Virtual Reality and Primary Education

It's probably every teacher's worst nightmare: the children are plugged into virtual reality headgear and someone else is giving them their lessons while the teacher is redundantly hanging about or simply a bystander while the lesson is going on. Although the scenario is as unlikely as any virtual primary school teacher has so far proven to be, we have seen the benefits of utilising virtual learning environments such as YouTube, Minecraft, the Flipped Classrom and so on to compliment what is already happening in schools. Therefore, is there any argument for using Virtual Reality in some lessons? Right now, there are a few options for Virtual Reality: Google Cardboard is the main one as it is incredibly cheap and Google have already started making education content through Google Expeditions. Samsung have their VR headset too, which works with...

Not a SMART move

SMART, the company behind the Smartboard Interactive Whiteboard announced that their software "SMART Learning Suite" which includes the only program teachers probably ever used "Smart Notebook" can no longer be sold or used with  other displays. While this probably isn't going to affect that many Irish primary school teachers since we've moved way beyond Interactive Whiteboard software, it seems like a step in the wrong direction by SMART. Given that the software isn't that good, ultimately, it won't make people go out and buy Smartboards. Surely, it would be a better option to sell the software for use on other boards and have some sort of get out clause to say that the software is intended for use on Smartboards and that they can't take responsibility for how they work on other boards. Anyway, I'm sure there was some reason for this...

Technology and a New School Building

Lots of new school buildings are being built lately around the country, which is lovely news, and I've noticed that I'm getting a lot of questions around how technology works in terms of a new building. There are all sorts of decisions that have to be made in terms of what to buy and what setup to choose so I'm hoping that this article will help any principals who might be baffled by the jargon and choices that have to be made. The Number One Question: Wired or Wireless Since 2014, schools have a choice to either have a wired or a wireless network setup. Before then, schools were generally set up with a wired network infrastructure and if they wanted wifi in the school, they had to buy this separately. (For the purposes of this article wifi and wireless are the same thing.) Before you make any decisions, check with the DES architect...

ClassDojo Cartoons

I discovered something new on the ClassDojo website today - a whole bunch of ClassDojo cartoons. The example below is the first episode in their second series and it focuses on a moral lesson about when the going gets tough. The cartoons are beautifully produced and the stories that I've watched are great. It's well worth having a browse and the cartoons could form part of an SPHE or Learn Together lesson.

#dojoChatEU: Learning from mistakes in the classroom

Every week, I delve through ClassDojo's Twitter chat and answer the questions that were posed. This week, our own Ciara Brennan, (@primedteacher), was the moderator and the topic was all about learning from mistakes. As usual, here and the questions and my answers. Q1. Failure is the mother of success. Do you agree or disagree? A good question to start us off. I like this phrase about mistakes being like a mother (or father!) In the same way as we can't get success without making mistakes, children can't happen without being born, usually from their mother. Effectively, if one compares efforts to generations, at some point one of the offspring will be a success! There's hope for us all :-D Q2. How do you cope with failure in your own role as an educator? I make mistakes all the time and usually they help me get better at my job. I've...

#dojoChatEU: Fostering Positive Relationships

Every week I answer the questions posed in ClassDojo's weekly chat, #dojoChatEU. It happens every Wednesday from 8:30pm and it brings together teachers from around Europe. This week's topic is fostering positive relationships. Q1. Which famous person would you like to be friends with? I know it's probably a cliché to say that I've never really thought about this, but I haven't. The first names that pop into my head pale into insignificance as I don't really know what we'd have to talk about. I guess I'd like to meet someone who I could chat to who might be in a position to empower change as I am limited in this aspect. There are certain aspects of the Irish Education System that I have serious issues with in terms of inequality, especially on the basis of religious discrimination. I don't know what famous person could sit down with me...

#dojochatEU: Peer learning

Every week I take the questions from ClassDojo's weekly chat on Twitter, #dojochatEU. This week's topic was Peer Learning. Let's go through the questions and if you can, tune into the Twitter chat every Wednesday from 8:30pm. Q1. What does peer learning mean to you? Simply put, I think it means learning through your classmates and teacher rather than the teacher alone. The days of the teacher being the fountain of knowledge are coming to an end (hopefully) and we are entering a time where our pupils can not only learn from their teacher but from each other. A teacher in this new role becomes a facilitator: questioning, challenging, scaffolding and so on. Q2. The Sutton Trust report published in 2011 concluded that peer-learning was more effective at improving learning than one-to-one tutoring or smaller class sizes. Do you agree? I...

#dojochatEU: Has technology a place in education?

Every week I respond to the ClassDojo #dojochatEU Twitter conversation, which happens every Wednesday evening. This week's topic was "Has technology a place in education?" Here are the questions: Q1. Why do you think #edtech has a place in education? Education and technology must go hand in hand because the world and technology go hand in hand. The education world must represent what is happening in the world. Thankfully, most people now agree about the importance of technology in education. There are, of course, the naysayers who believe children have too much screen time at home so should get a break from it in school, but to me, this is the same logic that expects schools to pick up for every inadequacy in a child's life. The answer to children getting too much screentime at home is to lessen the amount of screentime at home. Schools...

ClassDojo and Principals

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ClassDojo have just released a way for principals and other school leaders to get involved in their schools that are running ClassDojo. Principals can now set up "School Leader Accounts." This allows them to see the general highlights of what is happening in the school. For example, they can see how many teachers in the school are using ClassDojo and how many pupils are using it too. They can also see how many parents are signed up for updates, which is a cool idea.   [caption id="attachment_12652" align="alignright" width="158"] Highlights that can be seen by prinicpals[/caption] On top of this, principals can see at a glance how many parents have "liked" stories posted by teachers. They can even see how many languages that they have been translated into - very interesting data. In the classroom, the principal can also see what...

Big Questions about Big Screens

At the recent IPPN conference expo, it was interesting to see the number of companies selling interactive touchscreens. They are being hailed as the successor to Interactive Whiteboards and they were certainly giving the principals some food for thought. The big selling point seemed to be that with an Interactive Touchscreen, there was no need for a projector and, in some cases, a laptop or computer. With projectors breaking down over the last few years, principals seemed turned on by the idea of not having to worry about maintaining and replacing projectors or projector bulbs. The ability to have an operating system built into the screen was also an interesting feature and certainly a bonus. However, there are some questions that need to be asked about these big screens. It is now about a decade since Interactive Whiteboards came into...