It is clear that technology has a significant role to play to inspire and motivate our learners. We all know that WWW stands for World Wide Web. However, many schools have yet to realise its true potential for bringing the real world into the classroom. Communication is literally at the heart of ICT. Sadly, students are often given tasks involving made up situations rather than being given the opportunity to communicate with a real audience for a real purpose.
In the past students at Notre Dame High School, Norwich did a project to research and create leaflets about their school. They included information about the history of the school and subjects they learn. The ICT skills they demonstrated were fine, but their sense of audience and purpose was very limited.
This year we adapted our leaflet unit by making it more personal. We asked the students to think about how they learn best and what makes a good teacher. They shared their ideas by adding comments to a blog post set up for free on edublogs.org. We also invited children at our link school in the USA to contribute their ideas. We gave our students a digital camera and asked them to take images of the school from their perspective. Students at our link school in Malawi took photos of their school using disposable cameras and we uploaded them into a digital gallery using bubbleshare.com. Our classes then did some basic research about the universal right to education and why it is such a valuable part of our lives.
With all of the ideas and information they had gathered themselves, the students created leaflets on the right to education and learning to learn (see examples learn1 | learn2 | learn3 | learn4 | learn5 | learn6). The best examples have been sent to our link schools. The students helped to make the selection, thus providing a real reason for peer assessment. The project culminated in a flashmeeting video conference between children at both schools to discuss and compare school life. A recording of the conference was put onto a blog post and the students contributed comments to give feedback on the experience.
We did a student voice online survey using SurveyAtSchool at the end of the project to research whether giving their work a real purpose and audience motivated them to produce better quality work. According to the analysis 78% said that sharing their ideas on a blog helped them to write better ideas. 88% said that having a real audience gave their work a clearer sense of purpose.
Enabling students to research real issues, create real resources and communicate with a real audience gives their work a real purpose. The improved quality of our students’ work proves that this motivated them to produce their best. So, if you want to inspire your learners, remember to Keep IT Real!