A year’s learning in review …

I’m only reasonably new at Blogging, and for that matter, trying to integrate technology into my teaching, and I’ve learned a lot, and still have a lot to learn. I’m thankful that my Boss thought it important enough to give one of our staff a generous allocation to support staff integrate technology. Without it I would have floundered and probably dropped the ball a few times – and maybe not even picked it up again. I have had some great people who have been at it for a while already though like MrRobbo, Jonesytheteacher and plenty more have inspired with their ideas and enthusiasm.

I’ve tried plenty of things, some which may not be called back into the game for a while, but many things that we’ve tried have shown enough promise to persit with them. My favourite ‘web2.0’ tools so far have been xtranormal, glogster and student podcasting. Apart from those, I’ve used Skype, Flip cameras to film instructions and to give feedback to students, used a metronome dowloaded to my Iphone to control exercise intensity when working with HR monitors, experimented with classtools.net to create some revision games, created a school PE blog and twitter account, created online embeddable magazines using Scribd and Calameo, screen captured presentations and instructional videos using Jing and have grown more aware of the uses of Moodle for my classes.

Some of the things that I’ve learned so far are:

I’ve learned that the 21C tools that we have access to shouldn’t be treated any differently to other classroom tools that we’ve used for however long, but need to be used carefully and planned well.

I’ve learned that it’s ok to let the student play with the technology rather than being shown exactly what to do. Most of the time, it didn’t take much longer than it would have for me to have explained to them anyway, and once they’d worked it out, their friends were asking them how they did it and they were able to show them what they did. The learning isn’t just about the information, but also the process.

I’ve learned that no matter how cool something is, if you overuse it, the novely will wear off and the students’ engagement will be affected.

I’ve learned that it takes some time to experiment and plan, but the payoff is having your students engaged in ways that ‘chalk and talk’ will struggle to do.

Finally, I’ve learned that these tools aren’t added extras, but necessary tools for engaging students in a meaningful way that allows their work to be shared with the real world rather than staying between the two cardboard covers of an exercise book. How good is it to think that our students can create things that people anywhere in the world could benefit from?!

The year ahead promises a lot, but I’ll talk about that in a different blog post. I will actually need to spend more time sitting down and reflecting on what worked, what didn’t and what could have been done to make it work next time, and how to make things work better.