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BETT Conference 2012: Steven Colgan

BETT Conference 2012.

On the 12th and 13th of January 2012 a delegation from Cavan V.E.C. attended the annual BETT conference in the Olympia London. A representative from each school in the scheme attended the event. Steven Colgan B.Ed. attended on behalf of Virginia College. My findings and observations based on this event are outlined as follows in this report. Overall I found the conference to be extremely heuristic in terms of individual pedagogical practice and to be of immense value in terms of sharing ideas and insights to other staff members within the scheme. A vast array of resources and equipment were on display. I became aware of new developments within ICT and education that were both stimulating and inspiring in terms of what the future holds for teaching and learning. In the past the classroom experience could have been described as being somewhat insular for teachers, who could not share ideas or learn of emerging technologies in education. During the conference I became aware of new technologies and saw first-hand how they could be implemented within Cavan V.E.C. that would ultimately enhance the teaching and learning within the classroom environment. I became aware of the absolute imperative for teachers in this technological era to acquire the necessary skills to ensure that the classroom remains a place of engagement and stimulation. This was a wonderful opportunity given to me by County Cavan V.E.C. and I wish express my profound gratitude. I only explored areas of specific subject interest and relevance due to the limited time available to me and the overabundance of displays. Graphic Visualizers In Virginia College a graphic visualizer has been in use for several months and has been very beneficial to the drawing department. Essentially a graphic visualizer is a mounted digital camera that streams a real time feed to the computer, which in turn is displayed on the data projector. The visualizer has a digital zoom which allows handwriting to clearly visible. The visualizer was purchased with the primary intention of showing first year students how to use the drawing equipment correctly.

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BETT Conference 2012: Steven Colgan

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BETT Conference 2012: Steven Colgan

However, this visualizer has been conducive to all year groups. The visualizer has also has cross curricular benefits for other subjects such as construction studies and business studies. Other teachers have expressed an interest in this resource and it offers a quick method of digitising preexisting resources; allows impromptu solving of problems within the class; requires no additional up-skilling or additional preparation time and makes more efficient use of class time as teachers do not have to transcribe notes onto the whiteboard and the advantages go on. I feel that this device is extremely advantageous in the promotion of teaching and learning within the classroom setting. I feel that this device could be used to encourage teachers with low I.C.T. use to integrate I.C.T. methodologies into their classroom to cater to students who are now very I.T. literate and I.T. savvy. In addition it would enrich the learning environment of teachers with high end I.C.T. skills. The visualizer maximizes student engagement with subject matter, thus enhancing the quality of learning that takes place. It reduces the burden on teachers in terms of classroom management as the teacher faces their students whilst explaining subject matter. This ends the many years that teachers had their back turned to students whilst writing or drawing on a blackboard consumed in chalk. In terms of versatility of use of the visualizer, see Table .

Use

Subject

Displaying of handwriting and existing notes

All subjects

Recording of teacher and pupil demonstrations All subjects Displaying of sketching and drawing

All

subjects,

but

particularly

technology

subjects and art Displaying of models and physical resources

All subjects

Marking out materials

Technology subjects and art

Displaying of microscope (with attachment Science based subjects provided) Table

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BETT Conference 2012: Steven Colgan

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BETT Conference 2012: Steven Colgan

The BETT conference allowed me the opportunity to compare several competing brands (Kena-vision, Elmo, Epson and Samsung and Elmo) under the following criteria: •

Image quality

Light interference

Image delay

Zoom

Bed size/image size

Portability

In my opinion I found Samsung had the best performing visualizer under the above criteria. In addition it allowed an A3 sheet to be displayed. This would be highly advantageous for Art departments and Technology departments in that this is the regular size of paper that is used in class and the teacher could demonstrate exactly what was being required from students from a specific task.

However, Elmo performed reasonably well under the aforesaid criteria. Their models pick up an A4 image making it suitable for regular classroom use. They have developed several models that are highly portable so they could be share within a subject department.

Laser cutters A laser cutter is a machine that can cut, engrave and burn materials (wood, metals, plastics and leather) using a laser. It is operated by computer and it can import SolidWorks and AutoCAD files. It is mainly used for profile cutting of 2D shapes but it can also engrave cylindrical objects (e.g. pens) and burn pictures and patterns onto timber. In 2010 GMIT Letterfrack invested in a Laser cutter for use in their Furniture and Wood Production, and Furniture and Wood Design programmes. Its wood burning capabilities and its ability to cut veneers was particularly relevant as this is now common practice in industry. In addition its potential for branding of corporate gifts and advertising was seen as a major benefit to GMIT Letterfrack, and GMIT in general.

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BETT Conference 2012: Steven Colgan

In relation to Cavan V.E.C. if such an investment were made in a laser cutter the benefits would be innumerable to both the scheme and students alike. Within Cavan Institute students undertaking the furniture design course could use this machine to burn designs into their projects and cut veneers as is the industrial standard thus giving them employable skills to take with them into the future. In addition this machine could be incorporated into other courses syllabi such as engineering technology and architectural technology and design. Within the scheme the device could be used in terms of marketing and promoting the scheme with a view to acquiring new students. On Open days sheets of acrylic could be cut into key rings with the prospective pupils names engraved in a matter of minutes. On the reverse of these keyrings the name of the school, its crest and the school motto could be inscribed. For example, in Virginia College the logo of the swan and the motto TĂşs Feasa FiafraĂ­, thus establishing it as a place of learning and enquiry. In addition it would also highlight the state-of-the-art facilities available within the school that students have access to. Transition year students could use this machine to create products for their Enterprise module. This device would allow cross curricular links to be made thus consolidating learning for the student. Students could incorporate skills that they have learned in their Design and Communication Graphics module into their mini company project. This machine would greatly benefit Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate students studying Engineering, Construction Studies, Technology, Materials Technology Wood and Metal within the scheme as it could be incorporated into their project work. Due the expensive nature of this device it would be envisaged that one laser cutter could be purchase and used across the scheme on a rota schedule.

General observations: Wireless facilities in schools are critical in the upcoming years. The question is no longer if tablet computing will be used in schools, but rather in which format. At the conference I witnessed the launch of Google’s chrome book and various generic iPads, all of which require wireless broadband to be used to their full potential.

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BETT Conference 2012: Steven Colgan

Having compared various displays and presentations on different tablet devices (most notably Toshiba, Samsung, i-Pad and Google Chrome book) the i-Pad is still the education leader. Irrespective of the vast array of educational Apps, and the i-Tunes U facility the “workflow� potential of the i-Pads i-Book app is much more robust than that of its competitors. Mid to high end use of the i-Pad and an iMac allows stimulating resources to be created. Creative book builder (and now the iBook author app) is capable of importing numerous file types such as Microsoft office and Apple documents and files. This allows pre-existing teacher resources to be used. In addition animation, sound and 3-D objects can be incorporated with ease allowing a much more dynamic and pupil- centred learning resource to be created.

I feel that if the VEC wishes to invest in tablet computing for pupils or teachers, the i-Pad 2 is an indispensable component as it is currently outperforming every other tablet computer in the market. Progress since BETT 2011. A second visualizer will be purchased for the D.C.G department in Virginia College and it is expected to arrive by the end of February. The original visualizer will be used in the technology department. It is envisaged that both devices will prove conducive to the teaching and learning in Virginia College. Apple TV’s and wireless routers were purchased for the D.C.G department and Science department. They are being used in conjunction with Apple i-Pads. This allows for greater teacher mobility around the classroom, ensuring that students are performing their required task and performing it correctly. It has increased teacher-pupil interaction and allows classroom management. It enhances differentiation within the classroom. It also reduces the amount of resources and materials that the teacher has to carry with them to class thus making teaching less cumbersome.

Steven Colgan

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Bett conference 2011