Part of a larger UK Open Educational Resources (OER) programme, led jointly by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) and the Higher Education Academy on behalf of HEFCE. Builds on previous involvement of the team with the OER programme
There were eight participants in the Sheffield Hallam focus group, and 7 from the University of Sheffield - all of them are currently PGCE students in English, for the most part they were White British women...except for 1 man all in their early to mid twenties We had spoken to their tutors who had briefed us about some projects that they were embarking on, and we knew that they had all had recent experience in engaging with some aspect of digital literacy in their teaching roles.
We were interested in students' perceptions of their own levels of digital literacy. We knew that they were working with digital technologies in their practice, but wanted to discover their attitudes towards digital literacy outside the classroom, and how these sat with their ideas about teaching. We also wanted to understand the students level of awareness and understanding of OER resources and their attitudes towards sharing their own resources.
We needed to allow students space to talk freely, without worrying about being assessed on their feedback. We thought that they would be more candid if not accompanied by their tutor. We decided to use a focus group method so that students could bounce ideas around, and brainstorm ideas. Parker and Tritter (2006) state that the focus group researcher has a less dominant role than a researcher conducting a group interview. Rather than controlling the dynamics of the group and engaging in dialogue with participants, we intended to play the role of the moderator in discussions between participants. Anna and I were peripheral to the discussion, and looked to stimulate discussion that could be analysed later rather than to seek answers. However, we still had to worry about the content of the discussion and the way the group interacted. I held the first focus group for the University of Sheffield group on my own, acting as researcher and scribe. I had prepared some general questions to start off the conversation, and some more specific questions related to our research brief which I intended to use if necessary. All students agreed to be taped and signed a consent form allowing us to use their data. Anna and I ran the second focus group with Sheffield Hallam Students together. We used the same questions, consent forms and taped the meeting. I moderated and Anna scribed and explained our interest in OERs. Although this group was very articulate and responsive, we felt that some more inhibited members of the group may have given fuller responses to the questions if they were on their own. However we found out some surprising revelations that made us think again about our assumptions.
Initially they were keen to share their resource, stating that as teachers , “we share everything with the children anyway, and we consider it a part of our professional identity to help each other and share ideas” However when they started to reflect on what it meant to share openly their material, they became more cautious, stating that it is different sharing between friends, or people you know and the public. “You don’t know what reaction you would get… can you imagine if you put it on you tube and you got loads of thumbs down?”
Students attitudes towards technology in education were quite balanced, most felt that it was important, but that it is only one way of teaching and learning. felt that digital literacy is important, that children need to know how to search the web, and how to use technology to best advantage thought that children should be taught web safety, and how to avoid being manipulated thought the speed of information in the format of digital information is a bonus for both pupils and teachers felt that the hands on element is good as keeps children engaged. realised that digital literacy is important for pupils' job prospects However they all agreed that there is still a significant place for the old technologies. thought that children need to know when and why a digital approach is appropriate, and that this needs to be taught. were concerned about the lack/inaccessibility /unreliability of equipment in schools. All agreed that Ict curriculum in England is out of date, and do not follow it. a few worried that we had become over reliant on technology. noticed that in some classes blinds were closed all day- IWB was used as a matter of course. some students felt 'anti tech' and were not confident with the tools. A major consideration was time, and students wanted immediate access to resources (&quot;I want to get this [planning] done so that I can relax and have a cup of tea&quot;) Whereas some student teachers were very comfortable with web 2, and did things like using twitter for their plenaries, others were less sure. They all felt they had a professional obligation to keep up to date with their technological knowledge.
But there were surprises. some surprising perspectives started to emerge. In terms of digital literacies, ‘generations’ are being concertinaed into very short time spans. In one of our focus groups student teachers were talking about their A level students as a ‘different generation’. Although I would think there were only four or five years difference between them, these trainee teachers felt they were light years apart! They remembered (nostalgically perhaps?) telephone access to the web, clumsy computer games, and the days before everyone had a mobile, when they would stand waiting for their friends at bus stops, not texting or phoning- perhaps having a conversation with someone face to face. They felt they had to work hard to keep up with new generations of pupils; to remain savvy about the newest games and equipment in order to maintain some credibility with their classes. Mark Brumley suggests that competences in digital literacies seem to be dependent on interest or circumstance rather than age. Certainly the participants in the project- tutors and teachers and student teachers span several generations, (hundreds if you go by the focus groups definition of a digital generation!) and all have different areas and degrees of involvement with digital technology. Depending on interests and needs, some elect to ignore certain technologies such as facebook and mobile phones. These resources are perhaps not necessary or useful to them in their present situations. This puts a different perspective on some of the blanket assumptions that I have come across recently in schools with veteran staff. The theory is that these teachers are out of touch, not willing to learn, and unable to take on board new ideas. As I found in my doctoral study on, ‘Grumpy old Teachers’, these assumptions are often unfair. In several of the schools involved with the project, the member of staff interested in technology is working to develop ways of passing on expertise to other members of staff. Even new teachers -straight out of University were not necessarily familiar with ways in which digital technology could enhance their teaching. It seems that all teachers need time and training to maintain up to date digital literacy in their practice.
Digital Futures inTeacher Education(DeFT) Richard Pountney Anna Gruszczynska Nicky Watts
About the projectTeam Partners• Richard Pountney (Lead) • Sheffield Hallam University• Guy Merchant (Principal • University of Sheffield Investigator) • 5 primary and 5 secondary• Cathy Burnett schools in South Yorkshire (Researcher) • Learning Connections• Jackie Marsh (Academic • RealSmart Lead) • Yorkshire and Humber Grid• Julia Davies (Researcher) for Learning• Anna Gruszczynska • Sheffield Children’s (Project manager) Festival• Nicky Watts (Project assistant)
Background to DeFT:UKOER programme• Evaluating the Practice of • drawing on the principles Opening up Resources for of social sciences Learning and Teaching in the knowledge production Social Sciences (April 2009- • exploring tacit aspects of April 2010) pedagogical practice• Cascading Social Science Open Educational Resources • exploring the "why" (August 2010-August 2011) (socio-cultural/institutional context) rather than solely• Discovering Collections of the "how" (technical Social Science Open aspects) of OERs Educational Resources (August 2010-August 2011)
Digital Futures in Teacher Education (DeFT) The project aims to involve local teachers and pupils, teacher educators and teacher educations students in: • exploring and sharing the potential of digital technologies • understanding more about what it means to be digitally literate • sharing and developing good practice in teaching
Workshop activities• Sharing first thoughts on digital literacy• Creating our own meanings of digital literacy• Reflecting on digital literacy practices
Case studies - teachers exploringDL practices with pupils Programming skills for creative learnersUsing QR codes foreducation purposes Creative uses of DL in schools
Case studies - teachers exploring DL practices in thecontext of CPD The school website as a teaching and learning hubOERs as a tool for sharing practice Opening up Moodle
What are our student teachers thinking about Digital Literacy....... and OERs?Some insights from focus groups of student teachers from Sheffield Hallam and the University of Sheffield
The student teachersPhoto courtesy of DiscoveryEducation.com
Attitudes towards OERs“we are happy to share our resources etc”“You don’t know what reaction you would get… can you imagine if you put it on you tube and you got loads of thumbs down?”
Attitudes towards digital literacy in school environment
Reflection• Thinking about digital literacy in action• Reflexive moments and reflexive review as part of DeFT methodology• Other aspects of digital literacy
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