Monday, 2 December 2013

Blogging in Primary Schools

Blogging is not a new concept, but it is for most primary schools. Short for 'web logging', the term blogging was created back in the 90’s. 

Blogging can be a great way to encourage reflective writing and improve student’s literacy skills. Students don't tend to write unless they have to or are engaged in the activity. Blogs are one way to encourage it. 

Lots of teachers also use class blogs for collaboration, discussion and learning.  Some instructors use the same blogs as digital student portfolios, where pupils show their work and achievements but also share their learning. 

Creating a blog is simple, although there are many different platforms to do it. Of course, each has its own pros and cons, but the best choice depends on the aim of the blog. That’s why one of the main decisions when creating a new blog is to decide if it’s open to anyone on the web or private to the class. However, it’s really important to make kids aware of the responsibility involved. The blog permits a dialogue, reflection and collaboration among students instead of being a one way communication where the teacher is the only one deciding what should be passed on.

As pupils start writing about an interested topic, teacher find out that when students are asked to write for an audience outside of their class, they are more motivated, put more attention and they offer better content. Many blogs allow multiple authors to contribute to it and several pupils can work together on a single topic or assignment. Although easy to use, some blog tools are not specific to the education community and might not have all the safety and control features a teacher needs.

Benefits of student blogging:
  • Expectations of writing change. They not only create for the teacher but for a wider audience.
  • Students are more reflective developing their skills (how they learn, identify a process to work, convert an idea into words).
  • Feedback becomes more constructive and motivating for both author and visitors.
  • The blogs are a source of pride because they students have an online space that can be personalized and customized.
  • Increase the variety of language used, opposite to what happens in social networks or mobile devices (SMS) -  text talk.
  • It can help to combine education with hobbies and interests - what students do outside school, what they prefer and like etc.

If you are interested in learning more about blogging in primary schools - either for students or teachers, you can contact Webanywhere to discuss solutions that can help, and which are built with e-safety in mind.

Australia contact - 03-9008-6825 or visit Webanywhere Australia to learn more.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

e-Learning in India - Growing But with Doubters

As in virtually every other country worldwide, e-learning is growing in India, with learning management systems, e-portfolios and other educational technologies appearing in more classrooms every week.

However, for a country that has some much of its economy based in technology development and services - think software outsourcing and call centres for a start - not everyone thinks that technology in the classroom is the way forward.

100,000 private schools in India invest in educational technology. Sounds a lot right? Especially as few countries have that many schools in total - public and private combined. But with 260,000 private schools across the country, the figures represents less than 40% that spend on edtech - what are the other 60% doing?

A few key reasons:

- Unsurprisingly, infrastructure plays a part. e-Learning set-up "...requires high speed internet connection, which needs to be on even if classes are not being held" says C Hota, the Associate Professor of Computer Science at BITS Pilani in Hyderabad. Even a well funded school relies on the local internet infrastructure in the local area.

- Tradition and culture also plays a part in potentially slowing demand for e-learning. Maya Sukumaran of Gitanjali School in Begumpet said "We had a few live web classes with a school in Chennai, but the parents preferred to have a real teacher-student interaction for their children. "

Perhaps for parents that have dreamed of and aspired to having their children attend school, e-learning may in part seem like outsourcing of their child's education to technology.

While e-learning may have some doubters in India, the growth in its use is still healthy. It is reported that 2012 saw a 21% increase in the use of MOOC (massive open online courses) compared to 2011, and the country's annual spend on digital learning is thought to be around $500 million.

As India looks to become a bigger player in the world economy, this use of educational technology can only help today's youth to make that happen. 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

e-Learning in Iraq Supported by UNESCO and UNESCWA

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is working with its Western Asia division to support e-learning in Iraq. UNESCO and UNESCWA (United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Western Asia) are developing training courses and online resources to help drive improvements in the country's education system. The project has been labelled 'ICT for Education in Iraq'.

As much of the world is now looking at ICT skills as being almost as fundamental as literacy and numeracy, Iraq is receiving help to try and bring it back to being a leading light in the region in regards to education. Two decades of war and political upheaval have seen the country fall behind many of its neighbours in the Middle East, with schools being ill-equipped in terms of information communication technology and IT literate teaching staff. The Ministry of Education is now working with these UN organisations to establish a project with the core aims of:
- Organisation priorities and strategy with a focus on ICT in education
- Give Iraq's MoE the capacity to deliver an effective ICT curriculum and assessment programme
- Modernise the learning environment within Iraqi schools with focus on ICT infrastructure

The project has started with MoE staff, giving them the ICT literacy required to then filter e-learning and technical skills throughout the education system in Iraq. Iraqi MoE staff have been visiting other countries in the region to learn from their best practice in ICT.

They have now been bringing this knowledge to Iraq, starting with the development of e-learning resources for the core subjects of Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Biology. In order to support the Kurdish population, e-learning packages have been developed in 'Arabic for Non-Arabic Speaking Iraqis'.

With this focused programme for development through technology, e-learning looks set to be a key driver for the current generation of Iraqi students.