Hooked on Learning

July 18, 2012

Sense of Community – Sense of Loss

Filed under: Community,Online learning @ 10:12 pm and tagged , ,

With just 3 days to go now until we leave the US for good and head back to the UK, I find myself reflecting on what troubles me most about these transitions and I think I have cracked it!  The thing I have noticed the most each time we have moved internationally and shipped our lives several thousand of miles away, is a great sense of loss at some stage in the process.

I spend weeks, even months, dreading the goodbyes (for myself and for the children) and then as we tick them off one by one and as we disconnect ourselves from our carefully carved out lives: canceling memberships, withdrawing the children from school and working our way through a series of ‘lasts’, we slowly, by default, remove ourselves from the community that we worked so hard to become a part of.

I remember the same sense of loss felt when we left the UK for India and then India for the US.  The transition time between wrapping up your  existence in one place and starting a new in another can be a unsettling time as you hover between two lives. That’s when I feel that sense of loss, a lack of belonging, albeit temporary and  it’s made me thankful for those communities I have and will belong to in the future (hopefully) and to recognize the importance for both myself and my family.

As I begin to understand more about the importance of community in my life, it is also helping me to relate that to the communities that I strive to create online.  Sure, there are different dynamics at play and other things to take into consideration depending on the context, but we can certainly draw some parallels between these virtual and physical communities and the sense of belonging they can provide.  Being part of an environment that offers a place, be it  virtually or physically, to be yourself, be accepted, to be heard and to contribute to its success and its outcomes is a community.  They will come in many different guises depending on the who, what, where and why of how they came to be formed but my experiences remind me of their importance in life, both physically and now online, whether that be for learning, networking or socially but the difference is, I can take my online community with me wherever I go and I like that!

June 6, 2012

Supporting our elearners

So, a little tardy with my posts of late that’s for sure. Like most of us at this time of year, I have been trying to balance, work, school, kids, recitals, family life, transatlantic family relocations and more alongside my own final weeks of study.  With just 4 weeks of my first semester  (PG Certificate in Online and Distance Education) of study to go, time to reflect on the experience thus far!

Key Takeaways:

  • I held my own and turns out my academic writing isn’t too shabby!
  • Confirmation that the theories and frameworks already used in my existing course design are both effective and appropriate to ensure high quality teaching and learning opportunities for everyone
  • A sound framework for supporting elearners
  • The tools and Learning Management System I/we are using today really are intuitive, user friendly and effective for both teachers and students. 16 weeks working in a very basic open source environment placed some serious limitations on some of the activities we explored on the OU course.  Despite some frustrations related to this, it did make me appreciate the tools I get to use in my course design
  • Principles of good assessment and feedback in an online environment

Key Personal developments:

  • Increased confidence in relation to the approach I had taken towards online teaching and learning
  • Application of sound pedagogical frameworks surrounding course design and positive affirmation that existing designs met these
  • An ability to develop a plan for growth and development with regard to my own online teaching
  • An increased understanding of what it takes to effectively support a range of elearners to ensure success
  • Finally using my iPad and stylus for PDF reading, annotation and bookmarking, yay!

Of course there are more but this is a decent snapshot of some very productive study I have to say.  Despite some of the frustrations encountered when using such a seemingly antiquated online system compared to our own, I feel I have learned a tremendous amount and that actually, these frustrations allowed for some interesting comparisons and discoveries to be made and an appreciation of my own tools as a result.

The final area that we have just taken a look at, is the the support offered to elearners.  Given my Basic Skills teaching background and my own route into Higher Ed, I think I would consider myself a ‘supportive’ teacher/tutor and that this is an area I feel I invest a particularly large amount of time in. It would seem obvious that the same support structure that we may use in the face to face classroom should be translated to our online classrooms but in fact, it requires more. The same applies to the amount of scaffolding we provide and how we do it.  McLoughlin offers ten dimensions of successful elearning design that focuses on providing scaffolding and support to our elearners that now needs to include and ‘allow’ for the ‘respective roles of peers, facilitators and teachers’ (McLoughlin, 2002, pg.150).   The ten dimensions are listed below and allow us the opportunity to structure the support we offer as we design our elearning program and also highlights the need to know when to pull back as learners’ confidence and skill levels develop and thus less becomes more:

  • Goal orientation
  • Adaptability
  • Accessibility
  • Alignment
  • Experiential value
  • Collaboration
  • Constructivism
  • Learning orientation
  • Multiplicity
  • Granularity

McLoughlin’s ten dimensions provide some useful guidelines when preparing online learning activities with an effective emphasis on the support and scaffolding that needs to be provided to ensure learners can complete the activities and achieve their goals.

Explore McLoughin’s paper below to learn more about these guidelines and check out those that might apply to your teaching and learning context. What are the most important in your online teaching context?

References:

McLoughlin, C. (2002) ‘Learner support in distance and networked learning environments: ten dimensions for successful design’, Distance Education, vol.23, no.2, pp.149–62.

March 1, 2012

Advisors – This is how it should be!

Filed under: Academic Advising,Adult Education @ 5:42 pm and tagged

Given my last post and my grumblings in relation to the lack of ‘advisory’ and information in relation to Adult Higher Education options, I just had to share this blog post I came across today by Robyn Shulman, M.Ed.  In her post, ‘Academic Advising – 5 Tips for an Ever Changing World’, she shares her thoughts on what should be available for adults and how a ‘good’ advisor should operate.  It was a great read!  I particularly liked the emphasis placed on understanding and empathising with non-traditional, busy adult students (both undergraduate and graduate) and the importance of being ‘aware that daily life challenges take priority, and your role is to make the higher education process comprehensible, less stressful, and more meaningful’.

I like the idea of such an advisor being available but would also like to see something like this available at an earlier stage, even before an adult student has decided to return to study, what they will study and with what organisation. For many of us, especially those that came the ‘non-traditional’ route into Higher Ed, just establishing what’s out there, the different options available and routes to take, is a exhaustive task in itself.  I understand from a ex-colleague of mine, during a wonderful conversation that came about as a result of my last post, that there are some organisations like this back in the UK. I guess finding them is made difficult for me right now given my geographic location but this gave me hope.  As a graduate student myself right now, keeping up with work, life and study at the age of ? (opps, almost shared that!) is tough, but it is made much more rewarding when you are coached by advisors like the ones described in Robyn’s post. Thanks for sharing!

 

January 3, 2012

It shouldn’t be this hard……….

As 2012 arrives, I find myself wanting to further my own education once again; if truth be told, I have been working on finding the right ‘path’ for this for almost a year now but it is good to use the New Year as a boost to get back on track.

I did not take the traditional or expected route when I left school at 16; I did well in my GCSEs and headed to sixth form to complete my A Levels in preparation for University. When I got there, having transitioned from an all girls school to a mixed sixth form consortium in its inaugural year, I was quickly frustrated by the system and much more and was easily swayed into the big smoke to gain my independence and get a career underway.  The decision was quick and within a matter of weeks I had two junior job offers on the table with blue chip companies and so began my corporate career in the insurance offices of General Accident in Putney, South West London.

Many years later, 2 years after the birth of my son and following a fulfilling career and wonderful times in the corporate world, I decided to re-train and pursue a career in Post 16 Education primarily for the sake of family life.  Finding the information or the people I needed for help was a daunting and unrewarding process, I didn’t know where to begin.  Who should I contact?What did I need?  What path should I take? Would my work experience be taken into account? How much did it cost and what options were there for financing my continuing education……? I had SO many questions and just felt I was repeating myself constantly every time I inquired to another College or University. It was exhausting. Each one offered different options but I struggled to put it all together to make the most appropriate, informed choices. I failed to find an individual who could help advise me objectively and put all the puzzle pieces together and relied upon multiple inquiries and scribbled notes from telephone conversations and websites in an area that was so unknown to me. I recall the fury of frustration I felt at this time, trying to find the best route and objective advice; so much so that I even gave up the idea of higher education and an alternate career at one point and returned to the corporate world. Thankfully, I did not give up entirely and eventually found myself on the right path studying at both an Adult Community College and the Anglia Ruskin University.

However, some years later it was the same old story when I wanted to start my Certificate in Education (PCET) but thankfully in this instance, a friend and colleague had just done the same thing so her experiences paid dividends when it came to my turn.

Here I am again, 5 years or so on, eager to pursue continuing education for my own personal and professional fulfillment but once again there were so many different options and so little individual, personalised advice available for adults. Well, in my experience at least!  Why? No wonder so many adults fear returning to education, wading through all the information to even get to the point of available options is tough enough.  As a Post 16 teacher in FE and Adult Community Learning, the biggest issue was always helping these adults overcome barriers and get them back in the classroom.  The UK government offered lots of guidance to attract Britain’s adults back into the classroom and signpost them to help find appropriate courses; we even had specific advisers for this once you’d made it through the door, it was great.  But I am yet to find this for adults who want to continue Higher Education. Am I missing it?

Now I find myself living outside of the UK and looking for what is technically a ‘Post Grad’ qualification that has taken almost 3 months to find.  When I realised doing something in my current location was a non-starter, I looked for an online course in my home country (given that I was too far to attend!). One call left me asking the supposed ‘adviser’: “are you kidding me?’.  His arrogance left me spitting, he had no idea how to talk to  ’mature’ (used carefully!), professional students let alone advise them; seems the idea of advising someone who had done things a little differently was all too much.  His loss I say!!!!

The story does end well though as I am now hoping to be accepted to an online Post Graduate course in my chosen field that I can begin in Feb 2012.  Needless to say I am delighted about the course but even more so that this battle is now over and my further education path is set, well, for now……. But, and it’s a big BUT! Surely it doesn’t have to be this way? Many educational establishments and parents spend years trying to convince our young to love learning in the hope that they remain lifelong learners, I know I do.  Why do we make it so difficult to take a non-traditional path or change our options later in life , why is there not more in the way of advisers to help adults wade through this? Is there, did I miss it?

I’d love to hear your experiences too? Am I just expecting too much? Have you found an easier path?

 

October 19, 2011

Death by worksheet

Filed under: Education,Technology @ 4:56 pm and tagged , ,

Image courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wfryer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I write this as a frustrated parent watching her child shift between two entirely different worlds as if one bares no resemblance to the other.  Those two worlds are home and school.

At home my son will build and play with lego, play make believe games with his sister, draw, ride his bike, play his PS3, play games on the internet and play intuitively with a plethora of different apps on mobile devices. When he doesn’t know a word he is reading or when he wants new words to use in his writing, he heads to the iPad dictionary and thesaurus apps without a second thought.

When he enters the school gates each day however, access to such interactive tools and activities, to which he is so familiar, are limited. In most cases they are replaced with worksheets and huge, heavy text books. Information is static and they are passive recipients.

This is not a personal gripe about the school he presently attends; great inroads are being made into using more technology in the classroom to enhance the great teaching and learning they already do. I am thankful for all their hard work but as an advocate for a 21st Century Education for today’s children, and of course an advocate for my own children and how they learn best, I cannot help but notice the discrepancy between his two worlds and wish that it wasn’t so. Understanding why it is so and arguments for change are a much bigger conversation for another time.

Every night when I unpack his backpack, I unload a heap of worksheets and tests he has fastidiously completed throughout the day and a list of homework tasks, most of which begin with ‘complete worksheet number XX’ or ‘read pages x -x and complete questions’.  Now, I am not suggesting that there is no place for worksheets in his, or any other child’s education, but there has to be more correlation between their two lives. There are most certainly lots of fun activities going on his classroom, he loves the experiments and the projects and he has some great teachers, but he needs more.  Recently he arrived home with a huge science text book, he had to read and absorb several pages of text and then regurgitate what he had learned by answering a set number of questions.  I have to admit, we both struggled with the task! Being a visual learner, the pictures helped but compared to his everyday visually stimulating and interactive world outside of school, it wasn’t enough. His eyes glazed over and I could tell that not much was being absorbed; we had to figure out a way, a better way, for him to learn the content. What to do?

He then suggested searching for You Tube videos and using Brainpop.com to look up the topic.  He was gone, rapidly online and researching his topic. Chuckling as he watched videos that explained the same content but with pictures and animation that brought it to life and made his learning relevant.  We went back to the book, re-read part of the topic chapter and set about talking about the content and making connections between the two.

I realise that there is no doubt that this topic is personally relevant for me, having a child who finds reading large amounts of text a challenge, but I know he is not the only one.  I also know that there are many too that would not have struggled with the text and that’s ok too. We could also review and discuss equity in relation to how much technology different children have exposure to at home, I understand that impacts things. However, I strongly believe that regardless of those facts, life outside of school for the majority of children today is full of visual and interactive stimulants everyday whether it’s TV, video games, dad’s smartphone or their own home computer, they want to be connected and their school life needs to reflect this fact. It’s their future.

 

 

 

 

 

September 13, 2011

Blogging with my reluctant writer

My son has the most amazing imagination but like many dyslexic children he finds it hard to manage all the processes of writing in order to get his thoughts and ideas down on paper so that they will have the same impact there, as they do in his wonderful mind. I am sure that all of the things one has to think about in order to write creatively, must often look like this in his young mind:

Wordle: Writing Process

At his former school, The American School of Bombay, he experimented with various digital tools to help express his ideas, things like Glogster and ePortfolios and likely many more that I was unaware of.  However, we have now moved locations and these tools just aren’t available to him in his current school so I began looking for ways to work with him at home using digital tools that could support him in order to achieve great writing, and most importantly, for him to retain a love of it!  As a blogger myself, I know how much I enjoy writing and sharing my blog and how nice it is to be able to use different types of media to bring my writing to life. So, I decided this would be a great opportunity to share it with him too.  I have to say at this point, that we have also invested a lot of time this summer hand-writing a journal in order to practise all the same things when physically writing but I also want him to know that there are other options, options that can remove so many barriers for him.

We set about creating his blog and we walked through the basics of how to use it and some of the tools.  Most blog providers these days do allow a vast range of media, links and plugins to be used so this is something we decided to take one step at a time and will revisit these many time in the future.  We looked at templates and he choose one he liked and we talked about why they were all different and what that meant to the potential layout of his blog.  We then talked about content and the types of things he wanted to share; he decided that the main content of his blog would be random reflections and musings about what he was up – I felt this was important as he needs to have real interest in the subject he is writing about to be passionate about it.

His tutor also recommended poetry to help with reading fluency so he has been using Kenn Nesbit’s poems and LOVES them.  He laughs out loud at them and it is a joy to see him reading these for pleasure. As such, we decided to ask the author’s permission (good lesson in digital citizenship!) to share them on a ‘poetry corner” page on his blog and he sent us a lovely reply, giving us his blessing and wishing Thomas a personal ‘best of luck‘ with his blog.  This was a real boost – Tom was thrilled that an author had mentioned him so personally. Tom also wanted to add a jokes page (idea borrowed from his tutor) and now he loves to skim and scan his joke books for funny jokes to share.

This has been, and continues to be, a lovely thing to do together. There is no denying that you have to be prepared to spend the time doing it but of course it is a worthwhile investment; it is nice to have an ongoing project to work on too. It also allows us many opportunities to talk about cyber security and good digital citizenship – not a new topic in our house by any means but one that needs constant re-enforcing in my opinion.  We talk about what information one should or shouldn’t share and I like seeing him manage his profile responsibly. Now wonderful friends and family are taking the time to read, comment and share on his blog so now he sees the impact!  These social, personal connections provide encouragement, love and inspiration and I hope it will continue to fuel his desire to write more. To all that have taken this time, thank you!

We continue to learn lots of new tools together and often discover barriers we need to overcome. For instance, we recently discovered that WordPresss does not allow you to embed certain media, arh! This is a nuisance as I want this to be as media rich as possible for him, so we talked about how we might over come that – problem solving skills…….?????

We use other digital tools to enrich his learning experiences too. He is continuing to work at practising his maths facts using several great ipad apps that reward his effort with fun bugs (of the virtual kind!) and other creatures to play with and he uses Whizz.com to consolidate and revisit maths topics with visual and interactive activities that stimulate his interest and his mind. He loves the interactive nature of these tools and for such a visual learner, I am seeing how the very nature of these tools excite him about his learning as they begin to remove some of the barriers that can otherwise exist for him.

I am in no doubt about the power technology can have to enrich learning experiences for us all and it is great to see this in action so close to home.

August 9, 2011

The London Riots and Social Networking

Filed under: Social Networking @ 9:54 pm and tagged , , ,

Like many Londoners, I have been following the disturbing news of the London riots intently over the last few days and for me that’s mostly over the internet, watching news channels and following conversations on Twitter and other networks.  There is much that can be said in relation to what may or may not have caused these terrible acts of public disorder and sheer criminality and there is of course much talk in the press about the part social networks like Twitter and Blackberry Instant Messenger have played in gathering the yobs, but here I want to celebrate the good that has come out of Social Networking in such a dire situation.

  • Support groups on Facebook.
  • Support for local residents and the MET, the London Firebridgade and other emergency crews.  This group here on FB began about 72 hours into the riots and had massed almost three quarters of a million supporters (likes) within around 12 hours!
  • Twitter and Facebook groups have been created to gain support and make arrangements for post riot clean-up in some of the worst effected areas. The @RiotCleanUp Twitter Page has gained over 83,000 followers as of the time of my writing and continues to use the page to make arrangements for concerned, law abiding citizens to clean up their communities. Similar pages on FB are also gaining momentum.
  • Other members of the public are using websites, Social Networking sites and other media to name and shame those foolish rioters!  Lists of names, images and even screenshots of those idiotic enough to post pictures of their ill-gotten gains as some kind of trophy on their profile page, are being spread virally by the same media reported to have helped organise this insanity in the first place.
  • Twitter conversation at #londonriots allowed residents and others to share real-time accurate information as to where the latest trouble was flaring up and many dispelled myths of violence in other cities.  As a Londoner currently living outside of the UK, I followed this conversation to get the latest information.  I just did the sensible thing and skipped any nonsense posted.
  • And of course, in true British Style, Twitter conversation #OperationCupofTea encourages Brits to ‘Stay Calm and drink Tea’ in the face of adversity.
I know that the coming weeks and months will see much debate and conversation in relation to why and how this all happened and rightly so but for now, I will continue to feel connected to my home town that is in pain right now and show my support through the channels that I can.

 

July 14, 2011

Elvis has left the building……………

Wordle: LI 2011
Sorry, I know it’s a corny title but it had to be done. Just home from a wonderful 4 day trip to Memphis and the Laptop Institue Conference 2011, which began with an ASB tour of Graceland hence the title…..!

Now home, back in the balmy heat of Florida and ready to digest all that I have learned and to remain connected with all the people I met, including new and old friends from Mumbai. So many things to take away from the conference, so many things to digest and the process hasn’t even begun yet but my lists, both in my head and in my Google Doc, are full to the brim of books to download or buy for further reading, people to follow up with, new courses to write, new ways to use tech tools in my online classes and even more determination to help adults around the world develop their technology skills.  We all know digital fluency is no longer a matter of choice, it’s a necessity.

I attended so many useful sessions from the keynote by Jeff Utecht who got us thinking about why we were there, sessions on QR codes (finally think I have got the hang of those little guys) and a session by Jeff Whipple on using Netvibes as an aggregator for your RSS feeds – even though I am already an avid user of Netvibes I still came away with lots of great new ideas about using it in the classroom.  These few mentions hardly touch the surface of all the things that I took away from the conference not to mention the fact that this was the first time I felt brave enough to partipate in the Twitter conversation rather than be a passive observer of the content.  It felt so good to be part of the conversation and I learned so much from this online chatter and sharing too; I have especially enjoyed reading and learning from the blogs and reflections of other professionals posted here post conference, like this one that belongs to Tami Brass: Laptop Institute 2011 – Big Takeways. Thanks Tami!

ASB once again had a great presence with presentations on a variety of topics and initiatives and it felt good to share the journey of the ASB Online Academy. I was proud to share all of our initiatives to help develop the Digital Fluency of our parents and prouder still that we are now able to offer those same Technology Courses to any adult, worldwide! So, as you return from the conference full of excellent ideas to share with colleagues and co-workers, feel free to share the ASB Online Academy with them too! We have an ever-growing selection of courses to help develop the technology skills of both your faculty and your parents to speed up that journey to reach the 21st Century Classroom so why not come and join us online?

July 6, 2011

Memphis here we come!

This week sees me preparing for my visit to the Laptop Institute Conference in Memphis, Tennesse.  This will be my second visit to the LI conference, the last one I attended being the European Laptop Institute held at the American School of the Hague in October last year.  So much has happened in those 8 months it’s almost hard to comprehend; the last time I attended as the Parent Technology Representative for ASB and I travelled from India to the Netherlands to share how we were working to develop the Digital Fluency levels of our parents. This time, I attend as the Co-Director of ASB’s Online Learning Academy where we have taken our courses online and I am traveling from Florida to Tennessee!

8 months on from the Hague, I am excited to be sharing our continuing journey; our discoveries, things we have learnt and all the exciting learning opportunities we are offering as part of the ASB Online Academy.  Here’s a sneak preview of what we will share:

  • A journey of parental engagement – from Parent Tech Connections, an internal Social Network, a program of Parent Tech Tutorials to the creation of ASB Online!
  • An environment that models participation of LifeLong and 21st Century Learning
  • Increased accessibility and flexibility of learning
  • Adult technology courses, from the basic to the most innovative Web 2.0 tools, that are offered to global participants
  • Technology courses offered to parents to:
    • To ensure a consistent message between school and home
    • To learn the facts so as not to be scared by the fiction
    • To be seen as part of their child’s online life, not an intrusion
    • To help support their child’s learning and online life
  • Technology courses offered to faculty to:
    • To learn the tools to build their own PLN
    • To learn the tools to enhance teaching and learning in their own classrooms
    • To develop and enhance their own skills
  • Our vision for the ASB Online Academy…….

As the conference approaches, I am excited to re-connect with colleagues from ASB India; today’s technology allows me to work comfortably on a remote basis but I am certainly looking forward to connecting on a more personal level too this weekend!  At the same time, I look forward to all that I will learn and the new connections I will make at the conference too. I am even hoping to get the hang using the conference’s Twitter Hastag this year to share and collaborate with other participants – hopefully with more confidence and success than my attempts in October!!!

June 12, 2011

Transported back to the 1950s…….why?

Image courtesy of http://search.creativecommons.org/?q=old%20fashioned%20classrooms#

I have read many interesting articles recently that refer to the ‘summer education slump’ for both the kids and teachers of our schools and even witnessed it myself at home on many occasions with my own children, despite the fact that we do actually study during the holidays, check out these two great articles:

Dealing with the Summer Slump

Avoiding the Summer Slump as Educators

With this in mind I decided to be proactive and enrol my children in a summer reading program held locally, especially as we have been in our current location for just 6 months.; this is something that we have not been able to do in the past since we are usually packing up and heading out of town to avoid the monsoon rains. As this is no longer necessary, I paid my money and looked forward to the course to start with baited breath.

It’s important to know that I write this based on my experience as a parent, a Post 16 educator but also as an advocate for a 21st Century education for our children but I stress,  NOT as an expert in the field of K-12 education nor in the field of specialist reading education.  However, that said, I believe my observations are valid and changes to some of what I discovered would make an incredible difference to the engagement of the students that were there and their learning experience.

I had heard that these short course were a little dry but when we turned up one sunny Saturday morning, I had pretty good inital impressions:

The Good:

  1. Impressed by the clean and organised location
  2. Organised and Enthusiastic teacher who greeted the children well and tried to engage with them at their level
  3. Organised and thoroughly planned material on first observations

However, I was struck like a ten tonne truck by several depressing observations as I walked into the classroom, I felt like I’d stepped back in time………

The Bad :-(

  1. All desks were in a line, squashed together with little room for movement between unless the person in the row did not mind your behind in their face!
  2. The room was dull, 4 grey walls, nothing to indicate this was an exciting reading class and that reading was fun and engaging to do
  3. The class was overfilled, not enough chairs for all students and their parents with some perched on the end of the desks
  4. There was not ONE piece of technology insight with the exception of a HUGE TV and Video recorder perched worryingly from a fixture in the corner of the room.
  5. The layout of the class allowed the louder partipants to dominate the conversation even when the teacher tried to ‘manage’ this and select people to contribute – you had to shout loud to be heard and have the confidence to do so in front of 18 other kids that you had not met before and you’re only age 5 or 6! Not everyone had a voice.
  6. The class layout didn’t provide any opportunity or possibility for collaboration or group work – I know they are only young but I am sure some exciting conversations could be had about some of the books they were reading………..

The final straw came during the brief rest break when the minute all the kids left the room they got out their DSs or other electronic gadets to keep them amused whilst they waited to start part two!  It was just natural……………

As for the parents, I could see them all bristle as they entered with memories of their schooling, rows and rows of desks with a teacher ‘imparting’ their knowledge at the front and trying hard to make yourself heard over the loud and dominate participate next to you. All they needed were long socks and bunches in their hair and we’d have been back 20-30 years ago in a flash! Are these really the memories we want for our children?

I am not suggesting that this course will not provide any value for us, not at all. However, I am suggesting that it needs re-thinking and dragging into the 21st Centruy using tools that even kids of this tender age are using day to day.  For this group, the cost of the technology possibilities should not be a barrier (or an excuse) given what we all paid, so I do not believe this is an issue here. What I am suggesting, is that they should take what they already do well (good structure and sound goals) and use some new tools to deliver it! They should think about the following:

  • Decorate the room with engaging, age appropriate materials ( I know this is borrowed location but it doesn’t take much!)
  • Change the layout of the room, one more appropriate for 5-6 year olds, conversation and sharing
  • Learn phonics and sight words with fun ipad apps and web tools
  • Introduce some interactive books on tablets, mobile devices or laptops – bring the books to life!  Even if cost and resources were an issue, I am sure as parents we could rally round and bring some in to use????
  • Share reading websites and online resources; allow the children to share their online work with their parents, teacher and peers
  • Get the children to build their own interactive book with their parents’ help – I can’t name a tool but I am sure there is one they can use……?
  • Get the children to write their own stories using relevant mobile apps and sites – there are several great apps you can use to design a picture book story.

These are just a few ideas, I know there are many, many more.

We return this week for the first week of my son’s course and I am worried.  As a strong visual learner and one with reading challenges, this type of class will be prove challenging and intimidating so I am hoping for a more innovative start to this one!

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