Saturday, 27 November 2010

Talking Technology and e-Learning to Parents

I was asked to talk to a group of parents recently about e-Learning. I usually talk to teachers so this was a new experience for me. A small group of parents got it, a lot didn't!
So...what was the problem?
One man said ' I may be old fashioned but what about the 3 'R's! It is an important question, the answer... is that they are still there but are being delivered to students in a different way.

Another thing that bothered me was a parent saying 'My daughter cannot tell me what 7x 4 is, or it takes her a while to think what the answer is (she is obviously using strategies to work it out). I thought to myself 'Well really? How important is it to know what 7x 4 is?' We have calculators available to us everywhere. I know of very successful accountants who don't know their timetables, they use the tools that are available to them to solve the problem. Some parents of today expect their children to be taught as they were taught when they were at school, as this parent said 'I learned by rote and I know my timetables'. The argument could be that this is the type of learner he is, or he has a stronger intelligence in that area but his daughter does not.

 The point is that the skills we need change with time and technology... as a checkout operator in a Supermarket in the late 70s, I had to count back change to customers as per company protocol e.g if an order was $10.30 and they gave me $20 then I had to count back the change to the customer
'$10.30 and 20c is 50, 50c is $11, $2 is $13, $2 is $15 and $5 is $20.00
A few years later machines came in that gave you exactly how much change you needed to give to the customer. That skill I had, has not been used up until this day.

Parents do want to see 1-1 computing. They want children to have their own computers. I see 1-1 computing replacing rows of desks with rows of laptops, and the blackboard of yesteryear is now an IWB. The only difference between the classroom of the early 1900s and now is the technology. I am seeing a lot of teachers using their IWB as the old 'chalk and talk' but that will change as they get more familiar with the software and start creating authentic resources that students can use.

Parents were worried that Handwriting and Spelling would not be in the programme anymore and what was a maths and reading session going to look like. We reassured them that those programmes still happen, the teaching and learning still happen but with the aid of a variety of technologies in a student centred classroom.
Another parent said he was worried about the work load on the teachers, how could they manage 26 students doing different things with lots of equipment in lots of groups. The Principal was able to answer "We teach like that in traditional classrooms!' She went on to explain how we group teach.

Traditional style teaching
  • A group with the teacher for instructional work,
  • A group working on individual specific worksheet/ or reading book activity that had been designed for their group
  • A group on computers individually working through a graphic organiser Character Study
  • A group listening to stories on the listening post
  • A group reading from their group box of books at their level
e-Learning class
  • A group with the teacher for instructional work using iPads to tap out answers to questions teacher asks
  • A group working together in smaller groups on a specific online worksheet/ or reading book activity that had been designed for their group
  • A group on computers (in pairs or threes) working through a graphic organiser Character Study, discussing character traits, looking through the novel in their hands to find more information, sharing their answers
  • A group listening to an audiobook on the iPod via a 5 way splitter whilst reading from the paperback copy at the same time
  • A group choosing from the reading options which could include a variety of activities using technologies or non digital materials
It was interesting to see and hear parents reactions to this way of learning. Human nature is to go with what we know and what we believe works, change is unknown and threatening. We need to think about how we can help parents to transition to this way of learning.
The e learning classroom
View more presentations from Jacqui Sharp.

Since I wrote this post I have come across another blog post by Celia Her post focuses on how parents are reluctant to let their students use social media and their lack of trust in their own children. She reiterates what I observed that there is a sense of fear amongst some parents and a lack of understanding of what social media and Web2.0 tools are.
Jane Danielson is documenting her school's journey into the use of Social Media and how it is becoming an integral part of the communication lines between school and community.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Embeddable Books

There are several embeddable book and magazine makers on the internet and this was one I came across today. Create your book in Word or PowerPoint, save it as a PDF file and then upload to
It embeds in this form

Enlarge this document in a new window
Publisher Software from YUDU

You can click on the above link to enlarge the document. This will be a great publishing tool for children and teachers to use, I could see them making story books and magazines, embedding on to their wikis and blogs and also downloading for off line reading.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

It was one of those 'Oh wow' moments!

I was working with a teacher today who was distracted by one of his Year 5 boys that was working slowly in his bookwork. He commented to me that the student found it difficult to write and just as hard to work on a computer. He was finding it challenging to get much work out of him at all. I suggested the iPad, and as I had one with me we called the student up.  I asked him had he ever tried an iPad before... he had not!
I asked him to type a sentence about himself, his name, favourite sport etc. He started typing, see video below...

I looked at the teacher, whose jaw had dropped. He couldn't believe his eyes!
When I asked the student why did he think he could type so well on the iPad, he said he didn't know. But I think it is because his face is totally focused on one screen and he doesn't have to keep lifting his head from keyboard to monitor as you do with a computer. He was also able to edit a lot more quickly as students generally type a sentence, then look up and then delete the whole sentence if it is incorrect. This boy was able to see his mistakes as they happened and delete right then and there.
We also asked him to do the exercise he was having difficulty in writing on the iPad and he completed it in record time!

This has to be another argument for having iPads and iPod touches in the classroom! It can capture a reluctant learner to become enthusiastic, engaged and successful!

Go to to find out what iPod Touch and iPad apps I am recommending.