Digitally Outdoors

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On 4th April, I delivered a keynote presentation to Kirklees’ outdoor learning conference, “I’m a kid, get me out of here”. My presentation was entitled ‘Digitally Outdoors’.

Now, I am a passionate advocate for the use of technology to enhance learning and this could well be described as ‘my thing’. However, I have more than one ‘thing’ and therein is something of a problem. In the past, when I’ve been out and about evangelising about technology for learning, I have been met by those educators whose arms are crossed and whose brows are furrowed and who are clearly looking at me like some sort of harbinger of doom. I know what they’re thinking. They are thinking:
“Listen to you! Don’t you know how important *REAL* paint is? Don’t you know that children need to *talk* to other *real* children? Don’t you know that children need to use paper and pens? *REAL* books? Listen to you with your talk of touch-screens and smart devices. Tut, tut tut – what has the world come to?”
I believe this thinking is unhelpful. I believe it is founded upon a polar, ‘either-or’ argument that does not reflect my educational philosophy. As I have said before, what we are after is a rich balance. Technology is a tool. So is a pencil, a book, paint, clay, a saw, a stick or a pebble. As educators, we have a range tools at our disposal to help maximise learning. Our job is to deploy tools in a way that we think fit in order to maximise learning potential, whether we’re talking about an ipad or a beach. This is how I started my keynote.

I owe so much to my network, to the wonderful, benevolent people I know both virtually and in real life. Many of the ideas in my presentation have come directly or indirectly via the following:
Vicki McCormick, Lou Bristow, Catherine Heppenstall, James Langley, Tim Rylands, David Mitchell, Alison Lydon and Juliet Robertson.

Here is a selection of slides with the stuff I waffled on about.
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Firstly, the camera. This is probably the single most useful, versatile and potential-laden digital tool in your toolbox. As a simple recording and reporting back device in the hands of pupils or adults, it has so much to offer!

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Get the kids to take close-up, ‘guess what’ pictures.

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…or find pictures of patterns.

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PicColllage is a great, free app that can aggregate images and combine them with some funky text for sharing or display. Get the kids out, sniffing around for interesting things with their cameras.

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…such as green things, red things, soft things, hard things. Why not get them to make collages that we all have to guess what the theme is. Things beginning with ‘P’? Natural things?

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Geocaching is an engaging way to involve people in focussed, motivating, learning activity. You can create your own treasure hunt using either GPS devices or (I gather) any device equipped with the Geocaching app.

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Create your own geocaches to secret around your school grounds. Pop some interesting, topic-themed clues and goodies into them and away you go!

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Runkeeper. Tim Rylands provided me with some wonderful slides. Thanks Tim!

Runkeeper is an app designed to track your activity, whether it is a run, a bike ride, a downhill ski or a walk. It tracks and records your location, route, average pace etc and presents the information in some lovely graphs and maps on the Runkeeper website. This gives us some real potential for learning activities, particularly in Maths. Tim had asked a group of children to use the app to see if they could ‘map’ an equilateral triangle on the school field. This one idea, leaves my mind boggling at all the further possibilities for geometry, let alone what else could be done with an app such as this. (Post script: Matthew Pearson has since directed me to these amazing examples of cyclist-produced ‘drawings’.)
wally_1_detail_em

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QR (Quick Response) codes are another possible source of a ‘hunter-gatherer’ activity. They can be created easily; either via an app that reads the codes (such as QR reader) or via a website such as Kaywa. Codes can be created to link to text, or weblinks or even other files. A handy work-around for linking to *any* file is to store a file (video, image, document) in a cloud location such as Dropbox and then link the QR code to the online (Dropbox) file.

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We have a new subject in the National Curriculum called Computing. Now, you might think that this means we need lots of kids sitting at computers, computing away like mad. In reality, there are loads of opportunities for analogue or ‘unplugged’ computing that can be done outdoors. I showed this video clip from the wonderful CS Unplugged people by way of illustration.

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I’m sure that GPS trackers were never invented  with education in mind. These devices can record their exact location and movement across the earth’s surface and provide said movements on an online map whilst also coming equipped with a useful magnet for attachment to the bottom of, say, a car. Suspicious spouses or private Investigators may be the intended market, but there are some excellent educational possibilities for such a device.

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David Mitchell told me that he’d hidden one inside the Barnaby Bear teddy and set it off roaming the world in the hands of his pupils, only to review the journey later on an online map. Brilliant!

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Why not bring the outdoors indoors? With these couple of tools (Ambient Mixer and Sound Sleeping), you can instantly create wonderful soundscapes to evoke amazing atmospheres. What a great stimulus for language and discussion. Just close your eyes. There is also an app.

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Get yourself a cheap helmet cam and strap it to a welly, or a belt, or round a head. Go for a walk and then watch it back. How do the points of view differ? What was it like to be sitting on a welly splashing through the puddles and mud!?

Slide23 I wanted to anticipate a couple of questions, but these actually arose early in my presentation. The biggy was about connectivity. Many of the ideas I’d talked about depended upon some sort of data connection to a device and, outside of school buildings, this can be a challenge. One thing that occurred to me was the possibility of teachers setting up their own (pocket-based) mobile phone hotspots using their 3G data. When I discussed this on Twitter, a few people came back saying, variously, that it could work, has worked for them but is dependent upon good phone signals, plenty of mobile data and battery life. More highly recommended were Mifi solutions.

So educational technology is definitely my ‘thing’ but one of my other ‘things’ is the outdoors, and where analogue and digital meet is where you can often find me.

If you have any ideas that you would like to add, I’d love to hear from you!

Dance like a wave of the sea…

…What WB Yeats has to say about technology in the classroom

I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak at the CESI Conference at GMIT in Galway. With my roots in Sligo and my heart in educational technology, I decided that I would combine a couple of interests. My thinking was prompted a little by an idea I originally came across with John Davitt’s Learning Event Generator. Juxtaposing a couple of disparate ideas can really provoke the creative juices and I found the process of preparing my presentation challenging, stimulating and rewarding in equal measure.

I decided to scour Yeats’ work and glean any lines/quotations that might apply to some messages I could share about education technology. I found 10 good ones but kept a few back just in case.

There follows my slides with a brief explanation of the message I delivered alongside them.

Slide01Slide 1: The image is a GIF I created using the ‘Vintage TV’ option on the excellent ‘generator’ website, Photofunia I also include my name in the Google font (Google font generator) as a clue to how to pronounce my name (rhymes with Google).

Slide02Don’t dive in and use technologies without thought. Plan and consider carefully how you might squeeze the best out of the technologies in question. As Tim Rylands would say, ‘take your time’. This applies particularly to the use of computer games in the classroom.

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Let’s take the specific example of Mario Kart Wii

Slide04For this slide, I used another generator. I made the point that the game itself is merely the stimulus, the hook from which huge amounts of learning can be hung. I drew upon the work of many ‘giants’ of games-based learning upon whose shoulders I stand: Derek Robertson (the ‘Daddy’ of GBL), Dawn Hallybone (post), Bill Lord (post) to name a few. The game is the distilled droplet of wonderfulness, tread softly with it and use it wisely. A single race in Mariokart might be all you need to stimulate a mass of activities from designing and making Karts to averages (lap-times) in Maths.

Slide05Us oldies may have senses that have been dulled somewhat by age. Young folks have senses that are sharp as knives. We must hand the lead to them sometimes so that they can use those sharper senses to perceive the magic that we may never have thought of. Like clay, paint and musical instruments, we all need an opportunity to just play and explore and perhaps discover the magic that is patiently waiting to be perceived. Let the pupils take control of the learning more often and watch them find the magic.

Slide06It would have been remiss of me to not include Yeats’ most famous (at least in educational circles) words. Here we see some fires being lit by technology – the result of a video trailer produced by the imovie app. The unbridled joy that technology-enhanced learning experiences can produce is plain to see. Let’s light fires and not fill buckets!

Slide07You could wait for ever for the perfect device. “I’ll not buy that tablet just yet because a better, faster, more capacious model is due out imminently.” No, let’s strike now and warm up the iron with wonderful experiences. Get stuck in, be brave, go out and do something! However, remember to also tread softly…

Slide08Yeats was clearly a fan of social media and realised the value of a network of benevolent, like-minded professionals. Friends (many, as yet, unmet) who are willing to share a great idea, advise and encourage others and engage in professional discussions. Twitter is just such a place for educators, populated with many friends you have not met yet.

Slide09We are truly blest by the simply astonishing time in which we live and work. Never have we had so many exciting tools for learning at our fingertips. We should rejoice at the possibilities that are presented and, if you like, laugh and sing!

Slide10Despite his passion for technology in education, Yeats also reminds us with a cautionary line or two that there are also some esafety considerations that should never be far from our minds and that, despite the wonder, there is also the possibility of encounters with ‘webs of sorrow’ when using technologies. Take every opportunity to deliver esafety messages whenever pupils are using small (or large) slate-coloured (or otherwise) things.

Slide11Where should we turn for leadership? From whence will our inspiration come? Who will plot our course? The image is from the previous evening’s Teachmeet and for me, illustrates that we are all captains, and the lead comes from no one person but of the collective, shared guidance and ideas that come through sessions like Teachmeets. Let’s inspire each other and plot the course ourselves. (Thanks to @clerktogovernor for sharing this particular quotation with me.)

Slide12So rejoice, enjoy! Let the learning be buoyant, exciting and fun!

And a final quote that I included just because I love it. It has nothing to do with educational technology though:

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Slide14I believe in ‘the incredible expanding presentation’ so, had a slide ready in the event of an early finish. With the following, final slide I challenged attendees to undertake the same exercise that I had: to spend some time considering the following quotes and seeing how they might apply to approaches to educational technology. Delegates did not let me down, some great ideas were shared.

Slide15Go on! Why don’t you do the same? Leave a comment if you are suddenly struck with creativity! I’d love to hear your idea!

Front to back?

photoI had an email from a school recently. I thought I would record my response here as it illustrates my thinking on an approach schools seem to sometimes take to technology purchases generally and ipads in particular.
The school said they were looking into purchasing some IPads for students within school and were wondering if I could offer any advice or point them in the right direction.

They were seeking answers to three specific questions at this point:

  • What IPads are being used for and how they can enhance learning?
  • Which model IPad is the most popular within other schools?
  • Are other schools using Macbooks for synching/updating etc?

I replied as follows:

I am sure you appreciate that these are *big* questions that you are asking and perhaps not the easiest to answer in an email. Having said that, I’ll do my best.

What IPads are being used for and how they can enhance learning?

This is *huge*. Where do I start? Really the question could be asked more broadly about ‘technology’ and the answer would be wide and complex. In a way, it would be helpful for the school to undertake some visioning of how they want technology to integrate and support the learning experience and then consider whether ipads might be part of this. Many schools mistakenly start their thinking with the device and then on to how it might support learning. In some ways this is the wrong way round. I have a little further reading on ios considerations and deployments in school here: http://bitly.com/bundles/dughall/k but this is merely a drop in the ocean.

Which model IPad is the most popular within other schools?

Again, I wonder if this question is coming from thinking that is the right way round. What is it you want to achieve? Then ask which device will best suit the vision. Why ipad? Why not an alternative tablet? Why not Android? Windows 8? Why not netbooks? Laptops? Ipods? Why not a mixture? Again, ask yourselves: 1. What do you want to do? and then 2. What will help you do it?

Are other schools using Macbooks for synching/updating etc?

Yes. Or an iMac. There is no doubt that the deployment of large numbers of ios devices is greatly helped by having a MacOS PC (laptop or desktop).

It does worry me that some schools seem to be getting their thinking a bit ‘back to front’. Of course, for large purchases, it would be appropriate for for school governors to ask a question that I always find helpful: “What was the thinking behind this decision?” and the associated: “What alternatives were considered?” and “Does this represent the best value for money?”

 

BETTophobia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t like IKEA. I’ll tell you why. It is because of what I call ‘IKEA Fear’. The symptoms of IKEA Fear are a mounting sense of disquiet that commences the minute I pass through the large revolving doors. This disquiet worsens progressively as I meander first through immaculate living rooms, on through offices, bedrooms and kitchens until it becomes something visceral within my chest and stomach, usually around the time I reach the carpet, curtains and cushions – urging me to run screaming from the building clutching at my hair.

I have contemplated this feeling and the possible reasons for it. I have a theory based upon nothing other than my own tenuous guesses. I think my problem may possibly be similar to conditions such as agoraphobia or claustrophobia, and here are a couple of exacerbating factors:
• There is a disorientating absence of any reference to the outside world. If you are lucky, you might glimpse a rectangle of far-off, semi-industrial car-park through a distant fire door (the location of which is noted in the event of a panic-induced exit in due course).
• There is a disturbing juxtaposing of comfy, soft, homely environments in which you can sit and imagine oneself in the bosom of family relaxing after or during a meal… until you look up and witness the horrific, industrial tangle of ducting and steel. I don’t mind telling you that this contrast messes with my head.

Now, on to the BETT Show 2013. This year, it relocated from Olympia to Excel- a move I welcomed initially as it certainly improved accessibility for me. This welcome feeling was short-lived. On arrival at Excel, I attempted to feel upbeat and optimistic but that familiar disquiet, the IKEA Fear, started to creep up on me. I apologise to those friends of mine whom I encountered on that first morning, my brow knitted and jaw slightly tensed. I put on a brave face and greeted you enthusiastically but I wasn’t quite myself. Walking the (seemingly) mile-long boulevards, snickets and ginnels of the exhibition space, my anxiety mounted until I had to make a swift exit. David Mitchell and Julia Skinner were fortunately on hand to scoop me up as I composed myself over some lunch with them.
I struggled throughout the two and a bit days at the show. My misery was mitigated only by the wonderful encounters I had with lovely people. The social, the teachmeet, the laughs and the learning mean that I won’t be boycotting in future. I will take the rough with the smooth.

I miss Olympia. I miss the quirkiness, the characterful architecture, the nooks and crannies, the expanse of sky spread out above. I also miss the opportunities for out-of-body elevations to the balcony for welcome, reorienting breathers during which one could see the layout, establish the landmarks or spot a friend to pursue.

Oh, and I didn’t even see anything especially exciting or innovative in those long corridors of anxiety. Next year, I will dedicate myself to establishing quick exit routes whilst also seeking out people – after all, it is them that make a visit to BETT worthwhile.

3D Printing

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may remember I’m involved in a primary school 3D printing project. We have come some way with this recently. We held a competition for schools to submit ‘Dragons’ Den’ pitches to have a printer located at their school. We have decided upon a printer, the Bits from Bytes ‘3D Touch’ and had it delivered to the winning school – Birkenshaw Primary School.

On 9th July, we had an afternoon at the school working with some Year 4 children. We were lucky to be joined by a key member of our project team, Dejan Mitrovic from the Royal College of Art. Dejan is a design specialist who also has considerable experience and expertise in the use of 3D Printing. He is responsible for Kide™ and Kideville ™, concepts that have led to young people engaging with 3D printing in exciting and innovative ways through hands-on approaches in a variety of contexts, from exhibitions at galleries (such as the V&A) and trade-fairs to primary school classrooms.

 

 

Dejan came to Birkenshaw with a well-structured, punchy afternoon of activity for the children to get stuck into. Recognising the need for learning to be relevant, he themed the afternoon around the design of a (Olympic) stadium. Initially Dejan talked about form and function and shared numerous examples of stadia from around the world. He then introduced a paper-based activity in which the children were asked to design their own stadium (in pairs). They were asked to do ‘front’, ‘side’ and ‘top’ views of their stadium as well as having a go at a 3D view. It was fascinating to see the children’s differing approaches and the diversity in creativity and technical ability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We then moved to computer-based design and the children were introduced to 3Dtin  – browser-based 3D design software. I love 3Dtin. It is intuitive and straightforward and children could get going straight away (it also has an interesting ‘social’ element). Having said that, they did experience varying degrees of success with regards to producing a finished design for a stadium. I think this was essentially down to time – there simply wasn’t long enough for them to tackle some new software and apply that to the project.

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As with any unfamiliar medium – whether it is clay, paint, a musical instrument or software, I am a real advocate of allowing space to ‘play and learn’ before applying that knowledge in context. Despite this, a number of children did produce designs suitable for printing. A quick vote decided a winning design to be ‘printed’ there and then.

The 3Dtin software allows for files to be exported in a format (STL) that can be understood by the printer and so it is a relatively simple process (via a USB memory stick) to get a file printing (an object emerges incrementally through the extrusion of a line of 0.25mm molten plastic). The printing process itself is mesmerising and children and adults alike find the emergence of an object a hypnotic experience.

The end result was a great little ‘stadium’.

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A trip to remember

Any visit to a school is always a thoroughly enriching experience. However, my visit to Porchester Junior School in Nottingham this week exceeded my every expectation.

I have been a fan of Simon Widdowson (@xannov) and his work for some time now, so when a teacher colleague (Jenn Lucraft) asked me a couple of months ago if I knew of any primary schools doing anything interesting with mobile technologies (particularly ipads) or ICT generally, I thought immediately of Porchester. A visit would be a good opportunity to see first hand some of the things I’d only previously read about on Simon’s blog.

The day had been carefully planned by Simon and Headteacher, Graham Cullen to ensure that Jenn and I got the most from the experience. This meant that we had opportunities to spend time with Simon, Graham, staff (over a wonderful lunch) and with some incredible pupils.

The school has a technology 'museum'.

We began the day with Graham. I know from my own experience in school and from the many schools that I work with that one of the most important factors influencing a schools sustained success in moving forward, innovating and integrating ICT into learning is the support and vision of school leadership. Graham has only been at Porchester for a matter of weeks but I was certainly persuaded of his commitment to supporting Simon and his vision to keep Porchester at the leading edge in the use of technologies for learning.

 

 

From Graham, we moved to an ICT suite (Windows laptops) where Simon was working with a group of upper Key Stage 2 children who were using Scratch for the first time. The children were learning independently. I say ‘independently’; they were working from Youtube tutorials (on the school’s Youtube channel) on the fundamentals of Scratch but they were also collaborating and helping each other. This was great learning. Simon was an essential part of the process but, rather than run a ‘Blue Peter’ lesson from the front with step-by-step instructions to be followed in a linear way by pupils, he handed the learning to them, to work at their own pace and he acted as a facilitator, intervening expertly to move learning on when necessary. I loved speaking to these enthusiastic youngsters about the activity and asked at one point “What do you reckon to Scratch?” I was met with the answer “I prefer it to Kodu but I reckon my favourite is 2Simple, 2DIY.” The assertion was backed up by reference to software features that demonstrated a deep understanding on the part of the pupil. Impressive stuff so far!

 

Following this session, we had Simon to ourselves. These times when we were able to get Simon alone were brilliant. He shared his subject leader folder but, as is often the way, we would start discussing a topic only to find that we rapidly flew off, excitedly down a different path. We covered policy, planning, strategy, technical issues – everything an effective subject leader has a handle on. Simon has found that over time his planning has evolved into something less ‘wordy’. This is natural but also belies the fact that he builds in flexibility and responsiveness. He doesn’t want to be a slave to planning and cited the example of his discovery of the ‘Aurasma’ augmented reality app as a time when planning went out of the window in order to pursue an exciting new technology (more here).  The same was true for Epic Citadel and Silent Movie Maker.

All the stand-alone ICT lessons are led by Simon and, although this is something I worry about, it seems a very effective model at Porchester. He is timetabled to teach ICT but also gets into classrooms and will work with staff to get ICT embedded in cross-curricular learning. Conversations had with staff over lunch testified to the effectiveness of this way of working with teachers citing greater confidence and willingness to use technologies in the classrooms. The school website/blog has become a powerful hub, serving as a record of learning and a vehicle for demonstrating the school’s vision and ethos. Note the site has links to the school’s social media/media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Flickr Amazon wishlist etc)

And so into a classroom. Anne Ingle (Y6 teacher) was kind enough to allow us the privilege of visiting her class whilst they used ipads to ‘write’ their ‘Hare and Tortoise’ stories. It was fascinating to see the pupils working on ipads. They had one between two and were enjoying some really collaborative learning. I was keen to know what the pupils thought the ipad brought to the party and there was certainly an infectious enthusiasm for the technology. “It is really fun!” “They’re better than laptops because they’re just easier to use.” Now, if I’m honest, I could imagine the lesson being equally effective with paper and pencil or laptops and I have no doubt Anne has such lessons because she has the conditions right for learning. What the ipad seemed to bring was a simple, fast tool with an app that made the task easy and rewarding – they were able to quickly produce a professional looking story with text and images with consummate ease. Another thing that impressed me was how everything just ‘worked’ – I have first hand, bitter experience of flying around classrooms trouble-shooting troublesome technology. I know that Simon has worked tirelessly to ensure technical issues are minimized and that what we saw isn’t always the case, however. Impressive stuff again!
I was especially interested in how the lesson concluded. What would the pupils do with their finished projects? What schools ‘do’ with pupil work is an endless source of fascination for me. Save it locally? On the device? How? Save it to a school-based server? How? Where, exactly? Upload it to an online space? How? Share it on a blog? How? Etc. There are some excellent systems in place at Porchester and I was impressed to see some pupils emailing their (PDF) projects to themselves from the ipad in readiness to then upload them to their ‘Learning Space’ (basically a privatized blog). These learning spaces are ‘hidden’ blogs that can then be accessed by staff and staff can also ‘reblog’ or publicise examples of work very simply to the school website. This was seamless and there were identified ‘experts’ in Anne’s class who were able to help others with the process if necessary. Again, this worked well on the day but I’m sure takes some time getting it right and getting the technology to support it. Further, the vagaries of different apps means that output may be easier or harder to save or share, presenting new and different technical challenges. This whole thing is something I’d really like to see getting sorted somehow. There is currently just too much fiddling/faffing about between activity and sharing/saving work. Not the fault of the school but definitely irksome.

After this, we had some more time with Simon. We learned that if you are going to deploy ipads in school, you will probably want to have a Mac or Macbook to help things along such as synching apps and galleries (one way pupils effectively record work is by snap-shotting stuff to the device’s gallery).

I certainly think that schools should consider ipads as an additional device that will bring new and unique learning opportunities to pupils. As Simon said ‘We bought them for research but we are still finding new ways of using them”

My head is still buzzing. Porchester are certainly leading the way in primary ICT and, thanks to the vision, leadership and passion of Simon, they will surely remain at the forefront.

Thank you to Simon, Graham, Anne, staff and those wonderful pupils for an unforgettable and inspiring day!

Keeping the baby in the bath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been spurred into action based upon a few coinciding events and conversations.

I had a discussion recently with an early years specialist for whom I have enormous respect. The discussion arose from her asserting that she advised early educators to avoid the introduction of technologies such as computers, ipods, ipads and the like until children were the age of two.

She was keen to point out the importance of ‘real-world’ play, exploration and learning. She described the urgent need for youngsters to learn through handling artefacts and objects, getting their hands dirty and getting outside. She was almost apologetic when she started putting her case to me (I’ve come across this before). I think that sometimes people think that because I am an advocate for technology that somehow any argument put forward for other routes to learning will be met with my disapproval or condemnation. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe in youngsters having as rich an experience of the world as it is possible to provide. This experience must reflect the way the world is. It must include opportunities to explore the full gamut.

Regarding this, there is a problem, well two problems really. Firstly, there is a problem of imbalance and secondly a problem with a failure to ask two important questions ‘So what?’ and ‘Where’s the learning?’

Let’s look first at balance. If a child’s only creative experiences were in the use of paint, they would be missing out on some pretty essential and significant other experiences such as clay, play-dough, coloured pens, pencils, crayons etc. This imbalance would be wrong and would need addressing. Would we ‘blame’ paint for this? Would we suggest that the appropriate age for the introduction of paint should be 2 years old? If there is an overuse of technology in a child’s early experience that is to the detriment of the child’s whole development, does it follow that the technology is bad or that its introduction should be delayed? I would argue not and that to delay its introduction would be equally damaging (in terms of imbalance). There may be some research or scientific evidence to suggest that infants and babies being exposed to technologies such as computers and ipads is detrimental to their eyesight and/or health  - I would be very interested to see examples of such research if anyone can point me towards it. (UPDATE: Since publishing, I have been directed to this article - My response is that most of the arguments used against screens could apply equally to books and would we really argue that infants should be deprived of books until the age of 2? ).

Interestingly, the following video clip was cited as exemplifying the problem of introducing technology too early.

To me, it exemplifies the importance of providing a rich balance of experiences. I would extend this to the over exposure to plastic, wood, primary colours and so on. I’ll say it again – Rich. Balance.

I would also add that it also highlights the importance of cooperative/collaborative engagement with technology (whether that technology is a book, magazine or an ipad). By this I refer to the power of an adult sitting down with a youngster and engaging with them and the technology together. Technology should never be a baby-sitter. See here:

This leads me to the second problem and this is linked to the seduction by ‘machines that go ping’ (more on this here on Pete Yeoman’s blog and here on Mark Gleeson’s ). For too many, technology in various forms is seen as a magic bullet. Let’s sit the baby or toddler in front of the TV, computer, ipad (whatever) cos they’ll inevitable learn loads by osmosis. Let’s buy a shedload of shiny stuff cos it’ll impress people and just look at how engaged the kids are! Let’s get some games consoles in class cos it’ll make learning fun. Please people, constantly ask yourselves these two questions: “Where’s the learning?” and “So what?”

The problem does not lie with the technology. It is in its use. It is not the tool… (heard that somewhere before?).