Using ICT in the classroom

[by Roger Loxley]

This follows from a meeting I was at today at Hymers College in Hull. Their teachers presented ways in which they have been using ICT, which I think could be usefully summarised for us in helping to understand how to use ICT in the classroom.

It’s probably important to start by understanding what using ICT in the classroom does not mean. It doesn’t mean that every person in the room, teacher and students, has their own iPad. It does not mean that every lesson uses ICT all the time.

It does mean that teachers understand how ICT can be used and that the teacher uses ICT as and when it is appropriate. This means understanding when and how ICT can enhance learning.

This process is necessarily slow and is most successfully done organically. That means teachers experimenting with and playing with ICT openly sharing experiences and learning from each other.

I think the meeting today has highlighted six possible objectives of using ICT in the classroom. These are

• Students working with data to produce an outcome
• Teachers demonstrating something
• Teachers delivering information
• Students researching on the own
• Students working together and collaborating on work
• Students reflecting on each other’s work and assessing learning and outcomes

The main focus of Hymers College has been encouraging students to work collaboratively.

So, what have they been using? The following are simply a list of the apps/websites that they have been using and had success with. I would encourage everyone to have a look, have a play (most of the apps have a free version), and then share experiences. Maybe we need a forum to make such discussions easier?

Edmodo – an online collaborative community, like facebook. Used, for example, to share resources when researching a novel or issue. Can set homework through it. Safe and secure with passwords and teacher control and moderation.

Google docs – sharing resources and collaborating with each other. Each click is saved so editing is live and can be tracked by each contributor. Good for collaborative working on one document rather than creating individual documents. Lots of people can work on the same document at the same time, each participant having a different coloured cursor so the teacher can track who is contributing and when.

Google forms – good for creating knowledge/recall forms to ask questions and collect answers, also tests. Could be great for sciences in creating online worksheets. Good for easy marking and also questioning responses and reflecting on answers. Also makes end of course feedback easy.

Textivate – interactive browser-based activities. Text based activities including matching, putting and text in order. Very good for languages.

Wordle – input an essay or text and think about synonyms, use of technical language, etc for the most commonly used words.

Quizlet – online vocabulary testing. Reads, checks and corrects vocabulary in languages. Cost around $20 and is a reliant resource.

DocAS – interactive whiteboard from an iPad. Basically concept board as an app – can drop pictures in and write by stylus, drop PDF docs in, etc. But only accessible on the one device. If uploaded to google docs then students can see others’ contributions and correct and self assess.

Vernier Video Physics – motion capture and data logging and analysis – used by students.

SpectrumView plus – analysis of sound – student use.

Data Analysis – plotting data to create graphs.

Mindomo – create spider diagrams to share and collaborate. Good for overviews, scaffolding a topic, introductions or collaborative revision.

VoiceThread – online discussion space that is captured and can be returned to for analysis, addition, reflection.

These are just a few examples which, when added to the ideas suggested by Steve Bunce on Tuesday, create a good introductory set of possibilities.

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