WK 12 A5: Technology in your context

  • Identify a form of technology used in an educational context.

For this exercise I will look at iPods and how they are being used at Lakes Colleges West Cumbria as a revision tool.
“Lakes College West Cumbria has piloted the use of iPod nanos to provide revision quizzes for Construction students, many of whom have learning difficulties and/or learning disabilities (LDD) and struggle with paper-based revision processes. The pilot has had a positive effect both on exam achievement and on the students’ feelings of independence as learners.” http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk/page.aspx?o=170768

  • What do you think is the likely impact of this technology on the students’ perceptions of the quality of their courses, their approaches to studying and their academic performance?
    At a recent workshop Paula Stephenson, Learning Support Manager at Lakes College, explained that they based the use of these devices on the TechDis model of accessible Mobile learning.  In which devices are only used if they meet the following requirements;

    • The technology supports the learner
    • The technology is accessible for the learner
    • The technology engages the learner
    • The learner values the technology

Although this model is specifically for accessible mobile learning, the model could be applied more generally to other forms of technology used in education.

http://www.techdis.ac.uk/index.php?p=9_5_32_3

The following quotes highlight how the students felt about using the devices and their impact on achievement

“The iPods were used in revision sessions in class, but the real plus for Paula and Jackie was how much the students then used them during break times and lunch periods. Students were keen to use them for revision outside formal class times, with the overall consensus that being able to use them was “cool”. They have asked if they could also take the iPods home to continue revision there;”

“A positive unexpected outcome from the pilot has been that it has helped students like Alex in feeling more independent; they can now undertake their revision without assistance in class, as well as continuing outside formal class times, and Jackie says this has given them a great sense of achievement.”
“Using the iPods to get the Construction students interested in doing revision has impacted positively upon exam performance. The hard work that Jackie had previously put into trying to engage the students in paper-based revision sessions typically led to around 85% of a cohort passing the exam, whereas the iPod pilot cohort has achieved a 100% pass rate – every student passed! It is also interesting to note that, just before they started using the iPods, the cohort did a paper-based mock exam, which none of them passed.”

  • What do you think is the likely impact of this technology on the teachers’ perceptions of their teaching context and their approaches to teaching?

Although Paula and the team at the college were positive and supportive of the use of iPods, some may see the use of popularist technology such as iPods as a gimmick.

“It’s a scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money.” Nick Seaton, chairman for Campaign for Real Education talking about giving university students ipods to be used for education. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/5319258.stm

The excellent results from the project at Lakes College have shown that the devices were a good investment.  A similar project at Ashton Sixth form college involved using Nintendo DS consoles with learners to improve memory and maths skills. Learners results were significantly better than those of a test group who just had paper based exercises instead of the consoles

  • Do you think this technology embodies particular assumptions about the nature of teaching and learning in higher further education?

Using devices such as games consoles and ipods embodies removing boundries between learning technologies and entertainment technologies.

  • Are these assumptions likely to promote more positive perceptions, more desirable approaches to studying and better performance on the part of the students?

Successful projects such as these often involve learners with learning difficulties and disabilities (LLDD) or learners who had not previously been successful in a traditional academic environment. These projects have not only encouraged learners to use these devices but also take ownership of their learning.  This changes their perception of learning being something which is done to them in a classroom, to an ongoing part of their live which they are in control of.

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