I’m getting all the teachers and students to answer some questions on the iHistory experience, and then I’ll post them here. These are my reflections on the questions.
How did the group engage with the excursion tasks?
- At the beginning they seemed to struggle to get started.
- Throughout the excursion they divided up roles within the group very clearly. One person wrote down answers, another listened to thepodcast and another took photos.
- They tended to want to check every answer with me! This showed that they were not confident in this type of investigation, and is a continuation from the classroom, where they tend to check answers with me before they write them down. It would be good in the future to let them go off by themselves, and document how they engage with the tasks in that environment.
- There were some tasks that could not be completed either by observation or listening to the podcast eg. English translations of Latin inscriptions in the cathedral. My group did go to the library to get the birth and death dates for a mayor, but they couldn’t be bothered checking the internet for the Latin inscriptions, even though they identified this as a avenue of information.
- Sometimes they just did not know what the question was asking, let alone know how to investigate for the answer. This could have sometimes been due to the way my questions were phrased, but often was just the fact that students are not used to independent investigative work.
Describe their use of the mp3 players
Pretty confident, actually! They needed little prompting to record audio, which is the most complicated thing to do on the iRivers. Often, while wanting to navigate within a podcast, they would accidentally skip to the next or previous track. We had practiced recording in class, but not navigating within podcasts.
Gaining information from podcasts?
I had expected at least two of the group to listen to the podcast simultaneously, and the other complete the tasks. This did happen once or twice, but was really an exception to the rule. This did mean that they didn’t glean as much information from thepodcast as I thought they would. Instead, they gathered information from wherever they could. I think this was partly due to their unfamiliarity with mp3 learning, and also due to the fact that they did not plan how they would complete the tasks.
My group were very engaged. They were serious about finishing all the questions, and each of them contributed equally to the group. Jackson tended to refocus the group, often asking questions like “So, what’s the question?” David was very conscientious about writing down answers. Clay listened to most of the podcasts, and answered most of the questions that could be answered from the podcasts . They tended to concentrate on the learning modes they were comfortable with: Clay with aural learning; David with written and Jackson was comfortable across both.
From your observations, what are the benefits in using mp3 players as an educational tool?
- Students are way more engaged listening to a prepared recording than to a teacher talking. This may have 3 reasons. One is that the technology being used is familiar to them, whereas the genre of “upfront presentation” is not. Another is that the recording is easy to absorb, particularly because a student can navigate back and forth inside the recording, rather than the teacher having to field repeated questions. Another is that because the recording is (usually) scripted, it is thought-out and appropriate to the task.
- They can be used to record observations quickly. Students usually find it easier to explain what they see verbally rather than in a written form. If a written form is needed, they can transcribe their voice and edit it for the written genre.
- The teacher can be in many places at one time! Because mp3 players are mobile, groups or individual students can be in different places at the one time without the teacher needing to be there to be provide information.