Affordances of PicCollage

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At this time, I have chosen PicCollage as one of my technologies for Assignment 1. As I’ve only begun playing with it, I’m sure this list of affordances will grow as I become to know more about it. I completed the following list using Bowler’s E-learning categories of affordances (pp.6-7).

Media – Visual content can be easily added. Youtube clips can also be inserted. Text can be added in a range of fonts. Chosen images can be easily inserted into range of pre-organised templates.

Spatial – Images, text and stamps can be easily resized with finger controls and also moved and put down into different areas on the collage.piccollage1

Temporal – Accessibility with internet connection. Finished Collages can be saved onto devices camera roll for further viewing or reaccessed when logged in to your personal PicCollage account.

Navigation – there is the ability to move among different PicCollages that you are working on with easy finger swiping. There is the ability to click on different menu options or return to other sections by finger taps on the icon or collage.

Emphasis – users have the ability to choose different tools that enable highlighting of particular elements such as texts or images, for example, changing the text colour or adding a border stamp.

Synthesis – users can upload images from their devices camera file.

Access-control– users have the capacity to publish their collages for public viewing or keep them private. Collages can also be shared by email and directly onto social networking sites.

Technical affordances – PicCollage can be used on both Apple and Android devices.

Usability – PicCollage appears extremely user friendly. Fingertip controls are easy to use and quickly react to touch. Simple menu boxes that are easy to read. Rated 4.4 out of 5 stars in Android’s Play store.

Aesthetics – provides a range of templates, stamps, colours, backgrounds, text choices for use. Greater range is available for a fee. Users can also see what can be achieved in the gallery which can be inspiring for future collages.

Reliability – At this stage, I have never had a problem with accessing the software, either on my iPad or on my Smart phone, so it appears a reliable resource.

References

Bower, M. (2008) Affordance analysis – matching learning tasks with learning technologies, Educational Media International, 45:1, 3-15, DOI: 10.1080/09523980701847115

Researching the use of Technology in the Classroom

The issues raised by Cox (2012) offer food for thought. I hadn’t really considered how difficult it would be for researchers to gain accurate results regarding the use of ICT within education but the views expressed do make a lot of sense. We know that many of our students have access to large amounts of technology out of school time, however, how do we really measure how this access is impacting their learning? Cox discusses the situation that surrounds ICT in education includes:

  • teacher and student engagement with e-learning is still limited to a small range of IT technologies; • the focus of e-learning use in education has changed from purposely designed educational e-learning resources to commercially focused resources, such as the Internet and the World Wide Web, with timeless use; • there is a growing digital and cognitive divide across communities and even within schools impacting upon IT use and experiences (p.16)

With these very open perimeters that exist, it appears obvious that researching could be problematic. I think these perimeters show just how important it is for schools to continually conduct school based research of their own individual students, teachers and the ICT tools they use in order to develop accurate understanding of what is happening demographically and also what is working/not working within the school community. For instance, the school that I work in runs a ‘Learning to Learn’ program for all students in years 7 and 8. This was designed after there were gaps between how we wanted the students to work and the way they knew how to work in the classroom. It was interesting to see the evaluation of this program at the end of the year. It was encouraging to see what types of learning was identified at the beginning of the year and how our students have progressed throughout the year. This type of program works from school based research and has helped us teach the students how to use technology effectively to develop more higher level thinking skills.

The day I read these articles, I had just participated in a workshop on Flipped Classrooms. To me it appears quite a natural thing that, with so much technology being used, this will have an effect on how teaching occurs within our classrooms. Both Cox (2012) and Voogt, Knezek, Cox, Knezek, & Brummelhuis (2011) discuss a greater need of professional development opportunities for staff members to become more confident to be able to use ICT in the classroom more effectively. According to Voogt et. al (2011) ICT leadership can be successful when there are clear learning goals that can be accomplished with the help of technology, there is the creation of a learning environment for teachers and a designated ICT support system for teachers (p.5). When teachers feel supported they will be more likely to use ICT within the classroom.

Cox, M.J. (2012), Formal to informal learning with IT: research challenges and issues for e-learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2012.00483.x

Voogt J., Knezek G., Cox M.J., Knezek D.&ten Brummelhuis A. (2011) Under which conditions does ICT have a positive effect on teaching and learning? Acall to action. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. 15 November 2011, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00453.x.

Hardware in the Classroom

The types of hardware that currently exist in my classroom at present are:

  • My own laptop
  • My own iPad
  • A tv/dvd cart with speakers that we use to connect to our laptop

The school I work at began 2014 with a BYOD policy with all year 7 students beginning the new year with their own iPad. Schoolwide we have seen more digital projectors placed into individual classrooms however, in the artroom we are happy with our current TV cart. I think there is always pressure on schools to use new technologies, especially due to parent expectations. There are a number of schools in our area and technology can be a major selling point for parents when they are comparing schools for their children. Yes, I think in some subjects it has made big differences to how the subject is taught, however, how the students are learning is much harder to quantify. We haven’t had much in the way of professional development opportunities in terms of using the iPads for our specific areas and this appears to be a major reason why staff have chosen to continue working without implementing them within their specific subject areas.

TPACK Framework

I first came to know about TPACK early in my Masters of Education course. I see it as a way that can assist teachers in the planning of their lessons by considering some of the key components of the lesson to be taught.

TPACK involves three areas – Content Knowledge, Pedagogical Knowledge & Technological Knowledge. Where it can be useful is in contemplating where you fit into the model in regards to these knowledge areas which can help to identify areas that my require further research, ‘button-bashing’ or assistance to create a lesson that incorporates all areas successfully.

In terms of where I sit in this model, as a teacher with 15 years classroom experience, I feel confident with my Content Knowledge and Pedagogical Knowledge of Visual Arts Teaching. The Technological Knowledge would definitely be dependent upon what type of technology I was going to be using within the classroom. Something that I have used before and I know has been successful in my teaching programs prior, I could comfortably sit in the middle of the diagram; however, with new apps or software, I’d have to do some playing and experimentation first before fitting the new technology into my classroom.

tpack-contexts

I found the following article that discusses the use of TPACK in assessing mobile apps for the Visual Arts classroom:

Katz-Buonincontro, J. & Foster, A. (2013). Integrating the Visual Arts Back into the Classroom with Mobile Applications, Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 30:2, 52-59, DOI: 10.1080/21532974.2013.10784727

By using the TPACK model, the researchers assess 16 Visual Arts apps and conclude that overwhelmingly these applications failed to develop and sustain learning opportunities for students in the Visual Arts beyond a “click and view” approach. This made for an interesting read as I am considering reviewing a Visual Arts focussed app for the first assignment.

Digital Immigrant……me?? Pftt!

I overheard someone using this terminology in the staffroom the other day and I had to laugh that people still refer to it…..yes, perhaps you are born to a particular era but that doesn’t mean you are stereotypically more likely or less likely to use technology successfully. I think we need to remember that Prensky decided to write about these stereotypes in 2001 and I think many people, whether regarded as native or immigrant, have been required to use more and more tedigital immigrantchnology within their day to day lives. Individuals within these ‘eras’ come from a range of cultural, geographical and social backgrounds which can effect the accuracy of the stereotype dramatically. By viewing our students as ‘Digital Natives’ we forget that they are individuals and in terms of learning, their skills may differ widely. Bennett, Maton & Kervin (2008) write that even though there is some research that points to a high proportion of technologically adept young people, there is also a significant proportion of this so called ‘digital native’ generation who do not have the high levels of access or skills in technology (p.779).

As teachers, I think we have all seen evidence of this within the classroom. My students are great at playing Clash of Clans but still require some coaching on finding and understanding information, or even presenting information effectively using ICT tools.

Bennett, S., Maton, K., & Kervin, L. (2008) The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 775-786.

Should we or shouldn’t we???

Like I mentioned in my last blog post, I think there are definitely times when ICT is not required in the classroom. As I have said already, there are many times where, as an art teacher, I’ve asked for iPads to be left outside the classroom so as to limit distractions and just because they are not needed for the task I have chosen for the lesson. The Silicon Valley Waldorf school has taken drastic measures to limit technology, however, would this really be detrimental to the students? Many of these students (as referred to in the article) are the children of some of the top tech executives in the world. One would question whether these children get enough opportunity to use technology outside the classroom, that limiting it within it, would not cause them limitations. Even though technology and developing good digital literacy and citizenship is important, I don’t think we can forget the bare mechanics of education – writing, reading, basic maths, creativity. I also think its wonderful to have diversity in education so that if a parent sees the need to send their child to a school that has certain religious beliefs, creative or sporting pursuits, or a technological emphasis, they have the choice to do so.

Terry Heick (2014) penned the following definition of Digital Literacy “Digital literacy is the ability to interpret and design nuanced communication across fluid digital forms.” (taken from: http://www.teachthought.com/technology/the-definition-of-digital-literacy/). This article offers some interesting ideas regarding the changing definition of digital literacy. Literacy is about understanding and digital literacy relates to making sense of the digital world around us. In the classroom this can take place by students learning how to make sense of digital information, not just website based information, but information found on social media or from apps. I see a major part of teaching digital literacy in the classroom as trying to eliminate the ‘cut and paste’ culture that has become so entrenched in our students, but is really limiting there ability to understand and prove their understanding of information.