by Maggie Morrissey @technologytotea


magggie-2Welcome to my first article and I will start with a brief introduction. I am an experienced primary science and technology coordinator and have been managing these subjects in a variety of schools over the past 18 years in primary schools in London and Moscow. With each issue I aim to bring you a variety of teaching and resource ideas on incorporating technology into the curriculum.

I have just returned from running a workshop on using data-logging in KS1 and KS2 at the ASE 2017 annual conference Therefore, I thought this resource would be a good starting point for this column.

Early on in my career I became interested in using data-loggers in primary science, as I believe if used well they enhance learning and bring science to life for children. Earlier data loggers were a bit clunky but today’s models are much easier to use. Approximately two years ago I purchased the VU Easy Sense from Data Harvest and I have been delighted with how easy it is to use.

The unit comes in its own easy to see green case that includes the Data Logger with three sensors incorporated into the unit, these measure temperature, light and sound. There is also one plug-in temperature sensor, a USB lead and a lanyard with a safety release catch.

1 DL in caseMy unit came with a CD containing the software and teaching ideas, but you can also download these from the website. More information and price list here.

Once you have purchased the main unit you can then go on to buy additional sensors at quite reasonable costs. I have the pulse meter, extra temperature probes and two light gates. I have as yet only used the pulse meter and temperature probes in class. The sensors fit in easily to input A and B and the unit will automatically recognise which sensor has been added.

VU Easy Sense – basic features and collecting data

data logger data2 

Diagram from the VU User Guide


From the VU User Guide

The unit can record whilst connected to your computer or take the unit outside and take data remotely. When you return to the class the data is easily transferable via the USB cable.

Whilst away from the computer the data can be collected in a variety of ways:

  • Using meter mode the unit will display readings on its LCD screen and they are not stored. I often use this to test out the readings to see if they appear correct before we go ahead and start collecting any data.
  • When storing data, the menu has these options, pictogram, easylog, snapshot, timing and counting. I have mainly used the snapshot mode when working with the children but I like the idea that data is collected in pictogram format that can then be used with children in KS1.

Full instructions are freely available on the company’s website and their customer care service is excellent should you run in to any problems. One word of caution is to make sure when you start logging that the range is correct. The above diagram shows what they should be.

Educational Benefits

Over the years I have observed children using this equipment and have noticed that they take their science work far more seriously. They become aware of the need to take accurate measurements when conducting investigations and appear to really consider what type of question they really want to answer. Furthermore, they also appear to be able to interpret certain graphs earlier than would be expected. I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed how quickly year four children understood line graphs once they had seen one being produced in real time (We were investigating the temperature of boiling water).

Further Benefits

  • Develop children’s higher order thinking skills
  • Encourage their science argumentation skills
  • Children work like real scientists
  • Inquiry based learning
  • Develop other skills such as numeracy and literacy
  • Works well with EAL students
  • Links the computing and science curriculum

Classroom Ideas

The company provides a PDF file with many lesson ideas that are incredibly useful when you first start using this product. Once you build your confidence with using the equipment I highly recommend that you get your class to design their own investigations and questions that they want answered, it is when the children and yourself get to this confidence level you really start to see some quite lovely work.

Using this data logging alongside Concept Cartoons and other good investigation starters such as photographs and videos, you will surely start to see quite sophisticated thinking.

4. Worked with TAWhole class investigations are very useful at the start as you teach the children and other adults in the classroom how the equipment works. Later on you can move into small groups investigating their own questions. Do let children work with other teaching staff; I have had some excellent work completed by a small group who were accompanied by my teaching assistant.

Interpreting the graphs is an obvious strength of using this equipment. Children soon learn how to read a variety of data. However, also look for opportunities for children to make their own tables and graphs.

Class Examples

Light inside and outside

5. Child's graph

My class in Moscow were investigating light and they became curious about the light levels inside and outside of the classroom. It was late autumn in Moscow and quite cloudy. A few children thought the clouds would block light and it would be brighter in the classroom. After an interesting discussion about the strength of light from the sun, versus light in the classroom, we came up with our question and together we designed a table where they could record the location of the snapshot readings.

During the data collection they quickly noticed when outside that the readings were different at different locations and lively discussions started about why this would be. When they returned to class and later on made their own graphs with the results they started to come up with theories and new possible investigations. Many thought that the difference was due to the position of the sun during the day, their enthusiasm was infectious, and they kept suggesting new types of ways to show if this theory would be correct.

Which materials block out light

6. light level in cave


Within this topic we were also trying to make a class cave to show that you would need a light source to see in a cave. Some of the class members had been in a cave during a school trip as part of their English in the previous academic year and knew that you would need a light source. Others still had their doubts about this, so we tried to make an area in the class free from light. They had brought in a variety of materials for this activity and all thought that the black cover would be better. Using the data logger showed that another material was better (Blue patterned). When they looked closely at the material they realised that the weave of the fabric was letting light in.

This class’s confidence flourished throughout the year both with designing data collection sheets, producing their own graphs and using the equipment. When we had our technology week in the later half of Spring 2016 we had a science and technology area, they ran the whole section fairly independently with very little teacher intervention.

If your school is serious about improving children’s science investigation skills then data logging will certainly help with this process. It’s fairly inexpensive, easy to use and robust when using outside of class so can cope if little hands do drop the unit.


by Isil Boy Ergul @IsilBoy



he Educational Technology Summit Executive Committee and the Organization Committee held an invaluable and highly successful summit for the educational world. The educational improvements implemented during the past year in Turkey have been reviewed with the “2017 Educational Technology Summit Report”. The results of these improvements have been analyzed by experts. This article aims to highlight their “Feedback”, which is needed for further developing our national education system.

It has become apparent that there is a need for carrying out in-depth reviews of recent developments and using the findings over the coming years to enhance our educational system. The educational developments both nationally and internationally were explained by the speakers from different perspectives, and then discussed in detail. Participants endeavoured to solve issues with development-oriented recommendations.

ed1We believe that the problems of the Turkish education system will be resolved with a concerted effort from both the concerned institutions and individuals. The Educational Technologies Summit, which is one of the oldest in the field of educational technology, takes this into account. It is our duty to make it easier for everyone both in our Turkey and in the world to have fair and qualified education. When we do this, we hope to help the decision makers and all stakeholders who are trying to fulfil this important task. We are grateful to all the experts and academics that have been involved in this study.

“Qualification” is a term which is used gradually at the top of the concepts that different segments of a society use to assess their lives. Despite its statements on investment and priority, the fact that the education system has not caught up with the growth curve that it desires, necessitates a quality assuring analysis to be carried out in a multifaceted way.

The happiness of children is the happiness of society. We wish for 2017 to be a year of educational experiences surrounding society on the basis of happiness.

Educational Technologies Summit Program


The 4th Educational Technologies Summit, supported by the experts in their fields from around the world, was held at the Şişli Radisson Blu Hotel on 4th March 2017 with an active participation. ETZ17, had “A Journey to Magic” as its motto this year. It provided the participants with inspiring speeches and workshops, which attracted a lot of intense attention.

The Bosphorus Ball where both opening and closing speeches were held provided the audience with opportunities to gather with more speakers as it could be split into half. Although the summit had an agenda that was approximately 9 hours long, the participants stayed and used the hashtag #ETZ17 actively on social media.

The Purpose of Educational Technologies Summit

The purpose of this summit is to inform the participants about the latest new educational approaches and educational developments and to have various experts available from these fields. The summit being the only one in terms of gathering educators, business and the media world together, aims to be an inspiration to participants, by providing them with the opportunity of developing both their productivity and creativity.

ETZ, has used hologram technology to show great scientists. It used Albert Einstein in the first year and Alexander Graham Bell in the second. Additionally in the second year, ETZ had the activity “Maker Fair” and tried to guide its participants in Maker Movement, which is popular all over the world. The Educational Technologies Summit, has been organized since 2014, was held at the Yıldız Technical University for its first year with 900 participants, 40 speakers and 10 salons. In 2015, it was held at Bahçeşehir University with 73 speakers, 15 salons, 41 presentations and 1023 participants.

In 2016, ETZ provided 76 speakers and almost 1400 participants with the opportunity to be informed about the technological developments in education via interesting samples. In 2017, the summit was held with 72 speakers, having almost 1500 participants.

Who took part? How many people participated?

The Educational Technology Summit achieved an important milestone by reaching 1500 participants in 2017. It brought education, media and the business worlds together. The Summit was held with the participation of academics, researchers, teachers, educational advisors, librarians, educational technologists, parents, universities, school administrators, foreign language schools, students, prospective teachers, educational institutions representatives, study centres from the world of education; journalists, writers, social media experts, new media specialists, producers, educational correspondents and celebrities from the world of media; and private sector representatives, IT staff, architects, engineers, designers, publishing houses and technology suppliers from the world of business.

What kinds of companies participated?

At the summit, different companies with 43 stands took the opportunity to share their products and work in the field of educational technology with the participants. These companies included publishing houses, software companies, technology suppliers, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations, consulates, academies, entrepreneurs, and technology producers. During and after the event, the 1500 participants were very active discussing the event on social media. They have intensively and interactively participated by using their own accounts. The participants who shared their thoughts, suggestions, satisfaction and feedback kept the # ETZ17 hashtag on the top trend list for Turkey for 9 hours.

Contributions to Education Development

Bringing together all kinds of partners in the field of educational technology, ETZ17 has contributed to the development of a vast network in this respect. Participants at the event had the opportunity to meet experts and competent people in their fields and institutions to share their ideas and develop their projects. They had the opportunity to experience the best examples of current information, the most advanced technologies, to develop their competencies and visions in the fields of education, technology and educational technology using panel discussions, presentations and workshops in the event program. The participants had the opportunity to add value to their lifelong learning processes by forming an interaction with the experts by asking questions during the session. The summit, which took place with the participation of approximately 1,500 people, has also brought together important people from both the national and local media and has been instrumental in raising awareness around the Turkey, supporting nationally recognized recognition of both print and visual press. This event, which took place with a high participation rate, has delivered its own success as a multiplier effect to a wide range of people by providing a place to share knowledge, experiencing good and the latest examples of technology. The summit that brings the experts of education from all over the world together supported the awareness of scientific thinking and preparation of studies with scientific background by outstanding academic sharing. Problems about educational technologies have been examined by both experts and the participants in the project, and suggestions of constructive solutions from different perspectives have been provided to enrich the thought background of a concept that touches every individual in society such as educators. In addition, technology has fulfilled an important mission in promoting entrepreneurship and productivity skills through the involvement of suppliers, angel investors and manufacturers.

In summary, the 4th Educational Technology Summit brought together stakeholders from all areas of the world of educational technology with very participation participation again this year, as was the case in previous years. It took participants into a magical journey with the sharing and experience of information and case studies.

by Yasemin Allsop


Since coding has been included in the curriculums of many countries in recent years, there are many programs and apps that have became available for teachers to use for teaching computational concepts. It is clear from my conversations with class teachers and interactions in online communities that many of the educators are now aware that facilitating learning when children are coding is more than just providing them with an instruction sheet. Teachers around the world are exploring ways of introducing Computer Science (CS) concepts and approaches to children in a fun and interactive way.

Physical computing where CS meets electronics became very popular amongst educators who wanted to provide a space for their learners to explore computational ideas in a creative way supported by constructionist approaches. Physical computing simply refers to interacting with physical systems or objects from the physical world using programming. One of the most important benefits of physical computing is that it allows children to see how physical devices can be monitored and controlled by a microprocessor. Furthermore, it provides educators with a unique opportunity to integrate activities that will support learners to develop their skills and knowledge in many disciplines. This approach of connections between different curriculum, disciplines, knowledge and practice would surely provide learners with a more authentic and in-depth understanding.

So the questions that we should especially discuss with our learners are:

 How do we interact with computers?

The examples of this can be found in our daily lives. How we use a remote control to select the programs we watch on TV, selecting the correct settings for the clothes by programming a washing machine, how we operate a lift and so forth. This also helps children to see that computers are not just desktop PC’s.

How computers interact with the physical world around them?

When discussing this question it is important to start with input and output devices as computers wouldn’t be able to interact with the world without these. One of the more interesting examples for me is motion sensing-lights. Many times when we did not move around, the lights where I teach suddenly switched off. Then we start running and jumping around to switch them on. It is quite funny especially when your students are adults. There are many devices that are available, such as Raspberry Pi, that would allow you to design your own motion sensor.

Some tips for planning and teaching Computing Lessons including Physical computing

When planning and teaching computing lessons there are some important elements that should be considered. It is important to remember that how good our teaching will be, depends on how well the lesson was planned. We need to make sure that we look at each learning situation individually and structure our activities to meet the needs of our learners. This includes supporting not just those who need extra support to complete their tasks and meet their objectives, but also for those who exceed their targets and will benefit from undertaking extended learning opportunities. Below is some brief information about some principles that we should follow when planning and teaching effective computing lessons.

Having a secure subject knowledge, not just of what has been taught, but also the tools that are used is vital. Experimenting with the tools that will be used during the sessions, just like children, will help teachers to understand the thinking and learning process that children go through and identify any issues or misconceptions in advance.

Being aware of pedagogical approaches that work well in different situations especially when learning with, through and about technology will support teachers to adopt appropriate teaching strategies. This will also be useful for teachers to analyse the role of the learners and how this relates to the role of the teachers as learning will be shaped through the students’ interaction with their peers, tools and teachers.

Designing learning experiences that provide opportunities for the learners to develop and apply transferrable skills such as problem solving, creativity, communication, critical thinking, collaborative work and technology skills. These skills can aid the process of developing deeper learning that can prepare students for more complex learning situations and their future life.

Adopting a flexible learning space approach for children to be able to move around and discuss their works with their peers. After many years observing children during technology lessons, we found that they enjoy talking about their work and finding out what others are doing. It is important to allow the children to move around and discuss their friend’s work, make suggestions or ask for help. This would help the students to feel comfortable within the learning space, rather than being restricted which can be very motivational. It would also help them to evaluate both theirs and their friends’ work, which would help them to monitor their own learning.

Focusing on cross-curricular learning where possible. Planning and teaching computing in a context that is relevant to the children’s learning in other subjects will make learning more engaging and memorable. It is useful to create a cross-curricular idea map to help you with planning.

Ensuring that health and safety regulations are followed. When using tablets in class and other physical systems that may require a different arrangement and management of the classroom. For example we need to consider issues with when plugging Raspberry Pi’s or Makey Makey’s or any other tools and how we would handle them.

E-safety issues and how these would be integrated into a lesson need to be clearly identified. We believe that E-safety should be included in every lesson to emphasise the specific concerns related to the topic studied. If children are learning about blogs then online safety can be discussed as part of the session so that the children will remember it when they work on their blog. Teaching about the dangers of the Internet and how to manage its risks in a context will help students to learn to use technology in a responsible way.

List of devices that can be used for physical computing

There are so many devices that are already available on the market and every day I see a new device on It is very difficult to decide which one is actually suitable for your class. I think that there are couple of points that might help you to decide before investing in one of these.

  • Cost
  • Does it have a scheme of activities to start with
  • Any examples videos of how it can be used in lessons?
  • Is it appropriate for your purpose?
  • Can it be used in groups, as purchasing one for each student can be very expensive?
  • Does it allow you to combine concepts from different subjects?
  • Does it provide possibilities for creative thinking and design? Creating pre-set designs from an instruction sheet is not going to provide a rich learning experience.

Makey Makey

makeyMakey Makey is a device that means we can make our own input devices for the computer, for example you can replace the arrow keys on the keyboard with bananas. It is important to discuss what property does the banana and the people have that makes this possible?

Cost: Around £40 – £50 each



arduinoArduino is an open source platform consisting of a programmable circuit board and software that allows you to write and upload your code to the circuit board. It is great for science and electronics projects. Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE) based on C++.

Cost: Around £20 each



crumbleCrumble is basically a programmable controller. It drives 2 motors forward and backwards at variable speeds, which makes it perfect for creating cars and robots. It also has 4 input and output pads that allows you to work on projects using switches and LEDs. The Crumble software is inspired by Scratch and it works on PC, Mac or Linux environment.

Cost: Around £22 each



microbitMicro:bit is a compact programmable computer. It has motion detector, LED display, built-in compass and Bluetooth technology. It has its own software that can be accessed via PC or tablets.

Cost: Around £20 each


Raspberry Pi

piRaspberry Pi is a credit card sized computer that allows you to learn programming through fun projects. It promotes Scratch and Python programming languages and also includes a special edition of Minecraft. Their website has amazing activity plans that can be used for teaching students at all ages.

Cost: £35 each


Sphero sprk+

spheroSphero sprk+ is a small robot that promotes creativity and curiosity through projects such as mimicking the solar system, programming a painting etc. It has a space called Lightning Lab where you can collaborate with users around the world.

Cost: Around £100 each


Dash and Dot

dashDash is a robot that responds to voice, dancing, singing and navigating objects. You can use Wonder, Blockly and other apps to program Dash to do different things. With the xylo app you can program Dash to play a song.

Cost: Around £150 each



skoogSkoog is basically a musical instrument. It is designed for inclusive music making, enabling children with SEN to experiment with sound expressively. It connects to iPad via Bluetooth and comes with its own app.

Cost: Around £200 each



by Charlie Beeson and Angela Branaes


We had the pleasure of running a Code Camp here at Man AHL during CodeWeek EU. Working with NextTechGirls, 11 teenagers from Morpeth School, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls and St Albans Boys School got the opportunity to spend a week learning about technology, finance and office life.

The students got to learn about Agile Development methodology by taking part in our daily standups. By participating in an interactive trading game, they gained a basic understanding of the stock market, and they got an insight into the Man AHL Coder Prize, an annual coding competition we run here at Man AHL for students aged 16-25 from across the EU. We are looking forward to receiving their algorithmic solutions to this year’s HiveMinder competition!


During the week the students had the opportunity to submit questions to an anonymous Q&A ballot box. We were very impressed with what they asked; “why can’t computers program themselves?” and “what are the biggest threats to the Internet?”. We also provided explanations of buzzwords from the media such as “The Cloud”, “Artificial Intelligence”, “Machine Learning” and “Big Data”.

The majority of the week was spent teaching the teenagers how to program in Python, how to test their code, and how to make a great website they could show their friends, using javascript, html and css. The teaching workflow was streamlined using PythonAnywhere’s student/teacher mode, allowing us to easily push lesson code to all the students’ laptops. Most of the students had no prior programming experience, so we started gently; progressing from a session of “thinking like a robot” to creating some pseudo-code, to a fully coded anagram solving function in Python. This eventually evolved into scrabble word solving.

We introduced them to algorithms; using a dictionary to demonstrate binary search and playing cards for sorting, culminating with giant letters to come up with an anagram solving function. We were very impressed at how well they all solved the challenge!  Once the students had a good understanding of the scrabble anagram, we went on to code it up using a Test Driven Development approach. This made sense to them as they could then write code to make each of their examples pass, which mirrored the way they had come up with the algorithm in the first place, and enabled them to more confidently make changes to improve their code.


These lessons served to give them an understanding of how Python programming worked, and what a function and an algorithm were. The approach of demonstrating a code snippet on a big screen and then giving them time to play around with it on their own seemed to work really well. It was very interesting teaching them about functions and variables, as the explanations that made them grasp them varied wildly. It was also long enough since any of us learned programming that we had forgotten that functions might be a difficult concept to grasp initially! Some understood it through parallels with maths functions, whilst others found the concept of it being a re-usable box the easiest to grasp. By the time we reached the web programming sessions in the latter half of the week, students had mastered a fundamental understanding of how Python, functions and variables worked, and had fully functioning code.

The first web session started with a brief 20-minute lecture on how clients and servers talk to each other, and how HTML, JavaScript and Python fit together for this purpose, before diving in with the practical work. Despite these lectures being laid out to have a large amount of learn-by-example and walkthroughs of the tasks, the students needed more help than anticipated here. This was largely because we had not allocated sufficient time earlier in the week to cover all the basics. We should have spent more than 20 minutes explaining how a website works, how HTML, JavaScript and Python fit together, and should have dedicated some time to explaining the differences between Python and JavaScript. One of the most confusing concepts, which we hadn’t even registered in the planning phase, was brackets vs indentation. These are all recognised as difficult concepts for beginners to learn, something we had forgotten in our eagerness to teach them a lot of cool tech knowledge. We were therefore incredibly impressed at how quickly they picked up Python programming and web development, and how well they got on with making their websites. They particularly enjoyed the CSS part towards the end, and decorated their websites with funky colours, pictures and additional end-to-end functionality, practically without any help from us. It was thrilling to see them all getting stuck in by themselves.

At the end of the week we ran a retrospective with the teenagers. We were slightly worried that not much would come of this, as they had all been a bit shy during the week, but it worked fantastically. We uncovered a lot of things that they had really enjoyed, and some things they wished we had done differently. A good balance between what went well and what needed work was struck by requiring 3 good and 3 improvement points from each student.

Thanks to the retrospective we know that the next time we run the Code Camp we will ensure that we put more ice-breaker tasks early on in the week, and spend more time explaining fundamental concepts of how and why things work the way they do. It was great to see all of the students speaking up and asking questions by the end of the week, we really saw their confidence grow. We will definitely run the anagrams and the web sessions again, as everyone felt like they learned a lot from these, and had a lot of fun making something they could take home to show their friends. They also found it interesting to take part in our stand ups, and really enjoyed our office atmosphere.

My favourite session was the introduction to python programming as well as the overall anagram project as it provided me a lot of information on coding, moreover it was extremely fun and interesting. – Foosim Van (14), Morpeth School

Last but not least, did we succeed in inspiring some of the teenagers to continue exploring technology? After we held a talk about studying computer science at university, several of the students wanted to know more about the subject, and are now thinking of applying. When asked if they would continue working on their websites after the Code Camp was over, the majority overwhelmingly said yes. Most of them also said they would like to continue learning more about the languages they were taught during the Code Camp week at Man AHL. A fun and educational week was had by everyone involved. We are already looking forward to next year!

This information is communicated by AHL Partners LLP (“Man AHL”) which is registered in England and Wales at Riverbank House, 2 Swan Lane, London, EC4R 3AD, authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority. Compliance reference: P/16/1771/GL/R/O

by    logo film


Digital technology has transformed the face of filmmaking; award-winning movies can now be shot entirely on an iPhone and published online in no time at all. So in an age where filmmaking opportunities are so accessible, why aren’t we using them more in the classroom?

To consider this question, we look to A Tale Unfolds – a social enterprise (and team of teachers) striving to raise literacy attainment through a range of school filmmaking projects. Their resources are now used in over 3,000 schools, both in the UK and internationally. Dominic Traynor, the company’s founder and a former primary teacher, discusses the far-reaching impact that a digital goal can have on pupils’ attainment.

Bringing literacy to life

In an age where the internet has overtaken television as the top media pastime for the UK’s children, it will come as no surprise that the introduction of digital technology in the classroom generates an immediate buzz. But make no mistake – this is not about technology for technology’s sake. Combining digital filmmaking tasks with traditional literacy objectives provides children with a clear, purposeful end-goal to aim towards. More so, it enables them to appreciate that the creative process of writing – the planning, drafting, editing and revising – is integral to the quality of that end-goal.

Teacher Adam Mitchell recently completed a movie trailer project with his class based on their topic of WW2. He was struck by the sense of ownership his pupils demonstrated when given the responsibility to create a poignant war story with an audience in mind:

“I’ve used film and video in class many times before, but the reason this project worked so well is that they were the storytellers, the experts. They knew that in order to do justice to the stories, they must feel real, not like the recount of a child. This became the driving force behind their truly incredible writing. From a literature purist’s perspective, students still needed to understand how to manipulate a viewer’s emotions and responses, portray feelings, build suspense and logically structure a narrative. The link between traditional and digital literacy was made obvious from the start.”

It’s clear that personal investment in a project will promote academic progress, but the scale of that progress is remarkable. Schools have reported that literacy attainment has tripled through the use of filmmaking projects. Tom Keene, a Year 4 teacher from Fairfield Community Primary School, revealed that on completion of an 8-week action movie project, some pupils were more than halfway towards their end-of-year writing targets.

Developing skills beyond academic

Aside from being an academic motivator, filmmaking develops a wide range of social skills that are integral to success in the wider world. Children collaborate by assuming different roles – narrator, director, cameraperson, actor – all of which have a significant part to play in the overall success of the film. By discussing, debating and rehearsing ideas within mixed groups, they establish purposeful opportunities to hone their speaking and listening skills – an aspect of the curriculum that can sometimes be overlooked.

“I’ve been extremely impressed,” says Kenny Bartonshaw, a Year 5 teacher at Kingsland Academy, “not only by the standard of work created by the children, but the positive atmosphere and relationships that have been formed and developed as a result. It’s had a really positive impact on their character”.

Creating a Film from Kingsland Creative on Vimeo.

The very nature of digital filmmaking (where challenges and setbacks are inevitable) promotes a culture of problem solving, with perseverance and effort recognised as key factors to success – less so ‘talent’. Pupils who may have previously struggled with writing tasks are able to express their creativity in an entirely new way. The confidence and resilience developed through these tasks also encourage the formation of a growth mindset (Dweck, 2006), a concept that has gained huge momentum within schools in recent years.

Filmmaking to inspire positive change

Filmmaking certainly enables pupils to weave a narrative, but on a more powerful level, it also helps them to recognise that their own voice has the ability to inform, to educate and to change opinions.

The often thought-provoking themes that children explore during the filmmaking process can strike a chord within the school community long after filming has been completed. Projects such as Pupil Prime Minister, written and filmed with the former Labour government’s defence minister Peter Kilfoyle, have empowered children to become more politically active; writing manifestos and performing political party speeches by thinking about issues in their society – issues that really matter to them.

Children at Tubbenden Primary School in Kent recently produced this film to highlight the significant environmental threat of plastic pollution and suggest innovative solutions to tackle the problem. Teacher Laura Venn remarked on the impact that their Plastic Times project had on both pupils and the wider community:

“What began as a filmmaking project developed far beyond our expectations, igniting a united passion amongst the children to make a positive change for our future. The destructive effect of plastic pollution is a topic that the children in our school will not forget. As teachers, we’re hoping that we’ve helped shape the future attitudes of a small number that might lead to positive change in wider society.”

It doesn’t end within the classroom

The foundations of a school-parent partnership no longer hinge on the success of parents’ evenings and school reports. Many classes have already created Twitter accounts to post regular updates direct from the classroom, and with platforms like Vimeo offering secure and password-protected accounts, sharing a video link with parents couldn’t be easier. This channel of regular communication is beneficial to all parents, but particularly those who – for any number of reasons – aren’t always visible figures at the school gate.


Digital achievements merit school-wide celebrations too. Tom Keene’s Leicester-based class held a screening of their action & adventure movie for over one hundred parents. Tom says, “The huge smiles across the children’s faces as they watched themselves back was a joy to behold. This is what teaching is all about”.

With a unique movie inspired by their hometown’s historic Premier League title win, Tom’s class even wrote to club ambassador and football legend, Alan Birchenall, and were delighted when he wrote back commending their production.

Motivated by the efforts of classrooms up and down the country, A Tale Unfolds recently founded LitFilmFest, a one-day celebration championing the writing and filmmaking achievements of Key Stage 2 primary pupils at the BFI IMAX in London. The cinematic showcase, which takes place on Monday, June 19th, invites winning schools to shoot their films professionally and then watch their efforts brought to life on the biggest screen in the country.



Teaching literacy through filmmaking – how to get started

It’s apparent that, with only 25% of teachers strongly agreeing that they feel able to prepare pupils for a digital world (Ipsos MORI/BT), technical confidence remains a sticking point within the profession. However, as educators, using technology really does enable us to model learning, by simply being at ease with not knowing everything in front of children. Instead, we can provide opportunities for them to find answers for themselves. The simple use of a tablet is all it takes to get going, according to Tom:

“The beauty of this project is its simplicity. You could easily assume you need to be a media expert to make it work but the truth is completely the opposite. The filming is achievable with just an iPad and the editing is simple enough too. Yes, it’s true that our final film could have been more ‘polished’ but I honestly think part of the charm of it is in its rough edges.”

To consider filmmaking with your own class, the first step is to explore the range of projects available at A Tale Unfolds, all of which come with comprehensive planning, video resources and technical guidance (written by teachers themselves).

Person Profile Trailer is one of the shortest and simplest resources to start with, and an ideal springboard to some of the lengthier options. Over the course of 5 hour-long lessons, pupils create and describe a character of their choice, focusing on appearance, personality and behaviour using the “show, don’t tell” technique. After drafting descriptions and rehearsing stances, they bring their characters to life on camera, with use of the iMovie ‘Retro’ trailer template.

Throughout the entire process, teachers are welcome to share updates and photos of their pupils’ efforts on Twitter to @ataleunfolds, who are always more than happy to offer encouragement, guidance and support along the way. Once completed, films can be entered into LitFilmFest any time up until the closing date of Wednesday, 17th May.

Louise Lacaze, a teacher at St Joseph’s Primary in Aberdeen, is currently working on a film trailer project with her own class: “We are loving the whole project. The children meet me in the corridor to ask if we are filming. They’re writing in small bursts, with such focus, trying so hard to capture their characters in a way they have never done. They are desperate to make a good trailer, so they put the time and effort into making their group work well together. This is a powerful motivator.”

For more information on filmmaking opportunities in the classroom, visit To discover the one-day showcase at the BFI IMAX in June, open to all KS2 classes, visit or check out this short film for further details.

Twitter: @codeweek

The fourth EU Code Week took place from15th -23rd October 2016. It brought together children, teenagers, adults, parents, teachers, entrepreneurs and policymakers in events and classrooms across not only Europe but other regions of the world to have fun by making things and doing stuff with code.
Codeweek.UK not only represents EU Code Week in the UK, but also promotes other opportunities for people to come together and learn to code. cw1Many coding events are organized during this week in different parts of the United Kingdom by schools, libraries and community groups.
The Codeweek.UK kick off event took place at Dragon Hall, in Covent Garden on Friday 14th October. Over 100 children from primary and secondary schools with their teachers attended many hands on workshops and had opportunities to try out new programs and devices.
Codeweek.UK was sponsored by Discovery Education, one of the UK’s leading providers of digital content and educational services to schools. The Discovery Education Coding service provides complete support for teaching coding in primary schools and includes lesson plans, video tutorials and comprehensive resources for Block Coding, Python and HTML.

Code Week UK was fortunate to receive prizes for the schools from Codio and Hue HD. Codio provided us with 3 class sets of Codebug kit and Hue HD with an HD Pro camera and Hue animation studio. These prizes were given to schools at the end of the event.

Yasemin Allsop, Senior Lecturer in Computing at Roehampton University and UK Code Week Coordinator said: “Codeweek UK aims to raise and celebrate the importance of coding activities by connecting communities around the UK. Learning to code helps us to make sense of how things work, explore ideas and make things, for both work and play. What’s more it helps us to unleash our creativity and work collaboratively with wonderful people both near us and all over the world”.


She also gave news of more exciting Code Week UK events in the near future. She added:
“We cannot wait for a year to organize events, we need to provide more opportunities for young people that are coming from disadvantaged circumstances in developing their digital skills. What a better way than giving them the chance to code together, learn together and have fun together”
Codeweek.UK also provides support for everyone who would like to run a coding event in different parts of the UK. If you need any support, get in touch with the team at
We would like to thank everyone involved especially our partner Discovery Education for their support.

Maria Sotiriou, Partnerships Manager at the European Young Innovators
Forum, discusses the opportunities to explore, create, and imagine in the
InnoApps Challenge.

Could you please tell us about yourself?

I was born Greek in Thessaloniki, and see myself as a native European citizen of the world. I have always wanted to become part of an intercultural communication process and this is why I initially studied translation and conference interpreting. After finishing my undergraduate studies and having lived in many countries (Greece, the UK, France, Belgium and Turkey), I pursued an MSc in European Politics at the LSE. I subsequently worked for the Open Innovation Strategy & Policy Group (OISPG) at DG CONNECT, where I acclimatised to the workings of the European Commission and gained a constructive knowledge of innovation and entrepreneurship. I am currently the Partnerships Manager at the EYIF, where I am responsible for the company’s relationships with corporate stakeholders and manage big projects such as the InnoApps Challenge in collaboration with Huawei.

What is the European Young Innovators Forum and what is the idea behind it?
The European Young Innovators Forum (EYIF) has been founded in 2010 by Kumardev Chatterjee, a young entrepreneur at that time, at an event at the European Parliament and from its pre-start, it was supported by the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council. Kumardev joined forces with Nicholas Zylberglajt, a young innovator on the policy side and some other like-minded entrepreneurs in order to give voice to a community of young innovators and experts who did not have a platform to connect with each other.

EYIF has rapidly become the largest network of young innovators in Europe reaching more than 500,000 people across all EU member states. In its mission to grow the European startup ecosystem, it is forming strategic innovation partnerships with major industry players across multiple sectors, in the scope of providing early-stage but also growth-stage startups access to corporate innovation ecosystems, expert mentors, customers, market access and funding. EYIF collaborates regularly with the European Institutions, the US State Department, the World Economic Forum, the Mobile World Congress, the MIT Technology Review and CeBIT as well as big corporate companies such as BNP Paribas, Huawei, Deutsche Bahn and Deloitte.


You are organising an event with Huawei called ‘the InnoApps challenge’. It sounds very exciting and also a bit techie! Can you tell us about it?
The InnoApps Challenge is the only pan-European competition to develop innovative apps for Smart Cities. It is a joint initiative of the European Young Innovators Forum and Huawei that aims to contribute to the development of a more socially inclusive society in Europe by fostering “e-skills,” increasing “e-participation” and promoting entrepreneurship for young generations in Europe today. This third edition is open to young people from 18 to 36 years old and its focus is on how to address challenges regarding safe cities. It is important to highlight that no tech or developing skills are required in order to take part. You just need some time and imagination to apply with an idea that will make a difference. Besides the prize money (35,000 euros in total for the 3 winning teams), there is tech and business mentorship for the finalists and mainly access to experts that can help them transform their idea into a reality. You can find more information on our website also on the jury members and mentors: The applications deadline is 1st November, so hurry up!

What is the aim of this event? What do you intend to achieve?
The InnoApps project has been running for three consecutive years. In practice, it exemplifies Huawei’s commitment to Europe with reference to entrepreneurial, creative and collaborative solutions. EYIF is therefore a perfect match for Huawei’s endeavour, helping it to reach the European community of young innovators. Moreover, this initiative supports the new EU Smart Cities Agenda, a concrete result of an ambitious Digital Single Market. In this light, InnoApps Challenge welcomes entries from avid app developers who through their participation could go into a career in the digital sector which will eventually help to spark innovation ultimately translating into more jobs and economic growth. The challenge runs in several phases: the idea phase, ending in October, followed by an online mentoring phase for shortlisted candidates and finally, the apps development phase, for selected ideas that will culminate into a live-pitching final. The final will take place at Autoworld in Brussels on 9th February 2017.

Is there a reason that you focused on app development?
Like most younger Europeans, I have grown up digital. I have always been excited by apps as the fastest way to create something useful and test-drive it with family, friends and the online world. In a nutshell, this contest gives us all the big opportunity to get global profile for an app with our name on it.

How can people get involved in your activities and find out more about your events?
EYIF runs many activities not only in Europe but also in Asia and the US. Just to give you one of this year’s highlights, EYIF selected and sent a delegation of top-tier European tech startups to its own EYIF pavilion at Mobile World Congress in Shanghai (MWCS). BLITAB, a member of EYIF’s delegation of European champions was awarded the 4YFN Award along with the title of the best startup at MWCS. You can learn more about our actions by visiting our website or by sending an email at You can get involved by subscribing to our newsletter, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and by liking our FB page. This will allow you to be kept informed of startup competitions and events. There is also the possibility of becoming a volunteer and gaining first-hand experience of the European startup ecosystem.

by Yasemin Allsop

Senior Lecturer Computing Education at Roehampton University, UK

What is constructivism?

Constructivism is a learning theory that focuses on knowledge and explores how people learn. It suggests that people construct meaning through their interactions and experiences in social environments (Manus 1960). It also stresses the importance of prior knowledge in learning and how previous experiences shape subsequent actions. Learning therefore is all about learners adjusting their mental model to accommodate new experiences.

One of the key elements of the constructivist theory of learning suggests that children learn by doing. Children construct new knowledge about the physical and social worlds in which they live through playful interaction with objects and people. Children do not need to be forced to learn; they are motivated by their own desire to make sense of their world (Piaget, 1970; Piaget and Inhelder, 1969). According to Piaget, children learn when they are actively involved in the process (Slavin, 1994). The teacher’s role in traditional classrooms is seen as the sole giver of knowledge and the student’s role is that of a passive receiver. The constructivist approach encourages children to take an active part in learning by using their ideas and interests to drive the learning process. The role of the teacher in this model is to support children when they need it and guiding them to take control of their self-directed learning experiences (Ringstaff, Sandholtz and Dwyer, 1991).

Research has shown that children learn when they design and create things, especially when things are relevant to them (Resnick, 2002). The following questions will be reviewed in this article. Can children design and create using technology tools and learn in the process? Can technology become a dynamic part of the constructivist learning environment when children use technology to develop new ideas and meanings?

The theoretical bases of constructivist explanations of learning

Constructivism was championed by John Dewey (1938) and Jean Piaget (1970) developed the theory in the context of child development, and Vygotsky who introduced the social and cultural influences on learning and their role in the construction of knowledge.

Dewey (1938) suggested that knowledge occurs only from situations in which learners have to draw them out of meaningful experiences. These situations have to be integrated into a social context, such as a classroom, where students can take part in engaging activities and form a community of learners who construct their knowledge together. He stresses the importance of context in learning for the learner and the opportunities to apply the concepts that they are trying to learn.

Piaget(1970) explained the learning process by schemas. According to Piaget (1970) a schema is an organized pattern or thought that is used to adapt or explain new experiences. He proposed three schemas:

  1. Assimilation: Placing new information into schemas
  2. Accommodation: Transforming existing schemas or creating new ones
  3. Equilibrium – seeking cognitive stability through assimilation and accommodation

He suggested four sequential stages of psychological development: the sensorimotor stage (birth to age 2), the preoperational stage (ages 2 to 7), the concrete-operational stage (7 to 11-12) and the formal-operational stage (ages 11-12 and beyond).

His theory of learning is based on discovery; in other words learning through play and experimenting.

According to Bruner, learning is an active process where learners construct new knowledge based upon their previous experiences. The instructor should encourage learners to discover the information by themselves. Children are likely to remember what they have learned if they discover the knowledge on their own. Bruner developed three stages of representation, which are enactive, iconic, and symbolic.

Enactive stage: In this stage the child experiences the world largely in the form of motor responses. Students may be able to complete a physical task better than a descriptive task.

Iconic stage: knowledge is stored in the form of visual images. When presented with new information, it is sometimes more helpful to people who are in the iconic stage of representation to have a diagram in order to visualize the concepts being taught.

Symbolic stage: knowledge is mostly in the form of symbols. Mathematical symbols possess meanings in mathematics and language. The symbol x and _ both mean multiply but can also have a different meaning in another discipline such as language.

Vygosky’s constructivism (1978) is known as social constructivism because he stressed the importance of social context and culture within the learning process. He described learning as a collaborative activity and explained the significance the role of history and the social environment bear in acquiring new knowledge. Learning takes place when the children interact with the social environment and internalize their experience. Vygotsky (1978) suggests that cognitive development is limited to a certain range at a particular age. However, with the help of social interaction, such as assistance from a tutor, students can understand concepts that they cannot know on their own (Fountain magazine, 2004)

A final theoretical approach can be found in Seymour Papert’s notion of constructionism. As Papert argued (1991), the notion of constructionism “shares contructivism’s view of learning as “building knowledge structures” through progressive internalization of actions… It then adds the idea that this happens especially felicitously in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing a public entity, whether it’s a sand castle on the beach or a theory of the universe (Papert, 1991).

Papert (1991) describes learning as a reconstruction rather than as a transmission of knowledge. He suggests that learning is about teaching children to do something instead of teaching them about something such as teaching them to be mathematicians rather than teaching about mathematics. He emphasised the importance of children drawing their own conclusions through active experiments. He sees the teachers’ role in learning as to create conditions for invention rather than providing ready-made knowledge.

He thought that the computer’s role is to be used as a tool for the mind and ‘idea processor’. He developed Logo language as a tool to improve the way that children think and solve problems. He suggested that this tool provided opportunities for learners to experience collaboration, visualisation, simulation and programming. ‘He created ‘Logo Turtle’; a small robot was developed for children to use it to solve problems. He insisted that use of simple program like Logo language can strengthen children’s ability to learn knowledge.

He suggests that schools are well behind the rapidly changing society which is deeply shaped by changes in technology. By not keeping up with new technologies, students see school and the curriculum that it offers as irrelevant to their life; this may affect their attitude towards learning and schools as institutions. As a result of this, they may not develop these skills as they would be expected.

Principals of Constructivist theory – the changing nature of the learner, instructor, learning process, context and classroom

The learner within the constructivist approach is seen as a unique, complex individual who has unique needs and backgrounds. The background and previous experiences of the learner shapes the knowledge that the learner designs and discovers in learning process (Wertschs, 1997). The learners are active participants and construct new knowledge and understanding through their experiences and interactions with others (Glasersfeld, 1989). The interests, values and background of the learner are seen as an important part of learning because they engage the learner with the learning process.

According to constructivist theory, the role of the teacher is to provide learners with opportunities and experiences to learn. They take the role of facilitators which helps learners to gain their own understanding of knowledge (Bauersfeld, 1995). The main goal of the facilitator is to generate a change in the learner’s cognitive structure or way of understanding and organizing the world. Instead of direct teaching, facilitator supports and guides learners to reach their own conclusions. They provide learners with a learning environment which will support and challenge their thinking (De Vesta 1987). They aim to give learners ownership of their own learning process so that they will be effective thinkers.

Social constructivism sees the process of learning as an active social process. In his theory social constructivist Vygotsky talks about “Zone of Proximal Development” which simply means that the distance between the learners actual development level and their level of potential development (Learning under adult guidance or collaboratively with peers) (Vygotsky 1978). He observed that when children were tested on tasks on their own, they didn’t do as well as when they were working collaboratively with an adult, even though an adult was teaching them how to perform the task. The process of engaging with an adult, enabled children to clarify their line of thinking or performance therefore making their learning more effective. For Vygotsky therefore, the social interaction was central to learning and development.

Other constructivist scholars agree that individuals understand meanings through their interactions with others and physical world they live in which means that knowledge is socially and culturally constructed by people (Ernest 1991; Prawat and Floden 1994).

Another main principal of social constructivist view is the two way interaction between the learner and instructor where both are equally involved in learning from each other (Holt and Willard-Holt 2000). This dynamic interaction gives the learner the opportunity to compare their understanding of knowledge with their instructor and peers to enrich their learning.

 Constructivist theory suggests that learning is contextual. Children learn new knowledge when it is relevant to them, to their lives and when they can use their previous knowledge to gain new experiences. Children cannot learn when what they learn is isolated and abstract from their lives. One of the most important contexts for learning, is of course, the classroom. In a constructivist classroom the teacher’s role is to act as a facilitator. They guide the students, provide scaffolding, and support them to achieve their greatest potential. In other words help learners to extend their zone of proximal development. In order to accomplish this task they assess each learner individually. They encourage students to develop cognitive skills such as reflective thinking and problem solving. Learners are motivated to learn independently and discover the knowledge for themselves.

In a constructivist classroom the learner’s role is to take responsibility for their learning and design new methods to learn. The learners are actively involved in the learning process and they learn to question both what they learn and how they learn.

A comparison of the differences between the traditional and the constructivist classroom by Brooks & Brooks (1993) clearly shows the importance of designing a constructivist classroom.

Traditional Classroom Students primarily work alone. Constructivist Classroom Students primarily work in groups.
The curriculum is presented part to whole, with an emphasis on basic skills. The curriculum is presented whole to part with emphasis on the big concept.
Strict adherence to a fixed curriculum is highly valued. The pursuit of student questions is highly valued.
Curricular activities rely heavily on textbooks and workbooks of data and manipulative materials. Curricular activities rely heavily on primary sources.
Students are viewed as “blank slates” onto which information is etched by the teacher. Students are viewed as thinkers with emerging theories about the world.(cognitive apprentices)
Teachers generally behave in a didactic manner, disseminating information to students. Teachers generally behave in an interactive manner mediating the environment for students.
Teachers seek the correct answers to validate student lessons. Teachers seek the student’s point of view in order to understand student learning for use in subsequent conceptions.
Assessment of student learning is viewed as separate from teaching and occurs almost entirely through testing. Assessment of student learning is interwoven with teaching and occurs through teacher observation of students at work and through exhibitions and portfolios.

The value of constructivism as a framework for technology in education

Some argue that technology can improve learning and create better schools whilst others believe that using technology without a well-designed pedagogical approach can create confusion for the learners and tutors. As a consequence of this, technology might be used as a quick fix to solve long running problems in education which may eventually lead to bigger issues.

Can having an organized systematic approach to use of technology in education be the starting point to establish a long term solution to educational issues?

It is been suggested that there is a very strong link between constructivist theory and technology in education. As an example of this is John Dewey’s view that education can be practiced with the use of technology. Although he didn’t talk much about technology itself, his views of education can be applied to use of technology in education in the 21st Century. Dewey believed that education should not stop in classrooms but extend to life out of school. Children should be able to use the knowledge that they learned in school into their daily lives. Using technology in education will give children the experiences that they wouldn’t be able to get in other ways. For example by using computers and the internet students are able to find, listen and see the information actively instead of sitting and listening to a teacher or trying to find it in a book. Dewey would agree that technology should be used as a tool in education because of its ability to motivate learners to learn.

There have been many studies about the role of technology in enhancing the teaching-learning process in constructivist classrooms such as; Black & McClintock, 1995; Brush & Saye, 2000; Collins, 1991; Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Richards, 1998. They all agreed on one outcome; – When the constructivist approach is used together with the technology, it has a very positive impact on learning outcomes.

Dwyer, et al. (1991) suggests that Technology is as a powerful tool for constructivism’s main principle that students learn by doing. The constructivist approach works well with technology because it supports collaborative, interactive and student-centered learning. This partnership also has a positive effect on student attitudes because they feel more successful, are motivated to learn and have better self-confidence.

According to Bagley and Hunter (1992), students use more resources, enjoy learning more, develop a wide variety of ideas and advanced reasoning skills when using technology.

By using technology in the constructivist classroom, teachers will engage students with the lesson more actively, work collaboratively and develop more complex thinking skills. Constructivists believe that technology should be used by the students as a tool to explore problem solutions and acquire new information. Once this is done then the learners can apply their own meaning to the new knowledge. The constructivist approach supports child-driven learning and the latest technological developments give children the opportunity to access knowledge instantly which puts them in a position where they are fully in control of which information they can access and how.

Another main principal of constructivist approach is learning collaboratively. Jonassen and others (2003, 9) suggest that «learning and instructional activities should engage and support combinations of active, constructive, intentional, authentic, and cooperative learning. […] Learning activities that represent a combination of these characteristics result in even more meaningful learning than the individual characteristics would in isolation».

The use of technology in education creates an environment where learners work together to help each other to construct new knowledge. Children like talking about their work and strategies. This helps children who may not do very well, who may be developmentally behind, to work with their peers and progress better. They feel that they are included in the learning process instead of feeling alienated by the complexity of the knowledge that teachers traditionally try to teach them directly. This also makes them feel more confident and be less reliant on an adult to learn. Networking also allows children to communicate and collaborate with other students around the globe through E-mail. Chat groups not only let children exchange and share knowledge, but additionally allow teachers to develop themselves further through sharing their lesson plans and teaching strategies with other educators via online communities.

Using technology in the classroom develops a new form of communication where children become a part of the wider community by using search engines, online libraries and joining web based classes. Teaching and learning is not limited to the classroom. With the help of technology, children can visit places, speak to other students, access their work from home and complete it, get instant feedback from their teacher etc. The opportunities are endless. Technology in the constructivist view shifts the structure of the classroom; whole class teaching transforms itself into small group work where children are coached by their teacher, encouraged to take part actively and work collaboratively, thinking both verbally and visually.

Constructivism is simply about questioning, investigating, autonomy and personal expressions of knowledge. Technology allows for investigating, explorations and self-expression. Effective use of technology helps children to be more collaborative, allow them to learn at their own pace.

Using technology to support Constructivist learning such as iEARN and Oracle Thinkquest provides authentic learning experiences for children. They work on projects that are based on issues which are relevant to everyone from around the world that participates. This enables children to experiment with different situations either individually or in groups.

The Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (Dwyer, 1994) research project shows that children who have been given 2 computers; one to use at school and one at home acquired advanced skills. According to this research, students:

  • Explored and represented information dynamically and in many forms.
  • Became socially aware and more confident.
  • Communicated effectively about complex processes.
  • Used technology routinely and appropriately.
  • Became independent learners and self-starters.
  • Knew their areas of expertise and shared that expertise spontaneously.
  • Worked well collaboratively.
  • Developed a positive orientation to the future. (Apple Inc, 1995)

Teachers who took part in this project expressed that they became comfortable with the technology and they acted as a mentor rather than lecturers with their students. Their efforts to integrate technology into classroom made them rethink about the way they approached education and creating an environment with opportunities for learning.

Interestingly exploring information, working collaboratively, becoming an independent learner, talking and sharing their knowledge, teachers being mentors; all these outcomes are the bones of the constructivist approach to education. It appears that constructivism and technology are trying to achieve the same outcome.

 All of these issues have significant implications for the role of the teacher and student in constructivist views of technology-based learning. It is widely believed, for example, that traditional approaches to education don’t equip teachers with the constructivist skills required to support learners. Teachers need to adapt a new technology based learning model (Dool & Kirschner, 2003) which will enable them to teach students to design and apply strategies for solving problems and develop inquiry based high level thinking skills.

In this perspective of constructivism, teachers must be prepared to provide technology supported learning opportunities to the students. They should be trained to use technology and be aware of how technology can support students’ learning. Both physical and virtual classes must be led by teachers who are equipped with the knowledge and skills to teach incorporating well developed technology skills and correct pedagogical approach.

Technology can support teachers to create a learner-centered environment (Forcier et al, 2005). Teachers who use a constructivist approach to education, value cooperative learning and technology. In this way teachers act as a guide, not the lead, additionally they become a student, learning from the students, just as students become their own teacher as they construct their own knowledge. They also understand that not all students will understand everything in the same way, so through cooperative learning, they engage students in activities which will support them to understand their own thought processes and their peers. They will have opportunities to use and see how others use technology in different ways.

In contrast to the role of the teacher, students are seen to need to use technology in a creative and effective way to seek and analyze information; to solve problems and making decisions; to communicate and collaborate with others. They need to ask and search for the knowledge instead of waiting for the teacher to deliver and construct the new knowledge through their own experience and understanding as a learning outcome.

Advantages and disadvantages of adopting a constructivist approach to technology in education

These views of technology-based learning are seen to have a number of strengths and resonances with contemporary notions of learning. For example, in arguing that learning is built upon what learners already know, the constructivist view promotes customized education instead of following a standardized curriculum. Using computers and the internet learners can now access information anytime, anywhere. This takes the time constraint away so that teachers can spend more time on topics that students are interested in.

There is no doubt that children learn better and enjoy more when they take an active part in learning instead of passive listening. For example telling them about the British Isles will not engage them with the lesson directly, but by allowing them to do research about the British Isles using the Internet will help students to get involved actively in the learning process. This will also help learners develop a better understanding of concepts such as; reasoning, creativity, taking an active part in problem solving, and meaningful technology. By using technology as a tool, learners get directly involved in activities. This helps them to relate the knowledge to their own lives.

Using technology as a tool to teach creates an environment for working in groups. Using different technological tools such as computers, digital cameras and the internet, children can work either as individuals or as a group on different projects. The World Wide Web also removes the problem of physical distance and allows learners to work with peers out of classroom too. Web 2.0 technologies provide learners with cooperative and collaborative learning experiences and encourages learners to actively construct their own learning and meaning.

The constructivist approach promotes higher level thinking skills. Use of technology such as Web 2.0 applications promotes constructivist learning principles in the classrooms. Web 2.0 applications can be seen as ‘intellectual partners’ in the collaborative learning process to promote critical and higher level thinking (Voithofer, 2007). Using graphics, photos, animation and videos, learners can design and complete creative, higher-level tasks. The use of the constructivist approach together with Web 2.0 in the classroom provides learners with a ‘complex laboratory in which to observe, question, practice and validate knowledge’ (Dillon, 2004). Using constructivist pedagogy to support the use of technology encourages learners and teachers to concentrate on how to think and understand rather than memorizing parts of the knowledge.

Use of technology to support lessons motivates learners by accommodating their interests. Using a simple projector and the internet, teachers can take students on a virtual field trip on any subject that interests learners. They also provide virtual simulations of real life experiences which can be integrated as part of the curriculum.

The constructivist approach encourages teachers to design learning activities in an authentic context so that learners will engage with the lessons. The most important outcome is that students learn to question things and apply this skill to finding out more about the world outside of the classroom. If they search for answers to their questions using an online library or encyclopaedia, they can then continue asking questions in other areas after school and use the same Internet search skill that they had developed in the classroom to overcome their curiosity.

In a constructivist classroom, students construct their knowledge. Online technologies can be used to gather, communicate and construct knowledge by pupils according their needs and what they already know. For example by using a CD ROM learners are able to explore and construct information at their own pace. They can also transfer the skills that they have developed in the classroom to outside the classroom and apply it to different situations.

These arguments notwithstanding, it has been argued that there are disadvantages of adopting the constructivist approach with the use of technology in education.

Constructivism suggests that learning should build upon the prior knowledge of students. All the students will have different starting points from which to acquire new knowledge. Customizing activities to every single student may not be achievable as it requires time and staffing.

Another issue that may arise is; implementing learner-centered teaching doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a long-term planning for training educators to understand and practice the constructivist approach in their classroom. The cost of this professional development may not be manageable.

Additionally, the difficulty to assess children’s level in a technology integrated constructivist learning environment can be also seen as a disadvantage. As constructivism encourages learners to start from their prior knowledge and work at their own pace, this means their starting point to acquire new knowledge will be very different as will their progress. Designing a standardized assessment method to assess their learning may not be possible.

From the view point of technology; the rapid and continuous developments in technology might make it difficult for teachers to gain the new skills to use these technologies in the classroom. Again it requires a very well organized systematic continuous teacher training programme to support educators with up do date knowledge and skills.


Technology can make learning better when it is guided by a pedagogy that suggests a well structured, learner-driven curriculum. As suggested by Riel (1990), new tools such as technology don’t suddenly change education. The relationship that the tool offers learners and the collective vision as an outcome of this relationship can define the curriculum which will then shape the learning process.

Technology is widely used by children outside of school, which they readily grasped and made this new tool a part of their life. Schools therefore can take advantage of this by integrating technology into curriculum with the correct pedagogical approach which is constructivism for creating a child-driven, interactive learning process.

There are some important steps to be taken in order to achieve this. Teachers needed to be trained to follow up the rapid changes in technology. But most importantly they need to stop seeing technology as ‘electronic books’ and understand the pedagogical potential of technology. This can be achieved if the teachers are provided with the time and support to familiarise themselves with the new technologies and how to use them in the classroom.

As it can be difficult to use a standardised assessment method in a technology integrated constructivist classroom, educators then will need to develop a new form of assessment method to record children’s progress. One suggestion to this can be creating a portfolio of children’s work. This portfolio can be created and recorded easily by use of Virtual learning Environments. These records of children’s progress in learning will help teachers to evaluate learner’s progress and identity their individual needs. This will have an effect on their planning; as a result they will plan activities according to individual learner’s needs and interests which will motivate the learners to learn.

Technology can only be effective if the learning environment supports changes and new experiments. Only then can technology offer well structured learning concepts that will change the culture of learning in schools. A constructivist approach to learning supports and encourages exploring and investigating new concepts. Therefore not instructional traditional teaching that behaviourist approach supports but constructivist philosophy can be merged together with technology to change the culture of the learning in schools and thus have a dynamic effect on a pupils’ ability to learn. Allowing teachers to control the learning as behaviourist theory suggests, will discourage children working in groups and focusing on facts more than knowledge and an end product. Using technology only as a direct instruction or assessment tool as behaviourist theory implies will not motivate children to learn or gain knowledge but it will make learning irrelevant to their experiences. As an outcome of this students will create a negative attitude toward learning and schools.

In conclusion; if technology is added to a poor practice then the teaching/learning will still be of a poor quality, as the technology will not be able to enhance learning like a magic wand. Having the latest PCs and software in the classroom doesn’t mean that learners will learn better, however, the pedagogical approach that supports and shapes how technology is used in the classrooms will help learners to do better.


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