#mainedu: An update

Having just received the marks for Module 1: School-based Enquiry (Merit) and Module 3: Developing eLearning (Distinction) of the Masters in Education I am studying towards, I felt that it was time to post an update.

Module 1: School-based Enquiry

A long and thin module that began in September and finished in June, it afforded me the opportunity to conduct a detailed classroom-based investigation. I found writing the essay to be quite difficult. With far too much to say, I felt that the resulting essay was some what disjointed. As such I feel that the garde I achieved was more a reflection of that than the actual research that I conducted. Moreover, on reflection the focus I chose for the module was perhaps too broad.

Researching into the impact Google Docs can have on formative assessment was, however, thoroughly enjoyable. It has left me convinced that Google Docs is a perfect tool to develop meaningful AfL practices with students in the Secondary English and Media Studies classrooms. Furthermore, it added validation to a number of conclusions I had already begun to make.

While the grade I achieved does not measure up to the high standards I set in Module 2 or Module 3, this unit taught me more about how to conduct effective classroom-based research and collect data than either of the other two. I believe that this learning process will stand me in good stead as I begin the preparations towards my thesis later in the year.

You can read the assignment here: Does the collaborative functionality of Google Docs allow educators to better put formative assessment at the heart of their students’ learning?

Further information about the module is available here.

Module 3: Developing eLearning

This was (perhaps unsurprisingly) the most enjoyable module of the three I undertook. It certainly played to my strengths, exploring a significant amount of material that I was already well versed in. While this could have negatively impacted on my enjoyment, it actually resulted in providing me with an opportunity to debate and test ideas that I have held for some time.

Like Module 2: Assessment for Learning, this unit ended up being quite personal, giving me the opportunity to evaluate existing practices and to challenge myself to put my money where my mouth is – considering the real benefits of using technology in the classroom. I set my stall out to challenge myself to develop a ReLP that incorporated technologies, enhancing the learning/progress of my students.

The project incorporated iPads + Garageband, Moodle and Google Docs. Writing the essay was far easier, the process of reflection and evaluation in this case was more straightforward. Moreover, learning from the School-based Enquiry, I did a better job of collating and selecting evidence to analyse.

The assignment is available to read here: Design, construct and evaluate a re-usable learning object or process that fulfils a relevant curriculum objective and responds to the learning needs of your pupils. Include a commentary to provide context and explanation of the considerations that you took into account, including relevant points from the literature. References and appendices are here.

More information about the module is available here.

Should you wish to discuss any aspect of the research that I undertook in any of the Modules I have completed, please don’t hesitate to comment below. Alternatively, you can get in touch via email or Twitter.

Google Docs in the Classroom – A Discussion

To help clarify my thoughts while writing my School-based Enquiry, I decided it would be helpful to discuss the use of Google Docs in the classroom with a fellow teacher. Oliver Quinlan has been using Google Docs in much the same way as I have and he kindly agreed to be interviewed over Skype. The interview quickly turned into more of a discussion and we ended up talking for 35 minutes. I have broken up the recording into four parts for manageable listening however should you wish to download and listen to a single file, follow this link.

In the discussion we cover everything from collaboration, assessment, live marking, setting up, Google Apps, Moodle, wikis, forums and Google+.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Related posts:

#mainedu: One module down, two to go…

Having begun the MA in Education, promising to blog my learning journey, I have found that time has been at a premium and thus blog posts have been in short supply. With that in mind, I have squared away a moment or two to provide an update.

As tweeted out earlier last week, I have completed Module 2: Assessment for Learning, achieving a distinction. I subsequently tidied up the corresponding page on this blog to include a summary of the unit; the texts that influenced my understanding and impacted on my assignments; and also added links to both my 1000 word critique of Black and Wiliam’s: ‘Inside the Black Box’ and Action Research Assignment.

While I may be finished with the module, AfL remains an area of significant interest to me. Particularly, because of the way that I have been using Google Docs with my students. Moreover, this is the focus of my School Based Enquiry, for which I continue to collect data.

Based on the feedback I received from my Module 2 tutor, I am planning a trip to Oxford Brookes University Library over the half term break to expand my reading; there are some texts that look useful but I am struggling to find in PDF format online.

Module 3: Developing eLearning began earlier this month. This module will likely prove to be the most enjoyable of the three. As an area of education that I am significantly immersed in, I hope that it will afford me the opportunity to broaden my understanding and refine some of my current practices.

In order to ensure that I don’t simply fall back on tried and tested tools however, I completed an audit of the technologies that are embedded in my current teaching practice and those that are not. It is my intention to develop a series of lessons wherein one of these technologies will be used to facilitate the learning in some way.

Reading for the module has also commenced and for me a number of the texts are old news but nevertheless I will revisit them, making the necessary notes in Evernote to use later in my assignment. We have been given the already well critiqued Prensky articles: ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’ and ‘Do They Really Think Differently?’ (Digital Natives: Part 2) to read. For some up to date debate on the concept of digital natives, these posts from Simon Bostock and Doug Belshaw are definitely worth checking out:

Finally, I hope that as the unit eveolves I will get the chance to tie in some of the material I have been reading and writing about recently with regards to learning technologies, taxonomies and literacies. Only time will tell.

School-based Enquiry: Google docs & AfL

I attended my third MA session this evening; the first session of Module 2: Assessment for Learning. Unlike Module 1: School-based Enquiry, this module centres around reading and secondary research. After receiving my ‘Module Reader’ it prompted me to knuckle down this evening and try to finish refining the focus of my School-based Enquiry.

While I have had a clear idea of what I wanted to focus on it has been quite difficult to put it concisely into words. I feel that I am close and hope that writing this post will help me to add further clarity.

It is my intention to investigate the impact Google docs can have on assessment for learning. I wish to build upon and refine practices that I put in place last year. With careful thought given to the pedagogy, I believe that Google docs can transform assessment for learning, making it more efficient and effective for students; increasing the rate of progress that they make.

One of the keys to this is the ability to re-use a piece of students writing multiple times  – conducting self, peer, and teacher based assessment; each time allowing the student to develop and improve their work. This continual input combined with the ability to re-edit without ‘recreating’ the writing, each time, puts greater emphasis on the learning than on the assessment. This is arguably the most important feature of AfL; too often neglected in favour of grades and target setting with little consideration given to what the student should do with that information. The response can be instant rather than: “Here is your target, think about that next time we do assessment”. I am saying: “Here is how you have done, now edit your document, correcting, adding, deleting, changing etc…”

Using Google docs in this way removes the dreaded ‘red pen’; removes the finality of assessed work on paper; and in my own experience – removes the urge to stick a grade on the work. The process is more that of author, working through a draft, editing and refining their work. The feedback from peers and teacher take on equal status, acting as the voice of the editor with the student able to acknowledge the criticisms and act upon them focussing on learning and improvement.

Have you used Google docs to support assessment for learning? If you have, I would love to hear about how you used it and what the outcomes were. Please respond to this post or send me an @reply on Twitter using the following hash tag: #mainedu.

MA in Education

I recently began an MA in Education. The MA is delivered by the Westminster Institute of Education; part of Oxford Brookes University. A modular course; it begins with the Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Educational Practice (CAEP). Made of three modules; accounting for a third of the full MA, the course is delivered part-time with sessions held at my School.

The first module is a School-based Enquiry in which I have chosen to focus on my use of Google docs. As an enthusiast in the use of technology in the classroom; Google docs was one such technology that I believe had a significant impact on my student’s progress last year. It is my intention to try to quantify that by completing research into its impact on an individual class’ progress this academic year.

Building on the work that I did last year and recent improvements made to Google docs I am going to limit my research to one specific use of Google docs: How does it improve the quality of one-to-one assessment for my students? At the moment I am in the latter stages of planning this research. You can view my progress here.

The other modules that I will be undertaking this year are Assessment for Learning and Developing E-Learning.

Ii is my intention to document my progress throughout each module on my blog. To do so, I have created a dedicated page here. I hope, that by documenting it publicly, it will help me keep to a strict schedule while also providing opportunities for wider input and feedback on my research.

To maintain my organisation and productivity I have installed Evernote on my MBP, Android phone and in Google chrome to store and record notes. I have also linked my Oxford Brookes Library account with Google scholar to ease the logging of journal articles and essays. I will be mainly downloading these to read on my Sony eReader allowing me to attach notes. Finally, I will be tagging posts and tweets related to my research with #mainedu.