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Recognition and Recording of Progress and Achievement

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Recognition and Recording of Progress and Achievement Powered By Docstoc
					       Recording learning outcomes using technology
                      Final report - March 2005
          Formative and summative assessment in ESOL


Project summary

The “Little Computers” project is concerned with developing new formative
assessment tools and methodologies for use with English for Speakers of
Other Languages (ESOL) learners, meeting at the St Thomas Network in
central Dudley.

Dudley purchased 26 Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) for use as work
scrapbooks. Within these PDAs, photographs, videos and sound clips -
collected by learners from within their immediate cultural experience – were
held and organised.

For a pilot within the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education’s
(NIACE) Recognition and Recording of Progress and Achievement (RARPA)
programme, we undertook to evidence learner progression over a six-week
period, by capturing two vocabulary sets (start and finish). This was done by
learners using the PDAs to:

       Take a family photograph.
       Write over it (in mother tongue script).
       Type over it (in English text).
       Record an English conversation with the family.

Subsequently, the PDAs were docked with a computer using the USB
connection to save all the learners’ work and to empty the PDA memory to
create space for new assignments. This also allowed for group projects to
reuse material on the computer, building on the ICT skills that the learners
had gained.
Project description and processes

All the ESOL learners are at entry level and some can speak very little
English. The group were introduced to the PDAs through a process of
experiment. The first person to successfully take a picture was asked to show
the rest of the group how she had done it, then the group sharing process was
repeated until all were familiar with the full feature set.

All learners were very enthusiastic, as none of them had used a PDA before.
They were asked how they would describe the PDAs - in order to demystify
the technology - and they suggested “Little Computers”. The first homework
task was then set to take a family photograph and add some speech to it in
English. All the learners achieved this.

Having never previously spoken English at home the learners had, within a
period of six weeks, recorded conversations with their families in English. It
goes without saying that this has improved their performance in the ESOL
speaking and listening module. Many of their children are also showing them
how to use various parts of the PDAs. The project has greatly accelerated
learners’ acquisition of English skills and it has most definitely enhanced their
confidence.
Evaluation methodology and findings

Include any questionnaires or interview structures in an appendix. Ensure
that you include references to the advantages (or disadvantages) of the
project for learners, tutors, managers and to RARPA.

Outcomes/Findings/Products

All of the group are now able to come into class and give verbal instructions to
others on how to use the PDA. This is a vital part of the core curriculum and
was previously difficult to evidence as they could not give verbal instructions.

The ICT skills that were a result of this exercise were not a project goal. Our
main priority was English language development, but it is clear that learners
have also developed a level of technological literacy.

Lessons learned

      The induction process went extremely well as we were relaxed and
       pragmatic in our presentation of the technology.

      We did, however, close to losing control of the inventory at the
       beginning of the project. This was a result of enthusiasm: essentially,
       we rushed the issue and had to backtrack.

      Without the memory cards funded by RARPA the tutor would have had
       difficulty with managing file space limitations.

      ESOL has been one of the curriculum areas that ICT has not yet
       reached. The RARPA programme has shown how beneficial e-
       learning can be and it is likely that this group will extend the use of
       PDAs to deliver e-learning materials, for example, those produced by
       m-learning.

      Life has not been made any easier by introducing the use of this
       technology, but it is very satisfying to see how the group’s learning has
       accelerated. This makes the extra work feel very worthwhile.

      The few difficulties that did arise were all relating to learners trying to
       run before they could walk, for instance, getting embroiled in the PDA
       menu structure and changing settings. Three machines became
       locked because of this, which upset the learners who thought that they
       had broken something. However, this was an easy problem to rectify,
       solved by the simple resetting of the equipment.

Recommendations

This technology has really proved its value and we shall now be purchasing
250 more devices to support ESOL, Basic Skills and other curriculum areas
across Dudley’s ACL provision.         We would highly recommend its
implementation.
Future of the project

The PDAs have yet to prove useful in class, however they have greatly
improved learning over a short period and it is hoped that this will carry on
during the next academic year.

Summary of Lifebook / “The Little Computer Project”

We used PDAs with an entry level ESOL group to stimulate naming activity
by:

      Taking photographs.
      Annotating them (using a stylus to write Sharada, or other mother
       tongue script directly on the screen).
      Titling them in English text (tapping letters on an on-screen virtual
       keyboard).
      Adding sound clips, as spoken English practice, describing the picture.

As the group create a series of “vocabulary sets” in this way it forms a soft
evidence framework that can show learner progression. Subsequently,
additional tasks can then be set to consolidate learning via learner
collaboration projects, such as:

      Creating an encyclopaedia around familiar vocabulary.
      Using their PDA skills to construct and populate a storyboard around
       an issue or situation which challenges their language skills.



For further information contact:

Phil Creed

Dudley Council Education Directorate

Community Education and Development Division

013 8481 7910

Phil.Creed@dudley.gov.uk

				
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