Monthly Archives: April 2013

Blogging Reveals Pupils’ Voices

Our very first guest post comes from Damien Quinn, 6th class teacher in Ransboro NS in Sligo and the man behind Seomraranga.ie, wnner of the Best Individul Blog in the 2012 Edublog Awards. This is the first in a two part guest post as Damien’s pupils will talk about blogging in part 2 of the post. 

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Over the past few years I had read articles on the internet about other educators using Kidblog(www.kidblog.org) to introduce their pupils to blogging by creating individual blogs for them. I didn’t delve into it too much as I had been teaching younger pupils for the past few years. However, when I moved back up to sixth class last September, I decided to investigate this blogging platform and to see how I could use it in the classroom. Having sought advice of other teachers using the platform, I decided to take the plunge and set up a class account in late September 2012.

The benefits of using Kidblog are:

  • It is used by educators around the world to enhance and compliment the curriculum
  • It is a safe and secure platform that is specifically geared towards schools
  • The teacher is able to control activity
  • It is a means to motivate pupils to learn, write, ask questions
  • It teaches pupils the rules of Digital Citizenship and how to behave responsibly in an online community

Pupils can publish posts and participate in academic discussions within a secure classroom blogging community. The teacher maintains complete control over student blogs and user accounts. The pupils’ blogs can be private and viewable only by classmates and the teacher or they can be public. Schools can connect with each other through Kidblog. Pupils can work on their blog at their own pace/level at home or at school. Pupils are able to comment on each other’s blogs but comments can be moderated and approved by the teacher before they appear. The teacher can also post a private comment to the pupil about a piece of work. Through using this safe and secure blogging platform pupils can:

  • create classroom discussions
  • learn digital citizenship
  • practice writing skills
  • create an e-portfolio
  • reflect on learning

Having taken the plunge and introduced my pupils to the whole concept of personal blogs I was totally unprepared for their reaction. Over the course of the first week, the pupils set out on a journey into the digital unknown with such enthusiasm and positivity. Although I have given lots of written assignments for homework to be done on the blog, there has been quite a lot of spontaneous written work appearing on pupils’ blogs. Pupils’ voices have been heard through their blog posts about their hobbies and interests, so I have been reading about horses, dogs, planes, football, birds, animals, hurling, trucks, dancing, online games. The list is endless. Kidblog seems to have given the pupils what the English curriculum intended – writing for a purpose with a real audience in mind.

However, two things have been really interesting for me: firstly, the way that the blog has gelled the class together – they are being hugely positive and supportive to each other and commenting on each other’s posts and asking each other questions; secondly the blog appears to be serving all ability levels within the class. Everybody is working at their own ability and the others are supportive of that in their positive comments and encouragement.

As a teacher, I’m also looking for the positive educational benefits of this way of working. I’m looking at how the pupils are developing their different genres of English writing. I’m admiring the way that they are encouraging each other with their positive comments on each other’s blog posts. I’m learning so much about the individual pupils and their hobbies and interests and it gives me a great way to start a conversation with them in class. In fact, the whole blog has turned out to be one long conversation with the pupils’ voices at its core.

From the evidence of activity on Kidblog, it has been hugely motivational. It seems that pupils are excitedly doing blog work at home and delighting in the comments they are receiving. I’m trying to comment on most of the posts and they seem to like that also. I’ve got very positive feedback from some parents who are amazed at the enthusiasm of the pupils for it. One parent remarked that she never before saw her child so eager to do homework!

Such is the pupils’ enthusiasm for the blog, I’ve even had to put a curfew on activity on it – 9pm is now cut-off point with the threat of losing their account if they are on it after that time. I can see that some pupils are on the blog even before they come to school. Some pupils have even been blogging on weekends, without prompting from the teacher. At this stage of the year we have published an amazing 2,000 posts and commented more than 7,000 times on the blog in a truly collaborative exercise.

The real test of a classroom innovation is the opinion of the pupils. After about a week into this blogging project, one of the pupils put up the following blog post spontaneously one night. I think it sums up the feeling of a lot of the pupils:

“We are now over a week on the blog. I think that everyone is enjoying themselves, especially me. I love it. It is really fun. I am learning so much about it and it is so fun reading everybody’s information. And sharing my information with them as well. It is great. Learning on the blog is totally different it is such an experience to me. Every day I go on the blog and see what I can read and learn. On the blog we do a maths puzzle every day. Some of them are easy but some our hard and I can’t understand them, but mostly every day I do them. We also do homework on the blog. It is soooooo cool.”

Dream Keynote List

Back in September, after a conversation between Bernie Goldbach, John Heffernan and Pam O’Brien, the idea of a dream keynote list was born.  Since then almost forty names have been added and the list has had more than 1700 views.  Keynotes at this years CESI conference and our own ICT in Education conference are featured on the list.  Please continue to add to the list as we see it as an ongoing venture which will continue to provide ideas for conference organisers.  The list can be found here.

Twitter in Education

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Mark Glynn produced a Prezi with resources on Twitter in Education in conjunction with the ICT in Education conference.  The resources include

  • a video showing how educators across Ireland use Twitter
  • some thoughts on Twitter by Pam O’Brien
  • some tutorials on setting up a twitter account, hashtags and Twitter clients

You can find the Prezi here.

CESI Meet

The Thurles campus of LIT will host a CESI Meet on Friday 10th May from 7-9 pm.  For those of you who have never been to a CESI Meet, it’s an evening of chat, learning, sharing and fun all rolled into one.  Mags Amond will be the Bean an Ti for the night and will keep us all in line (kind of!!).  Have a look at this Animoto to get a flavour of what’s involved.
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CESI Meets are the Irish equivalent of Teach Meets.  They give people an opportunity to talk briefly about a piece of technology that they use.  Presentations can be either a 2 minute nano, a 5-7 minute mini or a 15 minute soapbox presentations.  I love hearing about the wide variety of technologies in use in classrooms across the country and further afield.   The fruit machine  that decides who’s up next to present is great fun – that is of course until Mags overrides it as we near the end!!  There’s often a Skype call to connect with educators in various parts of the world to share and to hear what works for them.

There’ll be a few surprises at this year’s CESI Meet so make sure to come along to kick off the  conference and to get the conversation going. Register to attend and/or to present at the CESI Meet on the conference website.

ICT in Education Conference 2013

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On Saturday, May 11th, educators from across Ireland and beyond will gather at LIT in Thurles, County Tipperary for the annual ICT in Education conference. As described by its organiser, Pam O’Brien, it is a conference “by teachers, for teachers”, and that includes teachers in the broadest sense — primary, secondary and third levels, adult and community education, and beyond. The theme of this year’s conference is “Student Voices”. The wonderful Grainne Conole will be a keynote speaker, sharing her considerable expertise by speaking about learning design and promoting new pedagogies. Grainne also will offer a Learning Design Workshop on Friday, May 10th. A CESI Meet will be held on that Friday evening as well. All of these events can be booked on the ICT in Education website.

This year, I was delighted and honoured to be invited to give a keynote at the conference as…

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ICT in Education: Student Voices Conference – May 11th, 2013

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The 9th annual ICT in Education Conference will take place on Saturday, 11th May on the Thurles campus of Limerick Institute of Technology. This conference is an opportunity for educators to come together, learn about the application of technology in education and share experiences.

Keynote presentations will be delivered by Grainne Conole, the Professor of Learning Innovation at the University of Leicester, Catherine Cronin, lecturer in Information Technology at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and Martha Rotter, co-founder and publisher of Idea Magazine.

STUDENT VOICES

The theme of this year’s event is ‘Student Voices’ and the conference will place the experiences of learners at the heart of the discourse on ICT in education. As part of this theme, pupils from first and second level have been invited to act as ‘roving reporters’ and will move about the conference using mobile technology to record impressions, videos and interviews with attendees which will be uploaded to social media sites like twitter, WordPress and facebook. This year’s conference will not only focus on the voices of students but will also feature active engagement with them!

You can register for the conference at www.lit.ie/ictedu

THE DAY BEFORE

On May 10th, the Friday preceding Saturday’s conference, keynote speaker Gráinne Conole will host one of her Learning Design Workshops from 10 AM – 4:30 PM. This workshop will centre on the 7 Cs of learning design and delivery (Conceptualise, Capture, Create, Communicate, Collaborate, Consider, Consolidate). Registration for this event is available here.

Later that day, the campus will host a CESI Meet which will involve around 2 hours of short presentations, starting at 7 PM, from educators who will share their experiences of integrating technology in their teaching. This event is an opportunity for educators from all levels to share ideas and explore new innovations and might include some unexpected surprises! As with the other events, registration for the CESI Meet is also at www.lit.ie/ictedu

We look forward to seeing you there!

You can join the conversation on ICT in education on facebook and on twitter.