Journey to Visual Teaching Introduction Then My first exposure to interactive white boards (IWB) was at the British Training and Technology show (BETT). I witnessed a demonstration of diagrams and clipart being used as part of a lesson and my jaw dropped. I felt like I immediately needed one but I could not persuade my department to fund the extremely expensive equipment. Seeing the board in use set my imagination racing. How could this be used to enhance the teaching and learning in my classroom? Could the computer eventually be used in every classroom as a flexible tool? It was the heady late 90‟s and technology, as ever, seemed to be developing at a pace of change that was hard to keep abreast of. Now I walk in to my classroom and turn on my laptop. I connect the IWB and turn on the video projector. I log in to the network by radio connection and call up my prepared lesson on „ICT in Society‟. Short video clips and report writing tasks engage the students. It looks like the days of wishing I had an IWB are over. Now I can start my journey. Aims The main aims of the project were to help a first year applied GCSE ICT group understand holistically the subject area and make them aware of interconnection in their learning. Better progression and continuity from lesson to lesson was a major feature as there were timetable constraints placed upon this course. The project also aimed to introduce strong visual elements into these lessons, to experiment with the visual starter as part of the national strategy multi part lesson. I have been interested in some time in working with preferred learning styles and multiple intelligences. I have also carried out previous research into critical thinking and the use of concept maps. The Interactive White board (IWB) could bring all these factors together. I had used intranets with custom designed course sites for a number of years and I was interested to see how the IWB could act as the catalyst for their use within whole class teaching. Could materials be stored as part of the intranet that could be used within the class situation and then further be available for student review and sharing with other staff members? Thoughts seemed to jump around the train as I left the station after initial project meetings. My voyage had started in to the visual richness available to me now as a teacher. Methodology The basic methodology I will use within my project is based on action research principles. Concern Within my teaching of a year 9 GCSE Applied ICT group I have noticed by observation that the students find it hard to keep a holistic view of the course. The timetable restrictions imposed by a tight timetable structure contribute toward this. Students have difficulty in linking the various units of the course together and continuity and progression are an issue. As you can see from this concern I hope to develop actions that enable better continuity and progression. I am also trying to develop „big picture‟ learning within my students, this is based on a whole part whole approach used within some accelerated learning approaches. Actions I will try to develop a range of tasks and approaches that use Interactive White board (IWB) technology and try to develop a blended learning approach using existing Internet based infrastructures. The tasks that I develop will use the theories of preferred learning style and try to promote critical thinking skills. I have completed research work on both of these areas and feel confident that they have a dramatic impact on teaching and learning. Review After my actions have been instigated I plan to review them by analysis of data collected. I will attempt some simple triangulated research by using myself as an observer, Student focus groups and video analysis of lessons. I intend this study to be qualitative in nature and do not plan to produce quantitative results. I see this study as just the start of my voyage into the rich visual learning enabled by the computer and IWB. I will therefore make suggestions within my summary of further developments and areas of study that may occur. This will complete the reflective cycle and therefore enable further concerns to be met by a continuing cycle of actions. Literature Review Changing view of education Within any literature review within the learning technology field one must set a context of changes within the education system and a changing pedagogy. The computer and associated systems such as the Internet have started to change education, as we know it. These changes have occurred naturally as teachers have tried to make the most of teaching opportunities in the use of technology and also occur from external pressures to the educational world such as government and economic climate. The increasing pressure from all parties to use ICT effectively in the classroom and to „skill‟ the flexible workforce of tomorrow is felt by all teachers. The recent government initiatives such as the National Grid For Learning (NGfL) and publications such as „Connecting the learning society‟ and „Transforming the way we learn‟ all point to case studies where ICT is used to great effect to enhance learning and bring a wealth of resources into the classroom. The present and past governments high hopes for a new education system with ICT at its heart is expressed in these documents. „We intend to lift educational standards in Britain to the level of the best in the world. This will mean making the most of technological change. Technology has revolutionized the way we work and now is set to transform education…. Standards, literacy, numeracy, subject knowledge – all will be enhanced by the Grid and the support it will give to our programme for school improvement‟ (Blair 1997) Anytime anywhere learning Learning for a post-modern society where more than one career is expected in one's lifetime and leisure activities are seen as perhaps not just important but vital to one's personal growth and both mental and physical health. The term 'life long learning' was used by the UK government in a seminal paper in 1997 „Connecting The Learning Society‟ (DFEE 1997), as part of a New Labour government in the early nineties and this is still a mantra that is chanted by both government and non-government organisations (NGO) regularly. The essence of this phrase is perhaps founded in organisational management writings such as Peter Senge's 'The Fifth Discipline (1993) and Boydell & Pedlar 'The learning company' (1997). It is, in my opinion, a realistic view of how our post-modern education system is developing in the UK. Life long learning, independent learning or pupil Centered learning are all phrases that any education establishment has heard for the last two to three years, but what is actually meant by these phrases and how do we develop our students skills to fit into these new concepts of educated individuals? There is a challenge to accepted modern concepts of knowledge management through primary and secondary education. The modern concept of this is that government hierarchies produce a treatise on a common curriculum which outlines the knowledge needed by a child leaving the education system (National Curriculum). There is a groundswell of thought about such a concept and a recent set of papers on knowledge management by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development suggests these concerns. The saturation level of home computer use and Internet connections may have more to do with „adoption‟ of this technology than anything else. The level of home computer use has grown over the last year to 10.7 million households with access to the internet in 2002, this is 42% of UK households which is over three times the number in 1999 (National Statistics Office 2002) These statistics themselves show that as saturation of computer technology increases rapidly, The effect of this growth will be felt in educational systems and educational culture change. New emphasis on developing materials, which cater for, preferred learning styles and an awareness of successes in accelerated learning practice has caused many schools to look at their delivery methods of course materials and the phrase „life long learning‟ is being used by every stakeholder in education from government to teacher associations. Motivation as a catalyst for a learning environment is even more relevant in a society where statistics seem to imply that disaffected truants are increasing. „The audit commission says some 12,000 children a year are permanently excluded from school and a further 150,000 are excluded temporarily…. The commission also says that each year a million of the 8m children in our schools will be absent without authorisation‟. (Educational Guardian 2000) We are moving into a „learning economy‟ where the success of individuals, firms, regions and countries will reflect, more than anything else, their ability to learn‟ (OECD, 2000:29). These trends, OECD point out elsewhere, raise „profound questions for the kinds of knowledge pupils are being equipped with and ought to be equipped with, by schools‟ (OECD, 2001:29). The concept of the knowledge community needs to be adopted by our education system. Does this mean that the world that we live in has far less set rules and 'knowledge needed by a child leaving the education system' is a far less obvious collective than once was thought. 'The post modern says that knowledge is relational, is contingent upon the people within the discourse, and is vital and changing' (Bowring-Carr & West-Burnham 1997) Expected Outcomes From previous work with preferred learning styles I would expect most of my students to enjoy the use of visual concept maps to help connect their learning. The use of limited text based notes will also help in making an inclusive classroom. I would also expect that the use of the IWB would be of interest to most students as they are generally interested in technology and especially new equipment. This may just be a novelty factor and this interest could be short-lived. Observations I have decided to observe the process of IWB use in a number of ways. These will mainly be through observational logs that I keep and the use of video to record ways within which I have used the board and the materials that I have developed. The observations are on a day-to-day basis and will be kept in note form. I sometimes require a time out session when I try to sit down and reflect on my notes and the tasks that I have carried out. I will summarise these notes and try to analyse them more critically in analysis section of work. I have also had professional dialogue with several members of teaching staff about the use of IWB within their teaching and this has helped form my views on the IWB system that I have designed to meet the needs of both teacher learners and student learners from my school. Tasks 1. To develop visual starters for my lessons using the ACTIVstudio software and concept maps. 2. To establish barriers to IWB effective use. 3. To develop a lesson review (Plenary) system that can be used after the lesson has finished 4. To develop a system of shared use of IWB resources. 5. To design a user framework to act as a template for content management as part of an Managed learning Environment (MLE) Data Collection These video clips show the ways in which I started to use the IWB over a number of weeks. Video Clip 1 shows the IWB used as a lesson starter to reinforce learning points from the previous weeks lesson. Video clip 2 shows the IWB used within a plenary session and emphasises the ability to use visual cues such as colour easily Video clip 3 shows the IWB used in conjunction with concept maps both through the use of flip chart drawing and external software use imported into the flip chart as a graphic The sound clips are professional dialogue with other board users and some student focus group work data Sound 1 is a sample of conversations about stages of board use Sound 2 is a sample of conversation about barriers to progression in the phased cycle of effective board use Sound 3 is sample of conversations about sharing board resources and good practice in the school and beyond Sound 4 is a sample of student focus group feedback about board use Sound 5 is a sample of student focus group feedback about concept map use Sound 6 is a sample of student focus group feedback about „Boardwalk‟ resource base Summary Within this project I have tried to start my voyage of discovery into the visual world of IWB use. It has been an interesting leg of my journey but I feel very much a new traveller. My initial aims were to try to promote better progression in a year 9 GCSE applied ICT class as well as enable them to have a better holistic understanding of their course by means of a visually orientated structure. I feel that I did achieve these aims with the feedback from the class showing that they found the use of the concept maps “easier to remember” and “useful”. Within the short period of time I have been using the system I have personally felt that there is a better understanding and that the lessons, that are sometimes two weeks apart are better connected. This I think is partly because strong structure from the three part lesson helps to support learning and partly because I have been able to use the strong review and plenary capabilities of the ACTIVboard. As the Becta reading says “High-quality direct teaching is oral, interactive and lively..” I feel that the IWB and associated materials that I have produced has helped me to develop this. My original aims changed somewhat within the research period and I decided, as one does with an organic action research led project, that I would add to the initial task list. I found through professional dialogues with other colleagues that were using IWB for the first time that there were some common threads: The Phased cycle of effective board use As use of the IWB rolled out it was obvious that teachers were using the board in three ways: Board as marker board; Board as screen; Board as interactive tool. These three phases seemed to depend on the level of ICT skill of the member of staff and also their willingness to spend time with the equipment. Teacher Reflection Levels Whilst using the ACTIVboard teachers seemed to have high levels of reflection on their practice. Was this caused by the IWB, or by the very process of deconstructing their teaching and changing teaching modes whilst converting lessons to IWB lessons? Creativity versus skills Most ACTIVboard users tend to use or even need readily available resources to inspire the creation of their own. Custom designed board resources sometimes needed a high level of ICT skill than the teachers possessed. Recommendations 1. Whole school implementation of IWB use needs careful planning and consideration. 2. Staff development issues are critical: models of good practice exist – use them and tailor to your needs. 3. If possible split the purchase of board and projector to follow the phased development of us, and allow funding over 2 financial years. 4. Rich opportunities exist if one can share board-based resources easily across the organisation: use of the school intranet by all members of staff is important. 5. Review. An anytime anywhere system allows for a more flexible way to use IWB materials. The project so far has started a cycle of reflection that I hope to continue with further ACTIVboard use.
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