The Education Institute has recruited a full-time e-Learning Coach/Teacher Danae Sage, as part of the growing Education Institute team at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH).
Danae explores mathematical concepts with RCH patient Heer using a ‘Probot’
Following four and a half years living and working in the UK, Danae brings her most recent teaching experience as an ICT Leader to the RCH. The focus of the e-Learning Coach role Danae explains, is to build up the ICT skills and capabilities of the teachers who work on wards and in learning spaces of the hospital, with a particular focus on iPad technology and its possibilities for education.
“My role is to develop opportunities to integrate iPads creatively and innovatively into the learning program. For example, using the Angry Birds app to teach children and young people geometry or using apps to create a photo story and make books”, says Danae.
“From a teacher’s perspective, the simple interface of the iPad means the focus is solely on learning – it’s simply a more efficient and user friendly tool that saves time. I like to think of it as a mobile classroom; you have everything you need in one device, quick access to the internet, Ultranet, built in camera, video camera and a large range of easy to access apps”, she says.
Danae’s experience reflects recent findings from a research study undertaken by the Education Institute investigating the potential for iPads to change teacher practice, which included two case studies of Education Institute teachers working at the hospital.
The research project was prompted by the Education Institute’s involvement in the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s (DEECD) iPads for Learning trial. The Education Institute was one of ten sites chosen by the Department to participate in the trial in 2011. The trial examined the impact iPads have on students’ learning at home and at school (and, in this setting, the hospital), as well as how iPads can benefit and transform teaching practice. The Department is expected to release the findings from its trial later in 2012.
The Education Institute’s study found a major benefit of the iPad was greater engagement of students and their parents. The follow-on effect of this is that children were more likely to engage in independent learning in their own time with the iPad. Using iPads was also found to be an easy way for teachers to assess student’s literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills using different apps.
The research study concluded that the iPad can change teacher practice, either in their pedagogy or through providing better efficiencies.
“The findings of the study are valuable in that they show that the iPad has the potential to facilitate change in teaching practice and that further research into what it is about the device that allows this is warranted”, says Dr Tsharni Zazryn, Research Fellow at the RCH Education Institute.
The Education Institute is developing an e-learning model for teachers and students at the hospital aimed at encouraging collaborative learning among both teachers and students. The Institute expects to see teachers teaching each other and students teaching their peers too.
As Danae explains, “There is great potential in the use of iPads and Skype to connect students with their regular classmates and teachers, ensuring learning and social opportunities can be maximised during hospitalisation. The use of portable technologies such as iPads will also support teachers in connecting children and young people across wards, for example through networked games that can support group learning in the hospital.”
For more on the Education Institute’s research program visit www.rch.org.au/education/research.cfm.