PGCE Work Shared: Creating, justifying, using and evaluating an ICT/TEL resource

PGCE: Developing Practical Teaching Skills and Enhancing Teaching Learning and Assessment

Create, Justify, Use and Evaluate an ICT/TEL Resource

In the late 1980’s Zuboff (1988) argued that the future of learning lay in the use of machines and technology. How this has come to fruition in the subsequent two decades is easily testified to by all of us.

The main focus of this piece of work is the creation, justification, use and evaluation of an ICT/TEL resource. ICT is information, communication and technology, and TEL is technology enhanced learning. ICT and TEL is now widely used in education to support and assist teaching and learning, for example in delivery of teaching and learning in the classroom, or to enable delivery of teaching and learning remotely at home or while mobile.

Through advancements in technologies offered by ICT applications and the Internet, learning has been enhanced through increased multimedia support (Kearney, 2004) and the general development of ‘elearning’ in all its forms (Buckberry, 2005; Burns, 2005; Duggleby, Jennings, Pickering, Schmoller, Bola, Stone, and Willis, 2004; O’Leary, 2005; Newcombe, Sluzenski, and Huttenlocher, 2005; Sambrook, 2003; Lytras, Naeve, and Pouloudi, 2005). The recent phenomena of ‘blogging’ – the upkeep of a web log, usually on a particular theme or in relation to the thoughts or activities of a specific individual or group – has also opened up new avenues in which learning opportunities can be explored (Flatley, 2005; Williams and Jacobs, 2004). More generally it has been acknowledged that the internet provides specific opportunities for learning to take place in the form of online discussion (Johnson, Howell, and Code, 2005), online learning with others (Russon and Benson, 2005), through virtual learning groups (McFadzean and McKenzie, 2001), collaborative virtual learning (Steif and Dollar, 2004), in virtual communities of practice (Allen et al., 2004), or co-reflection in online learning environments (Yukawa, 2003). Such opportunities have and are being leveraged to maximise learning, and recent developments in this field include the use of virtual collaborative learning with a tutor-agent (Marin, Hunger, Werner, Meila, and Schuetz, 2004), simulation gaming and digital simulation games (Squire, Barnett, Grant, and Higginbotham, 2004; Bailey, 1990), the creation of virtual business environments (Wiersma, 2004) and the facilitation of learning emotional intelligence with synthetic characters (Paiva, Dias, Sobral, Aylett, Woods, Hall, and Zoll, 2005). Therefore, technology has opened up a vast range of possibilities in which online professional development can take place (Vraisidas and Zembylas, 2004). At the same time, and quite simply, in the humble classroom a teacher might allow students to use their own mobile devices (smartphones) to access the internet for research purposes, or conversely, a teacher may provide access to learning resources on the internet that a student can use their smartphone to engage with online from outside the classroom environment.

In my own teaching practice, which focuses on the delivery of GCSE English, I use resources such as poetry, dictionaries/thesauruses, and have to help students understand the structure, language, context, writer’s ideas and the meaning of poetry, therefore I create resources to facilitate this. The poetry on the syllabus can often be perceived as dry and difficult to engage with by the students. Having dictionaries/thesauruses on hand in the classroom works well but I also need students to get into the habit of using them regularly – something that is irritating for students who perceive large dictionaries as too cumbersome to carry around and use. Resources that help students understand structure, language, context, writer’s ideas and the meaning of poetry can also get lost on pieces of paper or notes kept by students in their bags and folders. Having somewhere to store and access notes and resources used in class would be a distinct advantage.

In view of the above, I will be focusing on how ICT/TEL could be used to help students engage more with poetry, both in and out of the classroom learning environment. Specifically, I will be exploring how PowerPoint, YouTube video clips, and the VLE (virtual learning environment) could be used to that effect.

PowerPoint is a tool which creates engaging presentational materials, directed at those with visual learning preferences. Resources developed with PowerPoint are also easy to store, distribute and access electronically, by email, on online content storage systems, in addition to simply printing out hard copies from to share with students in class.

YouTube video clips are visually stimulating, but also facilitate students to engage with sound. YouTube therefore caters for audio as well as visual learning preferences (although I don’t subscribe any longer to the theory of learning styles per se, I do subscribe to the idea that individual students can and do have preferences about how they would like to engage with material, e.g. by film, printed page, etc). YouTube video clips can be accessed via the internet during or outside class time, and can be played back and/or paused in relevant places ad infinitum for the benefit of learners who don’t understand something the first time. The vast range of materials available on YouTube for learning purposes now is tremendous. It makes content like GCSE English poetry accessible in a very engaging way. YouTube clips can also be embedded in PowerPoint presentations and links for them can be shared on the VLE or other online interfaces, including via mobile phones.

The VLE provides a central point which learners can engage with to access learning materials whether in college, at home or on the go with mobiles.

These tools and resources are simple and effective, fit for purpose in line with lesson outcomes and learning aims/objectives, and can keep students engaged. My subject specialism is GCSE English and very often the material (e.g. poetry) can be dry and challenging for students to engage with. If students just read poetry straight from the printed page they don’t know how some words or lines from stanzas are meant to be read or with what rhythm. Therefore, embedding a YouTube video clip of a reading of a piece of poetry by a famous actor into a PowerPoint presentation will allow students to focus, listen, sustain engagement, take notes and understand. The accessibility of this material then being made available on the VLE could then heighten the student experience and possibility to re-engage with learning if a class was missed, or simply to revise work covered in class prior to an assessment.

The students I teach are in the 16-19 age group, a roughly equal mix of male and female, and come from a range of social and economic backgrounds. They are learning on their main vocational course at either level 2 or 3, while GCSE English is representative of a level 2 subject. These students are all ICT/smartphone literate and have good access to the college VLE, whether on campus or elsewhere via the internet. Only a few will admit to not checking their emails regularly.

The GCSE English AQA examining board recommends a set list of poems to be considered for the qualification, and these have to be from the English Literary Heritage collection. There is widespread acknowledgement among teachers that delivery of the poems in class read by the poet themselves if possible is advantageous to learning, and this is evidenced by the availability of the poetry for English GCSE on YouTube, and the number of hits these video clips receive. The specific poems I require are also available: Alfred Lord Tennyson’s ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’, Ted Hughes’ ‘Bayonet Charge’, and Wilfred Owen’s ‘Futility’. These are set either to a background of stimulating still graphics, or a relevant moving image (e.g. Bayonet Charge is read over a clip from the TV series, Band of Brothers). In addition, YouTube video clips exist where the poems are analysed by teachers or other academics for GCSE English level students.

Slide1 Slide2

As highlighted in figure 4 below, the integration of the specific ICT/TEL in my lessons for the delivery of GCSE English poetry, is representative of a variety of types of functionality, including redefinition, modification and augmentation.

Slide3

Deployment and implementation of these resources in the classroom with my own learners has justified the benefits of them. Making these poems and their analysis accessible in this way in class time via PowerPoint and on the VLE for continued storage and repeat access away from the classroom is highly beneficial. This enables learners to develop and discover knowledge outside the classroom as well as within it. Learners are more engaged and participation heightens when a well produced video is played, evidenced by their obvious and attentive listening and note taking. The combination of PowerPoint with YouTube clips then made available on the VLE caters for a range of learning preferences of students, including audio, visual, and verbal kinaesthetic when embedded in a learning task which requires conversation with other learners. In social terms these resources support quieter students who do not seek clarification if they don’t understand something; they can repeat the video and pause it to try to understand something at their own leisure. The learning needs the resources cater for includes those such as dyslexia, where understanding written text is challenging – the use of audio eliminates this barrier immediately. In addition, learning needs of those students who suffer short attention spans can be addressed as the video clips are engaging for short periods of time and can be replayed at the convenience of the student if their concentration has waned. In reference to this last point, students with ADHD often display behavioural issues and disengage quickly in class when teaching and learning is not delivered in a sympathetic way. As a result, the ICT/TEL resource suggested also immediately ameliorates challenging behaviour in class as a result. Finally, the use of these tools naturally aids and assists with functional skills English, primarily due to the subject area of English being delivered, but learning and practise for functional skills ICT is also implicitly delivered through use of the tools themselves if students access via the VLE.

The suggested resources are inclusive to seemingly all. However, there would of course be exceptions for deaf students, who would not be able to hear the YouTube recordings. If a deaf student could read though they would have the benefit of the text being presented on the YouTube clip to the backdrop of stimulating imagery and moving image, but some would no doubt need a sign language interpreter. Some students who may have less access to the VLE could include those on pay as you go phone tariffs who can’t afford unlimited internet connectivity and downloading. They may not have a laptop or PC at home to engage with the VLE on, although they would still have access via the learning centre at college.

Slide4

In the wider context, as a range of successful resources they can be shared via email and college intranet with other staff, along with notes/tips/hints for delivery, and demonstrated/discussed at cross college GCSE English staff meetings. This would be perceived as best practice and be in harmony with essential staff training for VLE development and expected implementation of TEL.

In conclusion, the creation of ICT/TEL resources for GCSE English which integrates the simple technology of PowerPoint presentations, YouTube video clips and the VLE sharing platform makes what can be dry poetry more accessible, engaging, and understandable. To improve this further I would in future also seek to integrate a padlet discussion board for students to discuss the poems online together on the VLE after having learned about them and prior to assessment. In addition, there are a range of iPad/iPhone apps and other digital tools that many ICT/TEL savvy English teachers are now using. Although we don’t have iPads available for use in my college, this is something I am keen to explore how to integrate further into lessons where possible in the future with students who have iPhones (see appendix 1 for visual depiction of available apps).

Appendix 1

The following apps for English teachers list was developed and shared by a teacher on Twitter who uses the ID @Fratribus

Slide5

Other apps also available:

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