I held my first staff development meeting as Lead Practitioner for Media Rich Learning today. Above is a TagCrowd of some key words that got thrown into the mix at the start of the session by members of the MFL and Science Departments. As an aside, I was going to use Wordle to create my word cloud until I discovered it does not work on the iPad. TagCrowd was a good substitute and I only took a couple of minutes to type in the text and generate the image.
Media Rich Learning means different things to different people. To me it is a reflection of our ever changing, technologically driven society. If we do not engage with new technologies, and use high quality multimedia resources in our classrooms, we are not really providing our students with a rich learning environment. Schools should be at the forefront of research and development, not struggling to keep up. Budgets may be tight, but there is a wealth of free handy tools and resources just waiting to be discovered and used in schools. Some schools are already engaging with them, others have a way to go. I hope that in my role I can help my colleagues and students to discover new ways of sharing their knowledge. Classrooms should be buzzing with excitement and purposeful talk. If a student discovers an app or online tool that encourages them to take their learning beyond the four walls of the classroom they are taking control of their learning. Those smartphones are actually being used in a ‘smart’ way by them. This is the sort of independent learner we relish as teachers.
To this end part of my session with staff was a ‘Smart Quiz’, using apps on the ipads to target specific research on the web – with teams tweeting answers to me. This idea was completely and unashamedly plaguerised from Rob Glover who runs #tweetfellows on the third Thursday of every month at The Oddfellows . His smartphone pub quizzes are genius and I saw them as a way to encourage pupils to do research quickly and efficiently on the web. Although Twitter is currently filtered at school for pupils (so they won’t be tweeting answers, unless they use their own phones) just using a quiz format gets them to work quickly and scan texts for relevant details instead of doing the usual cut and paste job that we so often face when marking homework. Apps needed for the quiz were Shazam, Google Maps, Google Translate, a QR code reader (I have found I-nigma to be the fastest), the camera, Twitter, Google image search (I’m always amazed at how you can take a photo and it can find a match) and Trip Advisor (which caused the most arguments between the teams).
Learning never stops. My own children have been constantly bombarding me with questions from the moment they could talk. Well-rounded and happy adults are ones who have not lost this desire to acquire new knowledge. It is what makes us human. As teachers we need to nurture this love of learning, the need to try new things out, that will stay with our students throughout their lives. I learn new things on a daily basis. We need to engrain the skills that will allow our students to deal with an ever changing world. They face a future with uncertain employment prospects in a competitive market. They will be employed in jobs that have not been invented yet. They will need to be able to regularly update their skills, engage with others around the world and, more importantly, promote themselves as the best person for the job. All of this involves risk. I would like to think I can bring something new, engaging and exciting to my lessons. If we don’t take a few risks we cannot expect our students to.