The e-space

The e-space presents a unique learning environment that may be new to many teachers. Commonly people think of online learning as static and solitary. However, the introduction of technology, the internet and hand held devices, such as iPads and tablets, into the classroom has opened up new lines of communication and networking opportunities for both teachers and students.

The use of technology in the classroom has opened up teaching and learning opportunities that would ordinarily not be possible. Moreover, it has the potential to enhance those that already exist. Technology promotes collaboration, wether that be collaboration among peers in the group learning space within the classroom or with students from another school in a different country!

Many skeptics will argue that technology isolates students, forcing them to work one-on-one with a device. However, the majority of contemporary research argues that technology actually empowers students to be more creative and to connect more authentically with others as they are able to collaborate on areas that interest them and are able to do so on a global scale.

Creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, digital literacy and global awareness are also essential skills for the 21st century learner that are seamlessly integrated into a program that authentically utilises technology. For example I recently designed a unit of work using the software Scratch, a basic programming language tool designed as an educational platform to teach children how to code.

I would highly recommend listening to the TED talk by Mitch Resnick entitled ‘Let’s teach kids to code’.

Yet, like all learning spaces, challenges do present themselves. For teachers who are unfamiliar or do not feel confident using technology the abundance of resources, applications and uses fro technology within the classroom can be daunting to say the least. As a result, many teachers choose to stay in their comfort zone and completely ignore incorporating technology into their program. I don’t think I need to reiterate why this significantly disadvantages those students who are not educated with technology as a part of their daily lives. Teachers must learn to utilise technology to their advantage.

Students might face accessibility challenges in their use of technology. And I agree that a major downfall of technology is that it can be unpredictable. Having half the laptops in a class set not being able to log on to the network can be painstaking! (If you haven’t already guessed I am speaking from experience here). Yet teachers must be adaptable and flexible in their teaching with technology as in all other areas of teaching and learning within the classroom.

Another challenge faced by both teachers and students may be a lack of available resources. Many contemporary schools now have a 1:1 child to device ratio, however there are some schools who simply do not have these resources available to them. I want to stress that a 1:1 ratio is not a requirement for integrating the e-space into your classroom. As long as students have access to even 1 or 2 devices, shared across the class learning in the e-space is still possible. You as the teacher might just need to develop a crafty timetable of allocated time for device use for each individual student.

References

Murray, O., & Olcese, N. (2011). Teaching and Learning with iPads, ready or not? TechTrends, 55 (6), pp. 42-38.

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs [MCEETYA]. (2008). Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Melbourne, Victoria: MCEETYA

Mladenovic, M., Rosic, M., & Mladenovic, S. (2016). Comparing elementary students’ programming success based on programming environment. International Journal of Modern Education and Computer Science, 8(8), 1.

Resnick, M. (2012). Let’s teach kids to code. . Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/mitch_resnick_let_s_teach_kids_to_code

Falloon, G. (2016). An analysis of young students’ thinking when completing basic coding tasks using scratch jnr. on the iPad. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 32(6), 576-593

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