Looking for clues about the digital future of education...

... and trying to keep an open mind!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

First week of Summer

I know some great people.
I'm not showing off. It's not because I'm gregarious, or funny or generous with my wealth. No. It's just because I use Twitter.
So many great ideas flash across my computer screen day after day that sometimes it is hard to stop myself from getting dizzy. Its half term now and, while I know I should be cracking on with reports, I just can't resist following up on some of the links I have saved over the last few busy weeks in school. Here, in no particular order, are the fruits of my Diigo bookmarks:
  • @dannynic blogs that Desmos is a new tool being honed as an online IWB programme. Looks still to be just in Flash right now (so no chance of using it with an iPad/projector setup) but there certainly seems to be room for an online programme which can perform on different IWBs.
  • Aurasma, the new augmented reality app for iOS4, is causing a lot of interest. While the BBC have largely dismissed it as a bit of advertising fluff, educationalists are brimming with ideas for how to use it. There are '4D' classroom displays where, when you point your iPad at a child's work, a video appears in its place with the pupil explaining how they made it (e.g. @xannov's blog). There are door labels, interactive worksheets, handwriting videos... the opportunities go on and on. Now all I need is an iPad2 and I'll be able to get to grips with it myself!
  • Edmodo, the facebook-styled Primary School site for organising classes and assignments, has added VocabularySpellingCity to its options. It is a fairly solid spelling tool, giving a variety of interactive ways to learn spellings. I might use it myself next year, if I can get over the american accents. As for Edmodo, I'm still running a trial of it with two girls in my school. It seems to be fine for teacher to pupil stuff, although we have noticed that there is no option for pupils to message each other except through the whole class.
  • Now these are cool. 100 Oxford Primary books are now free online as e-books. Gran and Kipper and all the rest are wonderfully presented. The story is read aloud clearly and there are simple activities too. I can see me using these as 'Big Books' on the IWB and as a 1-to-1 session for a child on a pc. Must tell my SENCO too!
  • The only thing wrong with the article 21 things that will be obsolete by 2010 by MindShift is the date. Make it 2012! A great read to show to Governors and SMT.
  • I did a straw poll of staff on my campus and no-one recognised a QR code. Teachers, ancillaries, marketing, they all drew a blank. Yet, with SmartPhones these seem like an easy win. Augmented Reality may still be a little rough and ready but QR codes are super fast and well worth embedding. Easy to make (copy and paste an url here), they can be added to displays to link to online work, put in the school brochure to make it instantly digital and added to worksheets to link to a discussion forum for the topic. The uses are vast, implementation is easy, and I think they tap into that part of the gadget owning psyche that likes to feel that their gizmo is actually useful and not just an expensive toy.
  • If you are reading this then you are almost certainly a fan of using social media in the classroom. This video, from the US, is a good example of using Twitter in the classroom.
  • A bit out-of-the-classroom this one, but if you are into marketing your school and getting the best out of Facebook then this is a great short blog on a few no-brainer things to remember.
  • Google have done StreetView, but in Art Galleries and Museums. What's not to like?
  • I wish I could find a way to justify doing this in school :o)
  • In Sunderland students organised and ran their own official TEDx event. Fairly impressive until you realise the students were IN YEARS 3 AND 4! Anyone else feel like they are getting left behind by these youngsters?
  • A favourite topic of mine, when the annual buying round rears its head, is why we bother buying IWBs any more. So nice to hear a well argued blog on the subject (from @kvnmcl). The comments give great balance to the argument too.
Sure, there's been more that has been passed my way, but no doubt you are the same. These are just a few gems from my lengthening list of favourites.
My major project right now (aside from the day job of planning, marking and reports of course!) is trying to understand what school will be like in the not-too-distant future. Social Media and the Digital Age mark a paradigm shift in education, and tinkering at the edges is not an option. I love this video of stone age man at the invention of the wheel, and this tongue-in-cheek blog about banning pens and pencils. If you take Ray Kurtzweil's slant, that "Mobile phones ... should be called gateways to human knowledge", then you are probably starting in the right place.
Still, that's another blog for another day.
Those class reports won't write themselves!