There are many different definitions of e-learning. Ranging from ‘creating software to teach’ to ‘using the computer to learn’. However, where we refer to it in Bristol Metropolitan Academy we mean, ‘The use of technology to promote, enhance and transform learning.’
Before we look at what this actually means to us it may be easier to discuss what e-learning isn’t.
It isn’t about asking students to merely type up their assignments. It is not about ‘creating power points or posters’ and it is not about getting them to ‘copy and paste’ from the internet. Nor is it supposed to be more time-consuming or extra work for the teacher and it definitely isn’t a ‘one-size fits all’ compulsory method of delivering lessons.
The vision for BMA is that technology can assist in developing students, and staff, in order to: -
- become “Information Creators’ and not just consumers
- become more technology ‘literate’
- make decisions about appropriate software or technology that would be beneficial to participants of a task
E-learning in the classroom doesn’t always have to include students sat in front of computers. Although this may be an ideal scenario in a perfect world there are many ways we can develop or e-learning literacy by using the available technology in an ordinary classroom or office setting.
As a teacher, we can develop our use of the Interactive Whiteboard to make it more than just a vehicle to show presentations and videos. As administrators we can all use technology to improve our methods of communication, creation and sharing of information.
We can encourage students to use the pure power of their mobile devices in appropriate ways. To have something in your pocket that has more processing power than the whole of NASA in 1969 is amazing. Back then they managed to launch a man to the moon. For some of us, we can barely manage to launch birds at pigs!
We should be developing our students to use their devices at every available opportunity.
Mobile devices have a range of useful and FREE utilities or downloadable apps: -
And the list goes on and on and on and on……..
……but not for one minute do we think that you have to incorporate ALL of this in the learning or your work. Just some of it would be a great start.
The best way to develop e-learing in your daily routine, and that of the students, is to find one new piece of technology or software and trial it for a period of time. It could be one lesson, one week, one term or even with one class. Discover where it is best used, talk to your colleagues about what you are using it for and get further ideas and feedback. Perhaps as part of a departmental meeting you could agree to trial one item and share your findings and teach each other. Ask the students how they like to learn, use their technology and what they find useful. By doing this you will develop your skills, the confidence and skills of your students, your creative ideas, your resources etc etc
Now, I can already hear some of the comments that people could make when discussing this subject…..
…. but i’m not very good at computers!
…. I’m not prepared to use mobile technology in my classroom until I can control what they are using them for!
…. I’m worried about what the students may use their technology for. The could be using it to bully someone….
…. They might record something bad and put it on the internet!
…. I haven’t got time to learn this!
Whilst all of these concerns are legitimate, why not try replacing the key words with ‘reading’ or ‘pencils’.
…. but I’m not very good at reading!
…. I’m not prepared to use pencils in my classroom until I can control what they write with them!
…. I haven’t got time to learn to read!
When considered in this manner, the use of technology now doesn’t pose as much of a risk as you might imagine! Of course we need to be mindful but on the whole people will use technology for positive reasons in the first instance.
When we think about teaching we often refer to Blooms’ taxonomy as a method of helping students move from low order to high order thinking skills. We can also use internet applications
to help us do this.
Not only does Puentendura discuss how our knowledge of technology is a subset of our pedagogical and content knowledge, but he also gives use great insight in to the impact and effect of using technology in our Learning and Teaching.
His SAMR model shows how we can move from using technology to purely substitute any learning activities without a functional change in learning outcomes; to redefining activities that may have been inconceivable without the use of technology.
An example of this could look like:
Substitution: Asking students to type up their work
Augmentation: Using the spell check facility, thesaurus, copy & paste to edit and re-order work
Modification: Using email or blogs to share the work with a wider audience
Redefinition: Using Google Docs for students to collaborate on a single piece of work at the same time. This
This movement from enhancing our teaching and learning to transforming it is the ultimate objective for our e-learning strategy at Bristol Metropolitan Academy.
So what happens next?
We will be undertaking some student and staff voice to establish how people would most like to use technology in their teaching & learning and everyday role. There will also be a staff skills audit in response to identify the training requirements and support needed.
In the meantime, why not try to identify one small change that you could already make to your role, or teaching via technology and try it out!
Ask someone who has already been using technology to show you how.
Consider joining twitter, where many teachers are happy to share their great ideas, subject specific resources or just give advice. Some great Tweachers that know about lots of different technology & software are @ICTEvangalist @ICTMagic @TheICTAdvisors @ianaddison @syded06. There are also many Tweachers that are subject specific but they will be shared in a different blog post.
If you are already using something fantastic – pass it on! Comment on this blog and tell us what are the benefits of using it.
Want to do something but don’t know what software to use, or even what technology is available. Just ask! If I can’t think of something to help solve your problem we certainly know where to find out for you!
Thanks for listening