If you follow me on Twitter you will realise that this waffle might not actually be my first attempt at writing this. My first attempt just would not come together this morning, so after a couple of hours retyping and releasing my frustration in tweets, I have changed tact again and decided to waffle the second part of last week’s topic. How I use technology with resources.
Technology and Resources (Original Image from pixabay.com)
Last week I waffled about how technology is being used and how this has impacted on the planning process. As a student, I would spend a great deal of time writing or typing my plans up when what I really wanted to do was to create the resources which I would be using in my teaching. Even now, working in higher education, I still look forward to creating the actual resources. Although planning is essential for identifying the learning, the creation and use of resources is how the learners engage with this learning and ideally make progress. There was a time when the creation of resources meant card, felt tip pens and plenty of sticky back plastic. Although these elements still exist, technology has started to play a valuable role not only in the creation of resources but also in the actual types of resources used.
Production and duplication – Photocopying used to be very expensive – yes I know it still is, but when I say it was expensive, I mean it was very expensive – so expensive that you needed permission to do it. This was when the Banda Machine (I think that is what it was called) was king of the reprographics room. Creating the resource on purple lined paper similar to carbon paper was one of my weekend jobs which resulted in attaching the ‘master copy’ onto a drum and turning a handle to produce the copies after priming the machine which some strange smelling spirit fluid. Today, the use of technology not only supports the duplication of resources but also the content. Having limited graphic skills my resources would be plain and boring. Today a wealth of copyright free images, graphics and fonts can liven up the most simple resource to engage the learner making it not only visually appealing but also relating it to a context or topic which appeals to the learner. With the use of the internet and online resources, the actual duplication of resources is often no longer needed due to the interaction that is now available.
Interaction and Participation – I sometimes feel sorry for the interactive whiteboard (IWB). I know it is an inanimate object which is devoid of human feelings, but I often consider it a multi talented striker in a football team who has been placed in goal – yes I did make a football reference then and yes – I know I should avoid repeating this. The ability to interact with resources is one of the key improvements that technology has provided. The IWB essentially changed the humble whiteboard and projector to a virtual dynamic wall space. When training users how to use the IWB I would often discuss how children could work at the board, how they could alter and change things and how they could collaborate to produce a group outcome. Often the IWB was, however, reduced to being just that whiteboard once again with a presentation being projected onto it. However, technology has yet again evolved and provided another option for this interaction. Online resources allow the learners to engage with resources within the virtual world. The creation of computer games can now take place on Scratch’s online editor and with the introduction of mobile devices, collaboration and interaction no longer only limited to take place at the board or within the classrooms. It would appear that technology has provided the option for resources to be engaged with beyond the confines of the classroom, both at home and away.
Types of resources – Although I wasn’t actually aware of it at the time, one of my recent lectures might have actually trended on Snapchat! I might have hoped that this happened due to my teaching, but essentially it was because of a resource I created and used. You might have gathered by now that I am not the most creative person around – I would even consider myself completely uncreative – but technology does allow me to attempt to create resources which allow me to contradict my un-creativeness. After the paper resources and interactive Smartboard slides had been explored, technology has provided a completely new domain for us as practitioners to explore. The technology needed to create, edit and publish videos is now freely available and becoming more simple to use. You might have noticed that one of my great ambitions, along with several other people, is to have a popular YouTube channel. Although this might appear to be a rather ‘teenage’ ambition from an ‘academic’ (you might want to check out Professor David Smith’s Channel). As well these new types of resources this is the creation of game based resources such as MineCraft, which can be used as an effective resource. These new resources allow the learner to interact, collaborate and participation with experts and within virtual simulations. Recording is no longer limited to paper and pen with anything from podcasts to live broadcasts being available to record and share outcomes.
In a recent science session at university I was discussing the benefits of learning outside the classroom with the students. One point that was made was that, despite all the positives that we reflected on, if every lesson was completed outside the classroom, would the benefits actually be diminished? This could also be true with the use of resources. Technology has definitely increased the range of possible resources which can be used to support and encourage learning, but there still needs to be a range used in order to provide the variation and also impact on the learners. Training and understanding of the new resources which are available is essential as is the sharing of established good practice. This is where blogs, podcasts and Youtube Channels support learning of practitioners and sites from established and recognised learning technologists such as Mr Parkinson on ICT and Video for my classroom are supportive. Finally the motivation and confidence to use these new types of resources is needed. It is often difficult to step away from what we feel comfortable in using but I always try to keep in mind that that next new resource I have the confidence to try might actually make an impact on that learner which I have not quite reached yet.
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Have fun, engage and I’ll catch you later