I can’t believe that just over a week ago we were at BETT in the Arena with wonderful people sharing our ideas. I can still feel the buzz. I have to admit, that at first I was worried traveling across London with 16 children on a Friday, especially knowing that we wouldn’t be able to return until 5.00 p.m. I am glad that we didn’t let these worries stop us from giving our students the opportunity to have such an amazing experience. They just loved it. We wandered from one stand to another, chatted with representative of companies displaying their products or services. Of course, most of all, getting freebies. I think the kids favourite freebie was when they had a photo with their friends turned into a photo key ring. It was like taking an image of their best moment, so that they can keep the memory forever.
As lunch time arrived, we just sat down and ate our lunches on the floor by the BETT Arena. As the time got closer to 2.00 p.m., the fear of presenting in the arena started to show its effect. The children started to talk about the funny feelings they had in their tummies. They kept practicing their parts whilst I watched them proudly with our head teacher. How passionate they were and how important it was for them to pass their message correctly to the audience. This was the first time for us all to present to such a big audience. None of us were professional speakers, but we believed in the magic of learning with digital game design and sharing what we know. We were aware that as we share more, we learn more. We have developed this learning culture together over the years through our activities, chats, workshops and the games we designed, films we created, animations we made, blogs we wrote…
After my presentation which was aimed to give a little bit of information about the role of the teacher when teaching computing, Galactic Wars began! Learning algorithms with playing games. What a fun way to go. Then we showed how they could use the programming concepts they developed to design their own Galactic War using Lego and the Enchanting program.
Our Message at the BETT Arena:
Our message was simple but very clear; computing provides a context for rich learning opportunities for children to develop metacognitive skills, however, this all depends on the how the learning space is designed and how the centre-piece of the learning process; the learners and the teachers position themselves in this space – both physically and the roles they adapted.
I don’t see learning as an outcome, it is a process; that’s why my research focuses on the behind the scene activities in mind when trying to make sense of children’s learning when making digital games. Sometimes, I don’t even know how learning will shape, it can take so many different directions, but this is the beauty of it, having the freedom to learn!
I also talked about how as I become more invisible, learning becomes more visible. What this tells us is that we need to be so clear about our role in the learning process and also the roles of our learners. Our role as a teacher is not to fill our learners’ brains with endless facts, it is more complex, deeper and fun than that. We are there to support them in developing learning mechanisms/strategies to think-to-learn for life. Why? Because learning is derived on how well students can transfer and use these strategies to different situations. Bransford et al (2000, p.55) suggests that that the transfer of the skills and knowledge is possible when learning involves more than simple memorization or applying a fixed set of procedures. Foremost, the student needs to understand the concepts and become an expert in the skills, then know how and when to apply the skills to new situations. Although these steps look very straight forward, it is only viable when one develops the ability to understand and reflect their own thoughts, in other words metacognitive skills (Flawell, 1979; Fisher, 2005). You see I am not sitting in the staffroom and having a cup of tea. I am trying to help my learners to become the head engineer of their own learning process. As I progress further with my PhD, I will try to share more in detail. So keep visiting my blog please.
A big thanks to CAS (Computing at School) for inviting us to present at BETT. Also warm hugs to Miles Berry, Phil Bagge, Sue Sentance and the wonderful BETT staff for their support on the day.