My conversation with Belinda at the Microsoft stand, took far longer than I had anticipated and so I missed all of Lisa Kingman's presentation about utilising the experience and wisdom of older generations to inspire the next generation and so I went straight to the Young Learners conference to hear Catherine Ford speak about using iPads for cross-curricula learning learning. When I arrived, I caught the tail end of Jason Meijboom's presentation, talking about the relationship between ACARA and digital technology; and the use of technology in the classroom with some examples of chromakey (greenscreen) work he is doing. One of they key messages I took away from his talk was this:
It does appear that some schools rush out to buy whatever is the latest and greatest piece of technology without necessarily planning for their use and understanding the pedagogical changes required to use them as effective learning tools, or considering the professional development needs of teachers to be able to use them as effective tools for teaching and learning.
After Jason finished, Catherine Ford spoke and there was a particular focus on the use of iPads to recreate narratives within cross-curricula learning. She spoke about the initial inspiration for a movie making unit that was aimed at recreating the children's book The Little Red Hen. As part of the process, the students were required to have a thorough understanding of the story, but that it also created a great connection with the local community as students went to various locations in the area to film different components of it. She very much enjoyed the process, however, it was not sustainable over the long term on a regularly repeated basis, the issue of time being a major contributing factor.
Catherine spoke about the move making process being a valuable learning experience for the students as it required them to use a lot of the skills dubbed twenty-first century skills, such as problem solving and critical thinking to come up with the most appropriate way to achieve the desired outcome.
There are a number of other ways to engage students with iPads for cross-curricula learning. One of the most straightforward is to use the Book Creator app with students. This could be used to create narratives, to act as a reflection journal, or in a range of other contexts such as the below idea Catherine shared.
I was doing something similar this year with my Stage One class, sending a mascot home and having students complete a writing task in the class mascot diary, however, I can see how the use of an iPad would change the dynamic, allowing for photos and videos to be more easily captured and included as part of the mascot diary. One of the issues that Catherine discussed was the need that teachers often feel to know everything about what they are using. She said this is not necessary as the students only need to know enough about how to use the technology to complete the task. Catherine also spoke about her preference to only use creation apps rather than consumption apps.
Catherin finished with a nod to Paul Hamilton:
I like the sentiment and it needs to be considered, how is this learning tool going to be used to impact student learning. Irrespective of whether it is a piece of technology, or as Prakash Nair spoke about in his keynote, the physical structures, we should be considering the impact of the use of something as a tool for teaching and learning.
I will close this particular article with a tweet from Cameron Ross who was in a different conference stream:
If you have missed any of the articles in the FutureSchools 2017 series, you can find them here.