After Jason Bradbury’s Dot Robot Show, there was a mix of sessions including EduPunk, Pecha Kucha, Industry Talks and ‘Teachers with Tech’ sessions where International teachers displayed their best practice in Game Based Learning and Handheld Learning. This gave me the opportunity to see various speakers displaying some good practice mostly in the classroom.
Firstly I saw a very interesting talk from Mark Sutton from Soar Valley College in Leicester. Mark was taking a personalised learning approach with PSPs in the classroom. Using the camera attachment and Second Sight (a program used with the camera), pupils would explore a physical area with their PSPs to simply find files for the topic they were learning. Student feedback was positive as they commented on the fact it was better than a laptop due to the speed of discovery. Mark then went on to using the PSP with Augmented Reality, where the pupils were learning about the Solar System. Again by using the Second Sight software, pupils would move around an environment and discover semi-codes (symbols much like QR codes). By placing the camera over a symbol, a planet would then appear where they could discover facts and see the planets spinning over the top of the camera image. One very interesting point was discovered when finding an autistic pupil who rarely interacted with other pupils really opened up and got involved in discussion when introducing the technology.
Shortly after I saw Stephan Stephensen from Dansk e-Learning Center in Denmark talk about Mingoville. A game-like online environment his company had developed with the aim of bringing children together online to help with English and language. Mingoville also came in other formats such as software on Smart Boards and mobile phones, as well as books and eBooks. The online version of the sofware was a virtual world with people meeting each other and communicating, the children could pair up to play small bite-size games for spelling and language. For example users can record themselves saying words and other player has to guess what they said by looking at spelling. I can see the advantages for this as it takes learning out of the classroom and connects pupils to others nationwide. In terms of mobile phone use, it was interesting that they were looking at the non-smart-phone market. Understandable as children ages 6-12 are unlikely to have a smart phone but I think it is be the first time I have seen that people with smart phones are missing out. There is however the argument that if they have a smart phone they should be able to access the website through their devices. This is true, but not for every device (cough… iPhone!).
I then popped into see a talk from Andrew Dickenson, where he talked about using the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS games as a stimulus for learning. The point that really came across to me was about children not playing the games but using the games. Children are not motivated about maths but once they were introduced to Nintendo DS’, it changed their attitudes. Take a look at Andrew’s blog here.
Overall there was a lot of information about schools rather than HE but it was very interesting to see these guys using games and handheld technology in forms that you can buy off the shelf. For the first day, it was pretty tough, lots of information to absorb but this was the warm up, my next couple of posts will be about days 2 and 3 which were jam packed with even more.