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Information Communication Technology and its impact on learning

case study by Catherine Meacher chosen for the BPRS section of UK government website http://www.Teachernet.gov.uk

 

 

Researcher: Catherine Meacher
Date of research: Academic year, 2002 - 2003
School address: The John Bentley School, Calne, Wiltshire


Secondary school


Background

I have taught French and German at the John Bentley School in Calne now for 6 years. I have been responsible for Information Communications Technology (ICT) for 5 of those years. John Bentley School became a Language College in 2000. One of the strands of Language College work is with the University of Bath and in particular Sarah Fletcher in the School of Education who I chose to be my BPRS mentor.

I decided to focus my Best Practice Research Scholarship work on my Year 8 top set German as I knew that they would respond well to this project. I also wanted to have an impact on Key Stage 3 ICT results. I chose Powerpoint because it is not covered in the Key Stage 3 Strategy. It is also fun, colourful, attractive and brings a large degree of sophisication to students’ work. The most influential reason for choosing Powerpoint was, however, that it was a new skill for both myself and my Year 8 pupils. By developing my use of this programme alongside my pupils we could engage in a kind of co-enquiry that would bring about co-learning. It soon became evident to my pupils that Powerpoint though learnt in German is universally applicable to other subject areas. A highlight for me was to hear pupils say that they would be using Powerpoint more for different homework as well as in other lessons.

The main points that have helped my practice as a teacher are:
* Working closely with a mentor
* Learning alongside my pupils
* Reading pupil feedback and acting on it
* Sharing in the pupils’ enthusiasm and enjoyment
* Impacting on the whole school curriculum
* Developing my own Powerpoint skills and taking part in a learning loop – the pupils learning from me and vice versa

Context:

My BPRS work was an integral part of my teaching during the early part of this year, alternating between my classroom or the computer suite.
I launched my BPRS work in January 2002 with my own 4-slide Powerpoint presentation to my year 8s. At the launch, I handed out booklets on how to use Powerpoint and designed a pro forma of questions that the class would fill out at different stages for homework. A colleague videoed the session, which meant that I was able to start collecting evidence and observe the pupils reactions later amongst other things. I planned that the pupils should compile a 4-slide Powerpoint presentation in groups by the end of April. This would enable them to demonstrate what they had learnt. The content was a revision topic. Letters were sent to parents to introduce and encourage their involvement in the project.

In February, pupils presented their choice of topic to the class in order to develop a sense of shared responsibility and accountability. Pupils were encouraged to keep a diary to map their progress. After Easter, pupils commented on how Powerpoint was improving their language learning as well as designing questionnaires for their parents and fellow group members.
The highlight of the project was when the class showed off their presentations to other year 8 classes. This was a form of validation for the whole project – a way of showing off what they had learnt and testing our claims to have improved our learning together.

Nature of the Continuing Professional Development activity:

One of our Language College targets is to improve MFL exam results through the use of ICT. As MFL ICT co-ordinator, I was asked to investigate the impact of ICT on language learning.

My main aims were to:

* Help stimulate and support learning in the classroom
* Improve my teaching and learning via ICT
* Contribute to the growth of my school as a learning organisation
* Increase my well-being as a teacher by enabling me to live out my values
* Integrate the practitioner and the more traditional forms of research
* Disseminate my findings via multimedia and web technology
* Establish how students feel about ICT and the impact that they feel that is has on their learning and plan accordingly
* Identify and spread good practice in teaching and learning.

At the beginning of the 2002-3 academic year, I was asked to improve the ICT competence of my MFL colleagues. At the same time, the school ICT co-ordinator asked all members of the school ICT management to consider which ICT skills could be integrated into our Scheme of Works. Having established that Powerpoint was not covered anywhere on the Key Stage 3 curriculum and as a direct result of my BPRS work, I had no hesitation but to suggest that the Languages Department introduced Powerpoint to their Scheme of Work. I led Powerpoint INSET for MFL teachers and we agreed that all pupils would create a Powerpoint presentation before Christmas.

Resource needs and implications:

1. It has allowed me to spend mentor sessions with Sarah Fletcher.
2. Other money allowed me to purchase a couple of books by Jean McNiff regarding action research.
3. BPRS money has paid for me to attend a course called “Using ICT in Key Stage 3 and 4 to best effect”. I learnt more about the potential of Powerpoint in the classroom.
4. Thirdly, my BPRS money has paid for me to do an MA unit.
5. Finally, BPRS has enabled me to learn how to disseminate my work via multimedia and web technology via my own website. This will contain my BPRS summary, photos, links to

Powerpoint presentations, evaluation forms and an article that Sarah Fletcher and I wrote on mentoring in action research for the Wiltshire Journal of Education. My work will now reach a far wider audience!

Outcome of the project

* Improved students ICT skills
* Established the differences that ICT has on learning
* Determined the impact that ICT has on learning that would no be possible otherwise
* Provided evidence that we are consistently working towards our Language College target
* Established effective strategies for using ICT in the classroom
* Contributed to both departmental ICT and school ICT policies
* Kept an autobiographical account and revealed my professional values and commitment to my pupils
* Made creative use of a variety of media for analysis and sharing of work in progress
* Enhanced the MFL curriculum through the Scheme of Work
* Became familiar with relevant research and methodology
* Worked closely with Sarah Fletcher at the University of Bath and started to work towards my MA in Education
* Shared my findings with the school and improved myself as well as teaching and learning in schools

Further reading

* My website
* The Teacher Research Network website
* You and your Action Research Project (2002) by Jean McNiff
* Action Research: Principles and Practice (1989) by Jean McNiff
* Wiltshire Journal of Education accessible at www.teacherresearch.net

Challenges

* Planning the route through teacher research and narrowing the foci of my work
* Receiving reassurance from my mentor that my research was an integral part of my teaching as well as quashing any concerns that I had regarding my ability to be a teacher researcher
* Considering my own professional values with my mentor as well as whether I was being the teacher that I wanted to be
* Presenting my work to different audiences as a form of validation via Powerpoint which I learnt alongside my class
* Learning to create and manage a website

Transferability

* Colleagues should be encouraged to undertake enquiries of the kind How can I improve my Teaching and my Pupils’ learning?
* I look forward to sharing my action research enquiries with like minded teachers through the Bath University Teacher Research Network

Summary:

Lessons learned:

* Action research provides teachers with the rare opportunity of reflection upon their professional values
* BPRS funding provides the financial security to explore an area of interest
* BPRS has provided me the opportunity to impact upon the whole school environment as well as other schools, teachers and the whole world via the web.

What’s next:

* Educational Enquiry for accreditation at Master’s level at the University of Bath
* A bid for further BPRS funding – no least at level 3 to enable me to disseminate my research at regional and national conferences like British Educational Research Association
* Further involvement in supporting the growth action research in Wiltshire schools
* Extend my own use of Powerpoint to improve me teaching in my lessons
* The opportunity to assist colleagues who are undertaking enquiries of the kind How can I improve my Teaching and my Pupils’ learning? as a research mentor.

and finally?

Catherine successfully presented her work at a major national conference in June 2003 (at the British Educational Communications Technology Agency) Congratulations!

 

 

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