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Developing Interactive Teaching Styles using an IWB


Roy Huggins
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John wrote:

"All teachers are victims of the traditional paradigm of learning. They see themselves as the “expert” who is transmitting knowledge to their students."

Even if we ignore the rather strong generalisation, this statement still perturbs me, as does John's claim that teachers see ICT as a threat. Perhaps I am just at an unusual school but this doesn't reflect my admittedly anecodotal experience.

Furthermore, I would argue that in many cases we are the expert. There are times in the classroom when it is useful to have the teacher in such a role - although those times should probably be less than currently takes place. In this way, teacher as expert is just one role, one activity that we can use in our lessons. And this then fits with Roy's points about using a variety of activities, and making sure that people receive appropriate CPD to be able to use IWBs effectively.

At the risk of repeating my earlier post, I think that IWB supporters need to be more open about the ways in which they are/are not interactive. A part of all IWB training should focus on their limitations and potential misuse. And finally, the focus needs to be on the genuine benefits they can bring to teachers' planning and creation of varied lessons, and their role in freeing the teacher to work with the class during lessons.

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Modern language teachers are often not experts, especially if they are non-native speakers. I consider myself fluent in German, but I am definitely not an expert. I frequently seek the advice of native speakers, dictionaries and - using a KWIC concordancer - authentic texts in electronic format in order to verify something I am not sure about. This is why we try to introduce as many authentic materials as possible in the classroom, e.g. recordings of native speakers from different regions of the country/world where the language is spoken, authentic texts, off-air recordings from satellite TV, etc. In this respect an IWB is very useful for the presentation element of teaching/learning, but it is the practice/performance element that embeds the language in the learner's mind. I only really got to grips with German while spending a four-month period in Hamburg as part of my university studies, i.e. listening to, reading, writing and speaking German for several hours every day. To some extent the practice/performance element can be simulated in interactive computer programs and, of course, the Internet has opened up many channels of authentic communication. IWBs only have a small role to play in second language acquisition.

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John wrote:

"All teachers are victims of the traditional paradigm of learning. They see themselves as the “expert” who is transmitting knowledge to their students."

Even if we ignore the rather strong generalisation, this statement still perturbs me, as does John's claim that teachers see ICT as a threat. Perhaps I am just at an unusual school but this doesn't reflect my admittedly anecodotal experience.

A recent survey showed that there has been a decline in the confidence in the teacher’s use of ICT. The main reason for this was the perceived gap between their knowledge and that of their students. The teachers complained that to have this confidence they need to receive regular ICT INSET. Teachers assume, maybe wrongly, that the students are constantly keeping up to date in these developments. While they see themselves as the "expert" standing in front of the class, this lack of confidence will continue to cause serious problems with the use of ICT.

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Hi John,

So this where organisations like E-help try to step into the breach and try fill the very large CPD gap. Some would say that this an impossible gap to bridge without greater government coordination and resourcing. Lucky for our subject - history is ahead of the game in many respects. There are some outstanding examples of good practice meantioned in earlier threads like www.schoolhistory.co.uk and Andy Walker's site to name but a few.

The key to building up teachers confidence in the use of ICT is not to go for the complicated concepts and ideas, but for the simple time saving ideas such as the ones that I show cased above on IWBs.

Some folks I'm sure would say that some of my ideas are far too simple and we could easily get wrapped up in debates on theory and best practice, but whilst we are doing this we are going to lose the hearts and mind of the vast majority of teachers who do not have the same motivation or time to invest in ICT.

I've tried with some success to change my little corner of the world. I operate an open door policy in my department and offer free CPD training to anyone who wants to pop up to Mexborough. I've also run a whole series of training sessions promoting IWBS and ICT and given away all my resources to 100s of history teachers.

The only way to bring about real change is from a revolution from below. We have to get other teachers excited about the use of ICT as a tool for teaching and learning, encourage them to share their resources and experiences. Maybe I'm a stary eyed idealist, but thats why I'm a committed supporter of Andrew Field's project via www.schoolhistory.co.uk. I want to work with people like yourself who have a passion for teaching. Together we could all make a difference working together? What we need is a network of subject specialist departments up and down the country who are prepared to open their doors and give practical training to teachers. Who better to train teachers than real teachers themselves instead of dusty academics who haven't taught 21st Century children in real schools?

Alternatively, we can wait another 10 years for the 40% of teachers who are 50+ to retire and be replaced by younger, fresher teachers who will be trained with the latest uptodate technological skills. However, 10 years is a long time and I'm in a hurry to effect change today. Sometimes it is better to have someone experimenting with an IWB and making the mistake of allowing the board to dominate their lessons than not at all. Eventually, most folks will realise their mistakes and then they will be ready to try something else or experiment with different strategies and technologies.

Kind Regards

Roy

Edited by Roy Huggins
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As I indicated before, I first got interested in ICT in 1976. It was not easy to get into at that time. All my college had was a Prime 300 minicomputer. With the advent of the Apple II, the Commodore PET and the BBC Micro it got easier in the late 1970s / early 1980s. Then things got difficult again. Networks arrived and the PC arrived. The Mac made things easier again, but then Windows arrived (Win 95 = Mac 87) and has continued to make things more difficult again. Now the pace of change is so fast that many teachers have just given up. Last year I was offered a free mobile phone upgrade by O2. I turned it down on the grounds that I had only just got used to last year's free upgrade. I am not surprised that teachers feel less comfortable with ICT.

In Modern Languages we have been ahead of the game for a long time. Our international professional association, EUROCALL, was founded in 1986 and is still going strong 20 years later:

http://www.eurocall-languages.co.uk

However, I think we are beginning to get stuck in a rut. Too much emphasis is placed these days on increasingly complex VLEs. The buzz has gone out of ICT for me. Maybe I'm just getting old - 64 earlier this month. I'm beginning to enjoy walking my dog and tending my garden much more than browsing the Web.

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Hi Graham,

Nothing wrong with the above, but hold onto your passion. Your commitment is an exmple to us all. I know what you mean about the mobile phone though, sometimes you are better off doing something well with an old piece of technology or software than investing the time in a new gadget. The same is true for most teachers. We have to demonstrate and sell the real time cost benefits of resources like IWB, tablet PCs and content generators. Its not going to be easy!

You are not going to get the vast majority of teachers to handover the ICT to the students, unless they feel confident in the technology themselves. Its a chicken and egg senario. You have to invest in the CPD before the other can happen. I often get the students to design and edit their own video presentations, penalty shoot outs, gameshow presenters and PP presentations and to then peer and self assess them in the way that John was alluding to above. However, I'm possibly the only one experienced and confident enough to do so within my school, with the exception of the PP. I would do it more often, but variety is the spice of life and ICT is not the only meduim through which both teaching and learning can take place!

Kind Regards

Roy

PS In the last Ofsted report on the state of education, it put history ahead of the field!

Edited by Roy Huggins
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Roy, you are absolutely right about CPD being the key. I was called in as a trouble-shooter by one of the NOF training agencies towards the end of the NOF funding period. Many teachers who had been enrolled as NOF trainees by their schools had failed to complete their tasks (some of which were completely pointless) and I spent several months visiting around 20 different schools in order to get teachers over the final few hurdles so that they got their NOF training certificates.

NOF was a mess and identified as such by Ofsted. This is a digest of the thoughts I formulated post-NOF, based on feedback from trainees and what I observed:

- Schools were faced with a bewildering array of approved training providers – 57 in England – which made the task of choosing a suitable provider very difficult. Only three providers were subject specialists: Languages, Science and History. A smaller number of subject-specific training providers would have made more sense. The subject-specific providers generally received better feedback from trainees than those that tried to cover the whole school curriculum.

- NOF trainers were not supposed to teach basic ICT skills, such as finding one’s way around Windows and using a word-processor. It was assumed that such general training should have been provided by schools, local education authorities or other training providers, but in many cases it is clear that this simply did not happen, and NOF trainers found themselves having to deliver training in basic ICT skills. It would have been better to provide a two-tier training system: NOF1 for basic skills and NOF2 for applied subject-specific skills.

- Some schools were attracted by the idea of one training provider covering all subjects in the curriculum but this proved beyond the competence of many training providers, who failed to take note of the specific needs of teachers of Modern Foreign Languages. Training has often been delivered by ICT specialists rather than subject specialists, leading to complaints that the training offered was too generic, too technical, and often incomprehensible. The lesson to be learned is that ICT training – including basic skills – has to be in the hands of subject specialists rather than general ICT specialists.

- Particularly where the percentage of training online in a course was high, the support of the school was essential. Some teachers could not ensure access to ICT facilities, their progress was not monitored by management, and no technical support or time allocation was offered.

- Schools should have had the necessary hardware and software in place and in good working order before teachers could effectively embark on full-scale training. Sufficient access should have been available to teachers of all subjects, not just the traditionally ICT-based subjects such as Maths and Science.

- Online training featured in the courses of several NOF providers but sometimes this consisted of little more than the provision of a folder of materials and a discussion forum. The lesson to be learned is that considerable and regular intervention by tutors is essential in online training. Tutors could not handle more than 30 online trainees at one time.

- An effective system for assessing teachers’ basic and applied subject-specific skills before they embarked upon a NOF course – i.e. some form of externally managed placement testing – should have been used.

- A standardised system of assessing teachers’ competence at the end of a NOF course should have been used.

- The pace of work for teachers following a NOF course during term time often proved stressful. Ideally, teachers should have been allowed time off to follow training courses. An alternative approach was adopted by some local education authorities, whereby trainees were supplied with laptops preloaded with subject-specific software and tasks, to be carried out in trainees’ own time and at their own pace with support from a local professional development centre.

The following page at my website is an update of some of the things I was teaching NOF trainees:

http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/lspinset.htm

The ICT for Language Teachers site is a 16-module set of training materials for teachers of modern foreign languages:

http://www.ict4lt.org

ALL FREE! Maybe your colleagues in Modern Foreign Languages might be interested in the above.

See my 2002 publication: "ICT and Modern Foreign Languages: learning opportunities and training needs", published in International Journal of English Studies 2, 1: Monograph Issue, New Trends in Computer Assisted Language Learning and Teaching, edited by Pascual Pérez Paredes & Pascual Cantos Gómez, Servicio de Publicaciones, Universidad de Murcia, Spain:

http://www.camsoftpartners.co.uk/needs.htm

See also my chapter in Felix (2003): "Perspectives on online training initiatives". In Felix U. (ed.) Language learning online: towards best practice, Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger. Not available online.

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I think that language teachers must be the most difficult audience when it comes to trying to get across the virtues of a teaching machine. We've heard it all before … when tape recorders came along, and then language labs. Generally speaking, there was a massive amount of investment in machines (instead of in people), and the promises that were made were fantastic. You can perhaps understand why we're so sceptical about IWBs.

One of the problems with audio-visual presentations is Hollywood. Our pupils and students have been brought up on spectacular visual effects … and these cost millions. I coined an IT phrase once, SPIP (something posh to impress the punters), and I've produced a couple of spips (at the behest of others) to show what an interactive exercise could look like. One in particular would take students about 15 minutes to do - and they'd do something useful (even though I say who designed it). It cost about £15,000 about five years ago. It's only ever been used to demonstrate the wonder of IT in education.

Now it's in the nature of the computer hardware industry that you end up being able to do better things for less money all the time … but the competition for our pupils' visual and auditory attention is also pretty strong. The question is whether even the fanciest IWB presentation would ever be worth the investment (compared, say, to using the classroom for face-to-face contact between people).

One point I often make when I'm talking about ICT in education is that we usually concentrated on the 'information' and the 'technology', but forget the 'communication'. Now, linking up an IWB in a classroom in England, where there's a lesson going on about Nazi Germany, with an ex-member of the Nazi party sitting in Germany, who's able to tell the pupils why he joined in the first place, and what the atmosphere was like at the time … now that's what I'd call a good use for a machine. It might even incline the pupils not to drop modern languages at the age of 14 - and then Graham would be happy too!

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Seth Godin argues that Power Point is more often used as a teleprompter more than as a form of communication. His article is well worth reading.

http://www.sethgodin.com/freeprize/reallybad-1.pdf

Hi John,

Interesting article and well worth reading. I've seen some pretty poor examples of the use of PP over the years. I am most probably guilty of producing one or two death by PowerPoints in my time. Walls of text can quickly send audiences and classes of kids to sleep unless it is used interactively by tying in classroom tasks into the information displayed on the board.

However, once again this is where an IWB can be used interactively with a class of students. For example, I often import or type in some of our historical sources into a PP and then use the highlighter pens as way of either picking out key inferences myself as the 'expert' or getting the students to come up to the front to feedback their own results from their group discussions. The key as I tried to explain during my seminar at IST is to then try and get them to explain their choices in order to develop their critical thinking and explanation skills.

Its also interesting to note that comapnies like boardworks are trying to build in flash quizzes and activities into their PowerPoint shows to encourage people to try and break things up. I often use my old PP presentations as virtual textbooks to sequence pictures, facts, audio and video files together so that students can use them at home or on the school network as revision guides or extension activities.

An excellent us of PP is to get groups of pupils to research and produce 5 minute presentions. I then get them to peer and self assess each others presentations and mark them on content, effort, teamwork and delivery. Some of the discussions and debates can be very interesting about what makes a good presentation and how to effectively communicate to an audience with slavishly reading everything on a slide. Some of the better students presentations will actually use the highlighter pens on the IWB to pick out the key points.

Kind Regards

Roy

One of the problems with audio-visual presentations is Hollywood. Our pupils and students have been brought up on spectacular visual effects … and these cost millions.

Hi David,

One of the great things about microsoft XP is the number of 'free' programmes which actually make it very easy to create your own video files or special effects. I'm a great fan of Windows Movie Maker which is really easy and simple to use. When the next generation of IPODS hit the market its possible to use Movie Maker to sequence a key pictures, information and video clips and then add or dub your own commentary to create revision files that can me watched on a handheld device.

Another good use of Windows Movie Maker is to get students to produce their own news reports by muting and then dubbing their own commentary on certain historical events or turning points. I'm sure that you could get stduents to film and edit language roles plays in teh same way and then use the video files to self and peer assess their performance.

Special effects don't need to be complicated or expensive in order to effective or bring a little bit of Hollywood into the classroom.

Kind Regards

Roy

NOF was a mess and identified as such by Ofsted.

Hi Graham,

I totally agree. I was made the NOF coordinator for humanities when it was first introduced. It was little more than a glorified training course on how to surf and do research the web, compose e-mails and add make attachments.

However, there was a need for this type of training, but the one size fits all does not work and I personally found working through some of the modules very tedious.

One of the best packages that I have come across for teaching basic PC skills is the European Drivers License. I completed the majority of modules in one day, but as a basic package it works for a lot of beginners.

One of the key issues you identified in your post is that if CPD is going to be effective it has to be valued and the proper time and resources have to put aside by the government and school.

I've beed asked to pop up to Scotland during the October half term to deliver some IWB training. I might be wrong, but the impression I gained was that every Friday afternoon is set aside for meetings and CPD in all Scottish schools. What a brilliant idea!

Kind Regards

Roy

Edited by Roy Huggins
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One of the great things about microsoft XP is the number of 'free' programmes which actually make it very easy to create your own video files or special effects. I'm a great fan of Windows Movie Maker which is really easy and simple to use. When the next generation of IPODS hit the market its possible to use Movie Maker to sequence a key pictures, information and video clips and then add or dub your own commentary to create revision files that can me watched on a handheld device.

Just in case you were interested, Apple Macs (which can also run Windows, by the way) have their own free editing package called iMovie, which in my opinion, is much more student friendly and powerful. You can already export the clips you make to the present video iPods.

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Alternatively, we can wait another 10 years for the 40% of teachers who are 50+ to retire and be replaced by younger, fresher teachers who will be trained with the latest uptodate technological skills.

Roy

The point here is not the age or indeed the "freshness" of teachers rather it is their intelligence and vision.

We have in e-learning the potential to revolutionise schools and the organisation of learning, shifting the balance from teacher to learner thereby empowering the learner and also releasing the teacher from an increasingly unrealistic burden.

Incidentally several teachers of considerable age and debatable 'freshness' have been saying this for years ;)

It is not however surprising that teachers at first seek out technological modes which reinforce and justify that which they have always done and it is extremely clever of so many software houses to latch onto this with the invention of the interactive whiteboard.

I use screens and boards to introduce topics and activities and very occassionally to organise a competitive "plenary". Whilst Ofsted and SMT like these activities (largely because it gives them a change to "tick" the Key Stage 3 Strategy box), I am not at all sure of their educational value.

An A level student recently complained that such activities impinged on her learning time. I think she might have been right.

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It is extremely clever of so many software houses to latch onto this with the invention of the interactive whiteboard.

You guys do like your conspiracy theories! ;)

I agree Andy, if you over use the games they can lose their edge and interfer with the learning, but there is no harm in having a little bit of fun whilst reinforcing a few key facts!

I teach a lot of our Sixth Formers A Level History, Politics and Economics and I find some of the games quite useful once in a while. I've given got studnets to create their own game show presenter quizzes on topics like the Nationalised Industries and topics like the Miners Strike. They can help to change the pace of the lesson and inject a little bit of friendly competition.

However, on a more serious note I actively encourage all my AS & A2 students to craete their own graphic organers during lessons rather than making long lists of bullet points. The IWB helps to reinforce their value, whilst at the same time promoting discussion and helping students to develop their critical thinking skills.

Anyway, have to dash, we've got a bady sitter tonight so I'm off out for a meal.

Kind Regards

Roy

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The only way to bring about real change is from a revolution from below. We have to get other teachers excited about the use of ICT as a tool for teaching and learning, encourage them to share their resources and experiences. Maybe I'm a stary eyed idealist, but thats why I'm a committed supporter of Andrew Field's project via www.schoolhistory.co.uk. I want to work with people like yourself who have a passion for teaching. Together we could all make a difference working together? What we need is a network of subject specialist departments up and down the country who are prepared to open their doors and give practical training to teachers. Who better to train teachers than real teachers themselves instead of dusty academics who haven't taught 21st Century children in real schools?

Alternatively, we can wait another 10 years for the 40% of teachers who are 50+ to retire and be replaced by younger, fresher teachers who will be trained with the latest uptodate technological skills. However, 10 years is a long time and I'm in a hurry to effect change today. Sometimes it is better to have someone experimenting with an IWB and making the mistake of allowing the board to dominate their lessons than not at all. Eventually, most folks will realise their mistakes and then they will be ready to try something else or experiment with different strategies and technologies.

I am all in favour of revolutions from below. However, I fail to see what you are doing is revolutionary. As Neal Watkin has pointed out on another seminar, the real revolutionary act is to give power to the students.

You seem to think that the battle is between the young and old teachers. This assumes that it is the young who are the ones who are keen to use ICT and the old are trying to prevent this from happening.

I have been involved in trying to persuade teachers to use ICT for over 25 years. Age is not the problem. Some of the main advocates for the use of ICT are people nearing retirement age. They have been doing this for as long as I have.

It is true that most young teachers have been trained to use ICT in the classroom. The problem is that they have not been encouraged to think enough about how this ICT should be used in the classroom. This reflects the changes that have taken place in PGCE courses over the last 20 years. Young teachers know all about the right “buzz” words to use and probably can memorize whole passages of the latest orders from the Department of Education. However, the one thing they are not is revolutionaries.

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I fail to see what you are doing is revolutionary.

Hi John,

Encouarging teachers to experiment, innovate, share resources and ideas without recourse to either pubic or private funding or leadership? Effecting change from below?

Call me old fashioned, but that sounds pretty revolutionary to me or at least challenging in schools that I've worked in! One of the many interesting comments that were made repeatedly by delegates from all over Europe at the E-Help conference was the fact that so few teachers are prepared to share their resources or take onboard new ideas. You have to appeal to their hearts and minds and convince them of the value of ICT to help their students and make their lives easier.

My ideas may seem simple and below your high academic standards, but they do actually work with real kids. You are not going to get the majority of teachers to listen to your ideas or take you seriously by being so high handed and provocative all the time. You will just put their backs up and make them throw up their force fields as they retreat to their tried and trusted methods. You should stop trying to be the 'expert' who has to lead from the front all the time, practice what you preach!

Anyway, apologies for having wasted your valuable time. I took a leap of faith by posting on this website, despite the warnings from others!

If anyone is interested in continuing this seminar then I will be responding to threads on IWBs on the thread below:

http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/forum/index...opic=3625&st=30

Kind Regards & Good Luck with the project

Roy

Edited by Roy Huggins
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