In our final class this week, we had the opportunity to learn about a few more technologies that could be used to the benefit of us and our future students.
This is a topic that is still relatively new to me, although I have been hearing it mentioned within the educational world more and more and in some of the schools that I have worked at as an EA. We got a basic introduction to coding in class that introduced us to a few different coding programs and the difference between blocks and code. Coding is usually initially introduced through blocking programs. In these programs, the codes, or instructions, are built into the blocks, which can then be dragged around. A great website that introduces block coding well is Scratch. This is a site that could be used to explore coding and block coding as an educator, but could also be used within an elementary classroom setting. There are many benefits to teaching coding in the classroom including: problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, computational thinking skills, and differed approaches to creativity in the classroom.
GAFE (Google Apps For Education)
Cloud-based apps are becoming more prevalent within our society, which means that they are now also popping up within the education system. Google has created a hosted solution for schools that integrates Gmail, Calendar, Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Google Sites, and Google classroom into one integrated solution. There are many school districts that use GAFE, including SD61 (Greater Victoria School District), but it is important that these districts are transparent about the regulations surrounding these applications. More information surrounding privacy and regulations for SD61 can be found here.
Augmented reality refers to technology that superimposes computer-generated images onto one’s view of the real-world. The most popular uses of this technology have been through the hugely popular game, Pokemon-Go, and through some of the filters available through the app Snapchat.
I hadn’t given too much thought yet as to how something like this might have benefits within the classroom setting, but I was also unaware of how easily-accessible user-generated augmented reality apps such as HP Reveal are. This is definitely a topic that I need to do some more exploring with!
I have had a few experiences with virtual reality, but as with augmented reality, this is another topic that I hadn’t yet given much thought to its classroom potential. Virtual reality can bring new worlds to life, and the benefits for education at all ages are endless. It was also interesting to learn how affordable Virtual Reality could be: I used a GoogleCardboard headset after class with my phone, and it really did feel like I was on a rollercoaster! It is important to remember that there are health limits to keep in mind for children: it is not recommended that children under the age of 13 use Virtual Reality, and there are limits to how long children older than this limit should be using Virtual Reality.
This is the topic today that I had the most familiarity with (albeit still quite limited). For a final integrated Literacy and Language and Visual Arts project last semester, we created a virtual interactive map with photos and information about various places around Victoria that showcased many forms of placemaking. We then created a QR Code that we attached to our information pamphlet, and had people scan the QR Code to access the map during our presentation. QR Codes are much easier to make than they might seem, and can be used by teachers for the benefit of their students, but also by students for the benefit of their teachers and other members of the school. QR Stuff is just one example of the many websites that can be found to create your own QR Codes.