How Information And Communication Technology Enhances Childrens Learning Education Essay

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The learning objective of our poster was "to demonstrate how the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enhances childrens learning in the core subjects Mathematics, Science and Literacy". According to The Summary of the Ofsted Report (2003) many pupils (especially boys) are failing through the system because of their lack of reading and writing skills, which is reflected in their GCSE results. In response to the mounting concern that pupils are not thriving, the government is encouraging the effective use of ICT in schools to advance Literacy, Mathematics and Science and therefore improve attainment levels. (BECTA 2001, 2002 cited in Steve Kennewell and Gary Beauchamp). Traditional teaching methods (teacher centered learning environment) are now inadequate to prepare learners to survive in a digital era, an era which has shifted teaching methods/strategies and changed how children learn. Therefore, the government placed emphasis on integrating ICT into the curriculum, resulting in interactive white boards and computers being introduced in schools. Schools are now structured in ways that foster the development of 21st century skills like creativity, problem solving, communication and innovation ( The Partnership for the 21st Century Skills, 2004), skills which are required in a global knowledge-based environment. The poster not only focuses on how ICT is used to enhance learning but also examines how we as teachers respond (and hope to respond in the future) to our pupil´s learning needs and therefore develop activities to their zone of proximal development based on Vygotsky's concept of ZDP and scaffolding. Ultimately the effectiveness and limitations of ICT will be questioned. I will start of by explaining how the poster design has developed and how it relates to pedagogical approaches to learning and teaching Core subjects supported through ICT Teaching.

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Our poster is laid out over four columns, with an effective balance of colour, text, illustrations and visual stimulation, which we integrated with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint. This poster is organised, well sectioned, and has clear headings and subheadings. The heading was written with the help of WordArt, which makes it more noticeable, presentable and it the dark blue title attracts the eye and makes it stand out from the light blue background. The underlined subheadings were used to help structure the information on our poster visually. The reason why we chose the title to be "Learning through ICT" was because we thought that it encapsulated the focus of the assignment in a few words. Looking at the poster as a finished product, I admit the text is a bit cluttered and had we written less we would have had more space to enlarge the graphic and illustrations. We made the mistake of not using enough bullet points to shorten the text, this would of given the content some room to breathe, but never the less it is well organised and the information is accurate and referenced. On the other hand, we found that if we summarized the content any further we would risk the topic losing meaning. It takes skill to summarise a complex topic without losing some meaning, a skill I hope to master for the next poster project. The arrangement of the sections is logical and prevents the reader from confusion. Key features in Literacy are well highlighted in a chart, in addition the "Disadvantages and Advantages of ICT" were written in purple to help it stand out from the rest of the text. The visual focus is on the annotated illustrations of children using a variety of ICT lessons. The annotated illustrations convey the message that if used effectively ICT can enhance learning. The first illustration is of a group of children playing the piano. Many people do not realize the importance of music education. Researchers believe music helps children learn a variety of subjects such as math, science and P.E. They claim that children who learn music develop higher thinking skills such as problem solving, analysis and evaluation. In math for example, children learn how to count, multiply, add, and divide with the help of a steady rhythm (which is taught in music). According to scientists reading "notes in music uses the same portion of the brain that's used in mathematical thinking. That's why so many adept musicians are also quite good in math."  (Guth, 2011). In P.E children learn about coordinating their fine and gross motor skills through music. And in science the children can easily grasp the concept of vibration. The second illustration portraits a pupil who is recording the events taking place with a digital camera. In many classrooms teachers are integrating photography into their lessons to help prompt pupil´s writing in subjects such as science and literacy. Pupils who struggle to write are often inspired by what they capture on their camera. Finally, the comic at the end bottom of the poster conveys the message that the traditional blackboard has been replaced by the Interactive whiteboard. The advantages of the latter being that lessons can be enhanced and made more stimulating and interactive. It is easier to use the multi -coloured markers to sketch drawings, make charts and diagrams (with the help of Texttease, Excel) and present information using PowerPoint and overhead projector to demonstrate information to the whole class.

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Colour is an important element of any project, it is as critical as the layout and the visuals. That is the reason we chose the light blue tint background was because not only is it visually appealing to the eye but it is also soothing and calm. Overall we chose to limit the use of too many bright colours, as not to distract the reader with unnecessary and distracting things. We picked to use an Interactive whiteboard as a border because it really fits with the whole theme.

The graphic that I chose to use is a visual to support the content of my section, which displays the percentage of what a selected few think about whether or not ICT in schools will help raise standards. I could have made the graphic appear more prominent, but not only was the space limited but also because it was not the central statement, we chose to stick in the corner.

We used speech bubbles to reflect on how we used a variety of ICT during past placements and how we wish to use them in the future. Reflecting on the project, I am pleased with the overall layout of the poster although, I must admit I found it difficult to prepare the poster on the slide. The most difficult part was trying to position all the information and illustration so they could fit on the slide. The most satisfying part was seeing the end result, although we could have done a few things differently, I am happy with the outcome.

During our group discussion we all agreed that past SBL experience, lectures, workshops, and literature such as Effective teaching: evidence and practice by Daniel Muijs and David Reynolds are helping us develop into sophisticated and understanding teachers. Thanks to theorists such as Howard Gardner (Multiple Intelligence), Piaget and Vygotsky, we are beginning to value all pupils as individuals, who due to their different needs and learning styles require different methods of teaching. Flemming´s model of the Visual Auditory Kinaesthetic learning styles encourages us as educators to make activities more accessible by including a mix of those three elements in teaching, and are then maximizing personalized learning in schools. This benefits both educators and pupils for it increases motivation and engagement. Encouraging children to learn by using their style of preference will enable them to adjust their work patterns to improve their performance by acquiring knowledge in their own pace, making links to concepts and developing a deeper understanding of their own learning. ( Khosrowpour, 2011)

The role of constructivism in the 21st century education system is increasingly being linked with technology and how children learn by researchers. We chose to use Vygotsky´s theory of constructivism, Zone of Proximal development and scaffolding because we felt that we could identify with the fact that learning is an active process. Learners are encouraged to construct their own understanding of concepts based upon the prior knowledge. The role of the teacher will therefore not be as the transmitter of knowledge but as the mediator of learning. Classrooms that are well supplied with ICT allow learners to access a wide range of knowledge and information independently and confidently enhance their own learning. The theorist Vygotsky (1978) used the term 'zone of proximal development' [ZPD] to define the gap between a learners ability to work independently and receiving guidance from peers (group work) or the teacher to complete a task, scaffolding is used to describe the guidance given. A classic light bulb moment during high-school was when we were allowed to experiment with torches and overhead projects to understand the physics of light and colour. I grasped the concept of light without the teacher explaining it to me, although she clarified any misconceptions that I had. In retrospect, I realize the teacher was scaffolding me. In my past SBL placement I have found software such as PowerPoint and Texttease and (others designed for the interactive whiteboard) especially valuable for highlighting, modelling and illustrating concepts in Literacy, Math and Science.

Many learners find it useful to learn with the support of ICT, for it really facilitates learner's engagement with texts in ways which would not be possible through pen and paper. They are engaged with a variety of activities including individual and collaborative activity based learning experiences which they can identify with because they relate real life experiences. ICT allows pupils to explore, collect data, analyse it, exchange and present it to an audience or with the wider world. For example during a field trip to a history/art museum or the aquarium, digital/video cameras can be used to take pictures/make films, and MP3 devices can be used to make any comments or reflect about events taking place. As an end result of a writing unit the class can post a video on YouTube or produce a radio podcast through which interviews, poetry, reports/ recounts and stories are shared on the internet (idea from the Literacy National Strategies). The children can then use sound effects and music to liven things up.

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During my school days many of my teachers failed to make me understand how all the subjects taught at school were relevant in my life and how these were areas were connected. My goal, amongst other things, as a future teacher is to help my pupils to understand the interrelatedness of all subjects. I choose to focus on literacy for our project because I strongly believe that language and communication (literacy) plays a very important role in our lives. During English lessons children acquire skills which they can transfer in all curriculum subjects such as reading, listening thinking, writing, speaking. For example in mathematics and in science language is used to understand the explanations and instructions (vocabulary) given. The cross curriculum allows pupils to build on their present knowledge and understanding and develop new skills in a context that makes sense to them and which then allows them to transfer that knowledge to other subjects.

In 2008, Sir Jim Rose reviewed the primary curriculum and proposed one that would inspire life-long learning. Sir Jim Rose (cited in Nuffield Foundation, 2009) stated that

"Recognize the continuing importance of subjects and the essential knowledge, skills and understanding they represent. As indicated in the interim report, the essential knowledge and skills all children should be taught, particularly in the middle and later phases of primary education, can be organised through clearly visible subject disciplines, such as history, geography and physical education. Subjects will be complemented by worthwhile and challenging cross-curricular studies that provide ample opportunities for children to use and apply their subject knowledge and skills to deepen understanding." (Rose Report, 2009, Executive Summary, Section 11)

The group decided to use geography as a cross-curricular subject because it links in beautifully with the three foundation subjects. We felt that Geography is an important subject since it develops an understanding of the world in which we live in and the state of the rest of the world. In literacy lessons I have observed teachers teach a unit based on information texts about the rainforest, volcanoes and earthquakes around the world, and with the help of atlases and Google map the children could locate them. And in science they looked at how volcanoes are formed and what they are made of and in art they got to make their own volcano. The teacher did an awesome job of developing her pupil´s knowledge in a stimulating manner and showing them how the different the subjects interlock.

Doing the research was an eye opener for me. I discovered two things. On one hand the discovery that ICT can be used to enhance our children´s learning if used effectively has awakened me and has encouraged me to want to learn more about how I can impact my pupils learning. However, on the other hand I think that although we should invest in pedagogy we should not be blinded by devices that encourage laziness (calculators and Word grammar & spelling check) and put the safety of our children at risk (e-networking)