In December 2012 we asked the students across our nine Manaiakalani Schools to write a reflection on their year of using a personal digital device as their basic learning tool.
About 250 students chose to post these reflections online via their blogs. These posts came from seven schools and children aged 9-13 years. The students ranged from having had 2 terms experience to 2 years experience in 1:1 classrooms.
Between them they posted 51,000+ words - pretty much a Master’s Thesis! So my challenge over the past two weeks has been to collate the main themes that have come through, whilst retaining some of the ‘Gems’ individuals have shared.
All 250 blog posts have been copied and pasted into this public Google Doc and anyone interested is welcome to trawl through the raw data with links to each source.
A quick visual impression of what was significant to the children was obtained by pasting the content of all their posts into Tagxedo . One example is embedded below.
A clear message from all of the children was the connection between their personal device (netbook in most cases in 2012) and learning, particularly improved learning outcomes.
- Enjoyment, motivation, fun, engagement and success came through consistently.
- Writing as a subject and the mechanics of writing were commented on favourably by most.
- Many more mentioned Maths this year as a subject they now enjoyed.
- The empowerment of digital technologies to strengthen collaboration and connection with peers, teachers and home was another strong theme.
- A significant number talked positively about the ability to learn anywhere, at anytime and with anyone and at any pace.
- And most students linked their reflection to the pedagogical underpinning of ‘Learn, Create, Share”.
The consistent negative concern was internet connectivity, or the impact on them when internet was erratic. A few children wrote of how they problem solved but a significant cry of frustration emerged. It will be interesting to see how the arrival of Fibre (UFB) in their schools and the Tamaki Learning Network providing wireless connections to their homes early in 2013 impacts their user experience.
Following is a collection of ‘sound bites’ with links to the original post of the child quoted.
This is the kind of anecdotal evidence that does not come through in standardised testing but some of these snippets reflect deep impact on learning.
Here are a couple of ‘Gems’ to get started:
The netbooks have made our school days interesting because now I talk more because there is a lot more to talk about.Catherine SPX
Now I can use my learning tool and I can type fast and it is so amazing. I am so exciting because I can do anything on my netbook. My learning tool helps me find the answers and it helps me do my worked and get it finished and it’s make my brain be brave.