…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.
Slide 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).
Don’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.
Let’s take the specific example of Mario Kart Wii
For 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.
Us 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.
It 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!
You 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…
Yeats 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.
We 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!
Despite 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.
Where 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.)
And a final quote that I included just because I love it. It has nothing to do with educational technology though:
I 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.