Throughout many centuries, the musical structure has had numerous modifications. We can observe the constant use of digits for the convenience of the notation of music sounds,  for example : digital organ bass, lute tablatures, guitar jazz ciphers. Nowadays the digital system of  music teaching is absent in the curriculum and is not applied in practice because of the teacher’s insufficient professional knowledge in the sphere of child’s neurophysiology .

Statistics and practice show that the period of  learning by standard music grammar is delayed for several years. Already at the early stage of learning at  a Children’s Music School, within of  two – three months, up to thirty per cent of children lose their interest in music as a subject and leave the study. This phenomenon is explained by the study overload arising at the first contact of the child to a difficult format of adopted note coding and decoding of music information.

The findings of our scientific investigations have permitted us to understand the most delicate mechanisms of a child’s mental activity  and  to detect  new creative abilities.  Application of Information technologies will help schoolmasters  to improve the quality, speed  and efficiency of music teaching for beginners.

Physiological  Base 

The physiological substantiation on the application of  the digital system for coding and decoding of a melody is the following: children begin their contact with digits already in preschool age, when they are taught to count and this system is learnt by children quite firmly, since it is often used in their daily life, but the generally accepted music grammar is new for them and, naturally, requires some additional period of time to be acquired by children.  It is for this reason that during the initial period of musical teaching, children inevitably spend a lot of time and effort learning to read a melody written down in music signs.  Naturally, it slows down the rate of  training, causes psycho-emotional discomfort, lowers the child’s interest towards music. Therefore, in the initial stage of teaching, besides working with  the  generally accepted music grammar, it would be useful to replace it with a digital system for a certain period. This does not mean that we want to do without standard music grammar, but at the initial stages of a musical education, the system of digital coding and decoding of musical sounds is  undoubtedly useful, as it speeds up the teaching of children.

Neurophysiological  Aspect  

It is well known that the difficulties in the perception of any information, including musical ones, cause a strain on the main functional systems of a child. The developed digital technology of musical training perspective, has a practical result, but it requires the physiologic and psychology researches devoted to the studying of an influence of a recommended  method to psycho-emotional status and to a condition of the main functional systems of the child: i.e. the central nervous system, the muscular system and others. For this purpose, the experimental researches are to be performed, namely: ENG, EMG, EEG – tests to study the degree of mental load that the child has received as a perception of the information recorded in the note signs compared to the load  that a child has received as a perception of the music information written down in number signs. An Electronystagmography test allows us to investigate eyeshot, positional nystagmus and also to determine the quantity of  fluctuations of  the eyeballs during the perception of melody written in the music marks and digital symbols. An Electromyography test, allows us to investigate the threshold of  muscular irritability (min – max) and the amplitude of muscle tension, depending on the effort and the accuracy of the pressing of a key on the keyboard of the instrument. The method of  ENG and EMG joins the visual analyser with the neuro-motor function of the hands and explains, from the scientific point of view, the ratio between the load on the eye muscles  and that of the hand muscles, and also it proves the possibility of the development of muscular fatigue in hands depending on the quantity of eyeballs’ fluctuations. The EEG test allows us to make up the comparative diagrams of the dynamics of the proceeding neurophysiological processes, and also it offers an opportunity to investigate the functional activity of neurons during the synthesis both of musical and digital patterns.

The realisation of the described scientific researches in this direction will allow us to approach closer to understanding some of the more subtle mechanisms of a child’s mental activity and to detect their new creative abilities.

Parallel   Description 

In practice, using the generally accepted music grammar, the child connects the definition of the location of the melody to the pitch  i.e. to the system of dimension, which is written down in the form of an expanded construction, both on x – the horizontal   axis and on y – the vertical axis. By reading the music information, the direction of the eyeballs’ movements is spasmodic, and it has a multistep combination both on y axis, from the G – key up to the F – key, and on x axis, often with a return of eyesight to the starting point of support. For an integration, synthesis and the modification of the complex pattern of the received information, the structures of the central nervous system require an additional period of time. It is a neurophysiological process proceeding in an interval of time between the moment of perception of the music information from the sheet and the moment of the hands’ response on the keyboard of an instrument. A great number of irregular nervous impulses are transferred to the central nervous system per unit of time and, as a consequence of  this, the fatigue of hand muscles is considerably  increased (Berosov, Korovkin1990). An amplitude of muscle tension is directly dependent on the frequency of innervation, where each subsequent nervous impulse coincides with the phase of increased excitability of the muscle (Green, Stout, Taylor 1990). At the level of the synaptic terminal  we can see untimely synthesis of the neurotransmitter, deep and stable depolarisation of  the postsynaptic membrane and, as a result, the convulsive reflexes are thus formed. An important neurophysiological moment has been marked: within a short time interval the contracture, that is, constantly high muscular tension is formed, which in turn, is harmfully reflected on the content and character of  the melody.

In  practice , using  the method of the digital key, the child connects the definition of digital melody  to the system of  dimension  which is  written down  in the form of an integral construction both on the x axis  and on y axis. Reading the digital information the  trajectory of the eyeballs’ movements on the y axis is projected to the exact determinant (digit, sign, symbol ), the trajectory of the eyeballs’ movements on the x axis is projected in one direction, forward. In the given system of dimension the integration of the digital information proceeds instantly, its realisation on an instrument proceeds in reflexive time – ratio. The paradoxical phenomenon is revealed: the time interval  between the moment of perception of the digital information and the moment of the hands’ response on the keyboard of an instrument, is contracted to the minimum.

We achieve a reduction of load on hand muscles at the expense of decreasing of an amplitude between muscle tension and the resulting movement and, consequently, the time intervals between effort and accuracy of pressing of a key are considerably shortened. At the level of the synaptic terminal we can see an allocation of neurotransmitter directly  proportional to the frequency of generated impulses by neurons and, as a result, the coordinated reflexes are thus formed. An important neurophysiological  moment  has been marked: the reciprocal  muscular  innervation is formed, that is, the rational distribution of the manual technique on the keyboard of an instrument, which in turn, is considerably reflected on the content and character of the melody. A grain of  truth lies in the fact that at the expense of  perception of melody by means of digits, its realisation becomes  faster and easier, which in turn, is positively reflected on the psycho-emotional status of the child and  enables him to dynamically realise the potential music abilities in psychosomatic action as a result .

Entire description on related research You can read on the webpages : educational-program/        review by Joe Gentile


Beresov T.T. & Korovkin B.F.,(1990). The role of  mediators  in transmission of  nervous impulses. Biological chemistry. p.498-500. Moscow .

Green A.P.Q. & Stout G.W.& Taylor D.J.,(1990).Contracting reaction. Synapse. Biological science.



Much has been discussed about computer games and their impact on young people. A lot of the media has focused how games are turning our young people into violent hooligans. But more recently, there has been shift in opinions. While there isn’t a universal cry of “games are good”, there is a general acceptance that games might have a place in education.

Michael Gove seems to have taken notice, “Games and interactive software can help pupils acquire complicated skills and rigorous knowledge in an engaging and enjoyable way Britain has an incredibly strong games industry, with vast potential to engage with education both in this country and all over the world. We’re already seeing these technologies being used in imaginative ways.”

Beyond the buzz, what are the merits to the gamification of education? GBL can achieve some learning outcomes not easily achievable with traditional teaching approaches. Simulations, in particular, can support Learn by Doing and Learn by Being.Learn by Doing is focused on skills, actions, activity, engagement, team working and so on. Learn by Being is focused on knowledge such as understanding the environment, values, attitudes, society, diversity, culture and so on.

Design and Development Approach

If Games Based Learning (GBL) is to succeed, it needs to be more than a bit of fun that motivates students. It should be underpinned with learning theory. Measuring outcomes such as fun, engagement, and motivation generates buy-in, but it provides no guiding principles for designers and educators (teachers/ lecturers). Situated Learning provides such a theoretical underpinning (see box).

So how do can we ensure that GBL products are fit for purpose? It is essential that a robust design and development approach is used:

  • Analysis & Initial Design: Scoping with expert / teachers.
  • Detailed Design: design look & feel; user interface; algorithm; and incidents.
  • Build: Develop Media and interface; Incorporate algorithm.
  • Testing & Tuning.
  • Piloting: User group plays the sim. The simulation is tweaked on the basis of feedback.

Case Study: Sustainaville

Sustainaville is a simulation of a virtual community. It tackles issues around sustainable development and can be used in Geography, PSHEE, Enterprise, Business Studies, Environmental Studies and enrichment. The game requires the class to work together in teams to deal with social concerns such as crime, environmental matters such as climate change and economic problems such as unemployment. The teams play the roles of utilities, enterprise, housing & regeneration, local council, health sector, community & voluntary, education & skills and transport. Just like in the real world the pupils have to work with limited budgets. They also have to deal with incidents such as floods and cuts to rural transport. Can students transform the virtual community – they have three years in charge!

Sustainaville was piloted in a primary school in Stockport and also to year 8 tutor group in an all girls school in Tower Hamlets. The game ran over three rounds which created natural breakpoints in the game play to enable reflection to take place. The approach supports multiple learning conversation and learners talked in their teams, between teams and at a class level. The game anchored these conversations through questions such as:  What should we prioritise? Will you buy that, if we buy this? What could we have done better?

Learning outcomes in the two schools were significant:

  • 77.5% improvement in subject knowledge.
  • 57% improvement in decision-making skills.
  • 67% improvement in understanding of cause and effect.
  • 51% improvement in group working.

Mrs Hulme, Class Teacher / Deputy Head at Mellor Primary, stated:

  • The children were fully engaged for all the session and the ‘buzz’ in the room was one of real active learning.
  • The money aspect involved really captured the children’s interest and they were genuinely interested to see the impact their purchases had made on the town. They were disappointed to see the results/consequences of their purchases in Year 2 and were keen to rectify them in Year 3!
  • The workshop pulled together many elements – working together, impact of managing and dealing with other people who have differing opinions, dealing with consequences of actions, environmental issues, dealing with money, managing a budget plus many more.

Mrs Foulkes who is a Teaching Assistant at Mellor Primary School stated, “I thoroughly enjoyed the session, as did the children. This group of children love anything involving money so it really captured their attention whilst dealing with lots of important and complex issues.”
“The students were engaged in the activity and enjoyed seeing the results of their decisions”, said Mrs Chapman (Assistant Head at Central Foundation Girls School).

A demonstration of Sustainaville can be found at


Games based learning offers powerful benefits, but if teachers are to take a leap of faith, then games need to work in classroom environments and support standard teaching practices. Developers cannot expect decades of good teaching practice to be thrown away. To this end, games based learning needs to support the evolution of teaching and not require a revolution.

Just one more block…”, “If I just flatten this area and put this here I’ll…”, “I can build that in a few minutes…”. These are just some of the comments you’ll hear from someone lost in the vast worlds of Minecraft. Building colossal structures they’ve never seen before, landscaping whole valleys, mountains and forests, rerouting rivers and exploring deep caverns underground. It’s this level of freedom to create that makes Minecraft such an engaging platform for play. And it’s this engagement that makes Minecraft such a valuable learning tool.
I’m a huge fan of using Minecraft as a learning tool. To date it’s one of the most powerful games-based learning platforms I’ve found. It neatly fuses the engagement of gaming for pleasure with the elusive art of subliminal learning, a strategy sought after in so many ICT and games-based learning initiatives. I‘ve use Minecraft in many areas of education from primary to secondary; In after school clubs, with not-for-profit organisations such as libraries and museums, with businesses  and I‘m about to start work on a sizeable historical project reconstructing a famous Scottish town as part of the 2014 year of culture. I have taught elements of literacy, numeracy, science, art, design and technology, RME, computer science, primary topic work and much more using Minecraft and I work with educators around the world using Minecraft across a wide variety of curricula.

However, like all good tools for learning, Minecraft must only be used in the right situation and under the right circumstances. With forethought, planning and a clear, valid purpose. While It’s easy (and tempting) to use technology for the sake of using technology, it’s important to make the results of using Minecraft measurable.
Aligning the virtual tasks we undertake directly to our curriculum outcomes and experiences.

I note from some comments on Twitter recently that some people just don’t see the educational merit of Minecraft. I have carried out CPD on games-based learning in which a geography teacher has left desperate to install Minecraft while his/her history colleague sees no use for it. Education can never be a uniform system…on account of many elements, not least of all the pupils. So the more tools educators have, the better. Let Minecraft be just one of those. Not everyone will want to use it…just like podcasting, animation, cameras, some web 2.0 tools, e-journaling, blogging tools and more.


Worldwide Minecraft CPD

I recently built a learning environment using Minecraft specifically for teacher. From the basic functions of mining, crafting and building to applying the game’s mechanics to their own subject. Educators are offered free, in-game CPD with me using Skype. It’s been an interesting project with teachers from all over the world visiting; from the UK to South America, Europe, Scandinavia and as far as New Zealand (though lets face it…in an online context, that’s just a few milliseconds away).

Many have commented that Minecraft became infinitely more applicable after such a session (usually just one hour). Perhaps there is some weight here in the importance of training in the use of these kinds of tools? Time, space and funding for pioneering new ideas, technologies and pedagogies in the yearly allocation of training for staff? Larger risk, but I’m willing to bet there will be much larger rewards too. This in turn raises the question of why education is generally always way behind industry, commerce and home life in the application of technology? But that’s a whole other article.

It has been said that pupils will be put off by the regimentation of Minecraft in a learning environment, far from the freedoms they have outside of school. While Minecraft simulates the real world, the truth is, it isn’t real. Initially this strikes me as an accurate argument. After all, one of the main attractions of Minecraft is the sandbox environment and freedom within it to create anything you can imagine but within a set world to set rules. But if we look at this historically, in the realm of human development, this is how we flourish. Without some sense of order, law, rules, regulation, civility and such, there is only chaos. This is no different in Minecraft. Where I have left my own worlds open to this freedom we have experienced malicious destruction of our school constructions, the burning of our ‘Gruffalo Forest’, our in-game QR codes changed and so on. However, over time (and in some cases a very short time indeed) children begin to develop a sense of order, form rules, tasks, levels of acceptable behaviour. They police themselves, they plan and organise, allocate land, remove shoddy work and promote good work elsewhere. They make teams and work collaboratively or in healthy competition. It doesn’t take us as administrators or educators to do this!

If planned, managed and structured for learning and so, to some degree limited, Minecraft can prolong a pupil’s interest in the game and overall learning purpose. The beauty of Minecraft is the freedom we have to actually set rules, borders, challenges and problems. We used flooding and minefields in a recent project we undertook for a geography department exploring the displacement of population after a natural disaster or war. It was used to great effect to keep the pupils from growing bored of the freedom to go anywhere, do anything. Focusing their minds on the task in hand, the fear of that mine or the importance of the construction of flood defences before the imminent flood.


Dam from above before the flood.


Dam open

Of course, giving them that freedom as a reward for completing challenges and maintaining the rules is a matter of ‘gamification’. Pupils were able to build a hugely elaborate settlement once they safely reached their chosen resettlement area.

One final point; if we strip away the subject specifics of curriculum learning. Assume we don’t need to meet outcomes or objectives or experiences in any given subject. The sheer wealth and quality of soft skills developed through the collaborative work encouraged by a tool such as Minecraft is astonishing.

Communication skills (in multiple languages where necessary), leadership, sharing, teamwork, organisation, time management, task management, decision-making, self and peer assessment and more. All willingly…or rather unwittingly given, as part of the experience. Music to any educator’s ears!

I am sure the Minecraft phenomenon will fade eventually as new games with ever more attractive mechanics are released (notice I didn’t say graphics). The games industry is changing rapidly towards a more interactive, ‘hack’, ‘mod’ and ‘build-your-own’ model. Lets just try to keep an open mind about all of the tools available to our educators. For now…I’m a fan of Minecraft as a tool for learning. Provided it’s the right tool for the job in hand!

It is a typical after-school day when Silver__Heart (with two underlines between Silver and Heart) checks her account for comments, the Theme of the Day or status updates. She is an artist and a creator. An experienced ©Bitstrips Inc. ( member since 2009, she was first introduced to Bitstrips for Schools in computer class. Building on her school experience outside of her classroom, she is engaging in literacy in this 21st century through an online community.

The meaning of the term literacy long ago expanded from the pre-1970s focus on the fundamental skills of reading, though many experts and reading specialists continue to focus on reading and writing skills, particularly those related to print texts (Lankshear & Knovel, 2006). Scholars have attempted to clarify the definition of literacy as social (involving social practices) and situated (Barton & Hamilton, Gee). New literacy theorists are attempting to define and examine concepts around new literacies. Central to this examination is the observation that “literacy practices pervade daily life” (Coiro, Knobel, Lankshear & Leu, 2008, p. 9). This digital age view looks beyond the reading and writing foundation skills to include “the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that enable complex ways of getting and making meaning from multiple textual and symbolic sources” (Warschauer & Ware, 2008, p. 215). Literacy pervades Silver__Heart’s Bitstrips experiences.

In school, Silver__Heart’s Bitstrips’ use was guided by the teacher who directed the content and pre-approved published materials. These early experiences were designed to meet the curriculum and learning expectations of the appropriate grade. Motivated by creating and publishing in an authentic community of students, Silver__Heart created her own personal account with permission from her parents, and began participating in an online community of creators.

Bitstrips was launched at South by Southwest in 2008 by Jacob Blackstock, an animator tired of repeatedly drawing the same things, and a group of his computer-talented friends (TIFF, 2012). Blackstock claims that within two years, over 600,000 registered users had made 3 million comics and the site had registered 100 million page views with 400,000 unique visitors a month (TIFF, 2012; crossmediaevents, 2012).  He describes his early school experience as a motivator for creating such a tool. Blackstock observes that the comics he drew by hand making fun of his teachers would often get him into trouble, but the projects that he completed using hand-drawn comics usually received high grades (TIFF, 2012). His program features the ability to design characters (self, friends and others) and easily build comics using a drag-and-drop interface combined with a whole host of templates, props and artifacts. The character design process allows for extensive positioning and expression options. Text bubbles are available for dialogue. Commenting on published comics is frequent, with corresponding facial expressions of the avatar to support the tone of the post.

Such a tool opens the world of comic creation to those who are unable to draw and animate by hand. A published comic can be shared with anyone online. Once became available for teachers to use in practice, comics were created and published in all subjects (TIFF, 2012). It was licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Education for all schools in Ontario (TIFF, 2012). According to Blackstock, some 87% of Ontario schools had taken up this tool (crossmediaevents, 2012). Blackstock points out that this product allows students to express themselves through a fun and familiar medium as an active participant while exploring their own identity in a plethora of situations (TIFF, 2012).

To date, Silver__Heart has published over 650 comics and almost 80 series. Her unpublished repertoire contains more than 1000 other creations. Her account lists almost 60,000 views, with around 1500 kudos and laughs and more than 1000 users have favourited a comic of hers. She encounters similar creators from countries all over the world including the U.K., Australia and the U.S. Primarily, her connections are from Ontario where the program originated. Her impression is that most of these friends range from middle school to high school age, though she has also met a retired grandmother and entire families (parents and children) online. Together, many are lobbying for a BitCon – a conference similar to a Comic Con or VidCon.  Bitstrips has also recently launched a Facebook application, which has opened the world of avatar creation to millions of users (Kurwa, 2013). Those in the 18-24 year range are adopting it quickly, attracted by its flexibility (LeFavor, 2013).

Silver__Heart creates in many genres. Her artwork is extensive. Most recently featured as one of Buddy’s (Jacob Blackstock’s character) favourites, The Most Beautiful Creature.. (Figure 1) has appeared as a suggested comic to view ( Self-taught, she spent about two hours creating this. When Silver__Heart needs help, she turns to She cannot draw free-hand with a mouse in this program. Rather, she must create using a finite set of props and must shade using shapes which she sizes and turns. Silver__Heart has mastered the colour codes and keeps track of her favourites.

In the Experimental Genre, Silver__Heart has been featured as a top author. Last month she began a Chez Silver Makeup © series where she chooses a random friend that is online, and creates a custom background for their avatar, dressing them in an interesting outfit and applying complementary make-up. Silver__Heart has created more than 30 of these and they are well received. She spends anywhere from 30 minutes to hours designing these. Her backgrounds have been copied and used in other comics. For Syd has received over 700 views (Figure 2).

Of her series, MistClan is her favourite ( Many series’ authors create remixes of the popular Warrior series written by Erin Hunter. Silver__Heart has a number of series in the works and will only publish them after creating at least 6 comics. Many are well followed.  Daisy, a remix of popular story or perhaps an urban legend, is her most recent (

What Silver__Heart likes best is producing (and the creative process involved) and the camaraderie of the community. There is chat bar for posting updates. In September, for example, there were many excited and supportive comments about the first days of school. This comic community supports good causes and each other as they dress in pink for Cerebral Palsy or green for Lyme disease.

Not all middle schools carry on the tradition of the school she attended. In fact, in Silver__Heart‘s school board, access to programs like Bitstrips is entirely up to the teacher.

Last year, she created a how-to video about Literacy and Bitstrips related to the Ontario grade 7 Language Arts curriculum For more information on how teachers are using Bitstrips in their classrooms, see

Silver__Heart is thankful that she was introduced to this Bitstrips in school. For her, it has become more than just a learning tool. While she continues to learn through her online experiences, she has also developed a community of similar-minded inventors, designers and producers. Through this supportive community, her identity is evolving and her artistic skills are expanding. Silver__Heart epitomizes a 21st century learner engaged in literacy in everyday life both outside of school and, as tools such as these become available to students, in school.


2x Sky (2013, March 29). Elearning: Teaching with Bitstrips: Grade 7 Language Arts – a How To. Retrieved from

Barton, D., & Hamilton, M. (2000). Literacy practices. In D. Barton, M. Hamilton & R. Ivaniĉ (Eds.), Situated literacies: reading and writing in context, (pp. 7-15). New York, NY: Routledge.

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Coiro, J., Knobel, M., Lankshear, C., & Leu, D. J. (2008a). Central issues in new literacies and new literacies research. In J. Coiro, M. Knobel, C. Lankshear & D. J. Leu (Eds.), Handbook of research on new literacies, (pp. 1-22). New York, NY: Erlbaum.

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Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated language and learning: a critique of traditional schooling. New York, NY: Routledge.

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by Hayal Koksal (Ph.D)

Visiting Fellow, Kingston University, London, UK

Part-time Instructor, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey

General Director, Eurasian & Turkish Center for Schools of Quality

Director General (Turkey), World Council for Total Quality & Excellence in Education

We live in an era of information, technology and communication. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays an important role on the training of new generations. The significant role of it lies in the spread of the knowledge produced and/or gained, creative thinking, sharing and collaborating with others.

The author, as the Director of the Eurasia & Turkish Centre for Schools of Quality, has aimed at building bridges among the future leaders of the world through an ICT Project called; “ICT Seagulls in 2003. The goal of the project was determined as to teach collaboration through technology use and thus, to serve humanity in the way of training qualified future citizens (Ennals & Köksal, 2011). It is open to all countries to include all the colours of the humanity into it.  With the project students are expected to internalize the scientific approach in conducting a project and also understanding the  differences between the cultures and the importance of being environmentally literate and emphatic.In other words At every stage of the project, students are motivated to realise the importance of being creative and original, dealing with time effectively, keeping well-designed portfolios and obeying the ethical rules which are considered to be the characteristics of every effective study.In this paper;- the proud year, the tenth year of the ICT Seagulls Project will be shared with the readers.

Main Characteristics of the Project

The Project is called; “© International ICT Seagulls Project” and it has just completed its tenth year which has been accepted as the Proud Year by Dr. Köksal, since it has been a really challenging project for her during those ten years. It is designed for all volunteer teams, which are called İmece / Students’ Quality Circles (SQCs), from Pre-schools to universities within every country of the world. In other words, it includes all age groups from kindergarten to colleges including the gifted and the disabled.

SQC is a team of students who work to solve their problems through a participatory approach. This helps to develop the leadership quality attributes of the members working in the team. Teachers and parents might take part in the supporting bodies. Students actively participating in SQC activities develop a number of leadership traits, skills and habits, such as; self-confidence, self-discipline, interpersonal and public relations, empathy, social responsibility, time management skills, scientific and analytical skills, communication skills, creativity, working habits in a team and broader vision.

In addition to this, the use of ICT affects young children positively, for children are surrounded by ICT in their immediate environments and they are being exposed to very developed technologies from a young age. The essence of the Project focuses on Total Quality Person (TQP) training and aims at “catching kids young”. It is known that early intervention programs and projects help to make children ready for school by supporting their cognitive development and team spirit. It is thought that this readiness for school will have a positive effect on a child’s attendance by facilitating the child’s adaptation to school.

History of the Project: 

In 1999, the Ministry of National education started the Total Quality Management in Education (TQE) campaign in 70,000 Turkish schools.  The Turkish Centre for Schools of Quality, which aims at spreading that philosophy and its practices in educational environments, was founded by John Jay Bonstingl and the author on 22nd January, 2000 in Istanbul. The author, as the Director of the Centre decided to design an ICT project to teach the total quality (TQ) philosophy, its tools and methodology to school children and teachers in Turkey in 2002.  The Project would last an academic year, and the outcomes would be shared through the Internet to reach every school in each town and city within the country.  As one significant symbol of Istanbul and Bosphorus is “ the seagull”, the Project was named as “ICT Seagulls Project”. Teamwork would be the main ingredient, focusing on collaboration, sharing and caring rather than developing hostel feelings and rivalry. Since the Project is aimed at teaching the practical side of TQE, it also followed the philosophy of it, i.e. continuous improvement has become the way of improving it.  Each year, participants share their reflections to improve the project and necessary modifications are done based upon them.

A good example of those modifications is about the guidance given to the school teams: During the first years of the Project, a  “face-to-face” model was used and the seminars for teaching “Methodology of the Project management” and “Web page design” were conducted at the conference halls of the schools. However, for the last five years, everything has been shared in the cyber world. Training Folders are sent through e-mails or the training CD is sent through the postal service to each team. If any need appears, schools are visited to give guidance.

Another change was about the inclusion of various groups. For instance, Non-governmental teams were included in 2005, kindergarten teams in 2006, international teams in 2007 and the disabled ones in 2008.

The other change was about the portion of assessment grades. The role of peer-assessing has increased in years. It was 30% during the first years but now it is 60%.

Within nine years, nearly three hundred projects were finalised successfully. In 2003 six, in 2004 five, in 2005 twenty-four, in 2006 thirty one, in 2007 ninety three, in 2008 thirty two, in 2009 nineteen, in 2010 twenty, in 2011 thirteen and in 2012 twenty projects were conducted. In each team, there are 8 students and 2 teachers, in other ways almost 3000 people were trained and affected by the project. They learned how to apply analytical skills whilst managing a project. If it is assumed that their parents and people have also been influenced; it is clearly understood how influential the project it is.

Project Topics:  

Through the Project; awareness will be created within the student-teacher circles (teams) concerning “human dignity”, “cultural sensitivity” and “tolerance”. Gaining a historical perspective about the studied problem areas (themes), internalizing the team spirit, using quality tools affectively, improving technological and environmental literacy, managing time and managing conflict, focusing on ethics especially respecting the copyrights of others, improving communication and problem-solving skills are supposed to be other benefits. Through the Project, students and the leading teachers understand the necessity of feeding the “Mind-Body and Spirit” in a positive way. Young generations are motivated to be more creative, productive and investigative whatever they study.  Participants develop a positive attitude towards the importance of sharing the results of their projects in a very extraordinary style, by using their imagination to fly towards the beyond of limits just like; “The Seagull Jonathan Livingstone”; not only at national but also at international platforms.


The Project circles study is based upon the PDCA Mindset (Plan-Do-Check-Act) by using quality tools and following the “SQC” logic. They use ICT at an optimal level. It was proved after nine years experience that the Project adds a large amount of knowledge and skills to students through its contribution to character development of the young. They gain and improve the philosophy of life-long learning. It is worth noting that, those outcomes are approved not only at national level but also at the international platforms. For instance; the Project has been supported by the World Country for Total Quality and Excellence in Education which was founded by 25 countries in India. It is heartening to have SQCs from all over the world.

Main Steps:  

After completion of the registration procedures between the coordinator and the administration of the volunteer school, the needful training seminar is given to the Project Circle (Team) through Power Point sharing and also tele-conferencing sessions in the cyber world with Skype. All the team members and the leading teachers start their project journey after getting the detailed information about the steps of the Project.  Projects must be prepared based upon the PDCA Mindset (Plan, Do, Check, and Act) as mentioned above. Teams take the following steps after getting the necessary training:

  • They identify the project topic concerning the problem area with the participation of all members of the circle including volunteer parents and students.
  • They conduct a detailed research (Literature review) about the problem area.
  • They draw the “Road Map” of the project by using quality tools, such as; “Brainstorming”, “Ishikawa Diagram”, “Matrix”, “Pareto”, etc.
  • They find out and determine some strategies, tactics to solve the problem after the determination of the main and root causes of the problem.
  • They prepare data collection tools.
  • Then the implementation step starts. They collect and analyze the data related to the problem. In order to do that, they prepare surveys, interviews or observation tools.
  • They implement those strategies to bring about a solution to their problem.
  • Meanwhile they try to involve the whole community into those planned activities. Thus, they create awareness about the problem.
  • Finally they measure the success rate of the change that they have created as a result of their implementation phase, and
  • They share all the outcomes with the community through various technological ways such as; web page design, Blog or PPT.
  • As it was pointed above, that methodology is called a PDCA Mindset, in other words; they plan in advance, they apply the problem solving tools, they check the result and after the necessary modifications they recommend the solutions to the public through ICT.

Age Groups of the Project:

As it was stated before, the Project is open to all age groups. However, for the assessment step, the grouping is done as follows:

  • Pre-school education / Kindergarten Circles /Teams,
  • Elementary School Circles (1-8 graders),
  • High School Circles (9-12 graders),
  • University Circles (Undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate),
  • Circles supported by NGOs (All age groups),
  • Circles supported by the Business World (All age groups),
  • Disabled circles (All age groups),
  • Gifted students’ circles (All age groups).

School types do not make any difference in the evaluation phase, i.e., there is no difference between the circles that belong to State or Private Schools. They are assessed within the same group. However; different criteria are used for the young and adult ones. This is also valid for the disabled circles.


Every project circle completing the whole process successfully is a “Winner”.  However, after the assessment period, they are also awarded by various titles, such as: “The Most Creative Circle” or “The Best High School Project Leader”, etc.

There is no financial award of this Project. The ones who complete the project successfully learn how to conduct a scientific project, how to manage time and conflict, how to apply quality tools, the PDCA Mindset, and how to use technology in a collaborative way. The reward is internalizing the methodology and gaining both national and international reputations through press releases, social media and web page announcements from the Project.

The Projects for the Year 2013

This year 10 school teams registered for the project, however, only five of them could finalize their projects: Four teams from Turkey and one team from Nepal. The project teams (SQCs) and their Blog/Web addresses are as follows:

Burdur, Bahçelievler Primary School/SQC YoungLeaders

Istanbul, Okçumusa Primary School/SQC Pet Lover Hands

Nevşehir İncekera Science High School/SQC Crumbs

Nepal, LittleAngels High School/SQC Elevate

Istanbul, Boğaziçi University/SQC Mindhunters

Those teams (SQCs) have just completed the peer-assessment phase and the jury members have been waiting for the assessment forms. The process will be completed at the end of July 2013 and the results will be announced in August. The team leaders will get their awards and certificates on 30th November 2013 at the City Montessori school, Lucknow, India where the WCTQEE was founded.

Final Words

According to the findings gained through a six-month collaboration with kids and also from the observation during the final presentations, it was understood that “Childhood Education Projects” have an effect not only on cognitive but also affective and psycho-motor development of the children who participated in the project. These findings revealed the importance of involving kids into projects at very early ages. This point must be taken into account, because environmental conditions affect children’s development especially in their early years.  Such kinds of support causes children to start to school more ready, to adapt more easily and be more successful in school as has been stated in many research.  Furthermore, the use of ICT might add more enthusiasm and interest among the kids. By means of providing such kind of diversity to the educational institutions will create an early state of readiness towards cultural differences. This is the essence of a peaceful and collaborative future world.

by Matthew F. Norsworthy, Professional Consultant for The Sloan Consortium Adjunct English and Humanities Professor, Humanities/Technology Advocate

Engaging students in the learning process is every teacherʼs goal. Simply relying on students reading text on paper and listening to a teacher lecture is not going to do the trick in the modern, technologically advanced world we live in today. Embracing the technology that is available can really help increase student engagement in any lesson and at any level of education. Mozilla Popcorn Maker is a creative tool that can be used to help deliver key points and learning objectives through existing Internet-based audio and/or video tools. Once I had a good idea of what I wanted, I started looking for people to help me bring it to life.

Incorporating audio or video in your lessons can help engage students and support your learning objectives. However, many teachers do not want to simply rely on the old tried-and-true videos or sound recordings that may have come with their textbook. Mozilla Popcorn Maker allows you to use a website, YouTube video, Vimeo, or Soundcloud file while adding text, maps, and web address links that support what “you” want to add to the lesson. You can simply use the URL to the chosen file that you want to present. Then, you can add pop-up messages, text, sub-titles, maps, Wikipedia links, and images at precisely the right moment and in the chosen place you want it in the original audio/video file.

So, you found an interesting video on YouTube on the Civil War for your history class, but you want to add more to this video file that would help support your learning objectives and the material that you have been covering in the textbook.

Mozilla Popcorn Maker allows you to add “layers” to that YouTube video, which will help you do just that. You can incorporate popup messages in text with key dates, interesting facts, page numbers from the textbook, or even important quotes. You can add a Google Map that shows where a battle or event took place, along with a link to a Wikipedia page for additional information. You can choose where these messages start and finish in the audio/ video file, and there is almost no limit to how many Pop-upʼs you can add.

Are you worried about not having enough time to incorporate everything that you want to into the audio/video file? That is not a problem because you can create pauses to help give “you” more time to teach what “you” want to with that audio/video file. Do you have a great YouTube video, but it is a bit long and really contains some parts that are irrelevant to what “you” want to teach? This is not a problem either. You can easily add “skips” to the video in order to roll right over those sections that do not suit your teaching needs.

Many of us like to use our own experiences in our teaching to help add a bit more of a personal touch on the lesson and to help give the students a more practical application or perspective of the material. So, have you been to a famous Civil War battlefield? Have you seen Shakespeareʼs Globe Theatre in London? Did you go to the top of the Empire State building, or stand on the edge of a volcano in Hawaii? If you did, Iʼll bet you took pictures. So, put those in your Mozilla Popcorn Maker Presentation and add those moments that you experienced personally to your lesson in order to really help teach from experience.

Mozilla Popcorn Maker can be used to teach any subject, at any level, in an online course or in a traditional classroom. Mozilla Popcorn Maker can enhance a YouTube video for a History lesson, as described earlier. However, teachers can also use this in presenting a Vimeo found on a relevant topic to your geography, literature, or science class. Music teachers can add pop-upʼs with links and text, maps, and images to a Soundcloud recording in order to give students more of a music theory or history lesson while listening to a the piece of music. Art teachers can certainly add a bit of art history and theory with Mozilla Popcorn Maker when presenting works of art from a particular style, historic period, or country.

Audio and visual presentations can support your teaching by engaging students and helping them achieve the learning objectives. Using Mozilla Popcorn Maker can help you enhance those videos or sound recordings, which can help connect the information in the recordings with the material that you are teaching in your lesson. Your students are probably already watching their favourite YouTube videos and listening to their favorite bands through smartphones and computers already. Therefore, you will certainly capture their attention and enhance their learning with your Mozilla Popcorn Maker creation.


by Tom Jeffers

Technology has changed the way we view the world, the way the globe approaches problems (global perspectives), the way we interact with people, spend and save money, shop, listen to music, watch movies, and a host of other activities. To date, adults and children carry a mini computer masked as a smartphone with them. I call it a mini computer for it can perform many tasks a laptop computer can. It can even send information to a printer and surf the Internet.

Having access to technology brings the question “Is technology being used to integrate teaching methods and taking advantage of daily access by those who have such technology [which is most of the globe], the portability of electronic textbooks that are available often at a cheaper price and the ability to email class assignments and notes?” Sure it will change the practice of teaching but only in the sense of “taking some getting use to.” There are teachers who currently provide parents with personalized reports of their childʼs progress through email and some are starting to use the internet to add assignments.

Give the teachers technology and they will integrate it into instruction. Determining the best way to use technology for the student is a teacher task however central offices have created pacing guides and other materials that eliminate the freedom of exploration by the teacher. School administrators take into account the full plate a teacher has and adding the responsibility of learning and teaching the use of technology at a mastery level is a difficult task. It is even more difficult for those teachers who technology is foreign to them.

Are school districts bridging the technology gap by simply providing technology without providing a technology integration curriculum writer? School districts have curriculum writers. School districts have technology personal. Not all school districts have a school level technology specialist. No school district has a dedicated person whose sole responsibility is to pull apart a grade level curriculum seeking opportunities to use the appropriate technology. Just placing a smart board in the classroom will not provide this, however it will generate ideas for the teacher on how best to use this technology to instruct the students. School districts are missing technology integration writers who are responsible for analyzing the curriculum, collecting abilities, and work with curriculum writers to a create technology curriculum that eliminates specific technology tool names and focuses on technology use concepts. These concepts will also be developed by the technology curriculum integration specialist.

As an educator with vast experience in technology use, I constantly wonder if how we are teaching our students at the district pace is beneficial to students whose mind is moving at light speed. One question comes to mind, “If modern instruction has the power behind it to lead the 20th century child to continue the pursuit of what world has to offer?” The student has the responsibility to seek their full positive potential. The educator has the responsibility of leading students to discover the path of responsibility for them.

by Dr. Maryanne Maisano & Dr. Deborah Anne Banker


This paper focuses on the specific use of Second Life within the instructional design of a teacher education course in the aftermath of a hurricane super storm, which devastated this US metropolitan area. Second Life, an immersive learning software program of a Virtual World that allows selfdirected learners to actively communicate not only with professors and peers within the course room but with people from different places and different cultures, with the assistance of simultaneous translation services. Teachers, with their students, can create scenarios in endless venues, focusing on concepts of culturally responsive teaching, while “meeting” educators, colleagues, and students from other cultures and countries for discussions, ideas, developing thinking skills, and participating in simulated field experiences thus providing a venue for continuous professional development under many circumstance.

Keywords: technological simulation, global perspectives, continuous professional


Traditionally, lectured instruction has taken place in many a college course room, with the professor as the expositor of information toward students within the hallowed halls of academia. The twenty-first century learner has rapidly become testimony to multiple teaching and learning approaches with the use of technology in a constantly changing technologically immersed global society. One specific approach noteworthy of documentation will be extensively discussed in this paper as the alternative virtual learning environment introduced to students of St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY, USA by one professor as a means to meet the technology standards of course instruction. This professor chose a virtual classroom environment to meet synchronously within the realm of Second Life as part of a hybrid methods course of the college in the immersive world environment created by a former colleague already established in Second Life (SL). “Second Life” poised not to replace the current physical classroom but to enrich an already strong teacher education program beginning with a Virtual World called Second Life (SL), available via the Internet.


The specific design of this paper will illustrate a qualitative study using the methodology of focus group and narrative questionnaire analysis of student generated d i s c u s s i o n a n d w r i t t e n documentat ion of cont inuous course of study during the aftermath of the storm. The findings and results will herald the voice of students in the education program at this specific institution of higher l e a r n i n g – b a s e d s i m u l a t e d environment. Players create and take the form of avatars which are visible, that can interact with each other and use and create objects. Communication between players include text, graphical icons, visual gestures, and sounds. Some communication may also include using touch, voice command, and balance senses, depending on the version and technology being used by the players. Because of the interplay of senses being provided, players experience the sensations of telepresence or the feeling of actually being present within the imaginary, fantasy world.


With SL, already a virtual reality designed specifically by one of the authors of this paper for the use of teaching and learning in an immersive world technology, the authors of this paper will present the current possibilities and a d v a n t a g e s o f c o n n e c t i n g traditional classroom instruction for students in a teacher education program with the expansive oppor tuni t ies for c las s room inst ruct ion provided by thi s technology format, which is part of the system known as immersive learning. What began as simply an alternative method of instruction based on the technology standards for the course ultimately found this method of instruction to be a beacon in the storm in the 5 aftermath of the super storm Hurricane Sandy that unleashed its wrath of destruction in the NY metropolitan area on October 29, 2012. To date, there is still much devastation in the process of rebuilding and although much of the teaching and learning has returned to normalcy in many courses of study, the use of the tool of technology for synchronous meeting continues to maintain excellence in the world of teaching and learning in higher education.

Currently, the Second Life Viewer refers to itself as a free client program that enables its users, called Residents, to interact with each other through Avatars. Residents can explore, meet other Residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another, or travel throughout the world, which Residents refer to as the “grid”. SL is designed for users aged over eighteen. Built into the software is a three dimensional modelling tool based around simple geometric shapes that allows a resident to build virtual objects. This tool can be used in combination with a scripting language called Linden Scripting Language for adding movement and function to objects and can be combined with three-dimensional sculpted forms for adding textures for clothing or other objects, animations, and gestures. (Taken February 16, 2009, Second Life, Wikipedia, And The Free Encyclopedia). Once again, it is important to mention that at no cost to students in this immersive world of SL, students were graciously invited to the virtual world created by the co-author and professor from another US University, for synchronous instruction for educators. This virtual environment is shared by educators world wide for continuous professional development available to anyone interested in not only exploring the immersive world technology in education but to build on content area learning in multiple disciplines.

Second Life in Higher Education

While teaching methods courses at St. Francis College in Brooklyn NY, one of the authors of this paper in collaboration with her co-author initiated a Second Life component to the Education Department’s course of study for pre-service teachers in the undergraduate program in teacher education. While adhering to the in-place curriculum and conceptual framework for this course, she explored the possibilities of using SL with her students. As this component was developed, many significant principles of learning (Vygotsky, 1978, Gardner, 1983, Marzano, Pickering, Pollock, 2001, Strong, Silver, Perini, 2001) became available to all the participants, principles that were previously introduced by the professor in face-to-face instruction and the participants were now able to receive the same body of knowledge in a virtual classroom synchronous meeting. The following extensions available through SL represent only the first steps in the merging of this SL technology with teacher preparation:

First. Virtual Classroom Development which can be modified continuously, as required, for specific subject area learning and attention to individualized needs.

Second. Subject-Area Availability and Integration through access to the Internet and human resources.

Third. Practice Teaching Simulations and Role-Playing allowing every pre-service student to participate and interact with colleagues.

Fourth. Distance Learning Opportunities for Developing Culturally Responsive Teaching with “distance” being global and communication made possible through immediate translations (ex. Italian to English and English to Italian, etc.)

Fifth. Simulated “Field” Experiences that take students to “courthouses, hospitals, environmental sites, geographic regions” or wherever else one can actually and, therefore virtually, reach.

We will explore how each of the above aspects of this pre-service course was expanded through SL. Combined with these aspects of learning is the research that attests to their value for both classroom teachers and students and can be provided more effectively and efficiently by access to SL. This preparation is essential for developing quality teachers imparting a high-level curriculum who can particularly address the needs of students of diversity who may have previously been “under served” (Rothstein, M. and E. Rothstein, 2009). Further, it is important to reiterate the knowledge we impart in a traditional setting of course instruction is mirrored in the virtual e n v i r o nme n t b o t h s y n c h r o n o u s l y a n d asynchronously—a clearly defined asset set in place for specific use in spite of the aftermath of a devastating storm which left many students unable to travel to campus for regular instruction.

SL allows the teacher, as well as the students, to continuously “modify the classroom.” The Second Life scenario, students can set up vir tual environments of cities, countrysides, museums, wildlife settings or whatever is related to the curriculum just as the co-author of this paper has done for the purpose of coming together synchronously in a virtual presence. By creating these simulated settings, teachers and students are involved in active research from the Internet and other media, which they can then present, to colleagues or classmates for true sharing and discussion. Through this simulation, the teacher guides the students in a true cross-cultural model for individualization of instruction (Maisano, 2004).

Subject Area Learning and Attention to Individualized Needs Through Virtual Instruction Time

“Planet earth is inhabited by all kinds of people who have all kinds of minds. The brain of each human is unique. Some minds are wired to create symphonies and sonnets, while others are fitted out to build bridges, highways, and computers… (Levine, 2002.1)”

This opening statement in ‘A Mind at a Time’, rarely serves as the basis for subject area instruction in a traditional setting. Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock (2001) express a complementary viewpoint on instruction by challenging the concept of what “all students” need (rather than what the individual student needs) by asking if there are instructional strategies that are 1) more effective in certain subject areas 2) more effective at certain levels of instruction 3) more effective with students from different backgrounds, and 4) more effective with students of different aptitudes (9). In response to these questions, the authors state three strategies that have been shown to have positive effects, known as student-centred instruction, teaching of critical thinking skills, and the use of hands-on activities. Preservice teachers are taught to model these strategies in their course of study. This is implemented on several levels in the hybrid class, which embodies both face-to-face instruction and immersive world instruction in the virtual environment of Second Life.

While administrators and teachers may agree with the concepts of Levine and Marzano, they may ask, justifiably, how they could possibly create instructional formats that are “individualized” and “student-centred” when all the students know the same information, which they must all learn at the same rate. A modestly stated answer to this question might lie in the inclusion of Second Life in the classroom which can be introduced and maintained by the current population of pre-service and inservice teachers who enter the classroom with SL knowledge and skills which this paper addresses.

Subject-Area Availability and Integration

As pre-service teachers prepare, practice and model quality instruction they keep in mind the following iterated by E.D. Hirsch’s second chapter in The Schools We Need is titled “Intellectual Capital: A Civil Right”. Hirsch opens with the statement that “The need in a democracy is to teach children a shared body of knowledge”(17), which he calls intellectual capital. “operates in almost every sphere of modern society to determine social class, success or failure in school, and even psychological or physical health” (19). Hirsch continues to explain the concept of Intellectual Capital as a necessity for economic and psychological well being, focusing on those children denied access to this “capital.” He empathetically writes, [these children] “fall further and further behind. He then compares this lack of intellectual capitalism with money stating that a “child’s accumulation of wide-ranging foundational k n o w l e d g e i s t h e k e y t o e d u c a t i o n a l achievement” (20).

The inclusion of SL in the teaching/learning spectrum and in the preparation of pre-service teachers can be a powerful adjunct in the development of intellectual capitalism because not only does it have the advantage of being a virtual modifiable classroom, but because it offers access to specific subject-area topics that, again following through on Hirsch, “can be broadly shared with others” for effective communication and learning (20). Through SL, preservice teachers and students of all ages can “go to” sites on beginning reading, mathematics, chemistry, or whatever curriculum area is needed. A further advantage of this access is the opportunity to truly integrate subjects. At an SL site, students at their desktop through their “Avatars” with different aspects of knowledge can meet to present and discuss, for example, “the relationship of mathematics to chemistry, “ or “the history of the English language and its affect on English spelling.”

Visitors to the site can bring their high-level intellectual questions and find other visitors and materials with answers. The learning is not linear and based on a pacing guide, but circular and expansive, and dependent on shared knowledge. This specific goal is maintained through the networking of educators worldwide. Pre-service teachers at St. Francis College, Department of Education had the unique opportunity to p r e s e n t a n d participate in an international o n l i n e c o n f e r e n c e m e e t i n g t e a c h e r s a r o u n d t h e w o r l d t o d i s c u s s pedagogy t o practice. This practice alone is one aspect of using this s p e c i fi c technology tool to enrich the learning experience for all students on multiple levels of cognition.

Practice Teaching Simulations and Role-Playing

SL gives every participant student multiple opportunities to participate and interact with colleagues. In the History of Education in America, published in 1994, the authors Pulliam and Van Patten wrote of the “Character ist ics of Futur ist i c Education” (270-281), much of which they have said is not only relevant, but still needs to occur. They begin with the axiom that “Education is more than training”. Training refers to providing students with existing information. The true purpose of education, they state, “requires an environment in which students are not asked questions for which the answers are known”, but which develop the “ability to solve problems and communicate in a meaningful way” (272). The classroom, as we know it, is a limited setting for pre-service teachers to practice teaching simulations and to role-play not only the teacher, but also the learners. The teacher who lectures can only hope that the “wisdom and knowledge” emanating from the lecture reaches and interacts with the brain of the learner.

Two publications extend the earlier work of Pulliam and Van Patten: Howard Gardner’s Five Minds for the Future (2007) and Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind (2005). Gardner’s “five minds” represent what he terms “five dramatis personae” that allow a person to be “well-equipped to deal with what is expected, as well as what cannot be anticipated” (2). The five minds, according to Gardner, are the disciplined mind, the synthesizing mind, the creating mind, the respectful mind, and the ethical mind. Gardner’s specific use of the terms dramatis personae tie-in not coincidentally with the need for “role p l a y i n g ” i n t e a c h e r p r e p a r a t i o n . Daniel Pink (2005) also focuses on the mind, referring t o a r t i s t s , i n v e n t o r s , d e s i g n e r s , s t o r y t e l l e r s , c a r e g i v e r s , consolers, big picture thinkers—those with minds needed for the forthcoming decades. Needed for a successful future will be those people who exhibit the qualities of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness, and meaning. If we can imagine future teachers having minds that merge the qualities of Gardner and Pink, we can imagine teaching and learning environments well beyond the current classrooms we now have. To begin this process, teachers of the future need to begin their training by simulating and role-playing of what is likely to be.

The addition of SL to pre-service teacher preparation is designed by its structure to foster and promote continuous interactions and role-playing, based on solving problems that confront learners and learning, st retching thei r minds to be discipl ined, synthesizing, creating, respectful, and ethical. Every participant in a SL setting must interact cooperatively, (not competitively) a behavior, which the authors emphasize, is predictive of not only success in school, but also success on the job and in life (Pulliam and Van Patten 274). Also, interacting cooperatively encompasses the qualities cited by Pink. In an SL setting, pre-service teachers can be involved in all or most of these simulations and roleplaying activities (Maisano, 2010).

Distance Learning Opportunities for Building Culturally Responsive Teaching & Continuous Professional Development

During the aftermath of the storm, lives were shaken, saddened by the destruction and devastated by the paralysis of life perhaps once taken for granted. Transportation of any kind was nonexistent as railways and roads were riddled with debris and flooded tunnels. It is during this time that this alternative method of instruction had an impact on students to help them stay connected with one another, their classmates and professor as well as staying connected with their learning community. This model of culturally responsive teaching and learning was poignantly clear and appropriate to distance learning opportunities for building culturally responsive teaching. Aspects of teaching and learning are visibly simulated in SL, with “distance” being global and communication made possible through immediate translations. With the immersive world-learning tool of Second Life (SL), pre-service and in-service teachers communicate directly with a variety of educators from other countries and cultures with opportunities to become culturally responsive teachers.

Gay (2000) defines culturally responsive teaching as using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, and performance styles of diverse students to make learning more appropriate and effective for them; it teaches to and through the strengths of these students. Similarly, Ladson-Billings (1994) studied actual instruction in elementary classrooms and observed these values being demonstrated. She saw that when students were part of a more collective effort designed to encourage academic and cultural excellence, expectations were clearly expressed, skills taught, and interpersonal relations were exhibited. Students behaved like members of an extended family assisting, supporting, and encouraging each other. Students were held accountable, as part of a larger group, and it was everyone’s task to make certain that each individual member of the group was successful. As the potential of SL develops, pre-service and in-service teachers have direct experiences in communicating with peers from different cultures and backgrounds. Imagine a group of pre-service teachers from St. Francis College exchanging methods, concepts, and ideas with teachers from Yarrawonga, Australia, using the technology of Second Life to exchange materials and artifacts, share problems and solutions, and maintain ongoing dialogues.

Simulated “Field” Experiences

Second Life (SL) can take students wherever one can virtually reach. In A Whole New Mind (2005), Pink outlines six “high-concept, high-touch senses that can develop the whole new mind” that students will need. He names these “senses” design, story, symphony, empathy, and play (5,6). While all of these senses can be elevated or raised through participation in SL, “play” can have a special place and a special value in the SL experience. Pink cites the definition of play by Brian Sutton-Smith as “to act out and be willful, exultant and committed as if one is assured of one’s prospect’ (187).

One of the pleasant school activities for most students at any age is a field trip. A field trip is not only seeing and being part of a place outside the classroom, but means freedom to walk around, possibly touch plants or animals or unique objects, talking to classmates without disapproval, and learning “outside the box” (Maisano, 2010). Yet field trips are generally infrequent for many reasons. Adding the SL “field trips” to a one’s course of study, can be a high-level substitute that expands horizons and offers visualizations beyond those that can be provided in textbooks and other written materials.

Pre–Service teachers at St. Francis College (SFC) in this particular genre of learning had the opportunity to meet and greet educators from many international locations while presenting at a Social Studies International Conference with Virtual Pioneers ( Enhanced by a scenario of role-playing set in an historic period in new geographic locations populated by “characters” of a different era and maybe speaking a different language that is now simultaneously translated on the computer screen.

Findings & Results of Focus Group Student Led Discussion and Narrative Anonymous Exit Questionnaire Taken of Pre-Service Teachers at SFC and Their Use of Second Life in the Aftermath of the Storm

The focus group discussion and questionnaire comments were in response to the following discussion points.

Did the course meet your expectations?

What were the highlights/strong points of the course experience?

Do you feel the course prepared you for your future teaching experience?

Given the circumstances surrounding the aftermath of the storm during this semester, did you think the alternative method of instruction and use of technology helped to maintain the standards and requirements of the course?

Is there anything you would have changed or done differently in this course or requirements?

The findings will be documented as positive and negative responses to the aforementioned questions, which resulted in 85% positive responses and 15% negative responses. For the purposes of this paper, we have presented the questions and a sampling of the responses to each question divided in positive statements and negative statements.


I feel that the use of technology during the hurricane was a brilliant idea. It was a wonderful accommodation for the students.

The use of SL during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy not only made learning convenient but also broadened our understanding of methods of teaching Science.

A highlight of this course would have to be using Second Life.

I strongly believe that although Hurricane Sandy was a tragedy, it was a great example to show us that these things happen, and we must continue with life as we are given. I was able to find a location with WIFI and didnʼt have to worry about attending class on campus. There was no way of getting to SFC because of transportation issues.

I feel that given the aftermath of the storm our professor was prepared to continue class on second life. I thought that was great because everyone would still be together, we could hear each other and there was a certain comfort in being together and helping each other in the middle of so much confusion and destruction. I would have felt lost coming back to class 3 weeks later if it were not for our meeting in SL.

We canʼt help natural disasters so I think the use of technology (Second Life) really helped all of us to stay in touch and be on target with our studies and connected to our classmates.

I find it interesting how you can put up lessons and see the same things we would see in our face-to-face class even in a virtual learning classroom.

Second Life was a bit challenging at first however, seeing how convenient it became in the aftermath of the storm I was drawn to it because it brought us all together when we couldnʼt be together in real life! I wish all my courses had the option of using SL.

Because of Hurricane Sandy, we were not able to attend our class on campus at SFC. Second Life acted as a meeting place online. This was not the same as using ANGEL (Blackboard) because it was not like other online courses Iʼve heard about. We actually met and learned together virtually. This helped our class stay on track and up to date with assignments and lessons. SL was a great experience.

I learned not only how to teach science and social studies, but how to incorporate technology in our teaching.

I was amazed at how much I could use SL. I learned quickly actually and was lucky enough to present at the Virtual Pioneers Conference in SL and got to meet teachers from many different places around the world.

The technology allowed me to experiment, experience and gain knowledge on what I can push myself to do and ways to better serve my future students.

This technology alternative allowed me to study social studies education in ways I didnʼt know were possible. I felt that the strong points for me in this course were being able to express my creativity in a variety of projects instead of only writing papers and taking tests.

I learned so much in this class. Many activities and techniques that I could incorporate in my future teaching were the highlight of this class. It was amazing how many projects we could do in SL.

I think the use of technology helped me maintain the standard for this course because we were doing the same thing we would usually do on campus in the virtual classroom.

I think Second Life was a great asset to this course in particular. It was convenient and it made presentations easier than bringing everything to campus.

I enjoyed learning in a different atmosphere.

The use of technology we used in this course made my life as a learner easier and more enjoyable. I love learning new things.

SL was not so new to me this semester and by having the prior knowledge, I was able to help my peers to adjust. The technology helped maintain the standard and requirements. We presented our projects in SL, which, I donʼt think many students at SFC are able to do.

I wish all our methods classes were hybrid. This would give us all a chance to learn new technology while still covering our entire subject learning too.

I enjoyed the online virtual aspect of this course. I believe that the online experience was a unique way of collaborating with classmates and getting to know everyone by presenting projects in SL.

Everything we did with the use of technology was exactly as we would have done on campus. I enjoyed this different experience.

The highlight of this course was using Second Life to learn how to teach social studies. I think technology in this course was very effective because of how much technology is present in the world around us every day. I had an awesome time teaching and learning in Second Life.

I really enjoyed the Second Life experience. It was an introduction to teaching with technology for me. I enjoyed working in groups and collaborating and sharing ideas to put all our projects together.

It was really important to me to be able to keep in touch with my classmates after the storm. I was stuck and couldnʼt get to campus and I missed the learning. I didnʼt want to think about all the terrible things the storm had done.

Actually, the bad storm brought us closer together as a group because we were able to still have class online in Second Life.

Using technology to interact with each other was very eye opening. I learned there are other ways of learning than just meeting on campus.

Found a key aspect of this course was the effective use of Second Life and textbooks assigned. The online program enabled us to meet synchronously at any day and time and allowed the integration of more technology in the world of education.

I absolutely feel the integration of technology into this course is vital to our career development. It broadens our teaching strategies and prepares us for the ever-changing classroom that is becoming more geared toward Smart Boards, tablets, and I phone apps. Though some professors may not agree with the use of Second Life, I find it very beneficial to meet the needs of students while still meeting the standards for the course.


I felt uncomfortable with my inexperience with Second Life. I was afraid to use it. I donʼt think Second Life has helped me.

I donʼt know what I am supposed to do and I had trouble following along in class.

I had a hard time with the program. Even though the professor helped me I still felt like it wasnʼt the same as being face to face.

The storm was too much for me and I didnʼt want to worry about school when so much was going on at home.

I preferred class on campus and only some classes in SL.

I did struggle with Second Life but I eventually got the hang of it. It might have been better if we had more learning technology time.

I would rather have both on campus and SL experience in the course.

Sometimes I felt overwhelmed.


In an analysis completed by the co-authors of this paper, we have come to the conclusion that for the most part, students were happy to have the opportunity to experience a new genre of technology to enrich the course of study. Most students agreed that meeting virtually did not change the content of instruction that students would experience in a face-to-face class. Given the nature of the circumstances surrounding the aftermath of the super storm Sandy, students felt a sense of comfort and normalcy in meeting virtually, which, would not have been able to happen in a class on campus because travel to SFC was impossible given the transportation issues after the storm. Students that struggled with the technology were given assistance by the professor and from peers, however they were overwhelmed with the technology added to the complications of the storm. Our experience as professors using technology in our teaching experiences and with using the immersive learning experience of Second Life is the potential for expanding the global perspectives of both teachers and their students. While many may struggle with the technology of new software and new ways of interacting both with “avatars” and the demands of the college and university programs, they had the unique experience of “meeting” a global world and have the advantage of meeting other educators worldwide and broadening the network of teachers dedicated to the profession. Thomas Friedman (2005) stated the world is flat, a new way of looking at the globe and its potential for direct communication. Second Life, as one way of immersive learning, can be a starting point for global interaction, continuous professional development and a way of moving us closer to the long sought after goal of a world of teaching and learning in a global society.

Having the opportunity to gather thoughts and feelings of helping to maintain the continuity of teaching and learning in higher education during a devastating time after the storm was also a way to express the thoughts of our students and allowing them to find the beacon in the storm and exploring a new way of using technology in education.


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Virtual Pioneers Webpage for Social Studies Educators:

Back again for more ‘APP’-tastic apps – this time I’ve selected a few of the best Maths (or ‘Math’ for our American cousins) Apps on the market. I’ve been trying these out in class and again some are ideal for early morning work or to be fitted in as a starter or to be used as an investigative opportunity or a way to consolidate what they have already learnt. However you mean to use them they will totally engage the class and can add another exciting layer to lessons. We’re also looking for different opportunities for children to talk about maths too and I would always follow up any tablet work with a discussion of terms and what was achieved. With my Year 1 class I always get them to share their i-pads in pairs and they swap every few minutes. In this way they get to talk to each other about what they are doing and instinctively they narrate about the APP they are using to their partner. In my teacgher role I will descend upon them with quick consolidatory or next step questioning to get them thinking even more. I tend to target the observer as they are watching patiently (-sometimes, not so patiently but we’ll gloss over that for the purpose of this article.)

As the class are slip-sliding away across their tablets there is always an enthusiastic energy and it’s that energy you want your class to feel about maths and their learning as a whole.  So, calling all Primary Teachers – let’s App-reciate maths together with these maths Apps!

Graphs (Free – KS1/2)

Pie charts, Line graphs and bar charts are all part of this free APP. As well Q&A on data interpretation you can also learn about mean, mode and median. I actually made a pie chart detailing how much I thought you were going to like this App. An overwhelming 100% of you liked it

What time is it Mr Wolf? (0.69p – KS1/2)

This is another award winner for ‘Best App Ever’ 2013 for children under 9 and I agree (even as a teacher over 39!) As a player, you get to choose what times you want displayed and also whether you would like the time digitally shown or in words. Mr Wolf uses the full moon to display his times which he then spins to show different times.  As a generous wolf at heart, he gives the player up to 8 answers tochoose from (though you can select less in the menu.) It’s particularly good for revising those tricky ‘to’ times on an analogue display. It’s a howling success – Ha! Get it? It’s a HOWLING success!….never mind…!

What Time is it, Mr Wolf? (£1.49 – KS1/2)

This is a little bit cuter than our previous wolf and has features to demonstrate time which is particularly good to help students to bring them to an understanding of how time passes. There’s more teaching in this App, so there’s good points to discussThere’s even a screen shot which invites you to ‘Click to feel the time’. Darn clever, I say.

Maths facts: number bond & fact families (0.69p – KS1)

Here’s a very useful App for KS1 classes getting to grips with addition and subtraction facts and the relationships with numbers in number sentences. Lots of fun and easy to play games incorporating missing numbers and inverse operations, and the like. It is simply set out and a great maths way to start a learning day.

Pizza Fractions (0.69p KS1/2)

Learning fractions is as simple as ordering pizza! The pizza chef ensures it’s not just mozzarella and pepperoni on your mind, but how to share your slices out too. You can compare, create and check your answers. This has simple graphics and an easy to play game format to build confidence in fractions. Guaranteed to make you feel quite hungry after all that maths! Your class will end up asking whether there could be a delivery after break time.

Math Bingo (0.69p – KS1/2)

This has been a featured App in several noted publications.  Choose your player to answer and select your operation to answer questions to match on your bingo grid. Students can even have a mixture of questions to answer to get them thinking quickly between signs. An award winner, and a thoroughly decent app!

KS2 SATs Maths (£2.99 – KS2)

As a revision tool this is something your students can be advised to upload on their devices at home.  There’s over 500 SATs questions given here and Year ^ students can take a test in each of the specified areas. It’s a great App for finding out the gaps in their knowledge in preparation for the BIG Test itself. After each series of questions, it gives you a summary and an approximate NC level too. This is an App you can advise for parents to invest in.

Numeracy Nibbles (0.69p – KS1)

I just like the title of this one – hilarious!’Numeracy Nibbles’ – handy maths bites for hungry kids. Again, this App has a strong emphasis on KS1 SATs and national testing so is a great preparatory tool to try out. This has 300 questions and each test consists  ten randomly selected questions. It gives you a total score of the ones you got right giving the student an indication of their success rate. This type of App needs specific focus for each of the set of questions to get the students into the ‘test’ mindset.

Splash Math Grades 1 & 2 & 3 (Free! Though it is a ‘lite’ version…- KS1/2)
Oh I do like a free App and this is ideal for Key Stage 1 and 2. It’s fun, friendly cartoon format has 13 chapters and covers over 185 maths skills. It covers a myriad of things from calculation, measures, place value, probability etc. Ideal for early morning work to get their maths brains into gear. (There are some American touches – like counting money – that the British children will have to skip. However overall, it is a thoroughly decent App!)

Bee Bot (Free–Bot! KS1)

A lot of you will have used the real BeeBots in class and this is the perfect short cut to allow a whole class the opportunity to investigate direction language.  Direct the inquisitive BeeBot around the garden by programming a safe path. As a follow up get the children to make pathways for each other. Then in pairs get them to demonstrate their directional vocabulary to instruct the other to find their destination.

3D shapes and Nets (0.69p – KS1/2)

This explores properties of 3D shape and looks at the relationship between them and their nets. There’s plenty of ‘Wow’ factor on offer here with its outer space theme and looks at not only the common 3D shapes but more complex constructs like seven sided pyramids! It’s out of this world!

King of Maths (Free! KS2)

Actually the title is a little misleading as you can just as easily become a ‘Queen’ of maths if you so prefer through this rather fast paced mathematics game. It delivers diverse problems in different areas and manages to challenge you throughout. It has a distinctly medieval theme and the aim is to progress from your lowly farmer peasant status to become a King (or Queen for that matter) of your own maths realm! It has ten levels and students can compare their score with each other. Prithee sire, tis a noble App indeed! Minstrels – play on!

Number bonds: addition and subtraction to 99 / multiplication and division to 99 (£1.49 per App – KS1/2)

To sharpen up some mental maths then invest in these. They can race against the clock, or with each other or on their own and the beauty about it is they are developing their mathematical reasoning in a game format. There are plenty of these type of Apps and it’s worth getting a selection to test their developing skills. Also they are so easy to facilitate and they keep the class engaged. Super stuff!

Achieve Level 4 Mathematics (£3.99 – KS2)

You are paying a bit more for this one so it had better be good – and thankfully it is too! Linked in with the series of Achieve books, this offers hundreds of examples to plough your maths mind through. Students can choose their specified area of maths and within that, select an objective to look at. So they may want to choose ‘Shape, space and measures’ in order to look at ‘Angles’. Simples! They can click and drag to their hearts content and as the title suggests it is aimed at trying to secure level 4 knowledge. Highly recommended.

 Math Dictionary (£1.99 – KS1/2)

For those of you that know me (and for the benefit of those that don’t) I do tend to expound upon how important language is in maths making sure children know what they are doing and can tell each other about it. This is a very ‘andy APP for all sorts of reasons – for language acquisition , for concise definitions and visual examples to back everything up too.  Perfect for KS2 and beyond

Speaking Times Tables (0.69p – KS1/2)

To be fair, I’m not too keen on the design of the monkey in this App. I feel I could do a better job there. However, students can listen and join in with the tables being chanted and it’s as good as any of the times table Apps out there, so I’m willing to forgive the rather cross-eyed monkey. You get a choice of voices too. Again, there are endless times tables Apps to be found. A lot of the free options do only cover only some of the times tables and then request that you upgrade (with a fee!) to unlock the rest. So you might as well pay get your school to pay small amount in the first place.

Capacity Word Problems/Reading Scales/Balancing Calculations (All £1.49 each – KS1/2)

These three Apps are gems! Simplicity holds the key once more with easy to decipher diagrams for ‘Capacity Word problems’ and ‘Reading Scales’ Apps. Students can answer questions against the clock. ‘Balancing Calculations’ helps to reinforce the role of the equals sign, balancing between different types of calculations. Worth a purchase!

APPy Solving!

There are plenty opf opportunities to weave in these Apps to suit the needs of your class. They are a terrific way to stimulate a buzz about maths. Just make sure you get involved with your students as they access these programs. It’s a key opportunity for you to ask assessment questions. Use these Apps as discussion points and create a classroom culture of fun, wonder and discovery!

How  APP-solutley wonderful!


(Des Hegarty is a teacher at Wilbury Primary School. You can follow his book blog ‘Storysplat’ by clicking here:

Also you can watch Des in action telling stories on Youtube:

‘Gus You Are a Superstar’

The Grizzlegrog’

Mr Gum and the Goblins – by Andy Stanton

..and finally you can follow him on Twitter @The Grizzlegrog)


New technologies are continuing to make their way into our classrooms. It is evident that this is transforming how we design the learning space, the role of technology, the role of the learners and also the other centrepiece of education, ‘teachers’. My recent experience of online discussions shows that the changing role of the teacher in technology-enhanced learning is becoming a very popular topic.  What is interesting is that on many occasions teachers are blamed for not adapting and incorporating technology into their teaching.  What I haven’t seen is anyone talking about how the role of the teacher has altered. In every single discussion, educators have talked about what needs to be done to support teachers to use technology better in the classroom, but no one has discussed about what has changed.

I think it is very appropriate to mention Dr. Jessel’s point on this topic. Jessel (2012) suggests that, “Innovation arising from new technologies makes a variety of demands upon the role of the teacher”. He continues, “At another level, the introduction of innovation makes major demands upon teachers’ pedagogical, professional and managerial skills.” What this tells us is that by using only the traditional teaching will not help teachers to integrate technology into their teaching. As the new technologies constantly evolve, maybe the focus has been too long on the technology, rather than training teachers to learn to evaluate each medium in terms of what can be achieved in practice and which strategies needs to be adopted.

I would also like to point your attention to the word ‘pedagogy’. We do need to understand this term in the context of education. Hanks et al (1986) describe pedagogy as the ‘principles, practice or profession of teaching’. Therefore we could say that pedagogy includes ‘teaching’, ‘learning space’, ‘content’ and ‘methods’. What we also need to remember is there is a very strong relationship between ‘pedagogy’ and ‘practice’. In other words how learning content manifests into knowledge, mainly shaped by how it has been taught in practice.

This brings more questions, as the pedagogical approaches to education are not necessarily detached from cultural traditions and beliefs, therefore embedding technology into teaching and learning is a more complex task than just re-arranging a classroom space. According to Pepin (2010) the cultural traditions and philosophical beliefs of countries determine the principles upon which that national curriculum is designed and the pedagogies adopted in schools. As a result, the content and aim of the curriculum itself, places expectations on teachers. If the curriculum is designed to evaluate learning through test scores, surely teachers will use pedagogy to serve and meet this purpose rather than focusing on how to develop learning. This not only limits the teacher’s methods to lead teaching, but also impacts on their meeting the different learning needs of students, which in most cases results as a failure in education.
I believe that teachers are very confused about their role and their direction in the learning cycle that employs new technologies. Surely, where a curriculum has been designed by policy makers and theories have been discussed by scholars, confusion is certain. The break in communication between the main stakeholders of education; policy makers, scholars, teachers and learners is the main reason for this outcome. This communication breakage causes other problems, which can be seen as the reasons why some teachers are having difficulties with embedding technology into their teaching. These can be listed as:

  • Lack of resources
  • Not having enough time to get familiar with the tools
  • Being unsure of what can be achieved with which technology
  • No training in pedagogy and strategies that works well with specific technologies
  • Uncertainty in assessing and evaluating the learning that has been gained using technology
  • Issues around managing behaviour and classroom
  • Demands on meeting specific learning objectives-as technology doesn’t always fit in to meet these.

There were also comments about some teachers being reluctant to change. I have to admit, in my role as an ICT Coordinator for many years, I haven’t come across teachers that did not want to try any of the new technologies that I have suggested or discussed. What is important is having a shared vision in school for the implementation of technology, from the senior managers at the top to the staff involved in teaching and learning.

This shared vision is what enthuses educators to not only use new technologies but also provides a well-designed constant training opportunity. A flexible project based learning approach is also a must for utilising the full power of technology in education. If we are to focus on just subject related learning objectives and miss the bigger picture of learning behind the scenes, we will provide children with limited learning experiences. However adopting a PBL approach will provide children with the opportunity to master their skills and knowledge which then make it possible to transfer them to other learning areas. Another important point is involving teachers and learners in the research process. Understanding the value of technology in the classroom requires constant monitoring and evaluating, which will feed back into developing new models of implementation. Who could be the better resource than the teachers and learners that are the main part of the learning cycle?

So in summary, a shared vision within the school, two-way communication between the stakeholders of education, a curriculum that allows a flexible project based learning approach will make a difference. Without these qualities, teachers understanding of their changing role in education will still be clouded and as a consequence of this, integrating technology into education will remain a hazy concept.


Hanks, P., McLeod, W. and Urdang, L. (Eds)(1986) Collins dictionary of the English language, Collins, London & Glasgow.

Jessel, J. (2012) “Social, cultural and cognitive processes and new technologies in education” in Miglino, O., Nigrelli, M. L., & Sica, L. S. Role-games, computer simulations, robots and augmented reality as new learning technologies: A guide for teacher educators and trainers, Liguori Editore, Napoli.

Mortimore, P. (Ed.) (1999) Understanding Pedagogy and its Impact on Learning, Paul Chapman Publishing, London

Pepin, B. (2010) “How educational systems and cultures mediate teacher knowledge: teacher ‘listening’ in English, French and German classrooms” (p. 119-138), in Ruthven, K. and Rowlands, T. (eds) Mathematical knowledge in teaching, Springer, Dordrecht.

Perrotta, C., Featherstone, G., Aston, H. and Houghton, E. (2013) “Game-based Learning: Latest Evidence and Future Directions” NFER (FUTURELAB), Slough, [online],