Featured article

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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by Olga Bedrina, Internet Communication Manager for Animatron, an online collaborative animation Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 11.21.30 AMmaker

According to the Visual Teaching Alliance, 90% of secondary students are visual learners, which means that using visual aids in class can dramatically improve learning and help students retain more from what they hear. While traditional whiteboards are still very helpful, educational technology has evolved greatly in recent years, offering educators a wide range of tools to keep students more engaged and ignite their passion for learning. In this regard, animation is the way to go.

So, why is animation so powerful?

  1. It resonates with students and makes them excited about learning. Students often do not feel like many school topics are relevant to them, so they zone out, and it’s difficult to bring them back on track (ask any teacher explaining the US Constitution to 9th graders!) Using animation allows teachers to stick to something students can associate themselves with, and it’s within human nature to stay focused and learn more when we see something relevant to us. It’s a great way to help students feel in control of the process. All students are creative; the big task of a teacher is to unleash creativity and put it in students’ hands. Using animation in the teaching/learning process helps students have that “Aha!” moment and makes them feel like real creators. 3.
  2. It’s a great way to help students feel in control of the process. All students are creative; the big task of a teacher is to unleash creativity and put it in students’ hands. Using animation in the teaching/learning process helps students have that “Aha!” moment and makes them feel like real creators. Animation is abstract. Let’s imagine you see a live picture of a house. You will probably start thinking whether you like the house, would you like to live in it or not, what color is the house, etc. However, when you see a cartoon picture of a house, you just see it as a concept, an idea of a house and everything it represents (e.g., family, childhood, a place to live, etc). In this sense, animation simplifies visual storytelling and makes it easier for students to abstract.
  3. Animation is abstract. Let’s imagine you see a live picture of a house. You will probably start thinking whether you like the house, would you like to live in it or not, what color is the house, etc. However, when you see a cartoon picture of a house, you just see it as a concept, an idea of a house and everything it represents (e.g., family, childhood, a place to live, etc). In this sense, animation simplifies visual storytelling and makes it easier for students to abstract.

As Laura Bates put it in her article on benefits of using animation in class, “Using animations is a great way to improve different skills of kids such as reading, writing, storytelling, decision making, problem-solving as well cognitive, social and innovative skills. It’s sure to facilitate learning of the kids and boost the way you are teaching”.

There are many ways how you can implement animation in the classroom.

History Classes

When studying pioneers’ migration routes and trails, ask students to draw and animate them. Children remember things when they are unique and fun, so implement new tools and ideas to make learning engaging.

Another example would be to ask students to create a video presentation and tell their family story in a visual way. Encourage students to use their family photos, relevant music and video, to personalize the presentation. Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 11.39.10 AM

My American Story by Emily Nguyen

Project American: My Story by Chloe Starbird and by Jesse Bray (Mr. Bray)


There are some processes, especially those in Physics, that are best illustrated with motion. Thus, use animation to demonstrate them or better yet, ask students to create a project and explain the topic. These are some ideas for studying Archimedes screw and a lever.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 11.39.37 AM  simple machines Copy 2 by Dmitry Skavish and Dmitry Skavish

Archimedes Screw by Dmitry Skavish


Some of the other ideas for using animation videos in class include the following:

  • explaining the water cycle
  • studying shadows
  •  getting acquainted with electric current
  • getting acquainted with electric current
  • telling students about Brownian motion
  • studying types of friction

When checking the students’ knowledge on the subject after having covered new material, give students an option: whether they would like to write an essay on the topic or demonstrate their knowledge with an animated project. You will be surprised to see how excited the kids get about animation.


When studying a difficult topic, animation is great for engaging students into a conversation. For instance, when learning contractions, use animation to show what exactly that apostrophe in the phrase “I haven’t” stands for. When memorizing new words, ask students to make an animation demonstrating a new word or phrase. Once they finish, they own the word, which makes it so much easier for them to keep it in their minds.

Animation is also great for studying foreign languages. Ask students to make a cartoon and record voice-over to practice pronunciation and grammar.

Animation for Collaborative Learning

Most educators strive not only to teach figures and bare facts but also teach students how to think and solve problems. In this regard ability to work in a team is one of the most essentials skills students need to learn (in fact, it is also one of the 10 skills employers most want to see in employees, according to Forbes). Assignments like group projects can help build some of those skills; however, the traditional educational paradigm of teachers instructing students who are isolated at their desk doesn’t build up real collaborative skills.

Animation is great for collaborative learning and encouraging students to share the knowledge. Asking students to work on an animated project together is a wonderful way of encouraging them to learn from one another, exploring together and developing communication skills.

Keep It Diverse

Incorporating animation into the teaching/ learning process might be advantageous for both students and teachers. However, we should always keep in mind that just like with any other tool, animation is not the point of the lesson, it’s the vehicle that gets us there. Combine animation with other tools in your arsenal, and you will quickly notice how more engaged students are in class.



Imagine leading global technology companies – Apple, Google – uniting to reimagine the future of education. Imagine world-leading universities – Harvard, Johns Hopkins, London School of Economics, King’s College London, the University of Manchester, Queensland University of Technology – coming together to reimagine the future of education. Imagine both of these groups joining forces in one place, and imagine them being joined by a group of enthusiastic innovators from across the world. Imagine them, imagining how academics, technology practitioners, and top global investors can work together to solve problems facing, and create opportunities for, the world of higher education.

Imagining this won’t be necessary if you were at the 2015 Reimagine Education Conference, held in Philadelphia last December – and nor will it be necessary for those attending this year’s edition, now open for delegate registration. The conference, organised by QS Quacquarelli Symonds – compilers of the QS World University Rankings – the Wharton School, and the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, will again bring together world-class universities, technology companies, and prominent global investors to discuss how the world can improve teaching, learning, and employability.

This year’s conference will feature four main tracks, each devoted to a different strand of the educational world. The conference organisers – unifying the corporate and the pedagogical – recognise that education is the broadest of churches; the conference structure is designed to provide all attendees with a focus and a voice. The first track concerns itself with hybrid learning and e-learning, while the second moves away from this explicit focus on EdTech: it is concerned with Learning Assessment, Teaching Delivery, and Presence Learning.

The third track focuses on Nurturing Employability, Ethical Leadership, and Sustainability, while the fourth will be explicitly concerned with the ways in which EdTech – namely, ICT Tools – can transform education. Each track comprises keynote speeches and panel discussions led by luminaries in the specific area, numerous networking opportunities, and presentations from relevant finalists of the 2016 Reimagine Education Awards.

Prominent figures at last year’s conference included Jaime Casap, Chief Education Evangelist at Google; Huntingdon D. Lambert, Dean of Continuing Education at Harvard University; Jim Shelton – former Deputy Secretary of Education for the Obama Administration; and Jeremy Rifkin, bestselling author of The Third Industrial Revolution. They were joined by 330 delegates from six continents, and representatives from prominent media institutions across the world – including Caroline Howard, Senior Editor at Forbes, and Sean Coughlan, Education Correspondent at the BBC.

The conference, as in previous years, will also represent the culmination of the Reimagine Education awards competition. Featuring 14 award categories upon which the conference tracks are broadly based, it is designed to award the most innovative projects, initiatives, and ideas in the world of education – and the trailblazers that bring them into being. The winner of the Overall Award will receive US$50,000 for their efforts, and global visibility for their successful project. Six of these award categories are designed to focus specifically on innovation in the Information Technology sector, including the inaugural Best Use of ICT Tools Award.

The opportunities for educators and trailblazers seeking to be a part of Reimagine Education are greater than ever before this year; the organising committee have this year invited prominent global investors, who will be providing delegates with Connect 1-2-1 session. These are designed to allow those with successful project ideas to discuss feasibility, investment, and implementation with those who can help make imagination reality.

For more details about the conference and/or competition, visit www.reimagine-education.com, or contact Serena Ricci at reimagine@qs.com.

For more information follow us on Twitter at @ReimagineHEdu, email serena@qs.com, or give us a call at +44(0)20 7284 7287.

We look forward to seeing your application materials, and welcoming you to the Reimagine experience.


Serena Ricci on behalf of

Yoram (Jerry) Wind
The Lauder Professor
Professor of Marketing
Director, Wharton SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management
Nunzio Quacquarelli
Managing Director
QS Quacquarelli Symonds

Call for Papers

International Journal of Computer Science Education in Schools (IJCSES)

is a double-blind peer reviewed, open access online journal.

The main objective of IJCSES is to develop a research network in teaching and learning in Computer Science Education in schools and related topics through high-quality research that focuses both theory and practice. This would enable academics and educators who are interested in research about theoretical developments in Computer Science Education to access most recent studies. The network would also provide a communication point for teachers who are interested in engaging in research projects, but not feeling confident.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Computer Science Education
  • Computing
  • Theory of computation
  • Programming language theory
  • Algorithms and data structures
  • Psychology of Computing
  • Computational Thinking
  • Teacher Training in Computer Science
  • Programming theory
  • Creativity and Computing
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer graphics and virtual reality
  • Computer Game Design in schools
  • Text based coding
  • Visual coding
  • Teacher research in Computing

The journal welcomes studies from diverse research orientation. Studies that are based on qualitative data, such as case studies and historical analysis, are equally highly regarded as studies based on quantitative data.

IJCSES is inviting papers for Vol. 1 No. 1 which is scheduled to be published on October 31, 2016. Last date of submission: September 30, 2016.

Registration and login are required to submit items online and to check the status of current submissions. For more information, visit the official website of the journal www.ijcses.org

With thanks,


Yasemin Allsop

Dr. Sue Sentance


Submit an article to ICT in Practice Summer 2016 issue and be part of our educational technology community. The deadline for submitting your article is June 30th.

Important points

Make sure that it is your work
It is written in a simple language away from jargon.
It is related to ICT in education, nothing else…
It is at least 2 A4 and max 4 A4 pages long.
Send your articles to chris.carter@concordiashanghai.org with the subject line ‘submit an article’.

by F.Günseli ÖZKAN. R.Tayfun GEDİK www.office-fr.com, http://elearning-turkey.eu, gozkan@office-fr.com



A nos jours, grâce aux environnements sociaux et éducatifs reliant les communautés virtuelles sectorielles, la formation ne se limite plus à la classe. Elle se transforme en solutions tout à fait exclusives du fait de la caractéristique globale et durable des compétences professionnelles. En fait, ni les développeurs des technologies de l’information, ni les décideurs et acteurs qui influencent les politiques éducatives n’ont su prévoir la vitesse de l’impact sur l’éducation des technologies émergents. L’internet s’est introduit à l’improviste dans notre vie quotidienne en tant qu’un instrument servant à développer les compétences et la connaissance.

Ceci se base sur deux raisons :

La pression de la concurrences sur les qualifications professionnelles force les standards des expertises. Parallèlement, les technologies offrent des outils illimités pour accéder à l’information. Par ailleurs nous observons un nouveau profil d’apprenant qui adore la technologie et préfère un accès rapide à l’information, d’autre part nous faisons face à des acteurs de l’éducation professionnelle se positionnant distancés à la technologie.

Pour le succès d’un programme éducatif en ligne il importe de bien analyser ces deux profils. Ceci concerne toutes les étapes de l’apprentissage allant du design de l’interface web à l’architecture, des paramètres d’enregistrements aux méthodologies etc. Dans cet article nous allons passer en revue l’expérience acquise durant un programme pilote en ligne exécuté dans le cadre d’un projet européen LLL programme, exécuté à l’internationale avec la participation de plus de mille bénéficiaires.

Nom du projet :

“ F4ESL ,Cours sur la Législation Européenne sur la Sécurité Alimentaire du Champ à la Fourchette” Profil participant: Licence, maitrise, Phd En langues: Anglais, Turque, Bulgare

L’objet: Cours en ligne pour enseigner la législation européenne sur la sécurité alimentaire Bénéficiaire cible: Ingénieur en agriculture, ingénieur alimentaire et stagiaires. Les cours sont préparés en collaboration avec les projets partenaires sous la coordination du projet leader KSL, Kalite Sistem Merkez Laboratuarlar grubu (TR), L’Universite Agricole Nitra, Slovaquie, TACIYL l’Institut Espagnole des Technologies Agricoles Castilla et Leon , office-fr Turquie, L’Association de la Sécurité Alimentaire, Accent Consultance Bulgarie, SKY Consultance qualité, Tr, Le Ministère turque de L’Agriculture, la Direction en charge du Controle et Protection Alimentaire, Les services Alimentaire et Vétérinaire de Lettonie, Le syndicat des Employeurs de l’Industrie Alimentaire, l’Association des Exportateurs Alimentaires.

Notre Approche:

Les règles et standards visant une standardisation des droits sur les propriétés intellectuelles, les infrastructures de communications, les matériaux d’apprentissage, les softwares se développent d’une grande vitesse. Le monde, axé sur la valeur économique de l’usage des technologies de l’information dans les secteurs non TIC et grâce aux standards qui le permettent, s’oriente de plus en plus vers la production des matériaux d’éducation bon pour tous.

Aussi bien au sein des Universités que dans le secteur public et privé, des projets géants sont déployés à l’international. De ce fait, dans ce projet, nous avons développé nos cours et leçons dans les standards internationaux, éditable et réutilisable. Comme les outils de l’éducation se diversifient durant la formation en ligne par rapport à l’éducation traditionnelle nous avons intégrés tous les outils disponible de Moodle dans notre plateforme. Les outils de communication, dictionnaires en trois langues, forum, chat , vidéo, facilités y ont été implémentés. Comme les cours étaient en trois langues, notre budget n’a pas permis l’intégration de sons aux leçons, de ce fait elles ont été conçues sans son. Les matériaux éducatifs ont été préparés sous le format de Scorm 2004 , implémenté sur la dernière version de Moodle. Nous avons aménagés les utilités catégorisation, statistique, évaluation et reporting de Moodle suivant nos objectifs d’apprentissage. Nous avons crée un environnement déployant toutes les sources et outils de Moodle.

Les objets d’apprentissages ont été développés pour chaque leçon dans les standards internationaux, sous le format Scorm 2004, ces paquets de Scorm indépendant, réutilisable et modifiable chacun de 15-20 minutes ont été implémenté au sein du plateforme. Nos paquets Scorm, sont d’une interopérabilité reconnue, peuvent communiquer avec différent LMS’s. Dans les cours, le parcours d’apprentissage est contrôlable . Chaque leçon offre un environnement contrôlant les séquences et le processus. Des accents flash en sont utilisés. Des règles régissent le rythme et le surf à travers les leçons. Le fait que chaque leçon est indépendant permet une flexibilité pour des modifications ultérieur.

Nos objets d’apprentissages et le plateforme LMS «F4ESL» que nous avons modifié d’après nos besoins, ont été fortement appréciés par les étudiants, enseignant du point de vue de sa facilité d’usage, son indexation interne, le déploiement des sujets, matières, contenu et son accessibilité. Nous disposons de tous les outputs des sondages effectuées à travers les cours, ainsi que tous les “records” des bénéficiaires durant l’apprentissage.

Les partenaires ont fourni, le scenario d’apprentissage, les textes, images, vidéo relatifs aux cours au fur et à mesure du développement de chaque leçon. Les documents instructifs relatifs à l’utilisation du plateforme et les règles régissant ont été préparés et intégrés tout au début du lancement des cours, ainsi que la biographie des enseignants, leur adresse électronique, les liens de références, l’aménagement des outils de communication et d’instruction ont été mis en exécution en premier lieu. Les bénéficiaires ont été sélectionné et inscrits. Ils ont accedé aux cours, un service de support leur à été disposé, les étudiants et enseignant ont été autorisé a télécharger leur propre document.

Les cours n’ont pas été développé sous le format d’ebook. Le scenario d’apprentissage en respecte les besoins des bénéficiaires sous une forme particulière à ce sujet. Les matières et contenus sont bien categorisés et facile à suivre, encouragent l’usage des méthodologies d’apprentissage similaires.

Les cours ont été fortement apprécies par les bénéficiaires , d’après un sondage effectue (%95-98) auprès des bénéficiaires. Les étudiants sont invités dès leur accès au plateforme à respecter le code d’utilisation, les propriétés intellectuelles des contenus et d’accomplir les taches clairement définis au lancement des cours. Durant les cours, l’attitude des bénéficiaires a été suivi quant’ à l’apprentissage, la communication, les tests, et le forum. L’atout additionnelle des LMS par rapport à l’éducation traditionnelle est sa fonctionnalité de traçabilité. Cette fonctionnalité n’est pas très bien connu par les bénéficiaires. Au fur et à mesure de l’avancement des cours, cette capacités a été de temps en temps dévoilé par l’administrateur ou découverte par les bénéficiaires mêmes. Âpres avoir réalisé que leur succès et suivis, ils se sont beaucoup plus concentré aux cours. Finalement ils ont complété 35 leçons groupées sous 5 modules, ont été forcé à compléter une évaluation du cours après chaque module. Ils ont été invite une évaluation finale après l’ensemble des cours. Nous avons observé les dernières 24 heures un rush des participants souhaitant le compléter à la dernière minute. Les cours ont été lancé en premier lieu en anglais, le profil de bénéficiaire était comme suit: des cadres travaillant dans les institutions internationales en matière de la sécurité alimentaire, des académiciens et des professionnels du secteur privé. Ils ont complété une forme sur le web, sélectionné d’après les critères pré établies sur leur métiers ou sur leur précédente formation. Les identifications et mots de passes de chaque bénéficiaire leur ont été communiqué peu avant le lancement. Les 415 premier participants ont eu plein accès au plateforme durant deux mois 24 heures sur 24. Ils ont été invité à changer leur identifiant et mot de passe à leur premier accès. Cependant nous avons observé que certains utilisateurs ayant oublié leur mot de passe ont rencontré certaines difficulté à le récupérer par leur adresse électronique du fait qu’ils avaient apposé une différente adresse (de celle utilisé lors de l’inscription aux cours). Quelque bénéficiaire qui se sont inscrit en utilisant deux adresses de messagerie différentes ou bien qui ont utilises la même adresse électronique et deux noms differents, ont naturellement été inscrits mais pas admis aux cours. Une autre expérience découlant des services de support : l’accès aux cours qui est limité à 1 seul utilisateur a été refusé aux utilisateurs qui avaient oublié de fermer leur compte sur un autre ordinateur ou bien qui on partagé leur identifiant et mot de passe avec quelqu’un d’autre. Ces cas nous ont été signalé comme problèmes techniques or, il s’agissait des problèmes d’utilisateurs.

D’autre part, les utilisateurs ont souvent confondu les notions «accès web»et «accès LMS», ont fait part des problèmes d’accès au plateforme, pourtant ils essayaient leur identifiants sur la page d’accueil au lieu d’aller sur l’LMS.

C’est pourquoi, nous avons décidé d’ajouter dans le futur une note explicative à l’attention des bénéficiaires au moment de l’envoi des identifiants par email et ajouter un visuel sur la page d’accueil.

Du fait que les bénéficiaires du premier cours ( en anglais ) venaient de 55 pays (de different time zones) cette situation a créé des difficultés durant les services de support.

Pour le second et le troisième cours, le plateforme initiale structuré en anglais a été lancé en deux nouvelles langues le turque et le bulgare. 700 nouveaux bénéficiaires ont été inscrits a cette phase. Nous avons reçu au total 2026 candidats, après une sélection initiale, plus de 1000 participants ont été inscrits et bénéficié des cours. Les deux mois consacré à chaque langue a été est satisfaisant du point de vue de l’apprentissage. Nous estimons aussi utile de conseiller de temps en temps aux bénéficiaires de ne pas attendre la dernière minute pour compléter les cours. Il sera aussi utile de les informer que leur parcours d’apprentissage concernant l’accès, les leçons suivis, les enquêtes remplis, test etc sont tous enregistrés par le système. Concernant les tests, nous avons due envoyer à certains utilisateurs à titre de justification. Les copies d’écrans relatives à leur activités au sein du plateforme…

Des le début, toutes les phases se sont déroulé en ligne de l’annoncement des cours, à la sélection, l’inscription, l’évaluation, le reporting et la certification. Deux services de support l’un administratif l’autre technique ont été lancés. Les examens ont été effectués à base de module, les questions sont sélectionnés randonnées à partir du récipient de question. Les examens étaient limites au temps. Les utilisateurs ont bénéficié de 3 accès, le meilleurs point a été pris en considération. L’obligation d’accomplir toutes les modules est sollicité. Finalement les utilisateurs ont demandé un examen de compensation pour refaire les modules qu’ils n’ont pas réussi.


-F4ESL – From Farm to Fork European Food Safety Legislation Training Programme Lifelong Learning Program (LLP) “Leonardo da Vinci” (2009-1– TR1–LEO0508647).

-SK/01/B/F/PP-142 243 – Online Distance Learning Module in European Agrarian Law by The Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra.



Du fait que les cours sont clôturés en 2012, les liens du projets ne sont plus actifs mais les cours sont disponibles en soft format: http://www.f4esl.eu , http://trainee.f4esl.eu

Version turque de l’article : http://www.midasebook.com/dosyalar2/eogrenme2.pdf page 389 Hard copie: E-Learning en Turquie, etat des choses et examples publication de l’Universite Anatolie

Teaching kids Big Data and applying these concepts to the study of History through the PBL approach by Chris Carter and Peter Tong, Ph.D.


“Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.” – Arthur C. Clark, Scientist and Author

We would add that data is not even information. Data is potential, nothing more. Data in its raw form is like an unpolished diamond: it is of no value until it is analyzed, tabulated and presented in a form that is understood. Mathematicians, statisticians, scientists and computing scientists transform raw data into comprehensible and usable information. Big Data Analytics (BDA) is the current term used to describe the process of harvesting fantastic amounts of raw data and transforming these data into valuable information that can be understood and used productively to gain insights into trends that are otherwise invisible. People in diverse fields ranging from business, economics, social sciences, arts and humanities, and the hard sciences are realizing the need for understanding what Big Data is and how it can be applied to benefit the commercial, industrial, and academic fields.

At Concordia International School Shanghai we offer a Big Data Analytics (BDA) course, thus providing an opportunity for a paradigm shift in teaching. However, there are no established teaching resources of any kind for Big Data at the high school level and, as with any new subject, it has to start somewhere. The course instructor took the opportunity to teach this course using a “guide on the side” approach, a teaching method discussed by Alison King in College Teaching, “From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side.”(1) This is a very powerful method of teaching where students are being “guided on the side” by the teacher, as opposed to listening to the “sage on the stage” teaching method where the teacher directly delivers information to the students. In today’s learning environment where new subject matters and information are rapidly evolving, it is very difficult to assemble current material from which students can refer. Hence, it is important for students to learn how to teach themselves, how to develop learning material and techniques, how to look for information and how to effective communicate that information to others. In accordance with the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” these learning skills not only allow students to learn subject matter in the classroom, but also give students the tools to teach themselves in future new subject areas. The goal of an educator lies beyond the mere retention and application of knowledge, and extends to the ability to create a confident learning environment, where students gain confidence in their learning abilities and become confident in their roles as lifelong learners.

Through this method, students are empowered by their independent learning abilities and, as a result, they feel a greater sense of achievement in both their education and in themselves.

Teaching BDA is most efficient when the teaching method reflects the open-ended and perpetual nature of information as it currently materializes. At the high school level, the methodology of a BDA course delivery refers to King’s “guide on the side” teaching method. The teacher is required to have a structured framework of clear guidelines, objectives and goals for the course. This teaching method also allows the teacher to bring out the strengths and insights of their students while allowing students to make improvements to their areas of weakness, through the students’ investigation of the subject matter.

This new course is designed as a peer-learning course with the teacher in a facilitator role. For this pilot course, students deliver the daily lessons under the teacher’s guidance. The source materials for each lesson primarily come from Viktor Mayer-Schönberger’s and Kenneth Cukier’s Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think(2), further clarified through images, video clips, and short readings that bring the lessons to life.

While the general concepts of Big Data are taught through student lecture style and peer discussions, the practical learning of this course occurred through its applications. The teacher incorporates both group and individual projects in coordination with the BDA course educational goals, with reference to Bloom’s taxonomy as checkpoints: Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation. The students are given in-class time for peer discussions and to further research the materials taught after each lecture. At the end of each subsection the students orally present their knowledge and comprehension of the material by creating summaries of topics through multiple means of delivering understanding of the contents.

Since this course is designed to be student-centered and to highlight the students’ strengths and interests, students are required to research their topic of interest on Big Data applications. However, the final presentation is more than a summation of their research interests; it requires a large-scale (1.8m x 2.0m) info-graphic and presentation to the school’s administration team, the head of school and the parent community, many of whom are industry professionals. The opportunity to present these findings to an audience of high-level business people takes advantage of the human resources available in the community and adds a level of achievement for the students: professional interaction and showcasing.

The course connects students to their school, and local and global communities, in addition to the academic community. Big Data university academicians are brought in as guest lecturers via Skype. The guest lecturers are an important element of this course as they provide external feedback from experts and give students a prime opportunity to learn the relevance and potential of Big Data in post-secondary education and beyond.

The course opens doors to real-world exposure and networking opportunities for the students. One of the students now has a head start in her academic career as she networked with one of the guest professors, and is now collaborating with the professor on an undergraduate research project that she will complete upon entering university. While this student is only one among many examples, the overall outcome of the course surpasses initial expectations, including in the realm of cross-curricular cooperation.

One such cross-curricular endeavor currently in process is applying Big Data tools to the study of History. The collaboration began as a serendipitous conversation between the Big Data and Advanced Placement European History teachers. The conversation quickly led to applying Problem-Based Learning (PBL) to BDA, focusing on a question of history. Problem-Based Learning is “a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge.”(3)Two clear and concise videos explaining PBL are Project Based Learning: Explained(4) and Introduction to Project Based Learning (PBL) Process(5). The most organized and useful site for instructors who are considering PBL is Buck Institute for Education(6).

A previous example of historians using Big Data techniques at the post-graduate level can be found in comparisons of American colonial life in the Chesapeake and Massachusetts Bay regions. Prior to recent work historians had little statistical means to put numbers to the arguments, being built largely on primary source documents of the individuals who lived in the regions. Applying Big Data techniques historians slowly, tediously, built data sets from “records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths; property-holding and tax records; civil or criminal court records; military records; ship manifests; slave auction records(7); and cemetery records …” that heretofore had survived separately in numerous archives. By using techniques commonly found in Big Data (aggregation of data, data overlay, anomaly detection, clustering, behavioral analytics, etc.) Historians found hard evidence of shifts in cultural patterns that had previously only been inferred. A stronger case for the economic models being the driving force behind colonial choices emerged.

Working with the AP European History teacher, BDA students took on a similar task of building data sets and applying Big Data techniques to history. The students examined economic data from European countries from the years 1900 to 1939, focusing on the five major players involved in World War II. Their focus question was, to what degree can unique economic stresses account for Germany’s election of Hitler to guide the German state in 1933? Touch-points were created as the project moved forward. Cobbled from notes, these steps were:

• Collect data

• Organize data into logical sets

• Examine data for patterns, anomalies, and changes over time – Visualization of data begins here

• Arrange data sets into logical order – Primary and Secondary sets begin here

• Overlay data sets to look for correlations and addition patterns

• Cut data to tell a story

• Visualize data into a “dashboard” that is clear

• Present data visualizations and insights to authentic audience

Time being limited the data-gathering portion was necessarily truncated. B.R. Mitchell’s International Historical Statistics: Europe 1750-2005 (8)served as the source for all economic data. After data sets were painstakingly created, the analysis began. Immediately the teacher became the guide and coach, not the expert.

The students generated the questions, found the answers, and taught each other. For a teacher used to being in the front of the classroom it was a significant learning experience. The students’ insights gained from analyzing the data demonstrate the degree of critical thinking and learning taking place. Sample questions generated, researched, answered and taught among the students include:

• What do I do with missing data? Not every year for every country is recorded.

• Can forms of alcohol consumption be rough substitutes for a “hopefulness” or “hopelessness” index?

• Is petroleum production or gasoline production a better indicator of economic strength?

• Which resources are linked with each other, and which ones have priority over the others?

With the end of the semester the data sets were compiled, annotated, and placed in a Google Drive folder for pass-through to the next class. The entire exercise occupied approximately seven hours of classroom time. Next semester the Advanced Placement European History students will pick up the challenge. With the data sets assembled, these new students will analyze the results to answer the question that began the process.

Samples of student analysis follow:

“Electricity Output-Germany has the most output and a more drastic increase. … USSR held the last place output quantity until 1932 when their output quantity surpassed that of Italy and continues to drastically increase, hitting a peak in 1941. This indicates a quick development in technology and economy in … USSR as their electricity output increases. At the same time, technology in Germany was the best at the time, and rapidly improving. The contrast of outputs shows us the different development patterns of two countries …”

“Output of Artificial and Synthetic Fibers: The numbers for all five countries started about the same … The number constantly increased. Starting from 1935, the differences between the countries are starting to show. Even though all the numbers are getting larger, the output of Fibers started to increase significantly in Germany. Germany reached its highest point in 1942, … probably used to make new clothes for soldiers, build military tents, etc. because it was cheap and stronger. After losing WW1, Germany was probably starting to prepare the gears for soldiers to fight the next battle.”

“Beer + Wine Output / Sail + Steam Ships / Coal Import + Export Correlation: There is a correlation between unemployment/beer + wine production in Germany. Around 1930 unemployment was highest, beer production was highest (probably happiness factor). When Hitler [was] elected in 1933 unemployment was starting to decrease as well as beer production but wine production spiked around 1933-1934. As WWII is starting [in] 1939, beer production started to rise again, but unemployment was decreasing probably because of war.

One … important factor is that steel production started spiking once Hitler rose to power, and kept increasing by a huge amount. Steel is made to use guns, so since Hitler’s rise to power, he was probably preparing for war or manufacturing because steel production just spiked once Hitler was in power. Other countries such as USSR and UK started increasing as well exactly on 1933, so something interesting is happening … Electricity usage started rapidly increasing for Germany, so electricity + steel is probably for industrialization.”

Upon reflection, the lessons learned were both skill- and content-based, and practical. The students learned to apply their BDA knowledge in a practical exercise that pushed them to work collaboratively, problem-solve creatively, and think deeply. For the instructors it was an exercise of discovery, as the students proved worthy of the challenges set before them. The instructors became sources of wisdom, rather than founts of knowledge. Teachers and students worked cohesively toward a common objective in a collegial spirit of mutual respect. The student-focused nature of the exercise meant a level of discomfort for the instructors, as powers over class direction and time utilization were shared. Yet the uneasiness reduced over time as the instructors learned to trust the students and the students, recognizing the responsibility given them, grew in maturity and responsibility. The time spent in class was the most sustained, focused, and cooperative we had ever experienced. We look forward to continuing the exercise in the next semester.


(1)Alison King, “From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side,” College Teaching 41, no. 1 (1993): 30–35.

(2)Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Kenneth Cukier, and Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think (United States: Eamon Dolan/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014).

(3)“What Is PBL? | Project Based Learning,” accessed November 30, 2015, http://bie.org/about/ what_pbl.

(4)Buck Institute for Education, “Project Based Learning: Explained,” YouTube, December 9, 2010, posted November 30, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMCZvGesRz8.

(5)David Lee EdTech, “Introduction to Project Based Learning (PBL) Process,” YouTube, May 12, 2015, posted December 5, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08D0dBGIzYQ.

(6)“Project Based Learning,” 2015, accessed November 23, 2015, http://bie.org/

(7)William Bruce Wheeler and Susan D. Becker, Discovering the American Past Vol. 1: A Look at the Evidence to 1877 (United States: Houghton Mifflin (Academic), 2002).

(8)Brian R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics 1750-2005: Europe (International Historical Statistics Europe), 6th ed. (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

We asked Anthony Allday, computing leader at Sacred Heart Primary School in London and Craig Keaney a primary school teacher from Liverpool about their experiences of implementing the new Computing Curriculum. We know that it has been a challenging year for many schools and hope that finding out about how others are managing the changes will provide you with useful information.


Could you please introduce yourself?

CraigMy name is Craig Keaney, I currently work at a primary school in Liverpool as a year 6 teacher, other roles include: Computing Leader and E-Safety Coordinator. I am a CAS Master Teacher and HUB Leader.


Have you started to teach the new Computing curriculum in your school? How is it going?

The new curriculum was implemented at the beginning of September 2014. As a starting point, teachers began to look at ‘unplugged computing’ followed by simple algorithms. Over the term, I began researching a scheme that we could adapt to fit our school, and so began using a scheme created by a local City Learning Centre, adapting it to fit our needs.

After some teething problems in the first year, as a staff, we have become more confident and enthusiastic in teaching the subject.

What are the main challenges you came a cross when teaching the new computing curriculum?

One of the main challenges we faced was teacher subject knowledge and confidence in teaching the new curriculum. This challenge was identified before we implemented the teaching of computing. As a result, alongside the teaching of the scheme, a number of staff meetings were held to develop and support skills required, in addition to having ‘drop-in’ sessions for teachers. This had an impact on the scheme I had adapted, as the scheme relied of a prerequisite of skills, which we had not fully developed.

Over the last year, teachers in school have worked hard to develop and learn the necessary skills, including learning from the children. This has had a impact on teacher confidence. There continues to be support in place for teachers, if needed, an opportunities for them to attended CPD. It is the hope that, as the skills develop, we will be able to have our own scheme rather than using a established scheme to support teaching.

It is also worth mentioning that amongst staff there was a misconception that the new curriculum was all about coding. The teachers in school did need reassuring that there are elements of the ICT they know still in the program of study.

What about children, what is their opinion of the computing lessons? Do they think, feel different?

The majority of the children have really enjoyed the new curriculum, in my personal opinion, I think it is because it matches the skills of the ‘modern technological child’, compared with the old curriculum. The children have been enthusiastic to show what they can do: from creating games, to augmented reality and most importantly [to them], creating vast structures in Minecraft.

I have noticed that there is a gender divide in knowledge and enthusiasm in the lessons. The boys have show more enthusiasm and stronger skill set than the girls, and from speaking with other teachers in the area this appears to be a common tred. As a result, I have tried to link lessons to a topic they find interesting.

Do you think parents are aware of the curriculum changes? Any reaction?

The biggest reaction I have seen from parents, is not about the ‘coding’ aspect of the curriculum, but the e-Safety aspect. The parents in our school want to learn more about how they can make sure their children are safe whilst online, wether being on the Internet, on Smartphones, texting and most importantly, social media and games consoles. To accommodate this reaction we have held meetings for parents to learn about the benefits of technology, and importantly the dangers that come with it.

Any advise to schools who are still confused about where to start?

• From my experience over the last couple of years, the three best pieces of advice I could offer are as follows:

• You’re not alone – make links to other schools, including secondary schools, and use the resources available to you, such as CAS Master Teachers.

• Make sure there is support structure in place for teachers so they can develop their skills and boost their confidence. Don’t forget to use the knowledge of the children; it gives them a great sense of pride.

• If you want to devise a scheme for your school, make sure you know the skills of your teachers and use that to inform what you do. There are free schemes available that can be used help write a scheme that fits your school, but also includes the support needed to boost necessary skills and subject knowledge. Don’t make my mistake and adapt too much in the first instance.