Category Archives: Technology

Google within education

Moving on from my last post, I found this Scoopit curated by Mark Anderson. It combines many reasons why educators use Google Applications and exactly how they do use them in their teaching. It is surprising how much innovate technology is out there in the world – but there are still those who need some encouragement to engage and take it for a test ride.

Here is a digital book – it shows some of the many elements of Google Applications and some usefult tips. By no means is it a go to guide for everything for Google, but its a good start. I can already see myself using Google forms in an exciting and creative ways in my classroom.

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Google Docs as a collaborative tool

Over the last few weeks I have realised the power and possibility Google Docs for collaborative learning.

As part of the #eict350 module at out University we were encourage to use tools such as Google Docs for collaboration and Google sites to make multimodal resources for children. Google docs allows for collaboration which several participants working alongside each other on the same document. Google docs allows the power of unobtrusive collaboration, as written by Tom Barrat. He introduces the idea of ‘live marking’. Children are working on a piece of work that is shared with the teacher – and at the same time the teacher can add comments and marking to the document. But, as Barrat emphasises there still needs to be some kind of human contact – as a way to reinforce the comments to actively engage the children.

As opposed to written work – a teacher can silent monitor the children’s work, moving in and out from documents adding comments, whilst reinforcing some points to the children in person. This unobtrusive collaboration, does not intrude the children’s flow of work and can ignite new ideas into the children writing.

This only works effectively as Google has created a truly real time collaboration – where each character is updated in real-time on the readers computer. Children can reply and react to comments that the teacher puts. Instead of stopping the whole class to engage them in their writing, this can be done from the ‘confort’ of the teachers desk – engaging several children at a time, with multiple documents in several tabs.

However, the success of Google docs is in how the teacher uses it effectively. I can be used for effortless assessment for learning, praising good comments, and can modell good sentences on the class projector in seconds. However, it can be a more intrusive method than writing in books for those who find collaboration is key. Children’s typing skills may be holding them back – and teacher still need to use talk. But Google docs can be a very powerful tool if used in the correct way, and I can see myself using this for my own study and when I’m next in school

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Draft Literature review

I have to emphasise this is a draft – and in no ways a final version. I have to credit Doug Belshaw (@dajbelshaw) for his work on defining digital literacy. I used it his work as a my starting point to look at further areas of interest. There was so much I could add in, but will try to in other sections. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Literature review

In the last few decades the Internet has become a technological and a social phenomenon. It has become a “fact of life, a way of being in the world, a producer of social subjects that, find it unremarkable, so unremarkable that it seems ‘everybody uses it.’” (Lewis & Fabos. 2005:470) It has allowed new social access, eradicating the need for face-to-face communication.

To fully understand the term ‘digital literacy,’ literacy must be defined. At its very basic level, literacy is a form of communication, including the ability to decode symbols and messages for the purpose of sharing information and meaning. Current pedagogy (DfES.1999) goes beyond this, and as well as reading and writing, literacy involves the development speaking and listening skills.  People must be able to encode and decode symbols to be classed as literate or subsequently illiterate. Although an ‘United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’ (UNESCO) report addresses the issues in defining literacy:

“Literacy is a characteristic acquired by individuals in varying degrees from just above none to an indeterminate upper level. Some individuals are more or less literate than others but it is really not possible to speak of illiterate and literate person as two distinct categories.”

 (UNESCO. 1957:18)

A simple definition of being literate as being ‘able to read and write,’ sets up a “false dichotomy (between those who ‘can’ and those who ‘can’t’), but makes no allowance for reading and writing using various tools and for different purposes.” (Belshaw. 2011:50) Literacy viewed as making and creating meaning “has generally dominated curriculum and pedagogy.” (Dighe & Reddi, 2006). It is a set of skills that complete mastery of is never attained, as there is always a way in which a person can be more skilled, or a better reader or writer.

Street (1984) outlines two different models of literacy, the autonomous and the ideological. The autonomous model, states literacy as being independent of and impartial towards trends and struggles in everyday life. An ideological perspective, view “literacy as an active relationship or a way of orienting to the social and cultural world”; (Lankshear & Kobel. 2008:97) its reiterated by Lewis & Fabos (2005) who perceive that “all writing is socially motivated.” Digital illiteracies are ideological and subjective; they adapt with change and constantly need to be developed.

A definition of ‘Digital Literacy’ began from Gilster’s (1997) book entitled with the same name. Glister was criticised for giving multiple definitions (Belshaw. 2011); however at the beginning of the twenty first century his work was beginning to have an impact. Glister (1997) did not describe digital literacy as a set of skills but “as an ability to understand and to use information from a variety of digital sources and regarded it simply as literacy in the digital age.” (Bawden. 2008:18)

There is ambiguity when digital illiteracies are referred to, Bawden (2008) paraphrases Eshet-Alkalia  (2004) view that there are “particular inconsistency between those who regard digital literacy as primarily concerned with technical skills and those who see it as focused on cognitive and socio-emotional aspects of working in a digital environment.”(Bawden, 2008:24) Futurelab (2010) defines digital literacy as functional skills required to operate and communicate with technology and media with the ability to “participate in a range of critical and creative practices.” Belshaw (2011) in his doctoral thesis combines the work of many theorists and identifies eight core elements of digital literacy, namely:

  1. Cultural
  2. Cognitive
  3. Constructive
  4. Communicative
  5. Confident
  6. Creative
  7. Critical
  8. Civic

Belshaw (2011:82)

Belshaw (2011) moves beyond looking merely at the technological skills required, but highlights that digital literacy captures the notion that the literacy practices referred to are enacted in digital spaces. Martin (2008) similarly breaks down digital literacy and reiterates that it is more than a set of skills. However this emphasises that the term ‘digital literacy’ is ambiguous, and continually evolving in new and innovative ways.

An aspect of computer-mediated communication, which is an integral part to ‘digital literacy’ are weblogs or ‘blogs.’ A blog is an “instant publication of text or graphics to the Web… [with] ways for people to provide comments or feedback to each blog post, the opportunity to archive past blog posts by date, and hyperlinks to other bloggers.” (Hufaker. 2004) This medium allows one or many contributors to present and express themselves online in a way that is not possible in traditional literacy.

Blogs are created and maintained for diverse purposes and as elements or dimensions of diverse social practices. Lanskear and Knobel  (2008) identify some key topics of blogs, such as: personal diaries; critique of news events; to sell products; to express personal opinions; to achieve memories and so on. Though not to dissimilar to websites, blogs provide many advantages over traditional sites, including; providing a personal writing space; invite contributors and be managed accordingly and need little or no technical background knowledge. (Peter & Axel. 2006:2)

The educational benefits of blogs (Peter & Axel. 2006) allow children to develop their cognitive and critical potential though analytical thinking whilst reading, writing and collaboration on a topic to post. Its structure promotes taking critical risks and makes sophisticated use of language and design, (Peter & Axel. 2006:3) and provides a space in which children can reflect on their learning and review and comment upon other people work. Morris (2010) a class teacher, states, “blogging is authentic.” Students have a purpose and a genuine audience, where there can be a daily occurrence within a classroom. It gives children a meaningful audience “that will see their writing and personality through blogs.” (Ackerman. 2006:7) Traditional literacy conventions such as spelling and syntax can be taught in the “context of writing on the blog rather than stand-alone, one off lessons.” (Morris. 2010) Children’s lack of motivation directly collates with students not doing well (Kelly & Neal. 2002) where by framing tasks differently and giving students a real audience, “students are motivated to use technology to write.” (Ackerman. 2006:1)

Channeler (1997) states, “in the act of writing…we are written.” To motivate children emerging writing skills, to make writing purposeful, challenging and real to life, blogging offers this opportunity. Additionally, blogging provides a sense of community, where global connections can be made with other schools. Quadblogging develops this sense of community where each of the partnership schools has a week of hosting the blog, providing a focus for others to participate in and to make comments, offering an “environment where learning is not limited to the classroom.” (Huffaker. 2004) As the popularity of blogging continues, one provider stating 500,000 new posts every month (WordPress. 2012), is it an engaging medium for children to benefit from? And does it in turn improve their literacy skills? This research project aims to build upon previous research and asks the question:

‘How can one classes use of blogs promote positive attitudes in literacy?’

Word count: 1,076





Ackerman, J. D. (2006). Motivation for Writing Through Blogs. Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green State University. Available at: [Accessed: 06.02.12]

Bawden, D. (2008). Origins and Concepts of Digital Literacy, 17-32. in Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. Digital literacies: concepts, policies and practices. New York, Peter Lang.

Belshaw, D. A. J. (2011). “What is ‘digital literacy’?”  Available at: [Accessed: 20.01.2012]

Chandler, D (1997): ‘Writing Oneself in Cyberspace’ Available at: [04.02.12]

DfES (1999) The National Curriculum for England and Wales. London: DfES.

Dighe, A. & Reddi U. V. (2006) Women’s Literacy and Information and Communication Technologies: Lessons that experience has taught us New Delhi: Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) & Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

Eshet-Alkalai, Y. (2004). Digital literacy: A conceptual framework for survival skills in the digital era. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 13 (1): 93-106

Futurelab. (2010) “It’s not talk and chalk anymore”. Available at: [Accessed: 18.01.12]

Gilster, P. (1997). Digital literacy. New York, Wiley Computer Pub.

Huffaker, D. (2004) The educated blogger: Using Weblogs to promote literacy in the classroom. First Monday. Available at: [Accessed: 07.02.12]

Kelly, P,R., & Neal, J C. (2002). Delivering the Promise of Academic Success Through Late Intervention. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 18, pp.101-117.

Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2008) Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices: Introduction.  New York: Peter Lang

Lewis, C & Fabos, B (2005) ‘Instant Messaging, Literacies and Social Identities’ in Reading Research Quarterly. Vol. 40 (4), pp470-501

Martin, A. (2008) ‘Digital Literacy and the “Digital Society”‘ in Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2008) Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices. New York: Peter Lang

Morris, K. (2010) Literacy Skills: How Far They’ve Come! Available at: [Accessed: 03.02.12]

Peter, D. & Axel, B. (2006) The Use of Blogs, Wikis and RSS in Education: A Conversation of Possibilities. In Proceedings Online Learning and Teaching Conference 2006. Brisbane. pp: 31-38.

Street, B. (1984). Literacy in theory and practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

UNESCO. (1957). World illiteracy at mid-century, a statistical study. [Paris], UNESCO.

WordPress (2012). Available at: [Accessed: 08.02.12]

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If no body has heard of it, where have you been?

Julia Skinner an ex-head teacher began giving children topics to write about on her website – but it became such a phenonimum she had to hire volunteers to help her to give quality comments to children.

As describes on the 100wc challenge website:

It is a weekly creative writing challenge for children under 16 years of age. Each week a prompt is given, which can be a picture or a series of individual words and the children can use up to 100 words to write a creative piece. This should be posted on a class blog and then linked to the 100 Word Challenge blog. The link is usually open from midnight on Wednesdays until midnight the following Tuesdays.

And recently, I have become one of the many volunteers who give the children quality comments. I am already impressed by the quality and imagination of the children who entered. I wish this was around when I was at school, as a motivation tool and have an audience to write to.  But I know I can offer my future class, wherever they are this amazing opportunity.

Its not everyday you can get a comment on your creative from an worldwide audience.And each week, several pieces are showcased for everyone to read and comment on.

But its not just 100 words. Julia has recently just promoted a ‘5 sentence challenge’ aimed at Key Stage One children – and a 500WC for this who want to higher their horizons.

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English and communication technology

© Communication Task Force

In the last few decades the Internet has become a technological and a social phenomenon. It has become a “fact of life, a way of being in the world, a producer of social subjects that, find it unremarkable, so unremarkable that it seems ‘everybody uses it.’” (Lewis & Fabos. 2005:470) It has allowed new social access, an instant connection to friends through a whole host of digital literacy’s. These new literacy’s have inevitably influenced the English Language; but it does not currently have a concrete place in the national curriculum. Yes, Information Communication Technology (ICT) is becoming a core subject in the new curriculum. But what about the communicative aspect of the Internet.

Several years ago, MSN had a huge popularity with teenagers. It had a huge impact of the linguistics aspects of the English Language. Lewis and Fabos (2005) research discovered that “in general, young people favoured IM over all other kinds of communication.” It provided an excitement of staying on top of multiple conversations; it was convenient because most people were constantly online and available. It also assuaged social relationships; making all potential threatening exchanges, such as face-to-face or via telephone, less problematic. Those interviewed in Lewis and Fabos’ study still occasionally used electronic mail (email) for telling longer stories, yet still preferred instant messaging over chat rooms, since “communicating with strangers was not nearly as engaging as communicating with one’s peers” (Lewis & Fabos. 2005:482)

Social networking has grown and became an integral part of commuter-mediated communication. Since the launch of ‘Myspace’ in 2003, Facebook in 2004 and Bebo in 2005, the Office for Communication (OFCOM) has found that “almost half (48%) of children aged 8-17 who use the internet have set up their own profile on a social networking site.” (OFCOM, 2008) Even though these sites restrict children aged thirteen or fourteen, OFCOM have found that “27% of 8-11 year olds who are aware of social networking sites say that they have a profile on a site.” (OFCOM 2008) Social networking “is now a mainstream form of communication, offering new ways for children to communicate and socialise.” (Dowdall. 2009:91) They, offer children the ability to create an online presence

In all of the above communication methods, children are involved in, and they are self motivated to learn the new communication methods.

In modern journalism courses, they have begun to teach how to write for an online audience. Why isn’t this integral part of what we now teach children? Blogs are emerging from teachers and students alike, from those with the technological know how, but it’s not all schools and not all children. As communicating online, whether through email, instant messaging or from social networking, is becoming an integral part of people’s lifestyle and social identity.

Should we introduce digital literacy into the classroom?

If yes, how can we introduce digital literacy in the classroom?

As part of my dissertation, I want to investigate these new literacies, and how do children communication differently on the world wide web.

(aspects taken from ‘English and Communication Technology’ linguistic assignment)


Lewis, C & Fabos, B (2005) ‘Instant Messaging, Literacies and Social Identities’ in Reading Research Quarterly. Vol. 40 (4), pp470-501

OFCOM (2008) ‘Social Networking: A Quantitative and Qualitative research Report into Attitudes, Behaviour and Use’. OFCOM. Available at [Accessed 11th February 2011]

Dowdall, C. (2009) ‘Impressions, improvisations and compositions: reframing children’s text production in social networking sites’ in Literacy. Vol. 43 (2), pp 91-99

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The internets future for copyright laws.

There are many positives and negatives that are brought up by this video. Will the UK follow the USA? Or will we create a more streamlined approach that doesn’t affect the internets secruity.

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Whats the purpose of this blog?

I began thinking what the aim of this blog was. So it led me to this:

So for me this blog, is a reflection, a way I can discus my ideas in a linear format. I will hopefully use it a a diary of some sorts to discus concepts on my upcoming dissertation, and see where it goes from there.

Online gaming in the 21st Century?

What are the educational benefits of gaming?

Can it be used to enhance, or consolidate learning?

Can it be used as a platform for children to investigate on multiply platforms?



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