Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A New Mindset with Technology in the Classroom using @LumensLadibug @ICTEvangelist

Last evening I had my first Statistics class with a new group of Higher Diploma in Data Analytics students. The class was held in one of our labs which was not really designed for teaching. It is a long narrow lab with the lectern at one end - it is the only class I have to used a microphone in. We have in addition to a large screen at the front, two TV monitors near the back and a large screen at the side. While awkward for some students, most can easily see slides and activities I might be doing on screen. I tend to use a whiteboard a lot in classrooms (turning off the screen as I do so) which means that everybody in the class has to look to the top of the classroom to see what I am writing. A new rule for labs introduced this year is that students are not allowed to lay their monitors down flat on the desk - this means views of the whiteboard at the front of the class are restricted. What to do?

Image source: Lumens.
Enter Ladibug!

Apparently we have had this technology available to us for a few years (I must have missed the memo). Thanks to the very helpful efforts of our IT Dept I got a training session yesterday before class to set Ladibug up and use it as part of my class. The idea is a simple one and is basically similar to the old style Overhead Projectors except it is connected to the computer. The gadget (see photo left) is made by Lumens and I have used it to project onto the screens what I write on the lectern with pen and paper. It took a little bit of getting used to the focus, but otherwise, my first class with this gadget was a success. I'm looking forward to getting more skilled with it over the next few weeks, and I also hope that it works OK for the students.

Using technology in the classroom is nothing new. In 1855, the abolitionist Samuel Joseph May wrote about the introduction of the blackboard to classrooms, being at his time the most modern instructional technology: the winter of 1813 & ’14, during my first College vacations, I attended a mathematical school kept in Boston by the Rev. Francis Xavier Brosius. On entering his room, we were struck at the appearance of an ample Black Board suspended on the wall, with lumps of chalk on a ledge below, and cloths hanging at either side. I had never heard of such a thing before. There it was forty-two years ago that I first saw what now I trust is considered indispensable in every school the Black Board and there that I first witnessed the process of analytical and inductive teaching.

Today, Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist), writing in Education Evangelist graphically shows a Growth Mindset for Teachers when using Technology:

Image source: Education Evangelist.
I like Anderson's mindset that "Our kids and those we work with, have a right to access learning in all manner of different ways, including with technology" and that when "it comes to using technology, a significant number of teachers can have a bit of a mental block". The Growth Mindset for Teachers asks questions for educators ranging from "Will it [technology] impact learning" to "Have you tried Google". We still work in an arena where lecturers stand at the top of a class and students sit at a desk trying to absorb and understand what the lecturer is saying. While most are nowadays comfortable with the likes of PowerPoint and Moodle - many of us need to embrace more technologies to enhance our teaching practice and mindset. I have used YouTube a lot for my classes over the past few years, but I have not really developed beyond the short "How To..." style videos. Mark Anderson's diagram above is inspirational in that it tells us that it is OK to use the likes of Google, Twitter, and YouTube in our classes, and to go on and develop a new mindset embracing technology.

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