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Using tech to grab information as we teach | An Enabling e-Learning event

girl on floor taking photoThere something about having a mobile phone that alters how you interact with the world.

Compared to the pre-smartphone era (back in the dayWink), for example, I take more photos, send more wee notes to people, jot down thoughts and generally NOTICE and RECORD more of what is going on around me than before.

This may say a lot about me (!). But it also says something about how mobile technology is a game-changer: we can deliberately grab what we see and capture it to be re-experienced at another time.


Do you insta-grab how students are learning?


Now, let’s throw in the idea of capturing information to improve what and how we teach, or for students to review and refine what they do. We talk quite a bit about ‘curating’ the evidence of learning e.g. e-portfolios, class blogs, wikis etc – but what about the step leading up to that?

Do you and your students photograph or video a process? Do you quickly interview students on the impact of an activity on them? Maybe you jot down something a student has said or review the growth of their writing in a collaborative space, like Google docs?

This story, from Mairehau Primary School (New Zealand Curriculum Online), may not foreground e-learning but it explores how they have become more focused on how they capture and use information to refine what and how they teach:

Screen shot - Mairehau Primary video


“And we very much believe that any evidence that we collect, any data, any assessment work, if it is not going to be used to improve teaching and learning and influence what is happening in the classroom then there really isn’t a great deal of point in collecting it" - Deputy Principal, Jenny Washington. 

What might this look like if we were to throw technologies into the conversation? How are you and your students insta-grabbing information about learning as you go?

[Image source: MACSD]


  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 11 Mar 2013 12:02pm ()

    image...and if you are interested, here are some other resources to browse over a coffee: 

    • Gathering evidence - an overview of what 'evidence' can look like and why you might gather it via Assessment Online on TKI

    A fantastic, detailed story of how one teacher refines what she teaches in response to data she captures using a blend of 'hi-tech' and 'low-tech' methods, by Hamish Chalmers (Albany Senior High) via ICTs in English:



  • Rowan Taigel (View all users posts) 14 Mar 2013 2:35pm ()

    Hi there,

    We were discussing this very subject in our BeL group today.  There are a few teachers who are already actively using the cameras on their ipads (newly acquired) to film students working, acting etc and playing the clips back to them to discuss ideas for improvement / feedback etc.  We'll try to keep you posted on how we're going (we're still a the early stages).

  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 15 Mar 2013 9:21am ()

    Ka pai, Rowan. Please DO keep us posted - would love to hear your stories, not only of how the information you are capturing feeds into discussions with students but, on another level, how it might also feed into the decisions you are all making about what to teach next:-) Thanks for sharing!

  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 18 Mar 2013 12:13pm ()

    Following on from this thread, here's a post from Hamish on last week's ICTs in English forum, which I am cross-posting here, with added headings/highlights:

    "A really interesting post from Karen Melhuish over on the VLN [above] got me thinking this week about how technology is reshaping our observation and collection of our students’ evidence of learning. Karen was particularly interested in how mobile technology is providing easier ways to capture thoughts and observations of the things around us. She points out how technology can also be used just as easily for collecting data and observations during authentic learning moments in class. 

    Giving feedback

    This made a lot of sense to me. In the flow of teaching, it’s important that we’re giving feedback to students to enable them to develop next steps. We often do this through summative assessment but may find that we’re a little limited by how much time we have divided by the number of students we’re teaching and the need to give face to face assistance, whether we’ve given some other kind of feedback or not. The ways of using technology Karen is suggesting has some rather interesting implications for how we give feedback, what this means for the more formalised form of feedback (summative assessment) and the ratio between the two.

    Using technology as part of 'feed forward'

    I don’t know about all of you but traditionally I’ve put quite a whack of time into constructing summative assessments to give students feedback on where to go next. While really rate combining this with more ‘on the spot’ feedback (usually verbal) I haven’t really considered how technology can be used to make this short-term feedback much more regular and useful for students.

    student workingImagine us and our learners using technology to video or record (in writing or verbally) some evidence of learning and then the following reflection. If we built these as technology ‘habits’ with a class, both us and the students could have a larger collection of evidence to look back on at a later date and consider whether the attached feedback had helped, how it impacted them and again, the next steps from there. This would be pretty awesome for student motivation from seeing their learning developing too.

    Sharing progress with family and whānau

    Research in recent years has highlighted again and again the need for ongoing communication with parents and whanau. Phone calls can be difficult to get right though, both in terms of timing and specificity. We’re having to describe things we’ve seen and this can often get so far removed from students’ actual learning artefacts that the usefulness for the students can be lost.

    Imagine sharing some evidence of learning (say a video of a student practicing a presentation) and the students’ subsequent reflection and perhaps even some feedback from other students and us in the form of comments. This could be in whichever form of social media the student decided to upload their artefact to. Helping the less tech-savy parents to see the benefits of this might take some time - only one lot of parents out of my tutor group of sixteen responded to a recent offer of sharing a google doc I’m using to track each students learning progress.

    The possibilities are massive and if we can get the students in the habit of doing the uploading and storing themselves, our time is freed up for what we’re good at - giving good feedback and next-steps. 

    A way forward?

    Building skills and habits around these kinds of approaches can take time though and the benefits might not show straight away. It might also pay to create some accessible tutorials to throw at the students after the usual bombard of questions after introducing a new ICT or activity in class. But there’s still time to start these things! It’s only half way through term one! Assuming we’re not all completely exhausted of course."

    Thanks for this, Hamish. Really appreciate your reflective approach on this one:-)

    Has anyone trialled any of these ideas already?

    [Image credit: CCAttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by debwilch; Original post source: 'More goodness on technology helping with feedback and reflection' - 15March2013]


  • Chrissie Butler (View all users posts) 18 Mar 2013 12:39pm ()

    The BLENNZ Learning Library completely grew out of this vision of capturing, documenting and sharing learning with a view to take a second look, review what was happening and look at options for what next. The onsharing of the footage was a huge part of the process. We looked at both how we could archive the stories to build our own professional knowledge bank, but also how to share the stories with parents and whānau in language that wasn't locked up in "teacher-speak".

    BLENNZ (the Blind and Low Vision Education Network, NZ) now has the beginnings of what we called an "Illustrated Curriculum".

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 02 Apr 2013 12:25pm ()

    Video is very powerful and the BLENNZ Learning Library is both inspirational and moving. Thank you for sharing Chrissie Smile.

     A couple of years back, Malvern ICT PD Cluster wrote a reflective summary on, Teaching as Inquiry - Goal setting and strategies where they used reflective video to show their teachers' journey into professional inquiry. 

    Camera lensI have also seen schools use video to capture teacher interventions with students. They did this to reflect on practice, as well as an opportunity to share progress with the students' parents. 

    A useful resource, World Language Education: Self Reflective Video talks about the power of using video in the classroom - to view professional practice from a new angle. It also provides a practical framework to work with. 

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