This is a reflection on an amazing 2016.
I started the year as a new addition to the team of lecturers at USW on the BA Primary Studies course. My role was to look at Science and Technology, in particular ICT and to look at supporting the new Digital Competence Framework and how our trainee teachers can embed it into their lessons. This is a new initiative in Wales and the schools themselves are just starting out with it so this is a great opportunity for our students to really take a lead on something and look to shape the way it is used in schools.
For those new to the DCF it is broken up into 4 strands.
2. Interacting and Collaborating
4. Data and Computational Thinking
These strands should be woven into all areas of learning and used to support the learning that takes place and enhance the skills of the students. Over the year we have looked at developing the knowledge base of our student teachers and also develop their skills in designing learning opportunities, taking advantage of the new technologies available to them. All lecturers are now embedding these skills in their lectures to model how it can be implemented in schools.
As I am delivering on ICT and Science I have been able to weave the technology into my sessions too. Using tools such as Seesaw and Showbie to allow students to see how they can assess in different ways, using Book Creator to document learning and simply using the camera to capture learning taking place.
One of these projects was based around Scientific Storytelling, the opportunity for students in Science investigations to document their learning through the use of Book Creator, recording video, audio as well as written work to capture so much more learning.
I went to a local Primary school to see how this would work in practice, working with a group of Y6 students we explored a scientific question and they developed their enquiry skills to seek out the answers to their own questions. All of this was documented in Book Creator and then published to the iBookStore. Once this was reviewed I shared it back in University to my students and am now in the process of writing up the case study and how to guide as an eBook.
These sessions have had a big STEM/STEAM focus as we look to prepare our students for the way education should be delivered to meet the needs of today. As I keep saying to them
I am not teaching you to pass a course, I am teaching you to be successful teachers of the future
I have been showing them things that might not be in all schools yet, but as this is the most intense CPD they will possibly ever experience, I want to try to give them as much insight into the future of education as is possible. They have now been exposed to
Animation in Keynote
Digital Pilot in Schools
At the end of the last academic year I put together a project for schools that gave our students the chance to see digital tools in action in the classroom. Working with 3 of our partner schools and alongside 2 other USW lecturers we took a team of digital students out of University and worked alongside them in the classroom to bring learning to life with technology. This was a huge success and allowed these fortunate teachers the opportunity to learn first hand.
USW Digital Champions
As a follow on from the pilot I decided to develop the digital champion programme and engage with more students. Last month the selection process was complete and we now have 29 Digital Champions across Y1 and Y2 of the course. There is a range in talents and together we have many plans to develop our own skills but also the opportunities we can offer the other students as well as our partner schools. As part of this movement we now have our own Twitter feed @uswdigitalchamps and will be using this and our hashtag #uswsurvivors to look at how Social Media can support the students whilst out on placement. We have also been running #uswdigitaltwilight over the last few months to engage students in ways technology can be used in the classroom.
2017 will start with a bang, we already have joint projects in place with 2 partner schools. I will be delivering CPD but will be engaging some of our students in the process to give them additional insight into the process. This is all part of our drive at USW to focus on how teacher training should be and how we can work together with schools to offer them the best experiences and to embed this in research that the students will focus on when in University. All of the Digital Champions are being encouraged to blog about the work they are doing to be fully reflective on their work and to see what difference they are making.
It has been a whirlwind of a journey so far but so worth it. I look forward to developing these students and learning from them as they explore the possibilities in the classroom. The links with partner schools is exciting as we work together to share expertise and make a real dent in the universe.