Re-connecting with the project

It’s April 2015. How has that happened?

It feels like there has been a mid-project lull. I’ve have mild recollections of being excited at the beginning of the project & how good it was to be getting started early. There have been regular meetings with Yvonne, and it’s been really great that Mo joined the project in the new year too. At each of these meetings we enthuse about what we’re doing, share experiences and thoughts & I have the best of intentions to write these but don’t ever seem to get around to it.

Is this one of the downsides of keeping a reflective journal? I know it is a good research tool, once I start I usaully enjoy writing & I like having the posts to review and be reminded of what was happening. But this year feels like I have spent as much time berating myself for not updating the journal than actually updating the journal.

So here I am, re-connecting with my project and reminding myself what is exciting about it:

  1. BYOD vs college owned devices. I think this is still a really interesting question. What is it that we can realistically ask students to do with their own devices – whether this is in-class or at-home activities? How much of these activities are student-led? The thing I love about taking the class set of iPads is when the students surprise me with their choices. I recently did a lesson on health & with my beginner group I started the lesson by student’s identifying parts of the body. The surprise in this lesson was from the group who did a Google Image search and found a picture of a labelled body and used this.I don’t know why this was a surprise as we use Google Images a lot, but no one else did this and I thought it was great when I saw it.
  2. What are the students’ opinions on using mobile technology to support their studies?  It became apparent quite early on that the students on the higher level courses had their own devices and that the tutors wouldn’t be planning activities using the class set of iPads. For me & the Cert Ed group that iPads just never seems to be that relevant. All the students brought either their own laptop or iPad to class & actually there was very little use of technology within the classroom. However, out of the class there was a substancial use of tech in terms of using Yammer, the VLE and their iPDP on Google Sites. For Yvonne’s GCSE maths group, the students were very focused in the class and keen to cover as much material in the lesson as possible. They were not interested in having time in the lesson to explore maths apps. However, what seems to be emerging is that students are going home to explore maths apps and then sharing this with each other.
  3. What does the SAMR model say about the activities that can be done using mobile technologies?  I still really really like this model, I think it is a very useful tool to describe possible learning technologies. In terms of the project so far, I am not too sure that Yvonne or I have done anything redically different to last year’s activities. Yvonne has still very much focused on the student0led approach to choosing and using maths apps. For me, the only eduacation specific app I have continued to use is the whiteboard app Show Me. I have never really got around to exploring other apps such as NearPod and I haven’t found a really valid reason to use Socrative, although I have explored this a little.

Our original research questions were:

  • What are the educational benefits of using mobile tech in the classroom setting?
  • What is the impact of using mobile techn on the classroom on students’ use of their own devices?

Thoughts on these questions.

Is there a correlation between maths/English level and digital literacy? If a student has low level numeracy skills & low level digital literacy skills what impact does this have on their learning? What are other barriers to learning?

I think this links to the discussion on digital inclusion – how is our project related to questions around digital inclusion? Is students’ increased confidence in using technology a relevant and important finding? Do we want to show that by using technology students are improving their maths/English/teaching skills as well as improving their digital literacy/confidence? But how can we confidently say their maths/English, etc skills have improved because of the technology – they may have improved anyway. So could we ever really say what the educational benefits are, other than students telling us they feel more confident using the technology? Is this a flaw in our question design?

Next Steps

This has been a really useful exercise. It has been great to find a little bit of head space to re-focus on the project, and scanning through my notes (and especially having the audio of our meetings) I think we probably have quite a lot of data already. I think I may be coming to realise that we have just been ‘getting on with it’, and now is the time to start to analyse the data we have an think about what we need to use as a final data collection tool. Do we want a questionnaire or a focus group to get the students’ opinions on using technology and what they think the role of mobile tech is in education.

Excited again!

  1. Hi, It’s good to hear your thoughts at this stage in the project and it strikes me that you have been undertaking a form of longer-term PLAR, building on the outcomes of your previous years of research. I made a video about this a little while ago, which may be useful to you I think it would be really powerful for you to pull out your year 1 and year 2 findings and compare them, especially since we lack longer term research data in the post-16 sector.

    I am also struck by the apparent divide between educational benefits and the use of digital approaches. If we view literacies as social practices (plural form ‘literacies’ here including maths, English, ESOL, ITC), then the benefits of using digital approaches are a good in themselves. I.e. we are helping learners to communicate in ways (digitally) that are part of the fabric of society and not to do this would be to do them a dis-service…

    I think it would be great if you could focus on SAMR as a way to explain any changes you see in what you have been doing year on year (I see your research located in a much longer research journey than even just the 2 years you have been doing PLAR). Are you moving towards redefinition??

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