From 27 to 30 November, thousands of education enthusiasts gathered at Educatec-Educatice, a major education event held in Paris. In addition to taking selfies with the event’s big foam mascot, visitors went to find out about the latest digital educational applications for schools. The event was buzzing with exchanges between teachers, digital companies and students about these new teaching methods. A number of uses French schools have been experimenting with new technologies; three of them talked about their experience using tablets and bringing “Digital for All, Now” to the classroom.
1. STUDYING MATHS AND GEOGRAPHY AT THE SAME TIME
Whilst tablets can prove extremely useful for teaching languages, as illustrated in our article on the Lycée Sainte-Marie in Aix-en-Provence, they can also offer an interesting approach to learning science. Joël Moulin, a maths teacher at the Collège Val d’Argent de Sainte-Foy l’Argentière and digital technology instructor for the Délégation Académique au Numérique pour l’Education (DANE) attended the event and gave a demonstration using a multitouch table. By using this technology, Moulin aims to experiment with maths in an innovative way with year 8 students.
“The students have their tablets, all of which are connected to mine, to the overhead projector and the multi-touch table,” Moulin explains. “Together we devise scenarios that combine maths and geography. The table is big enough for several people to work at it at once, so whilst some of the students are working individually on their tablets, others work together on the table. The advantage of the screen is that we overlap the different subjects and give all the students easy access to the tools.”
It also means no more rulers, set squares or protractors:
“Everything is available on the screen and we can use virtual tools on a map, for example. That way the students can learn different skills at the same time.”
So far both students and teachers are delighted with the interdisciplinary, collaborative capabilities of multitouch tables.
2. SIMULATING A SPACE LANDING
Meanwhile, Imara Saïd, who teaches physics & chemistry at the Collège Belle de Mai in Marseille, brought her Year 8 class with her to give a demonstration of the MashUp interactive table.
“What’s ingenious about this touch table is the design,” she explains. “The technology came from the use, and not the other way around.”
Ideal for working in groups, this large video-editing table is equipped with an infrared camera that reads QR codes. The students can then produce a video from QR code-tagged footage, which is then broadcast live to the other students via a video projector. So whilst part of the class create footage of a space shuttle landing, the others add the soundtrack – the astronauts’ dialogue and the noise of the shuttle. A great way to capture students’ attention whilst getting them to study various scientific subjects in an innovative way.
3. SCHOOL: TAKING CONTROL OF THEIR SCHOOL CAREER
Another interesting workshop at Educatec-Educatice was about using tablets for education and career counselling and guidance! Digital technology can be used to devise new teaching methods and encourage students to take a more active role in choosing their future specialist subject. Thus digital tools can offer them real-time, up-to-date information about the schools they have applied to once they graduate from junior secondary school, and they can share that information with their teachers and discuss their options together. As Jalil Mourhiteddine, maths teacher at the Collège Notre Dame Poissy in the Yvelines, near Paris, explains:
“Throughout year 10, we have regular revision sessions. That way, each student can measure his or her progress and thus choose which subject they want to specialise in later. It’s my job to guide them through this process.”
The teachers at Educatec-Educatice certainly make a compelling case for using touch tables and tablets in schools: they believe the technological and educational advances give students “a renewed enthusiasm for learning” whilst enabling teachers to monitor their progress more closely. And whilst some people remain sceptical at the idea of children glued to their screens all day, the workshops demonstrated the potential of digital technology for group work. “Digital for All, Now” can thus breathe new life into the more complex, technical subjects, such as science and creative work. It’s now up to the Department of Education to step up and provide schools with the technology they need to spearhead the digital education movement.
Photo credits: Student iPad School, photo by Brad Flickinger, licence CC BY 2.0