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Moving on from ICT

Simon Moyle looks at how to use technology to teach other core subjects

Posted by Stephanie Broad | June 01, 2016 | Technology

Over the past few years, we’ve seen technology shift from being a subject in and of itself (think back to the days of ICT and IT studies), to having technology sit at the heart of the school curriculum. As schools adapt to an increasingly digital world and to increasingly digitally native pupils, technology is quickly becoming an intrinsic part of children’s learning from a very early age. And today, there is a vast array of devices, tools and apps available to teachers to bring various subjects to life for pupils. Here are some of our favourites. 

Maths

Maths has historically been a challenging subject for the non maths-minded. It’s not an easy topic for creative students to visualise, and there’s frustration at it being so cerebral. But, thanks to recent, innovative technology developments, these lessons are becoming much more engaging.

Augmented reality for instance is helping to make refraction more exciting. Companies in the AR space are now digitising textbooks to allow pupils to point their smartphones at the flat page and for example type in coordinates for a 2D ship to steer around a 2D island. These are then rendered in 3D and the ship – angles permitting – steers safely around the island; or crashes in a heap on a beach. Such technology brings the experience to life and turns the smartphone into a force for good.

Tablet and smartphone apps are also helping pupils develop a deeper understanding of key mathematics areas. For example, Number Pieces helps pupils work with place value while building their computation skills with multi-digit numbers. Students use the number pieces to represent multi-digit numbers, regroup, add, subtract, multiply, and divide. 

Writing and literacy

Writing and literacy is typically associated with traditional teaching tools such as textbooks. However, there is an infinite number of helpful online tools to help pupils get the most out of these topics. 

For example, word clouds, such as Wordle, allow teachers and pupils to feed in text online in order to create an image based on the words used, giving greater prominence to the most frequently used words. These can be used in a variety of ways, such as to encourage children to broaden their vocabulary, or to ask students to write a story or poem based on certain words, or even to compare and contrast vocabulary used in different literature.  

Kidblog is another great online platform for pupils to work together on blogging and writing projects. It differs from general blogging tools because it has been specifically built for schools, and gives the teacher complete control over student blogs, eliminating any privacy or security issues. Each student can be given an individual blog so they can publish posts and participate in discussions within a classroom community. 

There are many ways blogs can be used in the classroom. Teachers can also set up a class magazine blog, encouraging pupils to work together to create the content, or they can introduce the concept of peer reviewing by suggesting pupils comment on their classmate’s blog, offering suggestions for improvements. 

Foreign languages

Many pupils, especially the less outspoken can shy away from learning languages, lacking confidence and not wanting to make mistakes. Luckily, technology is making language learning more manageable. 

Recording technology has proven to be especially useful for foreign language teachers. By asking pupils to record themselves during oral lessons, teachers can help them improve both confidence and pronunciation in a fun and engaging way. 

Collaboration and individual learning

As well as making these various subjects more interesting, technology also has an important role to play in helping with both group and individual learning.

Collaboration amongst students has been shown in many studies to enhance concentration, and comprehension. Technology can encourage children to collaborate. SMART technology for instance is becoming increasingly popular in the classroom, across a variety of subjects. For example, the SMART Table learning center enables small groups to work together, face to face, to complete problem-solving and consensus-building activities on one interactive surface. 

Likewise, there are several apps and online games which can help pupils with individual learning, helping them to work at their own pace, and give them the extra practice time they may need on particular subjects.

Traditionally, technology wasn’t associated with non-related IT subjects, such as languages, literature or even maths. But the reality is that, when used correctly, technology can radically improve learning across all school subjects. The fast changing face of technology presents endless opportunities for teachers and pupils. 

Simon Moyle is Head of Business Solutions at PC World Business

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