Developing the Learning Gateway

An exploration into the possible use of SharePoint Learning Kit to support teaching and learning across the whole school using Experiential eLearning


The 2020 Vision that is sweeping the globe foresees a time according to Gilbert (2006) where religious diversity will be greater than social diversity with “further concentrations of minority ethnic groups in particular geographical areas”.  Young people will need to be better qualified to secure employment and “will be expected to take personal responsibility for their impact on the environment”.

It is the responsibility of schools to address the issues regarding the lack of prospects for minority ethnic groups ensuring that their achievement and attainment reduces the gap of social inequalities.  Helping each pupil achieve society’s aspirations that are outlined in the Every Child Matters framework.

To meet this challenge involves Personalised Learning (see appendixes), a highly structured and responsive approach focussing on the individual needs or each pupil.  This requires a greater collaboration between schools, learners and their caregivers to ensure the pupils’ achievement is successful.

With the rise and impact of Learning Management Systems and ICT within education “it is crucial that we engage with developments in digital technologies at the earliest stages” (Facer, 2006) however “there will need to be changes both to the way the education system operates and to the practice of many teachers” (Gilbert, 2006).

The aims of this proposal are:

  • To understand the school and local community
  • To critique the current delivery of resources and suggest a move towards a more constructivist method.
  • To explore the possible impact of Learning Objects
  • To develop the student tracking system by calculating students’ knowledge and retention at the beginning and end of a module.
  • To enhance the possibilities of personalised learning



Bradford, the “4th largest metropolitan district” in England, is politically split, between Labour’s 33 seats and Conservative’s 32, whilst also being culturally divided where inner city areas are ghettoised with minority ethnic groups.  The school sector is predominantly segregated according to Education Bradford (2005, cited in House of Commons, 2007) where pupils attend schools with a population comprising over 90% of one “single cultural or ethnic identity”.  X is one of those schools, predominantly Muslim, containing a high percentage of Pakistani pupils alongside other minority ethnic groups, Bangladeshi, Gypsy and Roma pupils, Travellers and Black pupils, who nationally “do not achieve well” according to the Commission for Race Equality.  Students’ attainment on entry is well below average and a higher than average numbers of students have learning difficulties and/or disabilities; nevertheless the school received Outstanding from Ofsted in 2007.   This diverse culture “is considered desirable and necessary for the development of secure ethnic identities and positive self-feelings” however diversity “is also challenged for being inequitable and a threat to social cohesion” (Verkuyten. 2006).

Situated in the heart of BD3, an inner city area undergoing regeneration, which Regen 2000 claim “was an area of high unemployment, poor housing, poor health, poor education and high levels of drug-related crime”, has received around £150 million from government and private investment during the period 2000 – 2008 to help develop “an economically active and self-generating area” (Bradford Economic Partnership).  Yet near one year on, after the target date for complete regeneration, this area still reflects social deprivation, where the streets are strewn with litter and crime still prevails embodying the disaffection and the break down in community cohesion (Chattoo et al, 2004).  West-Burnham (1997) describes, “Attitudes and `theories of practice’ are constructs derived from a prevailing culture and expressed, reinforced and elaborated into practice through language”.  To enable the community to develop we need to look at the heart, X, and readdress the disaffection through transforming the prevalent social misconceptions and poor attitude, developing a climate that shines like a beacon throughout the community.  As West-Burnham continues to explain “If schools are to respond to the fundamental changes that are taking place in social and economic terms then it is necessary to re-conceptualise leadership”.  The Commission for Race Equality insist, “All schools make clear what their contribution is to community cohesion”.

In a bid to change the surrounding area and community attitude, senior management have developed a scheme to “Tidy up X and BD3”.  This is currently coinciding with Phase 3 of the Building Schools of the Future (BSF) consultation with Bradford Council, which will contribute to the regeneration of BD3.

To become a School of the Future requires a major investment into learning technologies to help meet the required standards.  This venture in technology must be accompanied by a comparable investment by teachers and other employees to realise the full benefits of the technology.  However there tends to be a lack of ICT skills and experience within the school sector nationally to ensure the technologies used are to their full potential (Microsoft, 2007).  In spite of this the school received Specialist Status in Maths and Computing in 2006, sponsored by Microsoft, (a deal struck up with the DfES to help around 100 schools situated in poor areas which was “the subject of an Office of Fair Trading investigation” (Lettice, 2005)), and is well equipped with new technologies, whilst the sponsorship “will almost certainly become an extremely important device for acquiring additional resources“ (Bennet and Gabriel, 1999) in the future, Microsoft’s monopoly should be carefully considered as there are free open source applications readily available.

The school’s intranet is delivered by Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, which acts as the school’s Learning Gateway (LG) whose objectives are:

  • Achievement for all
  • Excellence in teaching
  • Improve learning

The school has prematurely launched the LG (without fully realising the capabilities) and numerous INSETS have taken place where faculty members across the school have been taught how to upload their resources, Word and PowerPoint files, from the existing Public (Y) drive, a large networked storage drive, to the LG (a system built on internet technologies which has great potential), “Reeves (2002 cited in Nichols, 2003) argues that, in the main, technology is not being used innovatively in education”.  Questions have been raised by staff as for the need to distribute the files through the LG and move away from the Public (Y) drive.  This decision has led to the LG becoming an over glorified file storage system where the course materials are delivered using the internet technologies which as Pan & Hawryszkiewycz (2004) describe does “not provide effective and efficient supports for using these materials to construct knowledge. As a result, learners only passively receive the presented materials”.

The resources uploaded “are designed to make the knowledge transmission easier”, which emphasises “the teacher’s control over what is learned and how it is to be learned” (Nichols, 2003).  This somewhat Behaviourist method “centres on students’ efforts to accumulate knowledge of the natural world and on teachers’ efforts to transmit it” (Murphy, 1997) which is comparative to the Objectivist learning theory where the learners’ goal is to receive knowledge whilst the teacher is to transmit.  The theory also implies that the learner will gain the same understanding from what is transmitted however as Pan & Hawryszkiewycz (2004) argue the resources “can hardly match to all individual learners”.  This stereotypical view of teaching does not cater for Personalised Learning (PL) where learning takes place through different methods to improve attainment.

Described earlier the pupils’ attainment on entry to the school is well below average, nevertheless the school pays particular focus to assessment for learning (AFL) to improve attainment.  Goal Tests, a recognised online assessment tool provided by Education Development International (EDI), are introduced at the beginning of each year within Key Stage 3, “identifying pupils’ strengths and weaknesses” which support “target setting and tracking pupils’ progress”.  Conversely the scores generally show pupils as having higher levels of attainment than the current National Curriculum (NC) level they are working at (according to the assessment records), which opens the debate whether teaching and learning is personalised in such a way that helps them to achieve (based on the snapshot taken by the Goal Tests) or could the online delivery method of the Goal Tests be the answer to improving attainment.




Birbili (2005) has discovered that schools are finding it “increasingly difficult to motivate and keep the interest of their students”.  This is not exclusive to England, as Birbili discusses, how, the individual needs of students are not recognised by schools, resulting in the reportedly high figures of disaffection within the school sector.

During the expansion of the Internet and the development of Web 2.0 the online community has emerged.  Communities like Facebook and Myspace, offer the opportunity to develop online personas, individuality and friendship, for instance Wenger describes these as Communities of Practice (CoP) where “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2009) this for instance could be “a clique of pupils defining their identity in the school” (Wenger), creating an opportunity for the Digital Native (DN), a term coined by Prensky (2001) who are “a generation that has grown up with digital technology”, to be heard.   Developing an online digital community could promote community cohesion through blogging regarding the regeneration of the local, physical community as Smith (2003) describes “Members are involved in a set of relationships over time (Lave and Wenger 1991: 98) and communities develop around things that matter to people (Wenger, 1998)”.  Grace (2007) considers the opportunities of developing online communities alongside summer school and found that targeting both primary and secondary schools, helped “to catch and develop children before they’ve had a chance to become disaffected.”

X delivers a summer school program throughout summer for future attendees, namely year 6 pupils from surrounding primary schools.  During this time I propose using “the internet and technology in ways that speak their language” (Masters, 2009) by establishing future pupils’ online identity within the LG alongside developing a communal blog.  Referring to Salmon’s “The five-stage model of online learning”, stage one would be achieved by setting up their ‘My Site’ (a space where users can save and share work; add friends or colleagues for effective communication and collaboration, creating networks where specific users can be targeted with information), which scaffolds on the DN social networking experience.  Explaining that this is a safe online community exclusive to X that is not accessible by people outside should encourage the pupils to complete their profile.  Highlighting their likes / dislikes, building up a picture that teachers can use ‘to get to know’ the individual as “learning and teaching should be founded on an understanding of the learner” (Birbili, 2005).  This will help teachers to develop PL with Learning Objects (LO) appropriate to the individual.

The second stage of Salmon’s model is Socialisation where social conditioning, the understanding of what is right and wrong and what is acceptable in civilised society is reflected online.   Giddens (1986, pp. 8-11, cited in Cosio, 1998) states “We create society at the same time as we are created by it”.  Monty, (2005) describes certain aspects of netiquette, “Always acknowledging feelings and offering support. Allow the feelings of everyone involved in e-tivities to be surfaced, owned, expressed and respected”.  This can be achieved through establishing the communal blog where the pupils would create their online identities and interact with other members of the digital community.  Inviting the new members to participate by letting everybody know they have joined would break the ice.  As the blog develops the context becomes Social Constructivist where the users are invited to share their thoughts regarding BD3.  Initially introducing the concept of what they like, secondary what they don’t like.  This approach provides the links between social, cultural and learning environments, which “makes knowledge construction easier to achieve” (Monty, 2005).  The third task would be to reflect on what other users have written and respond appropriately.  As Smith (1999) describes, “It is learning that is achieved through reflection upon everyday experience and is the way that most of us do our learning”.  It has been uncovered that Muslim pupils “often lack competence in critical analysis and independent thinking” however “acquiring knowledge in Islam is not intended as an end but as a means to stimulate a more elevated moral and spiritual consciousness, leading to faith and righteous action” (Islam).

Once attending X, the NC Level 3 involves “Sharing and Exchanging Ideas” similar to stage three of Salmon’s model “Information Exchange”, which over the summer break the developed online community should have achieved.  Considering Salmon’s model, the DN introduced to a CoP (Lave and Wenger) at the age of 10 should in effect over seven years of future secondary schooling competently (Carver et al, 2007) reach stage 5.  This process scaffolds on their personal experience spent on the web, offering the opportunity to practice transferrable skills within the Constructivist curriculum.

Moallem (2001) highlights 5 areas of consideration for Constructivist teaching and learning:

  • Learning is embedded in a rich authentic problem-solving environment;
  • Authentic versus academic contexts for learning are provided;
  • Provisions for learner control are incorporated;
  • Errors are used as a mechanism to provide feedback on learners’ understanding; and
  • Learning is embedded in social experience.

It can be argued that the constructivist theories do not take into consideration members of ethnic minority groups especially with regard to the globalisation of constructivism in relation to Islam.  This debate needs further research especially in the context of inner city minority ethnic ghettoisation in conjunction with western ideology (Bowers, 2004, Bowers, 2005).  However Constructivist learning theories do provide an opportunity for the development of pupils with learning disabilities and special educational needs especially in a vocational context (Tennant, 1997: 92 cited in Smith, 2001).

Constructivism is the foundation of PL where pupils build upon their experiences and apply them to the larger social constructs they belong.   In a report highlighting the managers’, teachers’ and learners’ perceptions of PL, pupils had a tendency to confuse PL with individualism questioning the amount of freedom to choose, quite probably in a bid to do less work.  In the same report teachers and senior management recognised the impact personalisation could have on pupil voice and autonomy.  However their main agenda for PL was the improved result of student tracking alongside pupil feedback (Underwood and Banyard, 2007).

One of the main features of the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server is the SharePoint Learning Kit (SLK) (which has been installed but not yet able to be implemented).  SLK is an e-learning tool compliant with the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) “developed by the US Department of Defence” (Friesen), which makes it easy to deliver course materials containing both basic and interactive resources and offers this support.

This method of delivery requires the construction of SCORM reusable LOs that can be shared over the LG and should “provide learners with a wide range of services to assist and facilitate knowledge construction” (Pan & Hawryszkiewycz, 2004).

Constructivist in theory, this environment moves away from the imposed Objectivist distribution of ‘one size fits all’ resources.  To ensure successful delivery and flexibility, with the collaboration of all faculty members, the scheme of work should be broken down into simple, cohesive LOs that contain a variety of “hypertext / hypermedia” (Kurzel et al) to enable PL.  The correct format should be selected to ensure effective delivery of the learning object whilst also being student centred, helping them stay focused.

Once the LO is uploaded onto the LG it can then be allocated to the relevant pupils.  This method allows the teacher to select the correct hypermedia for the individual based on their established profile meeting the PL agenda more effectively.

The SLK includes various web parts that can be introduced into the individual unit sites.  ‘My Assignments’ is one of those, where both the pupils and teachers can review the designated materials.

As pupils log onto a site they will see that they have been assigned a LO which will include the date set and the date needed for completion.  Pupils therefore will have strict deadlines highlighting when they need to hand work in which will make the collaboration between schools and caregivers easier as they can check the ‘My Assignments’ part of their child’s personal space, engage in their learning and ensure their child is working to the best of their ability.

As the LOs are delivered over Internet technologies, accessible through the LG and being platform independent “encourages learning anytime, anyplace, anywhere” offering the opportunity for pupils to catch up.

For the teacher, they can see who has started the LO and when it has been completed.  From there they can retrieve the LO and assess the work, feeding back to the pupil immediately, offering advice for areas they need to develop, using “Assessment that promotes learning” (Gilbert, 2006).  Student tracking is made easier by the LO being accessible by all staff who can review the assignment results and feedback which could enable earlier intervention for pupils who are not yet achieving at their potential.


Influenced by the Goal Tests (EDI) approach, I propose pupils begin a unit in the form of assessment to establish current knowledge, which will act as a baseline to measure progress.  Using SLK the assessment is allocated to the pupils who work through the task using the Internet technologies.  Once completed the LO is submitted and stored in the LG database where the teacher can retrieve it.  The work can be immediately marked and sent back to the pupil improving the feedback process, “to enable them to make learning choices”.

From the results both teacher and pupil can discuss the possible targets and goal settings and common specific areas can be identified and addressed.  As the school has a high percentage of disaffected pupils and special educational needs Maher (2006) found in his research paper regarding behavioural problems that there was a  “greater degree of goal attainment and satisfaction with counselling for pupils who participated in goal setting”.  This approach could ensure the development of PL, minimising behavioural issues and reducing disaffection.

To recognise all learners’ abilities the unit could be delivered in the following ‘game like’ levels,

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Expert

As pupils became more competent they could begin to self-assign modules, taking ownership of their learning by scaffolding on their experiences, allowing “the students to use particular content in different, albeit overlapping, contexts,” (Kurzel et al) developing autonomy and attainment.

When the unit has been completed, pupils will undergo a further assessment to review their progression and “attainment” (Ozga, 2003).  This will give clear indication of how the PL has impacted on teaching and learning, making tracking more effective.



Within this paper I have considered at a macro level the social implications of X and the surrounding BD3 community and the possible impact of ICT as a force for change.

Using the Social Constructivist approach through experiential learning, connecting social, cultural and moral experiences within learning I have highlighted how this could promote the development of pupil autonomy alongside community cohesion.  Cosio (1998) recognises the influence of institutions outlining the responsibility to condition the behavioural norms shared by society.  However this socialisation faces a series of obstacles and should be approached sensitively considering the predominance of the Muslim community who have developed their own social and cultural norms that do not fit within western ideology conversely Modood, T. & Ahmad(2007) quite poignantly states “ it is clear that there is much overlap between the two, with some creative tension and enough scope for dialogue and negotiation, contrary to the ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis”.

The concept and method of teaching is changing, shifting away from the didactic Objectivist transmission model to the more collaborative Constructivist facilitator, who manages learning by moving between groups, “helping, suggesting, encouraging and learning along with the learners”(Ntombovuyo, 2006).

Understanding that not only does the approach to the LG need to be readdressed but also the Behaviourist pedagogy needs to move forward to accommodate the DN learners with rich experiences akin to those outside the school environment.  I have offered ideas for faculties to collaborate more effectively using the technology.  The investment in technology requires the future intentions to be clearly defined to ensure the successful harnessing of its potential to enhance teaching and learning.  This will require teachers to rethink their methods of delivery and relearn how to use the technology innovatively, which will involve encouragement and investment.  However I predict a resistance to change considering some of the negative attitudes entrenched within the profession.

Retrospectively I believe the system should have been fully realised before its launch.  This would have minimised error and the distrust that staff and students alike have began to feel towards the technology.

In conclusion, I have only scraped the surface of the future possibilities yet I firmly believe this approach could not only support social cohesion but also cross-curricular cohesion, the collaboration between departments and home environments developing into a whole community school policy which would require further research.



Report of the Teaching and Learning in 2020 Review Group

Together, schools, local and national government need to work towards a society in which:

  • a child’s chances of success are not related to his or her socio-economic background, gender or ethnicity
  • education services are designed around the needs of each child, with the expectation that all learners achieve high standards
  • all children and young people leave school with functional skills in English and mathematics, understanding how to learn, think creatively, take risks and handle change
  • teachers use their skills and knowledge to engage children and young people as partners in learning, acting quickly to adjust their teaching in response to pupils’ learning2
  • schools draw in parents as their child’s co-educators, engaging them and increasing their capacity to support their child’s learning.

We believe that personalising learning and teaching must play a central role in transforming England’s education service to achieve these aims between now and 2020.


J. Underwood and P. Banyard

Personalisation: a political aspiration

The political aspiration for personalisation is that it will be a strategy for ensuring over time that:

  • · every pupil experiences success appropriate to their age and ability;
  • · all pupils are engaged and excited by learning;
  • · every pupil will have high aspirations for their work;
  • · every pupil feels supported in making progress;
  • · pupils know that they are valued;
  • · parents know that their child is valued.

Personalisation: objectives for education

As applied to schools this will offer learning which:

  • · reflects the most appropriate ways of learning;
  • · takes account of any past performance or prior learning;
  • · is presented in a way which is engaging and effective for that individual;
  • · encourages learning anytime, anyplace, anywhere;
  • · facilitates more ways to learn;
  • · recognises the learner’s short-term needs and longer term aspirations;
  • · encourages the learner to reflect on and self-regulate their learning;
  • · helps the learner to achieve recognition for their achievements that enables them to progress within the wider community.

Personalisation: a set of operational measures

Our experts agreed that personalisation can be observed in schools when they carry out some or all of the following activities:

  • agree targets with pupils;
  • help pupils to understand their own learning;
  • give pupils appropriate responsibility for their own learning;
  • allow the learner voice to be heard;
  • relate learning to pupils’ out-of-school experience;
  • relate learning to contexts unfamiliar to pupils;
  • provide ‘enrichment’ activities beyond the core curriculum;
  • give appropriate feedback to pupils to enable them to make learning choices;
  • are flexible in the way teachers present the curriculum in order to meet pupils’ individual needs;
  • get to know their pupils well as individuals;
  • offer their pupils pastoral care;
  • accommodate pupils’ individual learning needs appropriate to their age and ability.

“The five-stage model of online learning” by Gilly Salmon




Community Cohesion Framework 2007 – 2010

A cohesive community is defined as a place where:

  • There is a common vision and a sense of belonging to the local community;
  • The diversity of people’s backgrounds and circumstances are appreciated;
  • Those from different backgrounds have equal opportunities; and
  • Strong and positive relationships have been developed between people from different backgrounds in the workplace, in schools and in neighbourhoods.


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Multimedia and E-Learning



MSc Multimedia and E-Learning


The initial meeting of the MSc Multimedia and E-Learning course began with introductions, combined with this, a task to discover what skills other members of the group could offer, developing a network of likeminded people who could offer support throughout the duration of the course.  This soon progressed into the first step of Gilly Salmon’s, constructivist, five stage model (Monty, 2005), which Moule (2007) describes as the “coherent model upon which to base online learning design in higher education” (Moule also discusses the limitations of this model and offers a more conceptual approach using the e-Learning Ladder which uses an instructivist approach initially, developing into constructivist, as one progresses up the ladder), whereby Liz, the course leader / e-moderator, set a task where small groups discussed a topic.  The topic was recorded using a microphone and the free audio editing software, Audacity, which has made creating mp3s and podcasts far easier and readily accessible.  This encouragement from the course leader helped the group to form on a different level, creating podcasts and digital artefacts, engaging the students with the technology that would help them develop not only their skills but e-learning itself as described through Experiential Learning “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb, 1984, p.41 cited in Boyatzis, 1999).  Motivation is essential during this initial constructivist approach especially when recording a discussion, to be uploaded onto the web, as the majority of people do not like to hear the sound of their own voice.  Understanding that this was to gage peoples views there can be a slight air of cautiousness when uploading material on the web where it is readily available for all to see and scrutinise however it does offer the opportunity to reflect.  This was particularly true in my experience of the task.  I was happy to discuss with my partner but not to record my voice, therefore it is essential to encourage and develop the motivation of the student not only with regards to the technology but also their initial engagement with the approach of the course.   My experience of this initial task highlights the problems with adopting Gilly Salmon’s five-stage model as Moule (2007: 39) quoting Lisewski and Joyce (2003) describes how the approach does not take into account individual learning styles owing to the rigid structure which seemingly undermines the ethos of e-learning.

I was initially dubious about the use of podcasts within the school sector, although mobile learning technologies are continuing to develop; the podcast has the ability to reach the student on the move.  While Apple coined the term podcast (Trinder, 2008), the technology is not exclusively Mac, or limited to mp3 players but also easily listened to on an adequately equipped mobile phone.  Working within an institution that has over 80% pupils with English as an additional language the podcast could be an invaluable tool to help develop language skills as well as communicating complex instructions or answering frequently asked questions (Amadan, 2006).  For some time now, language courses have been available in audio format, which seems natural to develop a personalised, student centred program whereby their individual needs are catered for to help personal and social development within the school community through the use of podcasting.


Collaborating on the PBWiki set up for the MSc was incredibly challenging, as the task was to write a personal, descriptive paragraph, highlighting your interests and skills.  I particularly struggled here and as Monty states, e-moderators should, “try to avoid the ‘Post your first message here and say who you are’ type of message. It will frighten some of the participants”.

Wikis have become an integral part of the Web 2.0 boom, enabling the collaboration and sharing of electronic information and knowledge far more efficiently than the ‘old fashioned’ way of email.

Glaser (Glaser, 2004) describes how Wikipedia has more than 340,000 articles, written by a sprawling online community and asks the question “If anyone can change the page at any time, how can you trust it?”  Although wikis are beneficial for the contributing student, it does seem hypocritical as wikis are generally frowned upon within academic circles and pupils are advised not to use them as a reference as the information lacks validity, yet they are becoming increasingly popular as a teaching and learning tool.

Groups are able to coordinate easier through the use of wikis (leelefever, 2007) although there can be issues when working in small groups, as the collaboration can sometimes be dependent on one member.  This became evident when developing a wiki / discussion group, focussing on Digital natives and digital immigrants, the phrase coined by Prensky (2001) who discusses the divisions between educators and students and how the education system does not cater for the net generation, a generation that has grown up with digital technology.  The use of the wiki did not evolve into a critical, academic artefact, but that of a social discussion, whereby the members discussed their personal thoughts and experiences.  This could owe to the previous concrete experiences of blogging software that have solid foundations in social networking on a personal level rather than academic.  Scaffolding as the word suggests needs to build on prior experience, and the concept was not fully realised by the students and although ideas were exchanged, knowledge was not necessarily acquired as no theoretical underpinning took place.  As the task was not assessed this could have had a negative impact on the development of the group and the final artefact.


Continuing with the “setting up of the system” course members created a Skype account and added each other as contacts.  Having been a Skype user for some years now, since its launch, although not utilising the software on a massive scale, I am however aware of its capabilities.  During my PGCE at University of Huddersfield, the lecturers wanted to experiment with remote classroom observations using the product, although I did not participate in this method I can see its potential of not being invasive like having stranger in the room, yet within the school sector this raises quite a few legal issues, transmitting live video of children across the web.  Alongside the legal implications of filming children there have arisen a few issues regarding the ethics of Skype.  Created by the founders of Kazaa, a peer-to-peer downloading application, “the No. 1 spyware threat on the Internet, according to Computer Associates International” (Ilet, 2004), countries such as China, Germany and Australia have reported that Skype conversations can be monitored or hacked into. Being closed source, meaning the code is unable to be modified, and claiming to be free to use, this is technically not free software.  There are however other free open source programs with similar specifications that offer greater privacy such as Ekiga, Twinkle and Wengophone (Ubuntu, 2009).

Initially I did wonder how this social networking tool could actually be implemented in ICT, within the school sector, and thought hard about its relevance within my subject specialism.  With great consideration, I began to think about how the social software could be used within other subjects.  Considering Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger’s Communities of Practice (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2009; Wenger, 2009), using Skype within the domain of Modern Foreign Languages (Wolff, 2006), pupils could call native speakers in other countries; this approach would have mutual benefits for both parties, where information and ideas are exchanged between the practitioners of the foreign tongue, forming relationships within other countries.  Using this application in a formal setting the teacher becomes the facilitator where the students learn by applying the technology within the classroom setting, impacting on teaching and learning through a process of engaging and purposeful relationships based on the interaction between the online community.

Similarly a more visual approach could be considered implementing Skype within Geography.  As previously discussed, Skype has video capability, offering pupils the opportunity to see first hand how other schools across the globe live and learn.

Hot Potatoes

Another technology that was introduced was Hot Potatoes, which allows “you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web”.  Being an avid Flash user I found this piece of software quite unintuitive although it has great potential for non-Flash users.  I did however discover that the publishing settings would allow the results to be emailed to a chosen address.  This spurred me on to research whether Flash could do the same with such ease and have discovered the benefits of SCORM packages and how Flash quizzes integrate within them.


Mon, Dec 08, 2008 — Recording of Elluminate session Monday 8th December 20.15

I did not participate in this session; I have however, reviewed the recording and evaluated its impact on e-learning.  The initial setting of the Elluminate session involved the majority of people asking if they could be heard resulting in a communication problem, as people were not answering when they could clearly hear.

Referring back to Salmon’s five-stage model, students are again on Stage 1, as they are being introduced to a new technology.  This for some quickly developed as they reach Stage 2, Socialisation, where the online community of the MSc is contained in one place within the Elluminate session.  This shared space provided an opportunity for collaboration, becoming a Community of Practice, which should have progressed onto Stage 3.  In the beginning this however did not happen, as the structure of the session was not well paced and resources such as web pages did not work as intended, creating large gaps with no action, leaving users wondering if the technology had stopped working.  Because stage 1 had not been resolved, teething issues occurred, as users could not use the technology.  The session created a series of mixed messages whereby users were introduced to the initial voting technology as a “bit of fun”, however the application uses instant messaging, like AIM, and users were engaging in less formal online chat as no official rules had been put in place therefore Netiquette was not established.

The quality of the sound from the Moderator, Liz, was not very good and slightly low in volume, this required users to listen more attentively and could have been a strategy to ensure users paid attention.

As the session progressed, ideas were exchanged and for some time Stage 3 was acquired and knowledge shared clearly this shows the development of the group through the eventual familiarity of the software and the instruction from the e-moderator although the session seemed to end abruptly


Ning, another blog / wiki tool was introduced to the group.  Joining this and visiting it further there seems to be people who have become members of the site who have posted items related to Hoodia, a slimming aid, and Xanax, which is clearly not the site’s intended purpose.  As requests have to be made to join the group, it would seem that the e-moderator has not been vigilant in their selection, (an essential part of developing a community) vetting who becomes a member and what gets posted on the communal site to ensure that effective sharing of information remains the intended purpose rather than a spam area.  The communal area has given legitimate members the opportunity to share information, clearly forming Stage 3 of Salmon’s model where the community members have begun to share information, helping each other through the recommendation of resources.  The community is now well under way in progressing to the next level, Stage 4 – Knowledge construction.  Stage 5 – Development has yet to be reached.

Learning Journal

The learning journal is a demanding piece of writing, as it requires honest, personal reflection on the learning that has taken place.  Kolb alongside Roger Fry created the 4-stage Experiential Learning Model, which is broken down into the following categories

  1. Concrete experience
  2. Observation and reflection
  3. Forming abstract concepts
  4. Testing in new situations

This model has further been broken down into four learning styles, which can be applied as a constant spiral

Kolb and Fry on learning styles (Tennant, 1996 cited in Smith, 2001)

Learning style


Learning characteristic Description
Converger Abstract conceptualization + active experimentation ·    strong in practical application of ideas

·    can focus on hypo-deductive reasoning on specific problems

·    unemotional

·    has narrow interests


Diverger Concrete experience + reflective observation ·    strong in imaginative ability

·    good at generating ideas and seeing things from different perspectives

·    interested in people

·    broad cultural interests


Assimilator Abstract conceptualization + reflective observation ·    strong ability to create theoretical models excels in inductive reasoning

·    concerned with abstract concepts rather than people


Accommodator Concrete experience + active experimentation ·    greatest strength is doing things

·    more of a risk taker

·    performs well when required to react to immediate circumstances

·    solves problems intuitively


Smith (2001) deconstructs Kolb’s learning styles, critiquing the weakness in the results owing to the limited amount of studies, highlighting issues regarding his theories and how care needs to be taken when approaching.  He describes how initially the model successfully assists in the planning of activities and how actively engaged the learner is although it does not offer enough contemplation or reflection.   Reflection is an essential area where people can connect with their feelings and address emotion (Smith, 1999).  Smith (2001) continues to describe how the learning styles do not apply to all situations as memorisation and information assimilation could be more appropriate to different situations, the sequences of the stages are not necessarily in a logical order and as individuals should not limit themselves to one learning style hindering their development, which again returns to the concept of reflection.  Jarvis’s (1994, 1995 cited in Smith, 2001) experiential model considers different pathways realising that different processes can take place at the same time creating alternative routes rather than the systematic spiral.  Cultural and social experiences are also not considered in Kolb’s model as it is based solely on western experience, this lack of consideration will clearly be an issue if considered in the institution I work which has over 80% of pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds.  The model however “provides an excellent framework for planning teaching and learning activities and it can be usefully employed as a guide for understanding learning difficulties, vocational counselling, academic advising and so on”(Tennant,1997: 92 cited in Smith,2001).

Considering the experiential learning model and styles associated, writing this learning journal has given me the opportunity to reflect on the concrete experiences that took place throughout each day school.  From this reflection I have been able to form abstract concepts, contemplating how the application of some of the concrete experiences could develop my teaching and impact on learning.  Using these modes as a foundation I aim to implement and test the established applications and theories, therefore completing Kolb’s 4-stage Experiential Learning Model (Hanley, 2008).

References and Further Reading

Amadan, K. (2006) Benefits of Podcasting for Educators. Available at: [Accessed January 1, 2009].

A pedagogical model of elearning at KVL: “The five-stage model of online learning” by Gilly Salmon. Available at: [Accessed January 26, 2009].

Belshaw, D. 5 ways teachers can use educational technology to engage students at Available at: [Accessed January 2, 2009].

Benefits of Podcasting for Educators. Available at: [Accessed January 1, 2009].

BioMed Central | Full text | Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of Web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education. Available at: [Accessed January 1, 2009].

Boyatzis, R. E. Kolb, D. A. & Mainemelis, C. (2000) Experiential Learning Theory: Previous Research and New Directions. [Internet] IN: Sternberg, R. J. & Zhang, L. F. (Eds.). Perspectives on cognitive, learning, and thinking styles. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, Available from: [Accessed 15 January 2009]

Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2009, January). Communities of Practice (Lave and Wenger) at Available at: [Accessed January 25, 2009].

BIONDI, P. & DESCLAUX, F. (1998) Silver Needle in the Skype. In  Suresnes, FRANCE: EADS Corporate Research Center, p.98. Available at: [Accessed January 25, 2009].

DICKMEIS, T. & BIHLER, P. (2005) E-Learning and VoIP?. In How Skype can revolutionize interactive E-Learning.  INSA de Lyon. Available at:

Eickmann, P. Kolb, A. & Kolb, D. A. (2004) Designing learning. [Internet] IN: R. J. Boland & F. Collopy (Eds.), Managing as designing (pp. 241-247). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Available from: [Accessed 15 January 2009]

Fry, R. & Kolb, D. A. (1975) Toward an Applied Theory of Experiential Learning. IN: Theory of Group Processes. (Cooper, C. ed). New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc

Glaser, M. (2004) OJR article: Collaborative Conundrum: Do Wikis Have a Place in the Newsroom? Available at: [Accessed January 1, 2009].

Hanley, M. E-Learning Curve Blog: Constructivism Pt.4: Experiential learning theory. Available at: [Accessed February 15, 2009].

Ilett , D. (2004) CA slaps spyware label on Kazaa – CNET News. Available at: [Accessed January 25, 2009].

Jarvis, P. (1994) ‘Learning’, ICE301 Lifelong Learning, Unit 1(1), London: YMCA George Williams College.

Jarvis, P. (1995) Adult and Continuing Education. Theory and practice 2e, London: Routledge.

Kanter, B. Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media: skype. Skype Me! Double Edge Sword … Available at: [Accessed January 25, 2009].

Kolb, D. A. (1976) The Learning Style Inventory: Technical Manual. Boston, Ma. TRG Hay/McBer.

Kolb, D. A. (1984) Experiential Learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Prentice Hall

leelefever (2007) Video: Wikis in Plain English | Common Craft – Explanations In Plain English, Available at: [Accessed January 1, 2009].

Masters , A. 4 Ways to Engage Today’s Generation of Students. Available at: [Accessed January 2, 2009].

Monty, A. (2005) A pedagogical model of elearning at KVL: “The five-stage model of online learning” by Gilly Salmon. Available at: [Accessed January 26, 2009].

Moule, P. (2007) Challenging the five-stage model for e-learning: a new approach. Research in Learning Technology, 15 (1), pp.37-50.

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. MCB University Press, 9 (5), p.6. Available at:,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Smith, M. K. (2001) ‘David A. Kolb on experiential learning’, the encyclopedia of informal education, [Accessed January 15, 2009].

Smith , M.K. (1999) reflection @ the informal education homepage. reflection. Available at: [Accessed January 15, 2009].

Tennant, M. (1997) Psychology and Adult Learning 2e, London: Routledge.

Trinder, K., Guiller, J., Margaryan, A., Littlejohn, A. & Nicol, D. (2008) Learning from digital natives: bridging formal and informal learning, Glasgow Caledonian University. Available at:  [Accessed January 15, 2009].

Ubuntu (2009) Skype. Skype – Community Ubuntu Documentation. Available at: [Accessed January 25, 2009].

Wenger, E. Communities of practice. Available at: [Accessed January 15, 2009].

Wolff , P. (2006) Skype and distance learning. Available at:


Intervention Study

Can instructional video develop autonomy in disaffected pupils?


School X is a larger than average mixed comprehensive school for 1,402 students aged 11-18 of whom 309 are in the sixth form. The school is located approximately 1 mile outside the city centre. The area is recognised as having significant socio-economic deprivation with many students eligible for free school meals. Nearly all the students are from minority ethnic backgrounds and the majority speak English as an additional language. The students’ attainment on entry to the school is well below average and a higher than average numbers of students have learning difficulties and/or disabilities.  In September 2006 it acquired specialist college status for mathematics and computing, receiving Outstanding from OFSTED in 2007, em-blazing the slogan, “Achievement for all.”

With adequate resources and sponsored by Microsoft, the ICT department is staffed by seven specialist ICT teachers, the head of department / Key Stage 4 coordinator, Key Stage 5 coordinator, Key Stage 3 coordinator, the head of year ten and 3 NQTs.  Alongside these members are four full time technicians and a VLE administrator who is currently developing the Learning Gateway using Microsoft Sharepoint, although the Learning Kit has not yet been utilised.

The group of learners, 10ZIT1, a year 10 mixed group who have not opted to take ICT and therefore have only one hour a week, comprises of equal amounts of achievers and socially dysfunctional, disaffected pupils.  Behaviour is challenging within the classroom and the pupils’ use of ICT leads them only to games.  Classroom management is an issue, although the lack of a whole school behaviour policy could account for the entrenched inappropriate conduct across the school.  The school delivers OCR Nationals Level 2 ICT from year 9 onwards, whilst the class should have completed the mandatory Unit 1 during that year, the last four months have been spent trying to complete it, unsuccessfully.   The decision has been made to move onto Unit 20: Creating animation, a creative unit that will hopefully reengage the pupils into education and learning through creative thought.  As the disaffection has been ongoing, the pupils’ listening and speaking skills are somewhat underdeveloped; an area that needs to be targeted during the remainder of their schooling, their responsibility and sense of achievement also needs nurturing through which the instructor believes they could accomplish independently.  Their lack of concentration on instructor led demonstrations causes disruption, from which the whole class suffers.


The aim of the intervention is to develop a series of instructional videos that will teach the pupils how to use Flash to create an animated sequence.  As the pupils will be in control of the delivery of the video, they can work at their own pace and refer to the resources when needed whilst creating their project.  This feature of multi tasking will need to be taught initially although the instructor believes it will have great rewards, for both pupil development, autonomy and classroom management.


As this paper aims to uncover whether instructional video can improve autonomy in disaffected pupils it is essential to determine what is meant by the term autonomy.

Autonomy in schools is crucial to educational effectiveness.  Autonomy empowers individuals within the system to teach to the changing needs of the students and the community (Sergiovanni and Moore, 1985 cited in Dondero, 1997).

Freeman and Lewis (2000. 151) argue whether “autonomy includes the broader ability to control one’s destiny“.  This theory of self-determination involves not only the control of ones destiny but also self-governance an area that involves conforming to the expected social norms of behaviour.  Maclean (2005) describes autonomy as “acting in your interests while staying affiliated with the values of the organisation”.  However, the relationships between pupil and teacher within the classroom are built upon a constant power struggle whereby disaffection occurs as pupils engage in the natural form of resistance as part of their subculture.  This resistance could be interpreted as individual autonomy as they are being their own person and as Christman (2003) states “not the product of manipulative or distorting external forces”.   Conversely this behaviour is somewhat regarded as deviant owing to the underdeveloped communication skills which have a tendency to be confrontational, as foundation relationships at home are generally poor, especially in areas of low socio economic depravation leading to greater detachment and disaffection to the society they are required to become a part of.

The learning environment then again is a major contributing factor to the development of pupil autonomy.  The initial steps towards an autonomous classroom requires that the existing power struggle, dissipate, creating a climate where mutual power exists between both pupil and teacher to an appropriate degree.  Clear boundaries should be set although pupils must be given the opportunity to challenge these in a respectful way developing communication skills whereby the greater understanding of negotiating takes place, becoming a part of the decision making process.  As purposeful relationships develop within the supportive classroom, communication between both pupil and teacher should be as an equal, whereby mutual respect exists removing aggressive behaviour and disaffection.   In the same way as autonomy and self-determination develop so should independent thought and pupils should be encouraged to question confidently whilst taking their own initiative and personal responsibility for their actions and learning.  Dondero cites Meyers (1986) who “suggests that autonomous behaviour occurs in degrees (i.e. given certain situations, people will act more or less autonomously). To have the ability to act autonomously does not guarantee that the behaviour will occur; individuals will only act autonomously if the situation is appropriate to them”.  To ensure the success of the autonomous classroom, an educators approach must be from the pupils’ view to engage their interests passionately.


“It is notoriously difficult to ‘measure impact’ in any educational innovation, whether it be a teaching method, a new teaching approach, a new curriculum scheme or indeed an intervention of any kind”. (Wellington and Cole, 2004, 101)

Research methods

To ensure development as a practitioner within the teaching profession it is essential to reflect on ones practice.  It is from this that the stakeholders, namely the students will be able to progress and attain from the cyclical reflection of the instructor.  This will in turn influence and improve teaching and learning.

McKernan states “Action research as a teacher-researcher movement, is at once an ideology which instructs us that practitioners can be producers as well as consumers of the curriculum inquiry;(…)”. McKernan continues to describe “action research has attempted to render the problematic social world understandable as well as to improve the quality of life in social settings”.

As a method of action research the instructor will use the Kolb model of experiential learning, a model that progresses over four stages which Kolb and Fry (1975, cited in Smith, 2001) argue that the learning cycle can begin at any one of the four modes but suggest that the optimal learning process begins at stage 1, ‘Concrete Experience’.  Here the learner observes a response from the immediate action or concrete experience.  It is from this then that the learner is able to reflect and progress onto stage two, ‘Observation and Reflection’.  Understanding the circumstances of the concrete experience the learner can anticipate the possible impact of a similar situation or action.  With this information the learner can then progress to step three, ‘Forming Abstract Concepts’, synthesising the experience “from which new implications for action can be drawn” (Boyatzis, Kolb & Mainemelis, 2006, p.3).  This then leads to the final stage of the model, step four, ‘Testing in new situations’ where application of the reflective concepts based on experience can be tested and new experiences drawn continuing the cycle.

Concrete Experience

The current educational climate within the classroom is not pleasant.  The battle between pupil and instructor is constant which has a detrimental effect on teaching and learning.  As the instructor attempts to engage pupils through modelling using the whiteboard from the front of the class, the reception of the students is unapparent considering behaviour and response.  The pupils were observed and the instructor made generic notes from lessons.  Using this as a baseline for “ordinary”, chalk and talk teaching it is necessary to reflect on this.

Observation and Reflection

From the results of the observations (see appendixes) it became apparent that these pupils were disengaged with ICT.  As the results show the majority of pupils were distracted and more preoccupied with their social status.

Emotional intelligence (Petrides et al, 2004) is seriously below average.  This is not only reflected by the pupils’ attainment on entry but the minimal progression throughout the year, which in turn influences the lack of control within the classroom (Vidal Rodeiro et al, 2009).  Combined with the inability to connect / apply, skills learned / taught to possible ideas, results in dependant pupils who appear to lack any drive or passion for anything other than their current social standing within their insular community.

There is no real desire to learn or in fact engage with ICT creatively, which hinders development and attainment.  They have no pride in their work based on the previously submitted assessments.

Discussing the state of the learning environment the instructor found the pupils did not enjoy sitting at the front watching the teacher modelling but preferred to log straight onto the computers and ‘get on’ with their work.  This indicated that the pupils could be receptive to autonomous learning.

Forming Abstract Concepts

Considering the pupils voice it seemed valid to diffuse the power struggle and the adult in the room should meet the pupils’ demands in order to move the learning environment forward.  Pupils in year 10 should be moving more and more toward independent thought with the ability to make decisions and face the consequences of their actions.

Testing in new situations

Establishing the classroom as an environment to achieve autonomous learning, the power struggle that existed during the initial stages was slowly dissipated to help build relationships.  Listening to the pupils’ voice, class members were not required to sit at the front and watch the teacher modelling, an area that caused the most disruption.  They were however required to come in, settle down, log on and open their animation and supporting document to evidence their work.  Clear boundaries had been set with regards to playing games, alongside, an agreement was set in place whereby pupils could have free time if they had made sufficient progress during the lesson.  This approach diminished the aggressive behaviour creating a more pleasant work environment improving “the quality of life in social settings”.  In spite of this the issue of mutual respect is still one of the main disrupting factors within the class is most pupils’ attitude towards homosexuality.  Defying the socially accepted norms within their society and to some degree that within dominant culture the instructor’s homosexual presence could be interpreted as a catalyst for non-conformist behaviour, spurring the pupils to partake in their rebellious subcultural norms.  On the other hand this could also represent the pupils’ lack of respect within the classroom (Rofes, 2000; Iftikhar, 2009; Teachers TV, 2008).  Speculating around these key issues does not necessarily resolve them and requires further research into Muslim pupils’ opinions of gay teachers.  Nevertheless from observation their behaviour is somewhat more deviant compared to that in a class where a ‘respected’ or ‘feared’ teacher is host, drawing a series of conclusions that is not necessarily debated.

Tapping in to their interests, quality visuals of aspiring material goods (Bentley, Clinique, Porsche) were delivered to engage the pupils and inspire them (Meyers, ibid).  These images were composited together to create animated sequences, which received an enthusiastic response, usually “Sir that’s sick man” (Sick meaning: great; COOL, AWESOME according to The Online Slang Dictionary).  The assets were distributed amongst the class, ensuring there was sufficient choice for them to make decisions of what they would create.

The final inspirational solutions were not only played full screen on the whiteboard but also accessible from the Learning Gateway.  Alongside these a series of quality instructional video resources were created to inspire pupils giving step-by-step instructions to help them create the final product.  Initially sceptical about dictating the final outcome, the drive to approach the topic in such a way was founded on the lack of vision pupils have, combined with experience of INSETs previously taken with staff who also had difficulty in realising the potential of basic instructional videos which taught you how to bounce a ball.   It was felt necessary to show what you could achieve with three very different pictures using very simple techniques.

Pupils were directed to the instructional videos and encouraged to work independently.  This new process of learning was alien to them, requiring self-control and motivation.  Only three pupils from the class accessed the material to help with their animation.  These pupils were constantly encouraged and reminded to access the resources however one respondent voiced, “They take too long”.  The realisation that they are in control of their learning was not apparent, causing disengagement with the material.  However the three pupils that did engage initially with the instructional resources were proactive using the software although they had no realisation of what and how they had achieved it.


The antisocial, deviant behaviour was minimised over the first few weeks as relationships began to form however this deteriorated as the instructor had four consecutive weeks away from the group.  The positive environment built up again quite quickly with more class involvement as pupils were given the opportunity to demonstrate the learning objectives.

This helped to establish what had been learnt previously and as the group are quite social they were attentive to the modelling.  This allowed the instructor to combine pupil / teacher led demonstrations alongside the instructional videos more easily as talking during demonstration diminished.  Pupils were following instructions more readily, which made teaching and learning more effective.

Talking throughout work time did not diminish and stayed constant although the work ethic improved radically.  The talking may reduce as the unit progresses and they become more competent in Flash.

Playing games was still an issue with some pupils, although not near the amount at the beginning of the intervention as the free time agreement was effective.

Working on other assignments became a concern towards the end of the observations, as pupils were more conscious of current exams or coursework deadlines.  For non-option ICT groups such as this, the application of ICT makes more sense when applying it to something they are interested in, hence an opted subject.  Most pupils were enthusiastic towards the end, creatively engaged and on task although pride in their work was not equivalent.  Some pupils were not saving their work properly and having to start again.  Un-fazed by this there still seemed to be a lack of pride and engagement even though they were still on task.

Using instructional video was not apparent at all toward the end and had reached its peak a few weeks into the observation with a total of three pupils, which deems the technological intervention a failure.  However the classroom routines that were put into action did improve teaching and learning on some level.

Conclusion and recommendations

Learning from instructional video is a skill requiring continuous reinforcement.  Understanding the resources can be paused, rewound and fast-forwarded the same way when listening to music or watching a film is crucial.  Pupils should watch, then attempt, see if it works, if not go back to the resource and watch again or if successful move on.  This level of learning requires determination and self-control from which the pupils should feel empowerment realising they are acting in their best interests as well as those of the school resulting in autonomy.   This skill is possibly too advanced for a group of disaffected pupils and would require a longer period to teach self-control after positive relationships have been built.

As this action research project aimed to develop this level of learning, the data however is flawed and no real successes can be determined as the group dynamics were continuously changing.  This was due to a series of factors, namely disorganisation and reorganisation of pupils’ timetables, which caused a serious amount of disruption within an already disaffected class.  Over the weeks the observations took place several new pupils were added, taken away and some who seemed to be generally in the wrong classroom.

The technological intervention did not work as planned, however the routines put into place from the initial observations and reflection where the pupils’ voice was considered did begin to diminish disruptive behaviour.  Autonomy was not achieved, as finding things out for themselves was not an incentive, since they could not recognise the personal gain.  More frequently “Sir I need help” or “Sir you haven’t helped me” continued to be common phrases shouted out which suggests that most did want to engage with the software however they still required one to one support to ensure total engagement otherwise they would become disruptive and regress into the social mode they are accustomed to.

The scenarios reached some of the pupils’ current social awareness connecting them to the work, and one pupil adapted the brief to suit his personal interest of boxing.  Equally more discussion is needed to clearly identify the interests of disaffected youths to ensure that the topic is relevant to them and actively reengage them in the classroom.

To raise achievement and attainment within this area of compulsory none option ICT, more ‘social’ group work would make the subject accessible to improve not only their grades but also their Emotional Intelligence through the development of socialisation.  Autonomy is only the beginning of the journey in which the outcome should be to work towards a unanimous group goal and fit in with the social confines we are all subject to.  Collaborative group work could be the key for pupils to understand their own personal strengths and identify weaknesses to aid personal development.  Unit 23: Creating Video would be a more fitting area to bring together a variety of skills and personal qualities as it could be successfully divided into vocational hands on areas such as director, actor and editor.  This combination would allow individuality and independence to flourish.

References and Further Reading

The Online Slang Dictionary | Definition of sick. Available at: [Accessed March 25, 2009].

Ali, Majid (2008) Perceptions of learning difficulties: a study examining the views of Pakistani and white children with learning difficulties, their parents, peers and school staff. EdD thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Christman, J. (2003) Autonomy in Moral and Political Philosophy. Autonomy in Moral and Political Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Available at: [Accessed March 31, 2009].

Dondero, G.M. (1997) Organizational climate and teacher autonomy: implications for educational reform. International Journal of Educational Management, 11 (5). Available at: [Accessed March 31, 2009].

Fie, M. E-Learning pedagogy: TSOI© Model. Available at: [Accessed April 1, 2009].

Frederickson, N. & Petrides, K. (2008) Ethnic, gender, and socio-economic group differences in academic performance and secondary school selection: A longitudinal analysis. Learning and Individual Differences, 18 (2), pp.144-151. Available at:

Freeman, M.D.A. & Lewis, A.D.E. (2000) Law and Medicine: Current Legal Issues , New York: Oxford University Press. Available at: [Accessed March 31, 2009].

Freitas, S.D. & Neumann, T. (2009) The use of [`]exploratory learning’ for supporting immersive learning in virtual environments. Computers & Education, 52 (2), pp.343-352. Available at:


Huang, W. & Webster, D. (200) An intelligent semantic e-learning framework using context-aware Semantic Web technologie, Available at:

Iftikhar (2009) Pakistan Think Tank Forum • View topic – Gay and Lazbian Vs Muslim Children. Available at: [Accessed March 25, 2009].

Lamaster, K.J. & Knop, N. (2004) Improving web-based instruction: using action research to enhance distance learning instruction. Educational Action Research, 12 (3), pp.387 – 412. Available at:

McKernan, J. Curriculum action research. Available at:,M1 [Accessed March 25, 2009].

Passey, D., Williams, S. & Rogers, C. (2008) Assessing the potential of e-learning to support re-engagement amongst young people with Not in education, employment or training (NEET) status. In An independent research and evaluation study .  Lancaster: Lancaster University. Available at: [Accessed March 26, 2009].

Petrides, K.V., Frederickson, N. & Furnham, A. (2004) The role of trait emotional intelligence in academic performance and deviant behavior at school. Personality and Individual Differences, 36 (2), pp.277-293. Available at:

Phil Riding, Sue Fowell & Phil Levy (1995) An action research approach to curriculum development. Information Research, 1 (1). Available at: [Accessed March 25, 2009].

Rofes, E. (2000) Bound and Gagged: Sexual Silences, Gender Conformity and the Gay Male Teacher. Sexualities.

Selwyn, N. (2008) Constructing the challenge of digital didactics:, 4 (3). Available at: [Accessed April 1, 2009].

Smith , M.K. (2001) David A. Kolb on experiential learning. the encyclopedia of informal education. Available at: [Accessed February 15, 2009].

Sunal, C. & Haas  , M. (2008) Development of Self-Concept in Diverse Students. Available at: [Accessed March 26, 2009].

Teachers TV (2008) School Matters – Gay Teachers | Teachers TV. Available at: [Accessed March 25, 2009].

THE MUSLIM EDUCATIONAL TRUST (2001) Schools: Achieving Success,

Underwood, J. & Banyard, P. (2008) Managers’, teachers’ and learners’ perceptions of personalised learning: evidence from Impact 2007. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 17 (3), pp.233 – 246. Available at:

Vidal Rodeiro, C.L., Bell, J.F. & Emery, J.L. (2009) Can trait Emotional Intelligence predict differences in attainment and progress in secondary school? Available at: [Accessed March 25, 2009].

Wehmeyer, M.L. Brief Paper on Personal, Family and Community Strategies to Enhance Consumer-Direction and Self-Determination. Available at: [Accessed March 31, 2009].

Weihong Huang, D.W. (200) An intelligent semantic e-learning framework using context-aware Semantic Web technologie, Available at:

Wellington , J. & Cole, P. (2004) Conducting evaluation and research with and for ‘disaffected’ students: practical and methodological issues. British Journal of Special Education, 31 (2).

Researching Multimedia in Education

Introduction & Myths


After graduating with 1st class honours I was employed by Bradford School of Art to deliver technical aspects of software to students on the BA where my interest in teaching developed.  Continuing my professional development in the form of MA Graphic Design and then PGCE ICT I realised the impact of ICT within society.  Although generally the vision of ICT is usually that of spreadsheets and databases, my focus and interest is developing the more creative side of learning through design and project management, harnessing the available technologies, fusing them together, ensuring that ICT can integrate seamlessly.  Through this approach I aim to develop pupils’ knowledge and attitude towards ICT demonstrating how this essential part of modern society can enhance their lives.


Learning technologies can improve teaching and learning, only if understanding exists from both pupil and teacher.  Problems usually arise when using technologies in the classroom, if it can go wrong it will go wrong and it is through the planning of using these LTs that a backup plan is usually necessary.

Currently the educational institution I teach within is developing their Intranet to promote excellence in teaching and improve learning, enabling “achievement for all.”  They implement Microsoft SharePoint, a corporate tool used by many leading brands, such as Easy Jet, and being a Microsoft product is not necessarily the most intuitive piece of software as it is not user friendly.  The development of the intranet is in its infancy and the school employs a single person to work full time on its development.  Throughout the next year I aim to improve the interface of the Learning Gateway (intranet) creating a more ergonomic experience, incorporating more assessment for learning through the creation of online activities, which will offer the pupils an immediate response also improving assessment and feedback from tutors.

The submission of work is an area I would like to develop as the handing in of Key Stage 3 and4 finished projects does not always go to plan as pupils have a limit to printing 2 pages at a time.  Sixth form pupils send work by email and as effective as this is, I believe it to be slightly inefficient and informal.  Over the past few weeks I have been looking at creating work areas and document libraries where a class of students can upload work.  This currently has its drawbacks as the security permissions are limited, as those who are allowed to upload, are also allowed to read, edit and delete other pupils’ work, which creates a series of security issues.

Another aspect I aim to undertake is building the social side of the Learning Gateway so that pupils can contribute through social networking tools such as blogs and wikis, helping them to develop their own online persona and bring the school together as a community helping departments to collaborate effectively improving cross curricular activities where pupils will be able to make more intuitive connections through their studies promoting a more fluid cohesive educational experience.  This should enable pupils to effectively share and exchange ideas, a key part within the curriculum.



E-mail is an integral means of communication within the education establishment, allowing collaboration between staff, enabling distance teaching and learning whilst giving the learner an easy alternative for making queries regarding current issues.

New pupils joining secondary education at year 7 may well be new to the communication theories behind email.  As the digital natives are encompassed within the notion that all have a similar access to technology, the reality is that some may not have Internet access or aware of the opportunities to set up personal email.  As described email is an integral part of communication within education, it is then essential to set up this service for each pupil.  Introducing email to pupils will help to develop key skills as Lerman (1998) describes such as “speak, listen, read, and write for purposes that seem meaningful to them” Transferring the FENTOs (Groves, 1999) key areas of teaching, implementing the use of email creatively within the classroom, the teacher is able to “promote and encourage individual learning”, helping pupils to determine a greater sense of autonomy, as they are able to offer support and advice to their peers.  Sharing and exchanging information with each other is a key skill that should be developed to achieve a level three although there are difficulties evidencing this and using email could develop this key issue.

To introduce the task, pupils are divided into groups of four and set a research project where they have to collaborate together to produce a travel package report, including mode of travel, hotel, performance and restaurant reservations.  Each pupil undertakes one of the research criteria, uncovering the important information using appropriate search methods.  Relevant pictures associated with each criterion are downloaded and saved to their personal space, suitable text is copied and pasted into an email along with the hyperlinks, acknowledging their sources, the images then attached.  This information is shared amongst the group electronically through the use of their email, transferring relevant data and images to each other without the use of verbal communication or transporting files through USB sticks, keeping pupils in their seats.  During the lesson, pupils communicate only through email, which should promote a positive work environment ensuring behaviour, and classroom management is of minimum effort as the teacher will be able to “facilitate learning in groups” more effectively.  Using the email client the pupils should learn how to set up group communication, from this the pupils should be able to attach files, select information and choose recipients.

Using the acquired shared information the pupils then produce a promotional report recommending their package deal aimed at a mature audience, this is then attached and emailed to the whole class.  Evidence is then easily obtained regarding sharing information and ideas in an effective manner whereby the pupils have learned from experience by sending and receiving emails, to and from multiple users, developing research, writing and general ICT skills.

Interactive Whiteboards

Interactive Whiteboards

Click here to open PowerPoint

Interactive whiteboards are rarely used for anything other than demonstrations, presentations or the displaying of lesson objectives.  Once delivered the whiteboard is then relatively redundant as the teacher works their way around the room, the screensaver activates and generally the “Windows XP” logo floats around.  The aim of my PowerPoint is to make use of the whiteboard whilst the teacher is not there.  The lesson is developed for OCR Nationals Level 2 ICT, Unit 21, AO3, and would aim to get all pupils to a Distinction grade.  The tutor would initially explain the objectives, demonstrate the task in approximately 10 minutes and then move onto the next slide.  This slide contains a pre-recorded demonstration accompanied by a written description of what to do.  This approach would help the pupils to develop their own sense of autonomy as the tutor can only be in one place at once.  To accompany the video a Word document containing step by step instructions to aid understanding.




The Sun (2008) in their article “ePortfolios in Education: The Time Is Now” claim that ePortfolios are here today and in great use yet, Tolley (2009) in his thesis, discusses the ongoing discourse regarding universal eportfolios, and states that “only 5% of the population uses an ePortfolio 5% of the time.”  However ePortfolios and emerging technologies are constantly being developed and tested yet as Rogers et al (2006) suggest “the implementation seems to be limited at this time.”

There will however be a significant emergence of ePortfolios over the next five years as it is expected that each child should possess an online portfolio as part of one of the government’s key objectives (Spider, 2008).  This development of key skills will prepare the child for further study or future employment, making a positive contribution to society.  Although here lays the debate, what is an ePortfolio comprised of?  Since the emergence of Web 2.0 technologies and the boom of social networking, digital artefacts are being constantly created, dotted around the web in the form of images, videos, blogs, wikis and tagging.  These artefacts combine to build a progressive picture of the online users “social” development that as Vuorikari (2005) suggests, “could be combined to create an ePortfolio utilising learning progresses through the ability to organise one’s own knowledge.”  This skill will enable pupils to make connections between their works and reflect on their progress, yet there are many issues regarding the implications of social networking within the school sector (which appear later in this paper), and the employment sector where it has been known that employers use social networking sites to keep tabs on their employees or decisions regarding employment (SmartPros, 2006).

Developing an ePortfolio within the school sector relies on the education and understanding of new skills, which are required for the constant, reflective process that takes place in building this lifelong artefact, a process that must coincide with the curriculum, integrating all subjects, yet heavily reliant on ICT, skills not all pupils and teachers are competent in.

Luca (et al) citing Bloom and Bacon (1995, p.2) found “that especially new students may have difficulty with the lack of structure in the process,” the learner therefore needs to take ownership of the portfolio, understanding that through the student centred learning, combined with their individual approach, personal development will occur, although this is not as simple as it sounds.  The systems life cycle, a key element within the delivery of units within ICT, a process students are constantly reminded of, is an ideal model to map reflective learning, yet evidence suggests there are difficulties when completing a task as pupils tend not to complete the self evaluation forms, highlighting what they did well, not so well and how they can improve the next time.  As this is an integral part of developing an ePortfolio, aimed at enhancing learning, strategies such as rewarding good reflection, need to be put in place to ensure this learning tool is successful.

This is an area I shall attempt to introduce to my year 7 students.


Social Software

Social Software

During my time as Lecturer at Bradford School of Art I attempted to tap into the Social Networking technology through using Myspace, to ensure candidates were aware of deadlines and the current brief as the Myspace community was at its peak and seemed the logical way to ensure they were receiving messages as the majority spent a considerable amount of time building their online personas.  Students were not receptive to this approach, keeping their private and student lives separate.  Being also guilty of this, not adding colleagues from work, preferring to keep my work and personal life detached, I do however believe that this form of networking could aid education within secondary schools.

Social networking within the secondary school provokes a sense of fear and accountability within the institution (Nightingale, 2008), as the responsibility of “socialising” these young people (Coughlan , 2007), ensuring they adhere to the unspoken norms, lies greatly on the shoulders of the educators as well as the compelling, global, issue of
e-Safety (BECTA, 2007).  Whilst schools are generally approaching this as a whole school, PSHCE issue (Chapman), raising awareness not only regarding the dangers of grooming and predators but also that what you post online is there for the world to see, digital subcultures are forming who redefine the social norms of dominant culture to that of their online group (Buckingham, 2007).  Yet the norms of online behaviour are not defined or agreed for any digital social group, which can lead to online disputes.  One dispute that appears to be on the increase is cyber bullying and with the advancements in technology it is becoming more difficult for the victim to ignore and even more difficult for schools to deal with (Barton, 2008).  Institutions are generally unable to control this form of “socialising” and are reliant on webmasters of social networking sites to deal with any issues, although generally unsuccessfully and sometimes with consequence as there has been a severe increase in teen suicides related to cyber bullying.

In an attempt to control, links to sites such as Bebo, Myspace and Facebook are usually filtered and blocked, whilst instant messaging software, such as AIM and MSN Messenger are not installed; pupils find a way to bypass security protocols and use these technologies during lessons through third party sites.  It is therefore in schools’ best interests to absorb this phenomenon and utilise its impact through developing an online community of their own (Larsen, 2007), which can be monitored more vigilantly.   As social networkers are deemed socially uninhibited this would allow schools the opportunity to monitor problems such as bullying, identifying the bullies and bullied and tackle the problem with written evidence.

Social networking, online, is a skill that should be developed within the school environment alongside socialising, offline, facilitated by the educators, ensuring that the form of behaviour, is acceptable by all that contributes and online etiquette adhered.

My institution employs Microsoft SharePoint Server for the delivery of their intranet and Learning Gateway, which incorporates a variety of technologies that could develop, control and educate using the social networking approach.
Questioning pupils regarding the development of a school social network, many were enthused by the idea and thought it would be of great benefit.  I look forward to developing the social side of SharePoint.


Computers and Assessment

Computers and Assessment

Click here to open Assessment

Assessment for Learning is an area that is developing rapidly within the school sector.  The sharing of objectives and what is required to achieve the highest possible grades seem light years ahead from the primitive teachings of the 20th century.  Self-assessment is also key, developing autonomy and independence of thought.  Computers and assessment can have a significant impact on learning, developing quizzes and online assessment, that feeds back instantly can enhance and improve teaching and learning, showing the pupil where they need to concentrate on to develop.  In an attempt to develop the Learning Gateway at my institution I created an online quiz using Flash, to grasp whether the pupils understood the terminology for “Information: Fact, Opinion, Reliability, Validity and Bias.”  The response was good, and most pupils were engaged and focused, showing a clear understanding, benefiting from the quiz and the immediate feedback.




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