Light Offerings

Practical Examples of Learning in and for the Digital Age

Posted by jturner56 on March 23, 2014

I sometimes tend to take a philosophical prism to what may be. But always grounded in what is actual. And it is in this light that I share three examples from this past week which support and highlight Digital Age Learning.

  1. Exploring Algebra with Grade 6 students
    Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 7.21.10 AMInvited to show students and teachers how spreadsheets could be used to broaden mathematical experiences beyond traditional worksheets, I re-visited experiences 20 years ago when I created a comprehensive set of maths challenges for middle school students. Why little progress after 20 years? Perhaps a clue lies in Sherry Turkle’s 2004 article How Computers Change the Way We Think when she opined that “in most elementary schools today, the ideas being carried by information technology are not ideas from computer science like procedural thinking, but more likely to be those embedded in productivity tools like PowerPoint presentation software.” The value of Spreadsheets to support computational thinking through inquiry is always worthwhile.

    BTW, when quizzed afterwards, about a quarter of students reported they preferred the worksheets, which was a similar response in my PHD 15 years ago. Perhaps they represented the Maths teachers of tomorrow (sorry, just being deliberately provocative).What I learned from this experience > #NewPedagogies and #DigAgeLearning have been around for quite a while. It’s a value judgement, but one still needing to be made.

  2. Grade 7 Movie Making Project
    photo(1)As part of a Humanities + Design project all students created a short movie on Saving The School. Kudos to the development team and in particular David Larson. What was particularly interesting in this project was the students’ use of their mobile phones to take the shots. In a 1:1 laptop school they incorporated their personal mobile devices to good ends. This raises the question of how BYO might be employed as a personal auxiliary device to add value.

    Another example could have been in the previous Grade 6 Spreadsheet task. Paper was provided to add switching, although if students had personal tablets (and about 30% indicated they already have one) then they could have been used (as well as for the supplementary inquiries).What I learned from this experience > BYO possibilities need to be assessed against learning and curriculum opportunities of value.

  3. Grade 8 Science + Design iBook Project
    photo(3)Finally, a project where all Grade 8 students working in teams of four are creating chapters on particular diseases for a Class iBook. What was interesting here was the minimal amount of time needed to ‘teach’ how to make iBooks. The students deconstructed, peer supported, problem-solved and manged themselves as an effective publishing unit. My role was to help them set design specifications and introduce the iBook mechanics, bring to their attention other resources that were useful, such as Bookry and, provide milestone discussions (ie Project Management modelling) and support the subject teacher in supporting the students on content.

    What was also noteworthy was the interest in teachers creating subject iBooks which was supported by this curriculum project towards rethinking subject materials not through textbook Substitution (according to the SAMR model) but as evolving knowledge.

    What I learned from this experience > The importance of teacher modelling and recognition of student capability to learn and take on new technical challenges in collaborative ways (This was similar across the three examples).

Overall, these are but three examples, but highlight the need for constant evolution of ideas, recognition and revisiting of shortfalls, the importance of teacher modelling, curriculum linkage, and appreciation of student Digital Age potential.

I am sure I could give at least three more examples next week. The challenge though is to connect and evolve ideas across a whole learning community that is progressive and adaptive. This is where something like a #NewPedagogies approach comes in.

As Rebecca Alber recently pointed out when writing about 21stC Literacy:

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 7.12.13 AM


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