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MirandaNet Fellowship Profiles (MirandaNet Archive - as of March 2015)
Originally a trained architect who fell into the world of teaching as a Design and Technology teacher. I returned to an early passion for computers and technology after a 15 year gap. Computer technology had moved on from the era of the ZX81 and Spectrum (no more rubbery keys and 1K of memory) so far that after initially teaching mostly within the Design area I chose to specialise in ICT teaching and helping to integrate Technology use across all schools I have worked within.
I have completed a Masters Degree course in the use of ICT in Education at Leeds University specialising in the use of a myriad of web-tools to enhance and bring teaching and learning in line with students ideals and expectations. I firmly believe that the facilitation of blended environments in which the internet and technology becomes a tool to enhance and motivate teaching and learning, is important is a changing world of communication and work.
After six years of International teaching in Egypt and Mexico, and 7 years teaching in an International school in the UK I am specifically interested in how to continue to develop these technologies and collaboration across schools internationally to help students understand the effects of working in a global community in which problems can only be solved in a collaborative environment. My recent school has implemented a 1-to-1 iPAD programme and although it has had many successes, my feeling is the uncontrolled tablet implementations in schools are similar in style to the VLE initiatives of 5 years ago in which the efficiency and effectiveness to improve learning of technology initiatives needs careful thought, planning and support if it is to provide the learning gains they aim to achieve.
Process, Design and Aesthetics have always motivated my teaching and learning from my days as an Architect as these three are integral to any problem solving skills one might attain and also to enable students to become able problem solvers. Within these three areas in mind i am keen to develop many areas of ICT integration within all subject areas although often focusing on artistic and graphic based activities including:-
- Scratch programming for younger pupils
- SketchUP CAD drawing to develop ideas of design, usually focused on the students school redevelopment
- Armadillo Run in Physics - Understanding structures the fun way, I have never seen students so addicted to a game (great for in school competitions too!)
- Collaborative learning techniques - to build online documents in Wiki environments including MediWiki, weblogs and Wordpress etc
Many other projects are under development, when I get the time and the students have the energy ;)~
Recent practical projects that I am running or have run in schools, focus on the use of web-tools to enhance independent learning and an understanding of the emerging read/write web:-
- CICT Moodle into Web 2.0 - Using a VLE in a way which extends the environment into a more flexible and read/write space - now superseded by a new Moodle site for a new school IB Egham
- CICT Wiki (now finished) - Gnomes, Champions and Trolls - Using a wiki in a very traditional school to enhance students understanding of how to remix and research areas of technology and its effect on our lives , while not plagiarising or blindly copying. The use of roles and existing examples helped to illustrate how personalities work within such collaborative communities - again hopefully superseded by a new initiative to start in the next school year with use of Wetpaing as its base for Wiki and Eghs, along with use of Tikiwiki in a Design and Technology IB wiki.
- CreativICTism(Now not in use - An Information portal for GCSE ICT), SevensVsNines(Now not in use - Publishing Art and ICT KS3 work), TechBribe(A new information portal for MYP technology) and ITGSOnline(A portal and publishing environment for all ITGS students to have a voice)- Educational weblogs and their wide variety of practical and empowering uses they can have within classrooms.
I also continue to erratically post my thoughts and ideas while participating in my studies to my own professional development weblog:-
- ConstructICTism - My own weblog for personal development and following my Masters studies.
My recent studies have focused on the integration of ICT within Language Learning. Specifically at secondary schools I have begun to focus on the potential of Social Networks to promote L2 conversation inside and outside of the classroom to improve language acquisition. This has also led to ideas of high multi-literacies effect language learning and the importance of teaching a variety of ways of communicating including within mediated public spaces. The recent case study and research has led to the creation of a social network for French conversation in my last school:-
- The French Connection - Using Social Networks to learn French within a school (first use finished, will be redeveloped for further research in coming months.)
The premise of this research after discussion with the MFL department at EABIS, Cairo was to explore ways of integrating ICT within L2 teaching that could promote conversation to maximise language practice using the target language of French.
The French department is very established within the school; with two teachers in the British Section for the last five years and two in the American/National Section. The department has been successful academically at GCSE and AS Level; with 100% A-C grades over the last two years and has grown in popularity with class sizes at KS4/5 rising steadily. The department has used little ICT due to the lack of resources available and a worry that a successful academic formula should not be changed. ICT around the school has improved with new dedicated ICT suites, Wi-Fi areas and use of online tools including a VLE within certain subjects; however the MFL department has remained traditional without the internet, relevant hardware or ICT integration.
The research investigated the teachers' views on ICT use within L2 teaching and explored a variety of ideas on how these might be implemented. The use of an OSN was chosen for the initiative and the general principles of integration were discussed leading to a scheme of work being produced and an Online Social Network was created enabling teaching and learning outcomes to be practically examined.
In conclusion the research found that the use of social networking technologies within a language learning situation at secondary level has many features that enable conversation in a L2. As one student pertinently said ‘...[i]t makes speaking French a habit and easy to learn.'However teachers must include such technologies as an integral part of their teaching pedagogy to see real benefits in terms of L2 acquisition. The schools themselves must look to integrate online social tools throughout the curriculum for these tools to be naturally successful. The initiative encountered problems that in the future need careful thought including: - time of use; variety of groups used to create network; globalising the groups to enable real exchanges to happen and an in-depth social network analysis of the conversations that do occur in the L2, so as to diagnose benefits and student progression.
Click on this link to view the entire paper so far, hopefully over the following year the case study will be expanded to cover two or three international school language departments -
Social Networking to Improve Conversation in Secondary Modern Foreign Languages - The El Alsson French Connection, The ‘FC'
(Please not this is an acrobat document of over 4Mb, so be patient on download and viewing especially if opened in a browser.)
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