Following on from reading Weller (2011), A pedagogy of abundance, I have chosen to look at the second question posed in the conclusion – ‘How do we best equip learners to make use of it?’
I am drawing on my own context and experience in a Scottish primary school.
We are moving fast in this digital era and I agree that digital skills need to be developed to ensure that our learners can move forward successfully. However, there are important skills needed before learners in a primary school can get to the stage of being independent users of the abundant resources.
In Primary 1 my learners are learning to read and as they learn they are introduced to early research skills. Primary 1 are learning to write therefore taking notes is difficult at this stage but technology has provided us with USB microphones and a record to text function within Google Docs which can be accessed through our Chromebooks. The Early Level Technology Curriculum (P1 – children aged 4-5) covers playing and exploring technologies to discover what they can do and how they can help us – including communicating with others within and beyond my place of learning. The First Level Technology Curriculum (P2-4 children aged 5-8) progresses the Early Level skills to finding, organising, managing and accessing information from electronic sources to support, enrich or extend learning in different contexts. By the end of Second Level (P5-7 – children aged 8-12) learners are working more independently and through learning within the literacy curriculum have a more secure understanding about reputable sources and how to use these within any projects they may be working on. Additionally, Second Level Technology includes accessing and retrieve information, recognising the importance this has in my place of learning, at home and in the workplace.
As a primary school educator I see my role in equipping learners with the skills needed to make use of abundance as follows:
Develop reading and comprehension skills through use of digital tools as learners progress through primary education. This will include how to search for quality, reputable resources using the internet and how to re-use this information within the constraints of the CC licensing attached to the resource. Referencing sources should also be included.
Develop skills which will enable use of a variety of digital tools. This will allow for personalisation and choice when undertaking their learning activities. The development of these digital skills can be obtained through elearning and tinkering type activities or through engaging in a community of learners approach. These tools will continue to evolve therefore I envisage the range of what is offered within a primary school will be affected by the demand-pull suggested by Seely-Brown and Adler (2008) in Weller’s article.
Sharing within a Social Media environment
This aspect presents my biggest problem because all children in my school are under 13 years old therefore are unable to access any social media sites due to our social media policy. Fortunately teaching social media etiquette and the skills needed to engage in a social media learning environment can be achieved through using Google Classroom with the teacher as a facilitator to learning and a provider of links to a range of abundant resources. At present we have a class blogs which children learn how to use, however don’t have authority to create or run as their own.
I believe that the development of Google Classroom will provide a varied content of resources for learners which they can re-use and share within this forum with others who have access to the classroom. Learning this way increases the social aspect of learning and organising this incurs minimal cost (teacher time) as it is paperless. This will also provide our learners with the knowledge and skills needed as they undertake transition into secondary education.
Weller, M. (2011) ‘A pedagogy of abundance’, Spanish Journal of Pedagogy, vol. 249, pp 223-36. Also available online at http://oro.open.ac.uk/28774/ (last accessed 17 April 2016).