Technology is all around us. Long gone are the days when we could just walk into a classroom with a handful of papers and a piece of chalk. Pupils are exposed to technology on a daily basis and are embracing it. The way pupils learn is fundamentally changing. A flexible, blended classroom model is replacing the one-size-fits-all approach. Teachers at Ellesmere College are using digital technologies to engage pupils with more personalised learning experiences. In essence the integration of technology is enhancing their teaching and also developing pupils knowledge.
The use of Class WebPages, Virtual Learning Environments and Ellesmere Online are proving a very successful way of driving outside-of-class discussion. The science departments are utilising such resources to provide a revision portal that breaks the subject down into easily digestible segments. Pupils can access the Webpage from their own computers and navigate around the content which has been a simplified for them. The site contains information on the syllabus, teaching notes, downloadable materials, images, videos from YouTube showing experiments and external links to revision sites such as BBC Bite size. The site is updated regularly so that pupils can have instant access to their lesson plans. The subject is still being taught through traditional text book methods but the introduction of such sites is supporting pupil’s development and understanding of the subject.
There are some innovative apps that are perfect for teachers who are looking to engage pupils in academic interaction. The use of Bamboo Paper, a notebook app for the iPad is being used in the Art department to provide feedback on pupil’s projects. Staff are utilsing such resources to illustrate or sketch explanations in a digital notebook form, which is then emailed through to the pupil. To support research activity pupils have access to applications such as the National Gallery and Art Circles to discover colours, words, themes or curators and artists who share their unique perspectives on creativity and the art that inspires them. Apps offer pupils a unique learning experience, quite distinct from the experiences a book or a website can offer.
Apple TV is also being used increasingly in the classroom by teachers who primarily want to take advantage of the mirroring capabilities of the device. A teacher can choose to build a whole lesson based solely on one app. alternately, they can choose to use an app to create a mini lesson, or simply use an app as a means to complement a lesson. Ellesmere College is encouraging teachers and pupils to make use of mobile technology and both android and IOS devices are encouraged. The use of technology in the classroom is a blended learning experience that embraces mobile phones and also social media. The overall goal is to provide independent learning for children and enable them to take ownership of their work and utilise all the tools available to them so they progress their knowledge and understanding.
Some teachers have effectively integrated Twitter into courses, lessons and projects to get pupils more broadly involved in subject specific communities and encourage learning through additional research and from the wealth of experts on Twitter who are eager to share their knowledge. Gradually, more and more educators are realising that the technology in the classroom will provide spaces for a teacher to create highly engaging lessons that captivate the pupil’s attention. In doing so, technology enhances collaborative learning, sponsors creativity, and cultivates a set of skills and talents that can help young learners become successful.
Andrew Thelwell has worked as a marketing executive at Keele University and Ellesmere College with responsibility for the sole management of a wide variety of strategic and integrated marketing, PR and support activities.