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John Simkin

ICT in the Classroom: Current Good Practice

50 posts in this topic

Web based learning has become an integral part of all of my teaching.

I am very fortunate to have an available suite of internet ready PCs with a very fast connection.

My web page is essentially my teaching area. The main benefits of this have been as follows;

1. Pupils can and do access learning materials, revision materials and planned online lessons beyond the classroom.

2. Pupils have become independent learners.

3. Pupils are motivated and engaged by a context rich in colour, text, movement and sound.

4. Pupils are able to engage in debate with students in their own institution and beyond via the Student Education Forum .

5. Pupils are able to support questions to me via e-mail some of which I have placed in the Ask an Expert section of this forum.

6. Pupils can assess and track their own performance

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(1) What have you done (or seen done) with ICT that has improved the quality of teaching/learning, that would have been impossible/difficult to achieve without ICT?

I've been using computers in the classroom from the old DOS age. At that time students were invited to use a database in dBase3 and use the sorting function and draw conclusions of what they'd been doing. Primitive, working over a green screen, but the students loved it. Without the database, this kind of source work could never have been done.

One of the next projects was to fill a website on the theme of Mainports in History. Internet was relatively new (1992): The idea was to put information in the Internet in an organised way. Students would be able to access materials without having to buy books, work outside office hours. The project showed that students would not read from the screen: they spent fortunes in copying the sources from the Internet. Perhaps no good practice, but it showed that you must have a clear internal structure of your website: Be brief and define beforehand what you want to do with your web and create one accordingly. In an expanding Internet, the sources students can use may be well found outside your own website.

Lessons drawn from that Mainports-project were used in a project concerning interviewing people who had resisted the Germans during WW2 in our region. Some 36 pupils participated: finding eyewitnesses, taking pictures of the places where during the war actions had taken place, setting up the structure of the website, programming the website in HTML, organise pressmeetings, cooperate with students in a German partnerschool etc.

This work left a great impression on all participants and it showed me as a teacher what hidden capabilities the students have and enjoyed to show.

Protest

Using the web as a medium for (unilateral) communication using webforms was the next step in the Propagandaproject

Creating little webs for students to study local history soon followed.

Impressed with the way Iinternational School of Toulouse and Richard Jones-Nerzic used the Internet in their curicullum I decided to host a History website for my school, combining older projects, a forum for discussion, quizzes and combine it with the schoolcuricullum.

Not everybody was happy with this initiative: :angry: not using the official Sintermeertencollege, official site was the main problem, but that site did not fulfill the requirements of the flexibility I have with Sintermeertencollege History :)

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We will be discussing the value-added aspect of ICT. What have you done (or seen done) with ICT that has improved the quality of teaching/learning, that would have been impossible/difficult to achieve without ICT?

I use ICT quite often and would be lost without it.

I use the internet for research. My students do so too with sometimes loose instructions and sometimes strict instructions.

My classroom is wired and I have found that sometimes the best way to deal with a question that I am uncertain of an answer to is to google it.

When I have a smart board working in my class AND I have a little free class prep time I use that for maps and image. Slowly I am converting my lectures into lectures with links. but that is a tedious process and I rarely am ready to use the links when I have a pre-linked lecture.

I rely on my students access to internet technology in doing Current Events assignments in my 20th Century class. They find an article from todays news (credible, major source) relating to our current topic and they print it out and do a subject on it.

John I have used your Nazi Germany site for a type of scavenger hunt to be completed in one class period and I used the JFK site for something similar. Both tend to be good days. This year I had most of my students use the Nazi links on the smartboard to point out something they found interesting.

I used a BBC site on the Treaty of Versailles for the past four years but it was not available this year.

I use films and videos in the classroom, both educational, network (A&E history channel stuff) and hollywood.

I use a plagiarism check site called turnitin.org to scare my students from using the internet to buy a paper.

I like the ICT best that I hardly notice anymore. The internet is still king. I wish I had more time to search for things that would be easy to use in the classroom.

I would like to supplement my lecture material more and more with ICT. I would love material that has a strong overview but could be explored in greater and greater detail when students show an interest.

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Another successful ICT lesson I have had concerns a simulation on Child Labour. Each student is given the name of an individual that was involved in the debate that was taking place at the beginning of the 19th century. This included factory owners, factory reformers, child workers, parents, journalists, religious leaders and doctors. The student is then given an instruction sheet with details of the Textile Industry Encyclopaedia Website and what they needed to do. This includes writing an account of their character and a speech on the subject of child labour.

Each character had an entry in the Spartacus Encyclopaedia. This provided them with biography and sources that enables the student to discover his or her views on the issue. The website also includes information under headings such as factory pollution, parish apprentices, factory food, punishments, working hours, accidents and physical deformities. There are also entries in the encyclopaedia on the machines the children used and the type of work they did in the factory.

It is interesting the way they react when they discover who their character is. Initially, they are much happier about playing the role of a factory owner. They quickly develop the idea that they are in some way responsible for the wealth that the character has obtained. Those who are given the role of a child worker are less happy at first but the more they investigate their situation, the more involved they become in the need to find ways of overcoming the problems that they faced.

The exercise helps to explain the complexity of child labour in the 19th century. The students discover that some factory owners, such as John Fielden and John Wood, were actually leaders of the pressure group trying to bring an end to child labour. At the same time, social reforming journalists like Edward Baines were totally opposed to any attempt by Parliament to regulate the use of labour. Even doctors did not agree that it would damage a child's health to be standing for twelve hours a day in a factory where windows were kept closed and the air was thick with the dust from the cotton. What the children discover from their in-depth studies is why the individuals felt the way that they did. In the debate that follows, this is revealed to the rest of the class.

The simulation is avaliable online at:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Twork.htm

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I think that one of the impotant things that we teach students is how to use the internet, and for what purposes it is best suited. I find they tend to think rather indiscriminately that everything in the known universe can be accessed immediately and in a wholly digestible form entirely suited to whatever purpose they have. Whilst I think I would actually shrivel up and die without an internet connection, their perception is clearly not always true.

So, I've devised a lesson that I'm really looking forward to teaching, based on an article I read in the newspaper (The Guardian, in case you're interested) before Christmas. In this article, two journalists raced against each other to find the answers to a number of questions, one using the internet, the other using a pile of standard printed reference books and/or 'phone a friend'. The findings were very interesting, and much more varied than I'd predicted.

So, my class are going to need to do some work reading about different dialect studies that have been conducted. I'm going to give them a list of studies, and a short set of questions that they have to answer about each one. In pairs, one will use a computer, and one will use a pile of standard A Level English Language text books and reference books, and they will time who gets the answers the most quickly. Then we will evaluate what we have learned about internet VS book-based research. I've set the studies and the questions up in such a way that it should bring up useful points of discussion about accessibility of information, how recently the information was produced, control by publishers, quality of information for purpose, skills needed to access information efficiently, etc.

Not only should this develop their research skills, and help them to be more critical about different sources and the benefits of using multiple sources, but it should also engage them in exploring dialect studies in a really fun hands-on way. Well, here's hoping, anyway!...

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That's easy. This:

www.cool-reads.co.uk

What I like about this amazing site is that it happened without any adults' direction or permission.

In traditional learning and publishing, the learner lacks the (expensive) technology to produce good-looking stuff - so the business is regulated by commercial interest, caution and editors who think they know what the world wants.

New technologies mean that anyone who has time, intelligence and a good idea can do as well as so-called professionals.

For another version of what you can't do without the technology, try Julie's Web log at

http://languagelegend.blogspot.com

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I have been getting into webquests over the last year and have started to write some of my own:

www.webquests.comptonhistory.com/

A webquest is essentially an online lesson based on a particular format (introduction, task, resources, assessment and conclusion). The most recent webquest that I have written is on the contribution of black and asian soldiers to the First World War black and asian soldiers in WW1 webquest. I am currently 'testing' this with my year 9s (13-14) and so far I am really pleased with their responses to the task. I shall let you know how they get on as they progress.

The beauty of the webquest is that you can be as flexible as the world wide web allows you to be - you can have a huge number of resources or can narrow it down to a very specific enquiry. The use of ICT also allows the student to be as creative as they choose - in the WW1 webquest the students can use DTP software such as Publisher or presentation software such as Powerpoint to produce a booklet for primary school children.

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My web page is essentially my teaching area. The main benefits of this have been as follows;

1. Pupils can and do access learning materials, revision materials and planned online lessons beyond the classroom.

2. Pupils have become independent learners.

3. Pupils are motivated and engaged by a context rich in colour, text, movement and sound.

4. Pupils are able to engage in debate with students in their own institution and beyond via the Student Education Forum .

5. Pupils are able to support questions to me via e-mail some of which I have placed in the Ask an Expert section of this forum.

6. Pupils can assess and track their own performance

As far as my teaching by using ICT is concerned, I agree with Andy's post, although I am not so optimistic and I would not dare to say "Pupils have become independent learners". However, using internet and ICT make them more independent. That's enough.

I have been using my (and other else's) web site in different ways:

a/ The most simple: to help me when I am lecturing on some topic. It means no revolution in teaching but to be one click away from a fine map, an expressive picture, a propaganda poster, a text or a video clip is very helpful.

b/ To design didactic sequences (is this expression used in English?) by selecting some resources (texts, maps, pictures, statistics...), asigning tasks to the students and make them produce some Power point presentation or some web sites.

I have specially used Historia de las Relaciones Internacionales durante el siglo XX or Historia de la Unión Europea y la Ciudadanía Europea

I have found very interesting the fact of allowing students to choose their activity: map, statistics... Although the teacher must intervene (most of them try to escape from long texts), it is quite motivating for them to feel free for opting for a task.

Historia de la Mujer en España or Personajes, Acontecimientos y Problemas de la Historia Europea are some examples of web sites set up by our students.

3/ I have elaborated some webquests as Jean Monnet's life and European History although I have to admit that my students' lack of proficiency in English has prevented me from using it usually.

4/ I have used some Hot Potatoes activities. Last year my students started elaborating their own Hot Potatoes tests after finishing a lesson. I think it is very useful for their understanding of the topic.

5/ Finally, a couple of questions that I will deal with when writing about future: collaborative projects (with other Spanish or European schools) and interactive Flash animations.

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What I am interested to explore further is the whole business of interactivity.  I have saved every comment posted in the comments box so far (I wipe it every now and then).  It has surprised me how little the users engage in discussion.  One of my vaguely realised goals was to encourage students not just to read but also to engage in this kind of discourse, and this has been much less successful.  As soon as I get a little more time, I plan to explore this and try to make some adjustments to the format to encourage it.  All suggestions gratefully received.

Interesting post. I am sure other subjects could make use of this idea. Have you considered using forum software for this. I know Andy Davis at Midhurst School has done some interesting things using forum software with his students. These enable teachers as well as students (so far it is restricted to those classed as gifted and talented) to become involved in academic discussions on a wide variety of different topics. Apparently it is popular with those young teachers in the school who currently are not allowed to teach the more academic students.

Richard Jones-Nerzic at the International School of Toulouse has done some interesting things with Forum software. For example, last year he invited me to take part in a discussion with his students on the subject of child labour.

Our “Ask and Expert” section of this forum is an attempt to make it possible for students to engage in debate with historians and witnesses of important events.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=179

The JFK Forum has a books section where authors discuss their works with their readers. I think this also has potential for other subject areas.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showforum=204

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6 things spring to mind.

1) The HiDES ‘A’ level/undergraduate packages which enabled learners to explore controversies of historical interpretation in a very sophisticated way, particularly in terms of developing learners’ ability to synthesise a range of historical sources in answer to particular historical questions.

2) Use of the web to build up collections of images on particular historical themes; capable of improving out of all recognition the quality of visual images available to the history teacher.

3) Facility of ICT to ‘integrate’ resources to enrich lessons; in Ben Walsh’s phrase ‘building learning packages’ from a range of sources so that the teacher has a powerful combination of pictures, cartoons, texts, moving images to bring topics alive.

4) Use of newspaper archives to access high quality writing about history/politics/’the big questions’ of history. Ability to access these via URLs gets round some copyright problems.

5) If I’m honest about the way in which new technology has most contributed to improving my history sessions, probably over 90 of the top 100 resources would be extracts from TV programmes, played at the moment using TV and video. The moving image is just so powerful, rich source of ‘impact’ materials.

6) Genuinely interactive web activities such as, for example, ‘The World’s shortest political quiz’ (www.self-gov.org).

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The beauty of the webquest is that you can be as flexible as the world wide web allows you to be - you can have a huge number of resources or can narrow it down to a very specific enquiry. The use of ICT also allows the student to be as creative as they choose - in the WW1 webquest the students can use DTP software such as Publisher or presentation software such as Powerpoint to produce a booklet for primary school children.

When I first started using the web with my classes I soon discovered that tasks for younger students needed to be highly structured. A webquest is a good way of doing this. However, there seems to be two major problems with webquests.

(1) Most of the material on the web has been written for an adult audience. Therefore I found that I had to write a lot of the material myself in order to make it work.

(2) Even when you found a good web page to link to in a web quest there was no guarantee that it would remain on the web. It was therefore necessary to keep checking that the material was still online. For this reason it was difficult to use web quests produced by other people in previous years. In most cases, too many of the links did not work.

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John's points about suitability and the need to maintain a site lead me on to a topic I keep banging on about internally: it's very difficult to get 'non ICT-savvy' people in an education organisation (many of whom call themselves 'IT technicians', 'programmers', etc) that ICT course elements aren't the shrink-wrapped finished products they'd like them to be. Web sites need a selective approach to content and expert maintenance to keep them usable - even from one term to another.

This has serious implications for internal organisation, in my opinion. One of them is that a 'production process' which sidelines teachers is likely to be a waste of money, since experts usually build in ways of thinking that are, firstly, very expensive and, secondly, designed to ensure the re-employment of the experts! Teachers, on the other hand, tend to be thinking about how this 'product' will help us next term and next year as well.

Another is that the process of selection and maintenance can only really be done by the people who understand the pedagogical point behind the 'product', i.e. the teachers. If your organisation doesn't have an internal structure which enables teachers to get involved in this process, however, it won't happen. This is why I spend so much of my time trying to encourage people to "get the little things right".

However, this empowerment of teachers goes against current "good educational management practice" in many countries! And people like me just watch this in bemusement as yet another million is flushed away! On the other hand, ICT re-defines what is central and what is peripheral. I'm quite happy to be at the periphery at the moment … because I think that the periphery is actually central!

Edited by David Richardson

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(1) What have you done (or seen done) with ICT that has improved the quality of teaching/learning, that would have been impossible/difficult to achieve without ICT?

Together with a small group of dedicated teachers did we around 1990 start international communication with the help of one and only computer at our school; Fredrika Bremer Upper Secondary School.

At first our students participated in AT&T’s Learning Network. The connection was made by telephone cable at the bottom of Atlantic ocean AT&T owned. Within this network students exchanged papers dealing with pedagogical issues created by 2 teachers employed by AT&T.

Each year around 100 schools (mostly American school situated in and outside US) participated.

From this early international cooperation The Learning Bridge developed. The Learning Bridge is a subject which can be chosen by any student at our school in second or third year of the studies. Throughout one school year students are involved in doing pedagogical exchanges (participating at debate forums created together with particular American school, writing papers on common issues together with American students, papers which the group later orally present……) with the help of internet as a carrier. At the end of every school year Swedish students visit their American friends.

The Learning Bridge is today a 15 years old project still attracting around 40 to 50 students each year. One of the pedagogical issue this year is cooperation with Digital Storytelling workshop situated at lower Manhattan. This year our students are waited for by students from Maryville High School, Maryville, Tennessee. Hopefully we will meet them in April.

Of course all these activities could be done by faxes and snail mail. Nevertheless the new technology provided much faster access and swift exchanges which appeal modern internationaly minded students of today.

The Learning Bridge could be visited at: www.learningbridge.nu

MIT (in English "Environment and Internet") was another project developed at our

school. I was one of the two teachers in charge of this project which took place in late nineties. Around 32 students from natural and social sciences which choose this subject as individual choice received notebooks computers from the school. Inside these we created "a classroom" with the help of Cold Fusion program. In these classroom the teaching and learning at distance was conducted. Small groups of students were expected to work from their homes investigating and writing papers about environmental issues. The project was at the same time a cooperation between our school and Royal Technical College of Stockholm. Beside working inside the classroom students have been given evening lectures at the college in order to break a barrier between upper secondary school level and

college level. The professors of the college were also involved in evaluation of students rearch plus helping with suggestions and aide during the research. This project is the one which resemble most “Ask the expert” at Education Forum.

The “Peace of Europe” is still another internet based project I was involved in. You can view the outline of this project at: http://www.fredrika.se/utbildning/erika/sa...eace/peace.html

At the Knowledge and Competent Foundation I have been working for three years with funding and than supervising the production of multimedia educational textbooks. We were altogether three former teachers which together with a help of around eight outside expert made twice a year a selection of around 20 worthy projects (from about 1000 applications each time), then followed the chosen project throughout production. Most of these multimedia textbooks were supposed to be placed directly on internet or produced as CD:rom. They span over different subjects like chemistry (students could make laboratory experiments direct in their computers at home, medicine (how different functions inside the human body works could be shown in a pedagogical way), foreign languages (most of these textbooks tried to learn students glossary or translations) or math (the results of students calculations could be seen in graphical representations thus helping students to understand better).

History textbooks were supported too. “Meeting of Sovereignties” is a fine example presented at the old History department at:

http://vs.eun.org/eun.org2/eun/en/vs-histo...lang=en&ov=4711.

Edited by Dalibor Svoboda

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6) Genuinely interactive web activities such as, for example, ‘The World’s shortest political quiz’ (www.self-gov.org).

This is a joke yes???

A more crappy politically biased little nonsense of a quiz I am yet to witness :ph34r:

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This is a joke yes???

A more crappy politically biased little nonsense of a quiz I am yet to witness

I agree...

I think it's also something that needs looking at by teachers using the net. How many people looking at the link would take the trouble to click around, do some googling and find out exactly how strange some of the ideas supported by this group are? We're all encouraging our kids to get on the net to "find stuff" but I'm not sure we spend enough time teaching them how to sift the grain from the chaff. There's a lot of really weird people out there, as a casual glance at some of the "conspiracy theory" threads on this forum will show.

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