Monday, 2 November 2015

Discrete Computing - Technology is a tool to be used.

Computing in many schools is still treated as stand alone sessions.  There are a few reasons for this: The distribution of hardware, the lack of hardware and teachers lacking confidence to use technology alongside their everyday teaching.

What the most important thing to remember is that technology is a tool to be used, not a learning objective.  We have got to remember this and we must make sure that our schools are set up to achieve this.

How many times have we heard teachers say, 'oh it's computing this afternoon,' or 'I haven't made a video yet this year, I need to do that during computing.'

Right, I'm not saying there isn't a time to teach children skills to be able to use the technology independently, but we mustn't spend all our time doing just that.

We need to get to the point where we see technology in the classroom, actually, we don't see technology in the classroom as it is just as normal as children using a pen or pencil.  I used to find this last year when I had a 1:1 iPad classroom, where my guests on tours of the school were told - this is the classroom with 1:1 iPads.

For me, technology should be used in the classroom when it's needed to improve the outcome of children's learning, not to be used because it looks pretty or we haven't done it yet.

Into the Woods: Discrete use of technology

Recently, my class came up with the idea of building their own Saxon homes in our wonderful forest school area.  So, this was forest school and design technology skills - this was the main focus.  But how did we weave technology into the project?

As you can see from the image the children are using iPads to document the process of building the homes. We used BookCreator to combine text, images, and video as a record - a clear purpose for the technology.  

We could have taken loads of images and video and then spent hours creating the book back inside the classroom. But tablet technology allows us to work on the go, very effectively.  The children were ticking off the communication and publishing objectives as they were constructing.

Each child had a chance to create a page of the book, making sure that everyone had a go at using the application. Now I hadn't actually taught the children (skills lesson) how to use Book Creator, they did it all by themselves.  The children were teaching each other, asking questions and publishing without my help.  Who's the teacher here?

What else did we do in the forest?

Now, this is an example were I did need to 'teach' the children how to use an application. We used iMotion to bring the forest to life, by animating parts of the homes outdoors.  As the children hadn't used animation software before I had them 'play' with the application using natural material in the classroom.

They made so many mistakes when creating this short piece of animation, that it sped up the final process in the forest.   We have a saying in my class 'I've learned so much from my mistakes, I think I'll make another.'

This was very true here.  The children's animations improved dramatically from their first attempts in the classroom.  They stabilised the iPad, ensured smaller movements were made, set better frame rates and published much quicker - on the go!

A really great example of progress over a lesson or two.  and the children were able to apply these skills when videoing the final animation.

Interestingly, using our school website, we were able to share the work the children had completed at home as well.

Yes, the children were so inspired BEFORE we went into the forest they went home, downloaded the free app and produced their own animations.

It was great to see so much animated Lego and toys being posted online via our class discussion pages.

I never asked the children to do this, they were motivated to do it themselves. They used technology to follow their own curiosities and then shared with our whole class to get feedback ready for the next lesson.

Dismantle the trolley!

You will usually find that having a laptop trolley held outside the classroom means computing lessons are limited to one off sessions a week. This is fine - at least the children are getting the sessions they are entitled to, but we must endeavour to have that technology at the fingertips of children. They must be able to choose when and how they use the hardware in the classroom.

It should flow seamlessly in classrooms and be hardly noticed.


  1. Original source of image

  2. I dig this, Chris.

    It's funny because the most popular question that I get from people is, "What tech tools are you using with your kids?"

    That's the wrong question because it implies that the tech tools are the most important part of my instructional decision-making.

    What I want people to ask instead is, "What problems are your kids solving? How are your kids changing the world for the better? What questions are your kids wrestling with?"

    The simple truth is that technology doesn't motivate kids. Instead, opportunities to change the world for the better or to wrestle with interesting questions or to solve challenging problems motivates kids.

    Technology can facilitate that work -- but it's just a tool for facilitation.

    You're going to dig this slide:

    Rock right on,