Technology Changing Traditional Learning

Technology is challenging and changing traditional teaching; giving learning and students a new approach, as we can see at Bedford Primary School, Liverpool in the UK. Social networking has become part of the school’s academic routine, as it has joined Radiowaves, a school-based social network that has 13,000 schools as members in 22 countries. Amy Barton, Assistant head teacher at Bedford Primary says, "Social media is challenging the traditional view of teaching. You can't get away from it; we've got to teach it."

Radiowaves imbibes technology and the use of blogs, images, video, audio and podcasts which can be uploaded and shared, either just within the school, with other schools on the Radiowaves network or with a bigger audience, including parents. It has attracted the British Council’s attention, who has seen the potential for forging real and long-lasting links with schools around the world and has recently funded four pupils from Bedford Primary School to visit schools in China, where the student exchange was recorded using technology in a video diary and relayed back to Liverpool via Radiowaves. Chris Hague, a director at Radiowaves says, "We set up at a time when schools were shutting the door on social networks, we were saying that they needed to embrace them. Our first priority was to make sure it was safe."

All external comments are monitored by Radiowaves staff and remove anything deemed inappropriate; including immediately removing any personal details that a pupil publishes. According to Professor Stephen Heppell, a leading educationalist, things are changing and technology is making the changes. In fact Twitter has been playing a valuable role in one of the projects Prof Heppell is working on, which is to prepare children in Year Six of primary school for the transition to secondary school. He has linked children up with their peers in Australia and connection has also allowed the UK pupils to get first-hand accounts of the current floods affecting Brisbane.

Prof Heppell believes social media and technology can benefit teachers too and has set up a project called Twitcam, allowing new teachers to post videos of themselves in action teaching, inviting feedback on what they were doing, whether right and wrong from more experienced and seasoned practitioners.

He also advocates Facebook and suggests teachers set up Facebook profiles, an account completely separate from any personal Facebook pages. Although, Facebook frowns on users creating two accounts; it has supported teachers who have wanted to do it. Teachers setting up Facebook accounts should not befriend pupils. Instead, Prof Heppell advises that teachers should allow the children to take the initiative. He also recommends not reading their pupils' Facebook pages and never chat via instant messaging. Facebook can be used by giving children reminders about things like impending exams; offering a space for informal chats outside of the traditional school environment and allows parents and children to keep up with school news at a time and place that suits them. What’s there not to like?

Photo Credit: Lisa Young at 123Rf.com