Mobile Learning…Ringing in the Classroom

I was particularly pleased to see that Google has released it’s Google phone last week. The market needs competition. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of Apple’s iPhone and find their app’s superb. But as we are all aware technology is changing and improving all the time. Apple released their iPhone in June 2007. What can mobile phones offer as tools in the classroom? Are mobile phones the future of the classroom?

Personally I think the answer is yes. They have their merits as a tool within the classroom, but used in the correct mature manner. I openly invite a mobile phone company to let my department trial a set of phones to see their potential. Any offers?

Is the Google Android the new phone of the future?

Is it better than the iPhone?

Is the Google Android suited for schools?

Are iPhones the future for the classroom?

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My Top Ten Geography Films

As I have previously stated in my blog and from my article for Sec-Ed, films are a fantastic way in which to engage young learners. For interest (and a bit of fun!) I have complied together my ‘Top Ten’ Geography related films. This first appeared in my article Learning from Films in April 2009 for Sec-Ed.

  • Slumdog Millionaire – life in within the shanty towns of Mumbai
  • Brassed Off – industrial decline in the UK
  • The Day After Tomorrow – climate change has never been this traumatic!
  • City of God – the daily lives of young people in the favelas of Rio
  • Twister – the formation and impact of a twister
  • There Will Be Blood – industrial growth of a more economically developed country
  • Dante’s Peak – shows most of the features of a volcano
  • Lawrence of Arabia – illustrates desert features
  • Kes – life in 1960s Britain
  • The Full Monty – industrial decline within the UK

Q. What would be in your Top Ten Films for your subject? I look forward to hearing from you.

Learning from Films

It was not long into my education career as a teacher that I started to realise the importance and usefulness of film in my lessons. I had always been using documentaries and footage from DVDs and videos in my lessons but I had not realised what films could offer. It got my mind racing on different aspects of films that could be shown to pupils within different subject areas. I soon realised that films could enhance and develop a pupils learning and encourage them to be life long learners.

In April 2009 I wrote an article for Sec-Ed regarding the usefulness of films in education called Learning from Films. I have used films in the classroom and have found they have a lasting impression on a young students mind. Films are a successful way of engaging and stimulating young people.

Films can enhance a lesson and excite a young mind with their powerful and thought provoking subject matter. Dr. Pietari Kaapa of the University of Nottingham has stated that, “cinema as both a popular form of entertainment and a means of artistic and political expression, is a crucial area of classroom teaching. The pedagogical potential of film provides an immediate and invigorating addition to established lesson plans, while the history of the medium and its contextual socio-cultural relevance function as sources of study in their own right.”

As a Geography Teacher I have used a wide variety of different films to help show and back up key terminology or sometimes complex geographical features. The world today has created a generation of young people with very active minds. The days of a teacher in a classroom talking for 50 minutes are long gone and would not generate much enthusiasm from today’s young learners. Interaction and variety is what is needed to engage learners and film is one medium that can grip a young person’s attention. Film can enthuse and generate much debate and help a learner.

Pupils are requested to use and take part in different types of media within their learning from the National Curriculum. Films like music should be encouraged to be used within the classroom. Nick Hargreaves of Radipole Primary School in Weymouth, Dorset, believes that ‘‘films are a really valid text as much as books. With the National Curriculum we have to look at various types of media within a child’s learning and film is one way. Films are not always easy to understand and it does take time sometimes for a young learner to fully understand the complexities of a film like the music changing in relation to the mood of the film.’’ As we are aware there are three types of learners; visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. A film is one medium that incorporates all three learning styles and can hold the attention and pass on knowledge and understanding to all three main learning styles.  Nick Hargreaves says ‘film takes into account how a learner learns…it attracts the three main types of learners and engages all of them in one sitting. It reaches out to all target levels especially boys’.

It is not only watching films but using/making films within a lesson. This is sometimes difficult to do with budgets and time constraints but can be a worthwhile exercise. Young people like to be more involved in classes and using digital film recorders is one way. Pupils should be encouraged to produce news reports, presentations or stop motion modelling to help their knowledge and understanding. The technology and resources are out there and we as teachers must start to use them for the benefit of our pupils and ourselves as practitioners.

It may be uncomfortable for some of us to film ourselves in a lesson and to watch our mannerisms but would it further develop ourselves as teachers? I think the answer would be yes and should be encouraged with any teacher new or old. Filiming ourselves could be way of encourging our own development as teachers.

I remember reading Great Expectations at school and found watching the David Lean adaption a much needed guiding hand when it came to revising for the GCSE. A film may not always be true or correct, but in the right hands, us as teachers, we can filter out the bad and use the great pieces of film there is out there waiting to be used.