It may not be immediately topical, but its about time that I report on it, more for the benefit of our children. On Wednesday 30th January, three of our Junior 4 (year 6) pupils presented at the Digital Leaders “kidsmeet” at the BETT show. It is with great thanks to the team from the Digital Leaders Network for setting up the opportunity for 10 schools to bring some of their digital leaders to the show to share their learning and experiences. We were very excited about joining such an innovative moment in ICT in primary schools and very privileged, as an independent school, to collaborate with other inspiring children and teachers.
Our main focus was the use we have been making of Edmodo as our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). There has been much written about VLEs in schools, the tools and their efficacy. A 2007 briefing paper from JISC, is a good start. However, our use of Google Apps for Education and its integration with Edmodo, has lead us to start questioning how we might enable the children to understand and start to build a Personal Learning Environment or Network (PLE, PLN). And this is where it is getting interesting: Since a PLN is “personal”, just how much influence ought we have over the nature of the network that the children are building?
Edmodo enables the building and sharing of a library, curating discovered knowledge and making links with others near and far. Therefore, children, once familiar with the tool, can demonstrate learning, respond to teachers and others and have their progress assessed through the grading system and the awarding of badges. This is the VLE in action. Beyond this is the network of people, tools and applications that provide learning opportunities which make up the PLN and the suite of Google Apps available to the children offer an introduction to some these, e.g. google docs, YouTube, images, etc.
The next step is to engage the children in telling us what they feel they need in a PLN at their age and stage in school, what tools they find useful and how valuable such an approach is. We are looking forward to sharing or findings and would welcome the opportunity to undertake some shared learning with other schools looking to develop PLNs and the use of Edmodo. Please do get in touch.