Analogue Learning with Digital Resources

Yesterday I was given the opportunity to address fellow educators at the ICT for Education Magazine Conference in the Hilton Hotel, Belfast. This monthly publication is available as a free digital download and is well worth subscribing to. As usual, there was an excellent line-up of speakers among them Tim Rylands, to whom the title of this entry refers.

The theme of my talk was to share my own ideas about using ICT in the classroom, in its many different forms as well as sharing some of my experience using the LNI environment to support homework. I also made some reference to the process of entering the Microsoft Innovative Teachers competition that took me all the way to Cape Town in October (hence the image of Table Mountain at the head of the page). The entries for these are linked at the bottom of the page and I hope they help you in deciding to enter this superb and, if you’re lucky enough, life-changing competition. There isn’t a great deal of difference between the ‘European VCT’ and the ‘World VCT’ bar that the ‘World VCT’ is a bit slicker looking.

Listening and Learning

What was exciting was getting the opportunity to listen to the other speakers on the day, chief amongst them the aforementioned Tim Rylands. Tim’s work on using gaming to inspire learning has been extremely successful and it is his enthusiasm for his field of expertise that reduced some of us in the room to pre-pubescent, over excited children (or maybe that was just me!). But isn’t it great that there are still people out there who can spark this level of excitement and enthusiasm! His work, using Riven to inspire literature development is internationally recognised as a leading example of how to use gaming productively in the classroom to help raise standards.

If you haven’t clicked on his website above yet, don’t miss the opportunity to do so.

Little Big Planet

My own unit for the third term revolves around our visit to Alton Towers. The beauty of the new NI Curriculum is the ability to teach topics of interest as long as it covers the key skills. The less proscription offers the opportunity for more creativity.

As part of it I will be using Little Big Planet for the Playstation 3 to (hopefully) inspire analogue learning in this digital platform. If you are not familiar with the game, it is a ‘platformer’ where the player attempts to guide ‘sackboy’ through ever increasingly difficult levels. However, that isn’t the idea for the learning. The game also allows the player to create exactly what they see on the screen, using all the tools from the games makers! I will post a future blog demonstrating some of what can be done. It is exceptional in what it offers the player and as I write this my own daughter has been sitting with her friend collaborating on the creation of their own level, watched patiently by my three-year old. This is a link to YouTube videos showing the wealth of user-created content. Amazing.

The point of al this, however, is to demonstrate how I can also use this for ‘analogue’ learning to help raise standards in the classroom and promote engagement around this resource – not for it to be all about playing games in the classroom. This is the hurdle we need to clear when trying to convince others of the benefit of using the gaming media in the classroom – ‘Where is the learning?’ they rightly ask.

So I am including a draft of ideas that I am going to try out in the classroom with the children in Primary 7. The whole unit revolves around the ‘Rollercoasters’ theme with the Little Big Planet unit in the bottom right corner of the web diagram. It needs to be expanded and worked on but as a work in progress, I would be interested to know what some of you think. It is all about using the game and console to encourage the children to improve their ‘analogue learning.’ As a teacher, surely this is the bottom line?

If you do decide to take some of these ideas, please let me know how it goes and, pretty please, remember they’re mine 🙂

More to follow in the near future…

Rollercoaster / Little Big Planet Topic Web

Innovative Teacher VCTs:

Northern Ireland European World

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One thought on “Analogue Learning with Digital Resources

  1. Barry, a very interesting post. I’m going to show your web plan to one of my colleagues who has been working with ccea developing thematic units. She now works independently with schools helping them to develop a more creative approach to curriculm planning. Obviously you will see the value of this in promoting learning experiences for children as you have adapted the approach yourself! I know she would be very interested in how you use technology to do this. She may want to have a chat with you. Would you be interested? In addition to this she is very much involved in the pushkin project? Heard of it? (Its not just a writing comp) its very much about developing creativity in ourselves as educators and individuals-and as a result the impact on childrens learning is enhanced! Heard if ken robinson? He is involved with the “creative schools award” which pushkin are developing at present. Let me know your thoughts.

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