Investigating the use of apps

Rather than doing a survey, some of the primary schools decided to investigate with the students what were the most common apps that the class used and how might these apps relate to different curriculum areas. This raised questions for both the students and teachers of what constitutes learning in a subject area and what criteria might be generated to determine whether or not an app has educational value.

  • What are some of the common apps that you have on your electronic devices, and how might they be used for educational purposes?
  • In what ways might you be able to engage students in the type of curriculum mapping with resources within your classrooms?
  • What changes to curriculum areas can you potentially see from this discussion?
  • Are there other ways you might be able to use technology in the classroom to enhance and deepen learning?
  • What constitutes a ‘learning’ app?
  • What curriculum outcomes are students addressing by engaging in this type of work?

Bring Your Own Device Programs

A number of schools have a ‘Bring your own device’ program. The primary school teachers here discuss some of the parental concerns they have had around BYOD programs and issues of privacy, usage, and how this will be monitored by the school. While it was raised a number of times throughout the research project, these teachers discuss the difficulty of negotiating the boundaries between home and school usage and where the responsibility lies.

  • What are some ways schools and parent can negotiate the boundaries between home and school digital use?
  • How do you negotiate the boundaries of a device used in a BYOD program?

Identifying and dealing with issues

The issue of how to negotiate boundaries between home and school usage of digital technology was raised a number of times through out the research. The teachers in this clip discuss some of the problems they face when negotiating these boundaries and some potential ways forward, including areas of further investigation.

  • How much of what the teachers are discussing are problems or issues in your teaching contexts?
  • How much of the discussion is about prevention of problems rather than dealing with problems of digital technology use?
  • Perception of digital technology use is frequently raised (in this clip and others) as part of the issue. What are some of the common perceptions around technology use in your school? How accurate are these perceptions? What are some initiatives the school could implement to change some of these perceptions?
  • One of the ideas presented is that technology at school is for education and home it is for entertainment. Does this view or use of technology have merit?

Negotiating with Parents

In the clip below the teachers discuss the different ways they engage in conversations with parents around BYOD programs and the use of digital devices at school. The teachers discuss how the ways parents engage with technology influences these discussions. Questions are raised around how to approach parents and where are the boundaries between home and school responsibility.

  • What information is usually presented at your school’s ICT/BYOD information nigths?
  • What are some of the common concerns from your parents around students’ ICT/digital technology use?
  • What opportunities are there for dialogue between teachers and parents around different ICT/digital technology use?
  • What potential is there for information nights and other types of programs to allow for ongoing dialogue concerning students’ ICT/digital technology use?

 

Learning outside of school

Jake and John discuss some of the results of the survey they conducted, namely the ways in which students engage with technology. The discussion with students during the survey highlighted some discrepancies between what students and what teachers may view as educational.

  • How do your students use technology? For what purposes?
  • Can any of this digital technology use be perceived as use for educational purposes?
  • In what ways might we embed some of the students’ outside school digital practices into the classroom? What benefits are there to taking this approach?
  • Is it an issue that students do not necessarily perceive their use of technology at home as educational?
  • Is it an issue that the devices bought for a BYOD program are not being used at home as an educational tool?

Students as experts in curriculum

One of the ways that teachers approached their research of student digital practices was to involve the students in an inquiry unit exploring how everyday ‘non-education’ apps could be used in the classroom. In the clip below we see some primary school teachers discuss the inquiry unit and the ways students then identified, justified and began using these apps in the classroom. Also below are some examples of the student videos discussing the ways in which they saw the apps being used in the classroom and the curriculum areas the apps are relevant to.

  • What apps on your digital device might be useful as an educational tool? What curriculum areas does it address?
  • Are there some unusual or different ways of using these apps that you may have not initially thought of?
  • How might students use an app to represent their knowledge differently?
  • How might these apps be used to help differentiate the curriculum?

Student Presentations

Conducting surveys

Several of the groups of teachers decided to approach the research by surveying their students on digital technology at home. The following clip discusses some of the approaches to these surveys but also some of the results, including how many hours students use devices at home, what students are using technology for and the students’ perceptions of social media use. Some of the issues or complexities of conducting surveys are also discussed.

  • Did any of the results surprise you? Do you think if you were to survey your class you would end up with similar results?
  • How might you use some of these findings to inform school policies or curriculum practices?
  • In thinking about how students use digital technologies outside of the classroom, what are you curious about? What sort of questions might you ask your students?
  • How might the survey results influence your teaching?

 

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