Learning takes place effectively when learners are in control of the learning activity, able to assess and experiment with their ideas in the course of pursuing results and enquire by working with people in seeking new knowledge before planning for new actions (Ravenscroft, 2000).
With the above explanation in mind, how do I justify 'playing games' for two hours? It is no secret that if we give a student an iPad with little or no guidance, they will just ' play around.' That said, however, examining the gaming practice as a structured interaction between computer games and game-based classroom pedagogy is warranted, as research is missing in the literature. They might be learning something from it, but do they really know what they have learned and how to record, articulate to others, and share in their ePortfolio?
Meanwhile, it is fascinating to watch students frantically press the iPad screen in the hope that something will happen and with the expectation, they can win! It is even more rewarding when I interact with students, observe, listen and facilitate with their inquiry.
The objective of the simulation app, Plague Inc., might be to spread the disease and avoid a cure being found before it has taken over. However, the REAL learning intention in our classroom is to spread the disease and prevent a cure being found with an analytical mind, by developing a strategy, applying previous knowledge, collaborating and learning from others.
Now, let us discuss the "frantic" approach in which grade six tackled this app, and bear in mind that they were asked to record their observations and findings using the below matrix. Students were expected to document the changes/actions that help spread the disease and record the changes/actions that hinder the disease from spreading and examples from the real world.
At this point, the students noticeably started to slow down. The noise levels dropped. Students became engaged and serious about the task in hand. It was not about winning that comes with gaming; it became about using prior knowledge to further the spread of their disease, about collaborating with their peers to hear and see what they are doing well and how they might replicate this in their simulation. Collaboration is key and is often suggested because it can improve students’ conceptual understanding (Stahl, Rosé, & Goggins, 2011).
A particular stand out moment for me was from Isabella when she perceptively informed those around her that if they were starting in a cold country, they would need to make sure that the cold wouldn't hinder the spread of the disease. Her observational skill in learning was evidenced (Browder, Schoen, & Lentz, 1986).
Computer games and apps are seemingly proposed as powerful learning tools; however there is little in the way of empirical findings on how games enhance learning.
The question remains: When and how will computer games facilitate purposeful learning in school?
As always, we would love to hear your comments.
Browder, D. M., Schoen, S. F., & Lentz, F. E. (1986). Learning to learn through observation. The Journal of Special Education, 20(4), 447–461.
Ravenscroft, A. (2000). Designing argumentation for conceptual development. Computers and Education, 34(3), 241–255.
Stahl, G., Rosé, C. P., & Goggins, S. (2011). Analyzing the discourse of GeoGebra collaborations. Essays in computer-supported collaborative learning, 186, 33–40.
According to the National Science Board’s “Science and Engineering Indicators for 2012,” women make up only 26% of Computer Science and Mathematical Science professionals in the United States. With female participation in Computer Science, specifically, dropping to 18% from a 37% peak in the mid- the 1980s.
In 2006, the government of Japan established a target to increase the share of women researchers in science to 20% and in engineering to 15%. Unfortunately, in 2016, these goals were not met, with women in Japan representing less than one-sixth (13.6%) of engineering majors.
Arriving in Japan from England, one of the first countries to formally recognise the importance of teaching children computing from aged five and up, I came with a fixed mindset regarding the fundamentals of learning how to program. Here at Seisen, through activity session with small groups, increasingly I am building more and more opportunities for students to get into coding into curricular content and using coding as a tool for learning.
There is a demand, a "revolution" if you like, with over 1000 apps released daily to the app store and with women installing 40 percent more apps than men, buying 17 percent more paid apps, and paying an astonishing 87 percent more for those apps. This fact raises several questions: What is currently being done? What needs to be done to ensure coding becomes a part of grassroots learning?
Introducing coding to your children is becoming more and more accessible for those who a) aren’t familiar with the term 'code' and b) the various interpretations. The number of blog posts similar to this one, the number of open source software and guides being produced and published to the web makes the subject of computer coding easy to grasp for learners, young or old. :) Scratch & Scratch Jr.
Scratch is one of my must-go-to resources, particular the Scratch Jr iOS and Android for getting started in Kindergarten. Scratch is ideal for children (or adults) with little or even no coding experience. These programs using building blocks, students can create animations, games and digital stories.
Parents, teachers & students, I hope you can take something from this blog post and either give one of the above examples a try for yourself when you have some available time and, as always, I would love to hear and see what you are doing with computer programming.
National Science Foundation, “Science and Engineering Indicators 2012,” http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/c0/c0i.htm, (January 2012).
National Center for Education Statistics, “Degrees conferred by degree-granting institu- tions,” http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/ tables/dt12_318.asp, (May 2012).
Government of Japan, Science and Technology Basic Plan (Provisional Translation) (2006): p. 25.
Government of Japan, The 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan (Provisional Translation) (2016): p. 35.
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, “Population of Undergraduate Students by Major,” School Basic Survey 2015 (In Japanese) (2015).
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, “Female Researchers Support Japan’s Science and Technology: In Honor of Science and Technology Week,” Statistical Topics, No. 8 (2014).
Increasingly, parents and teachers are asking me "How much screen time is OK?" And honestly, I do not have an answer to that question. Maybe we should ask, "What is the quality of media being accessed, how does it fit with family routine, and how do parents, and responsible adults, engage with devices and media?"
The 'issue' of screen time is one that has fascinated me for a while - and when I say fascinated, I mean it has challenged me and pushed me in different directions. It is something that teachers and parents express concern over, about both themselves and their children. It isn’t just the younger generation that appears to be constantly attached to their devices, and with the latest update to Apple's iOS, we now have a Screen Time application. I know from my own experience, I am taking measures to help reduce my screen time.
As I mentioned earlier, I think we are asking the wrong question. Something we should all be aware of is: Not all screen time is equal.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to help their children develop healthy media use habits early on. Devices such as iPhones and iPads have many purposes and are multi-functioning and, therefore, labelling their use as 'Screen-Time' might be misleading. When we consider more and more schools are moving towards BYOD or 1:1 initiatives and are 'flipping the classroom,' we must also take into account that not all screen time is screen time. The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens identifies four main categories of screen time:
It is arguable that there is no difference at all, and that screen-time is simply that, but we must consider that eating an apple diet does not necessarily make us healthier nor does drinking milk every day ensure that we will never break a bone. With that said, I recommend striking a balance between the above activities and engaging in dialogue with your son or daughter in hopes of fostering a healthy relationship regarding online activities.
To finish, it is both unrealistic and lately unobtainable in today's learning environments to think technology is going away. It is the opposite direction in which schools seem to have moved. With that in mind, more needs to be done. We [educators, parents, teachers, leaders] need to educate children to develop a healthy relationship with devices, the Internet and Insta-world.
What are your thoughts?
As always, I would love to hear from you; let's keep the conversation going.
This week I been reflecting on the following question: Which theory is most aligned with your own teaching philosophy? Moreover, is the answer different depending on whether answer I am teaching the technology or facilitating students' inquiry?
Ever since I started teaching as a primary school classroom teacher, I have been passionate in my commitment to three things: maximising individual student growth, inspiring students' interest in technology, and instilling a sense of self-worth among all students. (Constructivism traits). As a Google for Education Certified Innovator, I am an ambassador for change, and I strive to empower other educators and students through a thriving innovation culture within their classrooms and schools. (Constructivism traits)
In my current role as a technology coach, my philosophy and approach to learning and teaching, has not changed per se, but I am a little more open-minded and aware; initially when I arrived has meant a lot of in differences - where one approach might not fully align with another. As a Google for Education Certified Trainer, I deliver regular sessions and workshops to staff and faculty, and I have to be cognizant of how ICT can best be integrated with instruction based on the learning theories.
How does the choice of learning theory influence the way teachers and students use technology?
Inquiry and constructivism go hand in hand as the learners or inquirers build upon their prior knowledge or previous experiences. Let me give an example: We are currently at the midpoint of our PYP Exhibition, walk into a grade six classroom, and you will see students on MacBooks; sending emails, posting and creating bulletin boards and managing a blog. Down in the media centre, they will be accessing digital libraries, the Internet and tutorials on YouTube, not forgetting constructive tools such as Slides, Docs, and Google Sites.
Examples of different uses of the same ICT tool regarding different learning theories.
Should we still be focusing on this particular skill? Is typing a thing of the past, or should we be teaching the home row and typing posture? Is this an age thing or more to do with your approach to learning theories. The behaviourist might argue for learning by repetition. An hour a week typing, the child can type! A cognitivist approach would have the student learn and remember patterns, rules, and strategies in their approach to typing. Whereas a constructivist will just let it happen and if they want to discover and learn it, then they will.
I have witnessed this tool be used in ways I had not thought about: I have seen it used in the ways it was most likely intended, a student-driven learning journal, a tool for learning - a way of creating and curating - with 50 items per student. Conversely, some teachers have students use Seesaw once a week to take and upload photos of their jotters - only 13 items.
Which approach do I favour regarding typing?
When I moved into my current role, I was unaware of the 'politics of typing.' My closest comparison, I guess is multiplication tables. I believe that typing is a skill, an art, and we should give it the respect it deserves. I mean when we consider the vast number of schools moving towards a 1:1 or similar device program - there is a duty to teach students how to use them and if this means we don't have students 'pecking' at the keys then I'm all in favour. I take a cognitive approach: Identifying patterns, rules, and principles to teach typing.
I think we all need a knowledge base and while this might be acquired through a behaviourist and cognitive manner, tools such as Google Sites and Google Slides help us present information - and we are not all going to be experts at fancy Powerpoints of Keynotes. Our role as teachers is to facilitate students’ discovery and to ask questions to direct students in exploration. Even in the last week, we [my university cohort] have set up blogs. We are basing our platform decision on our own experience.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Have a great day!