that if used correctly, alongside other technologies in the classroom which may have very different impacts, that the OLE can in fact help a whole schools collaborative learning development. Bringing them all together in one place, used as a tool for learning and sharing. I feel that children should be encouraged to use the blogging tool to further develop their english and writing styles. – I wish I would have started my blog sooner as it allows me to write down all my ideas, come back to them and then build upon them. For me, as a university student, a blog opens up a whole new network, alongside twitter, to use as my ‘network’ and ‘web’ of people who help to develop my professional knowledge and ideas, but that’s something for another day.
So my point, Technology in our schools in the future….VLE or OLE. In my own opinion, I feel that a OLE opens so many more doors and could be incorporated into so many elements of school life. It can be whatever it needs to be, with whatever tools you want to use. So do we really need VLEs in schools? or can schools look into different ways of creating a collaborative online learning tool using sites such as Google Apps or WordPress and Blogger alongside sites such as Moonfruit to create their own OLE? Something which I think needs to be considered and could be used as such a valuable learning tool for children and students of all ages.
This is one of my first blog posts, so sorry for the bad grammar. I would really appreciate it if you let me know what you think, along with any questions or ideas you may have, I’m learning and this is only the beginning. Finally thank you for taking the time to read it.