Around The Clock EdTech: Early Years and Primary Pt.2
Category: Before Class
by Nicole Ponsford
[Continued from Around The Clock EdTech: Early Years and Primary Pt.1]
A recent study showed us that students in the UK are now spending more time than any others online. We are now all too aware that over-exposure can increase well-being concerns and safeguarding issues as the internet was not designed for children. Online safety is a huge safeguarding issue for both schools and parents, but where to start?
I believe that online safety needs to be about the law and completely engaging to children, both age and cognitively appropriate. The great thing is that teachers no longer need to bear the brunt of responsibility with this.
There is a great in-school, award-winning eSafety programme, also with a peer-to- peer approach called eCadets. Designed by ex-police and award winning teachers, this is a fantastic programme that empowers students to understand how to both use and manage their technology – as well as teach the rest of school too. The team have been busy and have now launched their own safe social media app, GoBubble, aimed at the Under 13s, which can be supported by both school and home.
Nic’s TIP: Engage both students and parents with online safety as soon as you can to ensure that children learn how to stay as safe online as they do on the roads. Give parents the heads up first on what you will be doing in class so they can learn too. Organisations like MediaSmart and CommonSenseMedia can be helpful to families and educators alike.
There has been a lot said recently about the stereotyping of genders in schools. The recent BBC production ‘No More Boys and Girls’ illustrated the issues that both Primary schools and parents nurtured when it came to the sexes and the battle of blue and pink.
The two facts that shocked me most (and as a mum to boy/girl twins) were:
Boys and girls can be matched equally for strength (until the age of 7) and that both develop the same in terms of brain architecture.
Boys lack empathy (on the whole) and girls confidence was not new to me, but the impact of girls not being exposed to some toys (those that build spatial awareness) can impact their chances later on in life, when it comes to skills and employment.
My suggestion is to use block-building games, both in the classroom and online, as the basis for mixed gender extra curricular clubs. I have yet to find a school whose students did not want a ‘Lego Club’, despite many not offering it.
Following the success of Channel 4s family-friendly ‘Lego Masters’, I hope there will be a resurgence of Lego-love for both the block and the digital Lego apps, like Lego City and the beginner’s coding app, Lego ‘Bits and Bricks’ because things have started to look somewhat bleak for the company. Or you may want to cash in on the ever popular Minecraft craze. Many Primary school students (and teachers) enjoy using EdTech games, such as Minecraft (Pocket Edition) and Minecraft Education, as part of Maths lessons or to further engage boys in learning. However, for schools looking at promoting equality and improve girls’ spatial awareness, these apps are a fantastic EdTech tool for engaging all learners together as an extra-curricular club.
TIP: Ask the students which games they want to play and then ask the parents in for a workshop first so they can have a ‘play’ too. Be aware of home access to devices and look for ways to challenge students, without them having to go online and speak to anonymous players. For example, set weekly challenges, look for national competitions you can engage with – and invite parents and siblings in to both develop their skills and enjoy the EdTech.