dptidman

Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

Getting started with programming

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm

If, like many schools, you are looking to develop programming but aren’t sure where to start here are a few places worth a few minutes to look at;

Microsoft Kodu – Kodu is a new visual programming language made specifically for creating games. It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone. The programming environment runs on the Xbox, allowing rapid design iteration using only a game controller for input. http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/kodu/

Code Academy – JavaScript is a programming language that grew out of a need to add interactivity to web sites within the browser. It has since evolved into an incredibly versatile language that is used for both client-side (within the browser) and server-side (code that serves web pages to users) applications – http://www.codecademy.com/#!/exercises/0

 

If, like many schools, you are looking to develop programming but aren’t sure where to start here are a few places worth a few minutes to look at;

 

Microsoft Kodu – Kodu is a new visual programming language made specifically for creating games. It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone. The programming environment runs on the Xbox, allowing rapid design iteration using only a game controller for input. http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/kodu

 

Hackasaurus – Hackasaurus makes it easy to mash up and change any web page like magic. You can also create your own webpages to share with your friends, all within your browser – http://hackasaurus.org/en-US/

Scratch – Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art — and share your creations on the web – http://scratch.mit.edu/    Educators resource site – http://info.scratch.mit.edu/Educators 

 

 

ICT or Computing. Is this really what it’s all about, one or the other?

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2012 at 10:04 am

With all the fuss and discussions following on from Michael Gove’s seepech at BETT about the re-focus on the introduction of computing in schools, I tough people might be interetsed in this interview of Ollie Bray (Learning and Teaching, Scotland) http://bit.ly/A5AdCi at the NAACE conference earlier this year. If we aren’t careful we will loose sight of what we are about and spend all our time jumping from one thing to the next without really knowing why. There is a place for all the aspects he talks about without the knee jerk recation we are seeing towards computing. It has always been about the need to provide high quality learning , a broad and balanced curriculum and developing an understanding about how technology works, can be applied to help us and equally importantly when not to. I liken it a stage, currently Computing is in the spotlight and the other aspects of the subject are sitting in the shadows but they are still there playing a part and can’t be ignored. If we do we won’t do our learners any favours.

Third line support for learning

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2012 at 8:30 am

Using technology within a classroom has always had the implication of one of two things;

  • Teacher-led activity through such things as interactive whiteboards and other whole class teaching technologies
  • Student focussed activity which has in many cases meant students working individually on activities such as the research and production of content or presentations

Is there a third approach within which the technology acts as a tool to support learners with access to a range of learning materials?

 If we consider how many of us learn best, we do so in 3 main ways;

  • By doing and experimenting (sometimes called playing!)
  • By reading instructional material such as handbooks or text books
  • By being shown and mentored by a peer (including the use of video resources)

 In many cases it is often a combination of two or three of these that provide us with the knowledge we require and how to apply this to complete tasks or activities. This is often very different from the learning experience that our students where within a class there is a single resource and approach as to how the students will learn. This is where the technology provides a unique learning tool and brings a third approach into learning. Rather than either a single device or the 1-2-1 device approach, we have a small number of devices deployed in the room or with easy access so that students can do on needs basis. The key here I feel is providing access to a range of resources, this could simply be a list of web sites and resources that provide access to alternative learning approaches described above and the style be used in the classroom. For example

www.knanacademy.org

https://www.o2learn.co.uk/index.php

http://mathtrain.tv

http://www.apple.com/uk/education/itunes-u/ (You will require iTunes installed)

 By having access to these, any student who is struggling to come to terms with the required learning or need additional support, can access the same knowledge and skills but through an alternative medium and a different approach. This also provides the opportunity for them to work more independently.

 In the case of teaching ICT, this approach could be applied possibly more so where students tend to have an increased access to technology and as such these resources. What needs to be said is that this does not remove or replace the role of the teacher but allow them to re-focus what they do in the time available, making better use of there ability to act as the primary tool for intervention rather than just as ‘first line support’. In the current climate of Ofsted and the focus on learning and behaviour if we can empower students to develop not only knowledge but also the capacity to learn and allowing the teacher to focus on assessing students and helping those who need it the greatest.

 

 

All or nothing – why do we think this has to be the way?

In Uncategorized on March 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I have just had 45 minutes browsing the web randomly following some interesting links which we all know is a great way to waste some productive time! Anyway I was reading an article that was commenting on flipped learning. If you have never come across this, it is a way of reversing the learning experience where students look at a lecture (or at least the knowledge bit) before they arrive in class. Once they arrive they are set on to tasks where the lecturer acts as a mentor and supports them through the application of the knowledge in examples and activities. I am not criticising the comments as they are an opinion and we need people to have these but what struck me was that in many cases of adoption of new ideas we so often go to extremes and see these things as the ‘next great thing’ and try to replace everything we do with this. We are in fear of throwing baby out with the bath water if we aren’t careful, surely we need to evaluate the best approach to teaching something rather than simply trying to teach everything through the same approach.  The best teachers are those who have good subject knowledge, understands and can apply a range of strategies, understand technology and how it can impact on learning and the most important bit can apply these critically to learning. (Take a look at TPACK http://mkoehler.educ.msu.edu/tpack/  if you want to know more)They know when to apply flipped learning and how to achieve impact through it in the classroom but also know when not use it. Lets’ not get drawn into a ‘one approach works for all’, it’s all about use what is right for that learning.

For more information on Flipped Learning follow the links below

http://learning4mastery.com

http://bit.ly/vFvPDz