Students quantitative literacy and critical thinking skills can be improved by regular use of spreadsheet tasks

How are Spreadsheets used in Schools My experience and observation in New Zealand Secondary Schools has been that using spreadsheets is a nice optional extra. Hardly surprising really when the Senior Mathematics Assessment Achievement Standard guides have no requirement for spreadsheet skills, thus giving little motivation for teachers to implement a spreadsheet skills program. Some…

Does learner engagement and understanding increase with the use of asynchronous discussion in a blended learning environment?

Introduction In 2008 I was granted an e-learning fellowship allowing me to research if the use of online discussion forums in a high school history class had enhanced student engagement and led to deeper learning. I recently read two papers that caused me to reflect on my research. Holmes (2005), while analysing the benefits of…

Do interactive video tools lead to more active and deeper learning?

Introduction Last year I completed a Masters research paper with Waikato University (NZ) called “Digital Technologies in the Classroom: New pedagogies, new practices”. I was tasked to choose and analyse an emerging technology within a teaching and learning context. I chose to explore how interactive digital video tools, used in the classroom, could enable more…

Want to Transform Learning? Then Choose Transformational Tools

Introduction Over recent years I have regularly encountered two questions from schools: “what learning apps should we choose?” and “what devices should we use?” I am writing this article with the assumption that schools have a suitable and robust digital infrastructure including network, WiFi, and access to high speed internet. New Zealand schools are currently…

Teaching Effective Research Skills to Middle and High School Students

Introduction In this recent article I discussed the alarming incidence of plagiarism by students, particularly copy/pasting work from online sources directly into their research work, often re-arranging some text so that it appeared to be in their own words. If students are properly taught basic skills in how to gather and organise their research, then they can build on…

Tackling Low-Level Plagiarism in Schools

“Houston, we have a problem!” At the start of 2013 I joined a new secondary (high) school where I taught two junior Social Studies classes. The students for both courses were required to complete three internally assessed research assignments over the year. There was some scope for teachers to modify aspects of the assessments, so…

Redesigning and creating tasks to transform learning using digital technologies

A few weeks ago I facilitated some professional development for teaching staff and management at a primary school (students aged 5-11). I was asked to design and lead a workshop that would help kick-start staff collaborative sharing with Google Docs, including engaging those who were skeptical about the use of new technologies of this type. I decided to use…