At the start of the afternoon session Bob invited Richard Buckley (left) from Central College Nottingham to give an impromptu presentation about the way he had been using a range of e learning tools to create some Functional Skills projects using themes and formats that were likely appeal to many of the young adult learners he supports. Richard had attended the summer event at Cambridge Regional College last June which he said had introduced him to a new range of content creation tools and websites that he had really enjoyed exploring. In light of his enthusiasm for using digital technology he had been asked to take a lead role in promoting the use of ‘edtech’ in his department. As Richard works outside of the eastern region, he had not been able to attend the autumn and spring network events but had stayed in touch with us through the Edmodo group. We were therefore especially delighted therefore to welcome Richard back to the network.
Richard gave a quick glimpse of two projects that he was in the process of developing and which he had presented in the new Shelf format now available for users of Padlet. They were based on topics that he knew would be of high interest to his Functional English learners: Zombies and Superheroes. One project was called Strain Z: English Skills in a Zombie Apocalypse –
and the other project involved learners in creating a Superhero – Hero4Hire
Whilst these projects were still only in draft format, Richard highlighted the different types of resources they contain and the skills that the activities are designed to develop. He also noted some of the digital tools he was using to create the various tasks –
- Google forms – self assessment questionnaires
- Dvolver – animated videos
- Thinglink – interactive image-based resources
- Vibby – video clips
- QR codes – access to audio files
The projects aim to provide learners with the opportunity to revise a wide range of maths and English skills including those they often find challenging e.g. report writing, identifying bias, using ratio and scale drawings. Richard generously offered to forward links to the projects when they were completed. Bob complimented Richard on the imaginative ways he had designed the projects, using authentic looking formats, language and detail that are typical of the film and magazine coverage associated with these genres. Richard was warmly applauded for his excellent (and unplanned!) presentation.
Bob then led a session about using digital technology in developing learners’ use of language devices and as a starting point for the discussion he shared some activities based on the text used on a paper napkin from Pret a Manger store which he had developed a year or so ago but had re-used again recently with some teachers and their learners with some success. He explained that whilst such texts may be simple and short they can, for that very reason, be used to challenge learners to think critically about the implied messages they contain and the linguistic devices they illustrate. Such texts can be particularly useful if they reflect the social contexts of learners as they can serve to raise their awareness of how ‘language and power’ issues are at play in the world around them, even within innocuous looking texts like a paper napkin!
The presentation also included examples of the use of –
- Google forms
- Powerpoint-based quizzes
- Edpuzzle videos (created by Liam Alderton, East Coast College)
At the end of the afternoon the group discussed the online questionnaire that we will be using to capture some examples of the impact of our network activities in the course of the last year.