ICT Integration – Successes and Challenges

Hello fellow educators and Bloggers,

Boy & Computer with Learning Coming Out

Well I have finished my latest professional experience placement, which was focusing on integrating ICTs across the curriculum.  I was inspired from the outset at the potential for ICT integration and enjoyed every moment of this placement including engage with a range of ICTs to transform children’s learning.  I have already posted about one of the most exciting ICT discoveries made while on this placement and that was the use of Interactive Learning Diaries (ILD).  Since writing that post I received a reply from the company that created it (see Blog comments) and they have informed me that ILD is in fact available internationally including in Australia!  I really recommend investigating this resource…it will revolutionise the way you do observation and documentation (no I am not on their payroll).  This integration was a success for me because it transformed collaborative practice between staff, children and the home when observing and documenting children’s learning.

Collaborative practice was also a general success in my ICT integration during lessons.  The unit of work I was engaging with revolved around children’s interests in living things in their playground and to develop this unit and plan an investigation I collaborated with children to build and develop a KWL chart in the form of an IWB Flip Chart.  This chart was used as a starting point to plan the investigation as well as a point to come back to when sharing new learnings.  We also collaborated with scientists and global communities with Project Noah, which I have also previously Blogged about, as we uploaded digital photos of living things we found in the playground for identification.  One of the most exciting uploads was that of the Atlas Moth and larva we found (the largest moth in the world!) and this formed the basis of our further investigations.

Often the best learning comes from making mistakes!  During my placement I also faced a number of challenges to ICT integration – one of them being the importance of having a wide range of tools in my Toolbelt and making sure I have and apply the associated technical knowledge that goes with them.  Toolbelt Theory is Ira Socol’s re-working of the SETT (Student, Environment, Task, Tool) framework, which was designed by Zimbala to help educator find the appropriate assistive technology to help special needs learners.  Socol’s theory takes this further explaining that all ICTs can be seen as assistive technology and the framework is therefore useful to all practitioners and learners not just those associated with special needs education.  For more information see my previous Blog on Toolbelt Theory.  During my professional experience I faced difficulties with the use of digital cameras for capturing images of moving or distant animals, which could have been overcome had I considered my Toolbelt and technical knowledge more closely.  I could have taught the children how and when to use the zoom function on cameras to capture animals at a distance or I could have used digital video cameras to capture images of moving animals.

Like many other pre-service practitioners these were but a few of my successes and challenges from which I learned some valuable lessons.  To see some other pre-service educator successes and challenges I recommend you have a look through the following Blogs:

Tool Belt Theory & Assistive Technology

Hello again fellow Bloggers and educators,

I have just finished reading through Ira Socol’s post on Tool Belt Theory.  It was very interesting how he describe the way humans create and use new tools as something distinctly human.  That is not to say other animals don’t also use tools but as humans we continually create new tools, including language, to make our lives easier.  This is the heart of what design and technology is all about; creating new and more useful tools.  These tools can therefor be called ‘assistive technologies’.  I know what your thinking, “aren’t those things people with disabilities need”?  The answer is no.  Assistive technologies are the tools you need to assist you with achieving your goals every day.  Ira gave a great example of this, the telephone (or even Skype).  These technologies assist us in talking to people who live far away from us.  But think for a moment about something simpler like a set of stairs.  Without this ‘technology’ we wouldn’t be able to get to a second or third floor.  These are all tools we need to assist us in living our daily lives.  As we are all different we do not always need the same tools to get a job done.  That is the diversity of Universal Design; finding the right tool for the right person and the right job.

More and more our tool belts are made up of ICTs.  The important thing is to not be scared or overwhelmed by them but rather embrace them as making it easier to navigate through our lives.  This is important because as educators we not only need to teach children about the tools available to them today but we need to inspire them to keep learning about new tools as the are developed.  This is perhaps the most vital thing we can teach our students; how to be actively engaged learners.  We might even find ourselves becoming excited about these tools ourselves and this could become contagious.  See the video below about the Tech Shop to understand how this can be so.

What a great and inspiring place.  Wouldn’t it be great if our classrooms were full of students as excited about learning how to use new tools as these people are?  A place where creativity is shared and encouraged?  I know my son and husband would practically live in a place like this (and yes I think its pretty cool too ;-))