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Johannes Ahrenfelt

Using Macromedia Flash in the classroom: is it just ‘flash’ or can it be useful?

17 posts in this topic

Using Macromedia Flash in the classroom: is it just ‘flash’ or can it be useful?

My seminar is divided into four key sections:

What is Flash?

Why should it be used by teachers and how could we use it?

Why should it, and how can it be used by pupils?

What are the problems with Flash?

What is Flash?

It is difficult to define Adobe Flash. Doing a quick search for a definition provides us with a myriad of explanations, from very simplistic: ‘a technology that allows for animation or moving graphics on a website.’ Gravitate Design, to Adobe’s own:

‘…[the] industry's most advanced authoring environment for creating interactive websites [and] digital experiences… design and author interactive content rich with video, graphics, and animation for truly unique, engaging websites, presentations or mobile content’ Adobe.com.

In the past Flash was often used in the development of e-Learning by Flash experts well-established in the world of hard coding. The learning curve has always been steep and the use of Flash by the average person has been rare. But this has changed recently as the development of e-Learning in Flash has been made a little easier, more insightful and, most importantly, more accessible to teachers. This is partly due to Macromedia’s new features, for example templates and components such as learning interactions. However, the biggest progress made thus far in encouraging educators to use the software has been due to the insistence by many training institutions to focus on ICT and individual teachers continuing to develop on their own. There are now also numerous sites devoted to spreading the usage of Flash (see part four for a brief list of some of these sites).

In the context of education, one could suggest that Flash is an open canvas where teachers create the content. This means producing interactive, engaging and pedagogical resources for their pupils. In the past, Flash-produced resources used to be primarily for delivering content for the Internet, but the practice has developed significantly since then, something which will be examined in further detail in part two. Unlike other e-learning development tools, Flash does offer its users the opportunity to create online content. This presents major benefits for several reasons. Firstly, as it uses a plug-in it can run on most platforms and can therefore be used by everyone. Secondly, as bandwidth is still an issue particularly if you want to include audio or video, flash files are small compared to other authoring tools, even if you include video files, which makes it a perfect tool for creating activities for the web.

Why should it be used by teachers and how could we use it?

‘…students want an education that serves their needs. For many that means an education that is convenient, accessible and most importantly, relevant.’ (Macromedia Whitepaper 2004)

Children have different expectations about the role of technology in their lives and if teachers do not eventually meet these expectations then it could become difficult to ensure that learning is maintained for every pupil. The world has come along way since Commodore 64 with it basic graphics and pupils are now using hand held game consoles. Games for Commodore 64 could take up to 30 minutes to load and if we then failed the first level, then we had to endure another 30 minutes of waiting. We also had hand-held computer games, or at least in the late 1980s, with smash-hits such as Donkey Kong Jr, but these were simple and uninspiring. Thus, graphics were poor, game content weak and the interactive element limited. Children are now used to game characters with Artificial Intelligence, astounding graphics, professionally conducted music and game content which changes each time they play the game. If they already have certain expectations about, for example, interactivity and graphic quality then should not learning be pushed into that direction?

Many educational companies and sites have jumped on the bandwagon and are creating online tasks that attempt to meet these new needs. For example, the BBC have various interactive activities available for pupils to access. Although many sites have potential, a lot of them lack one fundamental element, namely, ensuring that learning takes place. Would an activity such as this Drag and Drop task aid learning? Doubtful. If we are to use Flash well then we also need to think carefully about how we structure tasks. Creating fun games can serve a purpose but the likelihood of pupils remembering valuable information or extending their skills based on these kind of games are slim. Remembering how many opponents they punched, for example, is something they remember more easily. Tasks such as the Drag and Drop exercise above can aid learning and encourage pupils to work independently as long as these activities are created by teachers or other educators who understands how Flash can be used effectively. Take a look at the following two links below for examples of how to use Flash to encourage thinking and learning using a Drag & Drop task:

Drag 2

Drag 3

Instead of having items ‘snap into place’ when they are dragged and dropped, why not ensure that pupils have to think rather than randomly dropping until they are correct? Drag 2 encourages pupils to think about the question, consider what factors to add to each of the draggable icons and then evaluate each factor and where it needs to be placed. Their choices can then be discussed as a class or printed off and glued into their books. This activity can be used in various ways and easily adapted once created. Drag 3 is slightly more advanced as it requires pupils to use key points added by the teacher, evaluate these and, if needed, replace them with their own.

Why and how can it be used by pupils?

Click here and watch Video 1

Flash gives pupils great opportunities to extend their skills. I recently finished an Enterprise Project where a group of pupils produced a CD-ROM with interactive activities which they created for local primary schools. This project highlighted the potential for developing children’s skills and how quickly they progressed whilst working with the software. Some of these included:

* Problem solving (Click here and watch Video 2)

- involving discussion, analysis of what is being explored and how to express the information effectively.

* Planning and Organisation

- Flash is a complicated instrument which starts with a ‘blank stage’ and requires the pupils to think clearly about what they want to achieve. The pupils also have to consider the intricacies of the software itself whilst thinking about for example purpose and audience.

* Showing understanding

- pupils can use the software to explain e.g. change - how Law and Order changed from 1450 – 1900.

* Motivation

- with Flash, students set themselves challenges to accomplish. This approach produces high levels of motivation as the challenges have been created by them and are generally suited to their ability.

* Independent learning

- placing the pupil in charge of the project and only use the teacher as facilitator encourages children to work independently and creates a positive learning environment where they take the lead.

* Reflection and evaluation

- the evaluation of the result is generally led by the pupils themselves or their peers. At the start of each session, pupils were asked to place their newly created files in a shared folder. A few of the files were then viewed on the IWB and the class commented on the work, for example, its usability, layout, and questions were asked about how it was created and how they would change it to suit a different audience.

* Communication and teamwork (Click here and watch Video 3)

- encourages the children to work collaboratively on a project where a number of smaller jobs are given out to individual team members. These tasks could include e.g. creating a layout, script to control movement, assessment opportunities to check understanding and project managing. When all smaller tasks have been completed they are added to the main project file. This process is demanding and challenges the team to work through a detailed plan before commencing and encourages them to set long, medium and short-term targets to support the team’s performance.

What are the problems with Adobe Flash?

Adobe Flash is complex, challenging, expensive and time consuming to learn. Nevertheless, Flash is the future, or at least the beginning of a new wave of tools for creating educational activities and online experiences. We once had to learn Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, and later digital video editing, IWB software and some even took the step to learn Dreamweaver and other more complex programmes. Many argue that Flash is too time consuming, yet we spend hours reading literature on pedagogy and how to use ICT effectively in the classroom. If teachers had the opportunity to learn just what they need from Flash to create resources for their own pupils then more would be interested in learning the software. This way it would become manageable and purposeful, saving teachers the need to learn hard coding and every aspect of Flash.

If we are to target pupils from where they learn and meet their expectations, then Flash is a good starting point. In the age of Interactive Whiteboards, Flash has opened up new opportunities to engage and challenge pupils. There are now many companies and individuals who specialise in creating content for the IWB for all subjects and some offer ways into Flash - some better than others. Numerous sites give tutorials on how to use Flash but are limited as they focus on teaching ‘How to use Flash’ rather than ‘How teachers can use flash’. I am currently developing a site aptly named Flasheducation.net where I aim to give teachers the opportunity to learn how to use Flash to create content for their classes without having to learn the finer points of the whole software. Each tutorial will take between 30-60 minutes to complete and will give teachers the opportunity to create specific activities which they can easily adapt. Interested can now register their interest from the site. Hopefully this might encourage more teachers to use Adobe Flash.

Johannes Ahrenfelt

Edited by Johannes Ahrenfelt

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Using Macromedia Flash in the classroom: is it just ‘flash’ or can it be useful?

Numerous sites give tutorials on how to use Flash but are limited as they focus on teaching ‘How to use Flash’ rather than ‘How teachers can use flash’.

My only experience of "Flash" is when websites ask me to download software to run it when I access them. I'm afraid my reaction is simply to exit the site concerned.

I commend you on beginning with "how TEACHERS can use Flash" rather than "How to use Flash". I wonder, however, whether that goes back far enough down the problem-solving path. My "take" on problem-solving is that we teachers have to begin with a proper definition of a teaching and learning problem before we start looking round for solutions, some of which might involve information technology. There are so many ICT solutions around at the moment - virtual learning enviornments, podcasting, blogging, interactive whiteboards to name but a few - and they all seem to be chasing round in search of problems to solve. I teach French, German and learners with special educational needs and some of the foreign language and special needs professionals I know have become so mesmerised by new technology that the "tail" - the technological answer they are currently passionate about - "wags the dog" - the educational question they are ostensibly trying to resolve. I recognise this "technophile tendency" because I too fell in love with a particular kind of technology in the early 1990s - Germany's online videotex system "Bildschirmtext" - which I was convinced would solve all my German-teaching issues. Yes, it did enrich my teaching, but the international telephone rates with a slow modem were huge and the technology, unlike the German teaching and learning it was supporting, was eventually superseded by the World Wide Web.

Consider identifying first some routine subject-based classroom tasks, easily recognisable to not very ICT adept teachers, from a variety of school subjects. Then consider how Flash might enhance the completion of these tasks, or better still, enable them to be done in a unique way. We must get away from the idea that just because something's done on the computer, it must automatically be better. I speak as one who has owned and used a computer educationally since 1983, so I'm not a natural technophobe, just somebody who wants to define classroom problems properly first before reaching for the keyboard.

David Wilson

http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/

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I agree 100% with David: Start with the pedagogy and then ask yourself how the technology can improve it.

I hate sites that incorporate irritating Flash animations. The BBC Jam site is one of these:

https://jam.bbc.co.uk

If this is a "skip intro" button I hit it straight away. If not, I exit the site.

When I downloaded and installed Flash 8.0 in order to access BBC Jam it made a mess of my browser. I couldn't access any site that incorporated Flash, and the browser just crashed. It turned out to be an obscure problem associated with running Flash 8.0 on certain kinds of DELL computers. I solved the problem by uninstalling Flash 8.0 and downloading and installing a different version from a French site!

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Thank you both for your comments, much appreciated.

My only experience of "Flash" is when websites ask me to download software to run it when I access them. I'm afraid my reaction is simply to exit the site concerned.
The vast majority of computers, certainly all new ones, have Shockwave flash Player installed, but that does not mean that all have. I agree, if I'm asked to install an extension of whatever kind then I usually go elsewhere. It's about conveniency and being forced to install something during your browsing is not only inconvenient but also annoying and there will be sites that do not require you to install anything.
...teachers have to begin with a proper definition of a teaching and learning problem before we start looking round for solutions, some of which might involve information technology. There are so many ICT solutions around at the moment...and they all seem to be chasing round in search of problems to solve.
Agreed. We need to teach all children using a range of teaching styles depending on what skill you would like your class to develop. At the same time, you also need to consider what methods or tools you can use to engage the class. Flash is just another tool that can help engage pupils, just like story telling or using music in your lessons can help to engage them. I am certainly not proposing that we all have to use Flash from now on and all the time, far from, I am suggesting that children now learn from different sources of information than e.g. I used to, and that perhaps we, the teachers, ought to take these new learning experiences into consideration.
Consider identifying first some routine subject-based classroom tasks, easily recognisable to not very ICT adept teachers, from a variety of school subjects. Then consider how Flash might enhance the completion of these tasks
Many still regard Flash as a 'Game Machine' or a tool to create 'flashy' animations, banners and intros. I feel that Flash can, if used well, assist teachers in developing childrens skills, but the practice so far has been quite poor. Encouraging teachers to start using Flash and help the community to develop good, pedagical resources is what I am aiming to achieve with Flasheducation. Giving teachers the opportunity to learn simple yet effective ways of using Flash in the classroom, from mind-mapping to various card-sorting activities to name a couple of ideas.

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Tack Johannes för ett bra seminarium om möjligheterna att använda Flash tillsammans med elever. Tyvärr har jag själv inte kommit mig för att använda Flash än men det beror mest på mina egna kunskapsbegränsningar vilket inkluderar det faktum att jag inte haft tid att sätta mig ner och försöka ta till mig de uppenbara fördelar detta program har.

IN ENGLISH PLEASE :angry: - Thanks Johannes for a good seminar about the possibilities to use Flash together with the pupils. I have unfortunately not come around to use Flash yet but this is more due to my own knowledge limitations which includes the fact that I haven't had the time to sit down and try to teach myself the obvious advantages this program has.

I both agree with David and Graham about the general idea of teaching but so far I haven't seen a contradiction in the ideas of teaching and ICT in the seminars we have had. The pedagogic approach is always the fundament of the education and the different approaches using different kind of ICT possibilities is just a tool amongst other tools in your teaching - nothing more and nothing less. What was encouraging in this presentation was to see certain students (that had been regarded as slow/low achievers) excel when they wer taught how to use Flash in their own work. With an instructor/teacher that has the necessary skills this is another tool that helps us open up the creative side of certain pupils. Personally I would not use this program since I don't know how to use it but if I learn and feel that it could be used to make students progress - sure I would definitely use it.

My "take" on problem-solving is that we teachers have to begin with a proper definition of a teaching and learning problem before we start looking round for solutions, some of which might involve information technology. There are so many ICT solutions around at the moment - virtual learning enviornments, podcasting, blogging, interactive whiteboards to name but a few - and they all seem to be chasing round in search of problems to solve.
In one of the other seminars (about the use of Power Point) I wrote "Sometimes being blinded by all the opportunities of modern ICT it's easy to forget the main purpose of technology - to serve as a tool for education. One of the good things with Power Point is as been remarked above it's availability. Another one is the fact that it is very easy to learn. This is something I stressed before - both teachers and pupils try to find ways of saving time (definitely not adding...) and an easy available program is one way of doing it." The time factor is crucial for a teacher (and his students) - that's why easy and simple ICT solutions that serves a purpose in our teaching becomes more popular. This does not disqualify programs like Flash but until we will get some easier and less time consuming ways of learning and using this program most teachers will definitely hesitate using it. The time factor was also poited out by Johannes in his seminar.

To be able to interest more educators in the ICT tools we need to approach certain realities in the teaching environment - I wrote before "Maybe we need to make a seminar about "How to prepare schools for modern learning with the help of ICT". This would include the classroom environment, the schedules, technical equipment, programs available, conflicts with exams, basic skills of students, basic skills of teachers, time scare (the fear of something consuming your valuable time), etc... "

Just a little last note - As you can see I have hardly mentioned the pedagogic approach since I think it's so obvious the core of all teaching with or without ICT. You have to have an idea with your teaching before you use any modern tools including ICT. This I'm sure has been the case of all our participators. What they have been able to show is the possibilities to enrich your approaches with the help of different ICT tools. I have a long teaching experience (started as a substitute teacher in 1976 and I'm still working "on the floor") and I do not only see the "flashy" parts of different ICT solutions but I also see several great tools to improve my own teaching. Until just a few years ago I was totally ICT illiterate and even though I progressed a little bit it's a slow process since I am a slow learner. What has been good for me with ICT is the ability to build up a more creative learning environment for my students. This improves my own teaching as well. Johannes use of Flash with students shows exactly the same thing but out of my point of view on a higher technical level.

I still think that a Seminar with the more practical questions above could be useful... :rolleyes:

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What was encouraging in this presentation was to see certain students (that had been regarded as slow/low achievers) excel when they wer taught how to use Flash in their own work. With an instructor/teacher that has the necessary skills this is another tool that helps us open up the creative side of certain pupils.

I would like to add another personal experience to this thread - one mentioned in Toulouse.

Brad (a Year 7 student at my school) was in danger of being moved down a set because he was not displaying the necessary progression to remain in a top set. There was a huge gap between his verbal and literary responses. Regrettably, teachers still put the largest emphasis on producing it on paper and so Brad was under fire.

The real isue was that Brad was disorganised and not systematic enough when it came to producing answers. His responses were brief, under-explored and unimaginative. Tuition was not making a difference to his academic achievements.

However, Brad got into Flash in a big way. So much so that he would produce an animation every evening - he has his own portfloio of work already. Brad was now started to plan and explain, he was able to follow points through to their logical conclusuion and he was able to think in a multi-causal way.

This transformation was not a miracle produced by Flash, but it did contribute quite heavily to it. This, I believe, is for two reasons:

  1. Flash engages pupils through a language they appreciate and understand
  2. Flash encourages higher order thinking

Language - specifically the language pupils use - is considered too infrequently in education. Brad understands 'layers' and 'tweens' in a way he did not get 'concluding comments' and 'evaluation'. However, Flash allowedhis thinking to develop and cognitively moved him on. Creating complex animations is no different to establishing a multi-strand narrative on the ancient civilisations, they require the same type of skills and thought processes.

For some pupils, Flash allows them to create the kind of learning they like, in a language they prefer and via a media they appreciate. The key selling point of Flash is that it is complex and that it does require thought and patience - isn't that what we want education to be about?

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Thank you Neal for interesting comments.

... Tuition was not making a difference...
  1. ...a language they appreciate and understand

...to create the kind of learning they like

This is exactly what I suggest Flash can achieve - it is not about finding solutions or using the latest software to tick boxes. It's about enhancing pedagogy by targeting the way pupils want to learn and are used to learning. It can, if used well, engage children to want to learn.

I recently visited a number of schools in Shanghai were they happen to teach pupils Adobe Flash. I asked one of the teachers why she taught them Flash and why she uses Flash in the classroom and she explained that children learn much better because it reminds them of CD-ROMS, interactive games and other digital resources. If we can encourage them to learn, and Flash can help to achieve that, is that not a good thing?

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Why should it be used by teachers and how could we use it?

‘…students want an education that serves their needs. For many that means an education that is convenient, accessible and most importantly, relevant.’ (Macromedia Whitepaper 2004)

Children have different expectations about the role of technology in their lives and if teachers do not eventually meet these expectations then it could become difficult to ensure that learning is maintained for every pupil. The world has come along way since Commodore 64 with it basic graphics and pupils are now using hand held game consoles. Games for Commodore 64 could take up to 30 minutes to load and if we then failed the first level, then we had to endure another 30 minutes of waiting. We also had hand-held computer games, or at least in the late 1980s, with smash-hits such as Donkey Kong Jr, but these were simple and uninspiring. Thus, graphics were poor, game content weak and the interactive element limited. Children are now used to game characters with Artificial Intelligence, astounding graphics, professionally conducted music and game content which changes each time they play the game. If they already have certain expectations about, for example, interactivity and graphic quality then should not learning be pushed into that direction?

I agree that teachers should be encouraged to use Flash. I say this because I believe that the more involved you are in creating the teaching resources, the more effective they will be in the classroom. This is because you can tailor the materials to exactly fit your objectives. When you use the materials produced by someone else, you are forced to accept their teaching objectives. More importantly, you can adjust the impact of the materials when you are using them. Much of your thinking stays in your head rather than appearing in the resource. I discovered this when other members of the department tried to use my materials.

I discovered this when I first started teaching in 1977. The downside to this is the look of the product. In the 1970s we were restricted to very primitive technology. My tutor on my PGCE course, Stephen Ball, was at the time writing his book, Beachside Comprehensive. His research included following around the same students at Boundstone Comprehensive in Lancing. At the time the school was committed to mixed ability teaching. The teachers were convinced that the only way they could make this work was by producing your own materials. However, as Stephen Ball pointed out, this meant that these students were being forced to endure poorly produced worksheets, virtually every lesson.

The invention of the photocopying machine improved the quality of worksheets, although most teachers used them to copy pages from textbooks.

One of the reasons I started my website in 1997 was that it made it possible for me to produce professional looking teaching materials in colour (at the time photocopying machines in schools could only work in black and white). Initially, I expected most teachers to embrace the internet in the same way they had utilized the photocopying machine. However, I was wrong in that. It was a technological step too far. Only a small minority of teachers have created websites in order to use them for their teaching. I suspect this will always be the case until teachers are given high-quality INSET on how to develop these skills (one of the major objectives of the E-HELP project).

I fear that the response of teachers to the idea of using FLASH will be similar to that of teachers when I tried to convince them to create their own website. However, I agree with you, this is the way forward. My ideal situation would be for teachers and students working alongside each other using FLASH to develop inactive websites. As we all know, the best way to learn is to teach.

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I fear that the response of teachers to the idea of using FLASH will be similar to that of teachers when I tried to convince them to create their own website. However, I agree with you, this is the way forward. My ideal situation would be for teachers and students working alongside each other using FLASH to develop inactive websites. As we all know, the best way to learn is to teach.

My main concern is that starting with a computer program - Flash - instead of a particular teaching point/activity/lesson, which any teacher would recognise - is putting the cart before the horse. There will always be a technological divide among teachers so long as the ICT-adept talk about a "new way of thinking" without anchoring it to at least a few curriculum-based examples which would be familiar to all teachers.

There has to be a strong, compelling reason to make initiative-weary teachers change their practice and adopt a new teaching tool. In the 1990s, my brother encouraged me to set up a website of my own using his server. At first, I did very little with it, except the usual "Hello world!" brochureware. Then I was asked by my local university school of education to run a workshop on ICT and SEN for their MFL teacher training students. It then occurred to me how useful my website could be as a delivery medium for problem-solving tasks, where SEN questions could be partly answered by following links. I still have the workshop on my website at

http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/case/

I've never looked back since then. I've also learnt the lesson that website-making is never an end in itself, it is for me a means to another, more important and pedagogy-based, end. I've since posted a lot of my teaching materials on the site, but only in response to teachers on online forums requesting task sheets on particular topics.

The problem with Flash - and that goes for Interactive Whiteboards, Blogs and Podcasts for that matter, is that I'm hearing a lot of talk about the medium but very little about the educational content, which is what interests me. For example, somebody inviting me out of the blue to come and read and contribute to their blog will probably be ignored. On the other hand, somebody announcing that they want to share their experience about teaching MFL to learners with SEN via a blog will have my full attention. In other words, there has to be a "hook", preferably a non-technological, down-to-earth one to get the uninitiated started. I'm sure I'm not the only person to think this way. Couldn't Flash be "sold" in the same way: develop, say, in French a few examples of Flash being used to enhance some basic teaching point, to help vocabulary learning, whatever. Stimulate curiosity by suggesting how the exercise could be edited and personalised with a little effort. Then many teachers will have dipped their toes in the water and be more ready to jump in. Having done so, they will be more willing to get on to the more advanced stuff, such as higher order thinking skills. There's a saying "Keep it simple, stupid". I don't always follow such advice when I get carried away by a new tool, but I try to keep it foremost in my mind.

David Wilson

http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/

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Thank you both for your comments.

John:

I fear that the response of teachers to the idea of using FLASH will be similar to that of teachers when I tried to convince them to create their own website. However, I agree with you, this is the way forward. My ideal situation would be for teachers and students working alongside each other using FLASH to develop inactive websites. As we all know, the best way to learn is to teach.
I agree, that would be the ideal way to move things along. There is currently discussion at my school about starting to teach children Flash from as early as 2007. That would certainly be an interesting development. I also feel that good quality INSET is needed if software such as Flash is going to take off. Although there is training available, it is either teaching you 'everything about...' or, if focused on training teachers, very limited.

David:

Stimulate curiosity by suggesting how the exercise could be edited and personalised with a little effort. Then many teachers will have dipped their toes in the water and be more ready to jump in...
I agree. I hope to achieve this with Flasheducation so that teachers can see examples of Flash before they decide to take the tutorial. Take a look at the resources I have created here for a couple of ideas of what you can do with Flash. My Sixthform students liked these because the activities are hands-on and different to standard card-sorts. There are of course lots of other great examples but these highlight what you can do with very basic knowledge of Flash.

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My main concern is that starting with a computer program - Flash - instead of a particular teaching point/activity/lesson, which any teacher would recognise - is putting the cart before the horse. There will always be a technological divide among teachers so long as the ICT-adept talk about a "new way of thinking" without anchoring it to at least a few curriculum-based examples which would be familiar to all teachers.

The problem with Flash - and that goes for Interactive Whiteboards, Blogs and Podcasts for that matter, is that I'm hearing a lot of talk about the medium but very little about the educational content, which is what interests me.

David,

This is an interesting viewpoint and very logical. However, it leaves one very vital step out of the equation. New tools and technologies are not created by teachers and are not developed with teachers as their core audience. Flash, for example, was put together to assist web designers in their work. Therefore, it is up to teachers to spot the potential in these applications and exploit them for their own ends.

In the grand scheme of things, Flash is new and we are just starting to unlock its potential. It will only be when usage among teachers increases that we can say with exactly what Flash can do.

I have seen some fantastic categorisation activities and source analysis work done with Flash, but I know that is capable of much more. I am currently trying to develop a thinking skills activity that has visual outcomes for looking at change and continuity over time. I know what I want to do, but I am not sure if I can achieve it.

We need to experiment in order to find out what is possible. Someone needs to pioneer this - but the more pioneers we have the better.

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My main concern is that starting with a computer program - Flash - instead of a particular teaching point/activity/lesson, which any teacher would recognise - is putting the cart before the horse. There will always be a technological divide among teachers so long as the ICT-adept talk about a "new way of thinking" without anchoring it to at least a few curriculum-based examples which would be familiar to all teachers.

The problem with Flash - and that goes for Interactive Whiteboards, Blogs and Podcasts for that matter, is that I'm hearing a lot of talk about the medium but very little about the educational content, which is what interests me.

David,

This is an interesting viewpoint and very logical. However, it leaves one very vital step out of the equation. New tools and technologies are not created by teachers and are not developed with teachers as their core audience. Flash, for example, was put together to assist web designers in their work. Therefore, it is up to teachers to spot the potential in these applications and exploit them for their own ends.

In the grand scheme of things, Flash is new and we are just starting to unlock its potential. It will only be when usage among teachers increases that we can say with exactly what Flash can do.

I have seen some fantastic categorisation activities and source analysis work done with Flash, but I know that is capable of much more. I am currently trying to develop a thinking skills activity that has visual outcomes for looking at change and continuity over time. I know what I want to do, but I am not sure if I can achieve it.

We need to experiment in order to find out what is possible. Someone needs to pioneer this - but the more pioneers we have the better.

Thanks for responding, Neal. Yes, my understanding too is that Flash is a general web technology, not a teaching-specific tool. I also commend those teachers who recognise pedagogical potential in such general technologies. My fear is, however, that such pioneering teachers sometimes lose touch with the language and thinking of their less adept classroom practitioner colleagues as they explore all the possibilities that the new technology has to offer. You mention categorisation and thinking skills activities that can be implemented using Flash. Don't we need to list all such educational activities made possible or better via Flash first to get our less ICT-savvy colleagues on board? I'd like to see more presentations on Flash with titles such as "Using Flash to develop Thinking Skills" to get people started. Most teachers will understand the value of Thinking Skills and may then be prepared to countenance and embrace new ICT tools such as Flash if they are introduced in the context of a recognisable lesson activity. I'm all for teachers experimenting with new technologies and identifying new applications for them, but let's put the latter ahead of the former. If we do so, and demonstrate the pedagogical value of what we are doing, our beginners in Flash may well follow the experimental route too and come up with interesting educational applications of their own to throw into the common "pot".

David Wilson

http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/

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In the past Flash was often used in the development of e-Learning by Flash experts well-established in the world of hard coding. The learning curve has always been steep and the use of Flash by the average person has been rare. But this has changed recently as the development of e-Learning in Flash has been made a little easier, more insightful and, most importantly, more accessible to teachers. This is partly due to Macromedia’s new features, for example templates and components such as learning interactions. However, the biggest progress made thus far in encouraging educators to use the software has been due to the insistence by many training institutions to focus on ICT and individual teachers continuing to develop on their own. There are now also numerous sites devoted to spreading the usage of Flash (see part four for a brief list of some of these sites).

You wrote this seminar over two years ago. Have their been any important developments with Flash since then.

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You wrote this seminar over two years ago. Have their been any important developments with Flash since then.

Flash as a software has developed significantly since my workshop two years ago. Not only has it been upgraded twice, Macromedia was also bought by Adobe. Flash Player is now installed on all new machines and most websites use Flash in various forms, from forms and advertising to games and educational resources. In fact, the use of flash video now appears to be industry standard and many schools, including my own and its attached Sixth Form college, have introduced courses on how to use Adobe Flash. Unfortunately since the Adobe take-over of Macromedia, the price of a site license has increased quite a lot so money has now become a key reason why some institutions do not invest in e.g. Dreamweaver and Flash which is a real shame. However, there are websites and books out there that provide training for teachers wishing to learn the software. Many sites, including our own InnovativeICT.net and the accompanying book, give concrete examples of how Flash can be used to create engaging and useful pedagogical activities. Also, there are European projects such as E-Help's that provide hands-on training on using ICT, which means that even complex software such as Adobe Flash and Dreamweaver can be overcome and used effectively within a classroom environment.

Please see my list of favorite resources for Adobe Flash (including books and websites).

Best wishes,

Johannes Ahrenfelt

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You wrote this seminar over two years ago. Have their been any important developments with Flash since then.

Flash as a software has developed significantly since my workshop two years ago. Not only has it been upgraded twice, Macromedia was also bought by Adobe. Flash Player is now installed on all new machines and most websites use Flash in various forms, from forms and advertising to games and educational resources. In fact, the use of flash video now appears to be industry standard and many schools, including my own and its attached Sixth Form college, have introduced courses on how to use Adobe Flash. Unfortunately since the Adobe take-over of Macromedia, the price of a site license has increased quite a lot so money has now become a key reason why some institutions do not invest in e.g. Dreamweaver and Flash which is a real shame. However, there are websites and books out there that provide training for teachers wishing to learn the software. Many sites, including our own InnovativeICT.net and the accompanying book, give concrete examples of how Flash can be used to create engaging and useful pedagogical activities. Also, there are European projects such as E-Help's that provide hands-on training on using ICT, which means that even complex software such as Adobe Flash and Dreamweaver can be overcome and used effectively within a classroom environment.

Please see my list of favorite resources for Adobe Flash (including books and websites).

Best wishes,

Johannes Ahrenfelt

Thank you for this update. Are many teachers creating their own Flash resources or are they relying on people like you to do it for them (via your templates).

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