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Week 2 introduction

Welcome to Week 2 of the course! Hear from Cat Scutt and Cathy Lewin about the week ahead and engage with this week's research evidence.
Welcome back to week two of the course. In this module, we’ll be exploring what the research has to tell us about communicating new ideas and making collaboration work in the classroom. You’ll have the chance to explore research, practice and case studies that are relevant to your own context and see how technology might be a possible solution to some of the challenges you and your learners might be facing. You’ll also be able to access a variety of how-to content to help you get started with some of the most popular tools.
As schools and pupils increasingly lean towards using digital media in the classroom and whilst slide presentations like PowerPoints continue to be widespread as a means of presenting content, it’s worth us taking the time to explore how what we know about memory and learning both with and without technology can inform our use of presentations and other learning resources and how this can help to ensure they support understanding and memory retention. Emerging research about the relative benefits of typing versus writing by hand also has important implications for how we use technology in the classroom.
Daniel Oppenheimer and colleagues found that when students took notes from lectures using their laptops, they tended to actually remember less of the content than those who wrote their notes by hand. This seems to be because students are able to type faster than they can write, meaning that when they’re typing they tend to make notes verbatim rather than needing to think about, digest, and summarise key ideas like those who are writing notes by hand. There are occasions of course, when having a word-for-word transcription might be helpful but often encouraging pupils to think hard reword and summarise key ideas like they need to when they’re taking notes by hand might contribute to better retention of the content they’ve learned.
Our understanding of reading habits in print and on screen may also affect the choices we make about media for our pupils. Readers tend to read more slowly and are able to retain more of the detail of the content when they read print books than when they read on screen. We should also be thinking carefully about how we use visuals and other media in our teaching.
Used well, combining visuals alongside text or spoken explanations can really support learning, but they can also be distractions or unintentionally interfere with students’ learning and whilst combining visuals and text well can help the learning of all pupils, there is no evidence that presenting content in different ways according to pupils’ preferred learning styles is actually effective and an expectation that teachers do so can create a huge and unnecessary workload. Technology can also be used effectively to break down complex ideas into small steps and to enable modeling and worked examples, as well as to facilitate effective dialogue in the classroom. To consider some of these ideas in more depth, here is Professor Cathy Lewin.
Hi, I’m Professor Cathy Lewin and I’m Professor of Education at Manchester Metropolitan University and Co-Director of the Science Technology and Learning research group. I’d like to introduce some ways in which technology can support communication and collaboration in the classroom. The use of technology needs to be purposeful and driven by the learning needs of the students. I believe that technology should be part of a teacher’s repertoire of tools to ensure learning is engaging and meaningful. It has many benefits, although of course there can be challenges too. In relation to presenting content, the multimedia capabilities of technology really lend themselves to helping to communicate content to learners.
Images, interactivity, 3D presentation, animation, video and sound provide variety and can support learning in different ways. For example, document cameras sometimes called visualisers allow teachers to share their learners’ work with their peers or make an object or something they are demonstrating to the class easier to see through magnifying the image. Images and video can also be captured, annotated, saved and shared. Visualising complex concepts and interacting with models and digital objects can really help learners to understand difficult content, particularly in subjects like mathematics and science. Research shows that this can have a positive impact on attainment in these subject areas. As well as presenting multimodal content, technology is a very effective enabler of collaboration and communication.
It can allow learners to present their ideas and knowledge in different ways. Multimodal text production can vary from digital storytelling in literacy to answering questions or considering real-life problems in any subject area. Creating something with an audience in mind or for a specific purpose can be very motivational. In one research project I worked on, some students created video revision resources for their younger peers for example. Technology can support discussion and the co-construction of knowledge. Learners can collaborate in real-time with their peers in the classroom or with students in other schools; national and international. Technologies range from simple video conferencing to fully interactive systems where collaborators can co-construct knowledge in online spaces and communicate simultaneously.
Using technology in these ways facilitates sharing, exposes learners to alternative viewpoints and can provide a record of the discussions and outcomes. Technology enabled communication and collaboration can be more inclusive as technology can level the playing field. Teachers have often told me that their quieter students become much more involved and active in these situations. However, collaboration does require careful classroom management to ensure that the activity is productive. Finally, whether accessing contents, communicating, or collaborating, technology can extend opportunities for learning beyond the classroom walls and the school day.
You may already use technology for presenting content in different ways but you might like to think about how you could enhance that, perhaps by focusing on concepts you know that your students find difficult to grasp.

In Week 2, we will be engaging with how and where technology might help teachers to build pupils’ knowledge and understanding through engaging with what research evidence has to tell us and what school case studies might reveal.

These are the questions we will seek to answer this week:

  • How might concepts such as dual coding and cognitive load theory help us present new content and complex concepts more effectively?
  • What makes effective pupil reflection, discussion and collaboration in the classroom and how can these help to develop pupil understanding?
  • How can the development of pupil knowledge and understanding be enabled with technology?

Cat Scutt, Director of Education and Research at the Chartered College of Teaching and Cathy Lewin, Professor of Education at Manchester Metropolitan University, introduce you to some of the week’s core concepts and research evidence in this week’s video introduction.

Throughout the week’s learning ahead, we encourage you to take a look at what others have posted, replying to your peers as well as posting your own responses so that our community of learning continues to grow.

Once you have viewed the video and made any notes to record key learning points, click the ‘Mark as complete’ button below and then select ‘Discuss your practice’ to continue your learning.
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Using Technology in Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning

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