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KESS - LEARNING FROM NEW TECHNOLOGY

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Parliament Buildings

Stormont

BT4 3XX

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1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome and Opening Remarks

1.45pm – Ms Sally Cook, Mr Paul McKenzie and Mr Stephen Roulston (Ulster) - Using GPS tracking devices to explore the geographies of young people

This presentation highlights the communal divisions in one town in Northern Ireland, Coleraine, through the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) tracking. GPS can generate evidence to help us understand young people’s movements and geographies, particularly in a post-conflict context where notions of place, space and territory have such significance. The almost exclusive use of some spaces within this settlement by those identifying themselves as ‘Catholic’ or ‘Protestant is not surprising to those familiar with residential segregation in Northern Ireland. Other areas of the settlement appear to show space which is used by both groups equally, particularly in the town centre. While both shared and contested space is suggested within the settlement, the use of “shared” space is argued to be more nuanced than might at first be apparent and it may be that this space is co-used (used by each community but separately), rather than shared. Technology has much to tell us about the very different geographies faced by young people and potential links between a “poverty of geography” and low aspiration and achievement.

The presentation also explores incidental findings of the research, which highlighted other differences, meriting further discussion and study. There is considerable potential for GPS tracking devices used in combination with physical activity monitors, particularly looking at the impact of mobility patterns and activity on health, especially as risk factors for obesity in adolescents are higher in some socio-economic groups in Northern Ireland.

2.05pm - Prof Stephen McClean (Ulster) - Interactive Technologies to Enhance Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

While funding for higher education has been reduced there remains an impetus on universities to provide a high quality and engaging student experience. With increasing class sizes and diversity of learner, research reveals digital technology can be used effectively to enhance digital skills and promote active and collaborative learning opportunities.

This presentation draws on such research in the context of higher education, highlighting how utilising digital tools such as “Peerwise” and “Nearpod” provide an enhanced participatory environment for students entering higher education. This is particularly relevant with widening participation agendas and preparing students for employment where they may encounter a myriad of technology platforms. The presentation addresses the challenges and opportunities of using collaborative platforms in higher education, and provides suggestions on how such technologies could be successfully implemented to enhance practical skills and provide an optimal learning experience.

2.25pm – Discussion

2.45pm – Comfort Break

2.55pm - Prof Shailey Minocha and Dr Ana-Despina Tudor (OU) - Role of Virtual Reality in Geography and Science Fieldwork Education

Fieldwork has a long tradition in geography, and in certain sciences, notably geology, biology and environmental sciences. Fieldwork involves leaving the classroom and engaging in learning and teaching through first-hand experience of phenomena in outdoor settings. Exploration in natural habitats introduces students to the complexity and unpredictability of the real world, stimulates their curiosity, and increases their interest in scientific inquiry. However, over the last decade, there has been a decline in field-study opportunities in schools. This presentation describes the first extensive user-centered research programme into the role of technology-enabled virtual field trips as a means for improving the effectiveness of the outdoor fieldwork experience. It draws on a year-long research project that investigated how Google Expeditions, a smartphone-driven mobile virtual reality application, bridges virtual fieldwork with physical field trips and facilitates inquiry-based fieldwork and experiential learning. It examines the role of Google Expeditions in primary and secondary school science and geography, outlining the opportunities and challenges of integrating mobile virtual reality in schools and the practical implications of our research for fieldwork education in further and higher education.

3.15pm - Dr Claire McDowell (Ulster), Prof Julian Leslie (Ulster) and Dr Catherine Storey (QUB) - Better Reading for Better Outcomes- Working Collaboratively to Narrow the Attainment Gap

Despite a nationwide understanding that reading well is essential to tackling the effects of poverty, Northern Ireland still has one of the highest percentages of children failing to reach the lowest literacy benchmark. Past research has shown that if children do not learn to read well, they can form a disaffection with the education system and get fewer qualifications leading to potential unemployment or low-paid work. It also has shown that investigating remedial action suggests that explicit, systematic phonological training is the most effective method of increasing reading accuracy and fluency. The National Reading Panel has also outlined the effectiveness of supplementary computer assisted instruction (CAI). The results in 2000 of an analysis of 59 studies found that the use of CAI, alongside conventional instruction, produced greater results than conventional instruction alone, and that students learn material faster with CAI than conventional instruction alone. However, not all commercially available CAI packages are equally effective, as found in 2016. One commercially available CAI programme that shows promising results is Headsprout Early Reading©. This online instructional program targets each of the 5 sub-skills identified by the National Reading Panel (2000) through intensive systematic phonics training. Headsprout© claims to bring a beginning reader to a proficient level of reading in 80, 20-minute episodes (30 hours of instruction), with an additional 50 episodes to target Reading Comprehension. For nearly two decades, experimental evaluations of Headsprout© have shown clear efficacy and efficiency, in improving reading skills of individuals with autism, typically developing learners, and looked after children when compared to conventional instruction, and to other commercially available programmes.

Drawing on the findings of these evaluations, this presentation discusses ways to work collaboratively to empower schools and parents in NI to better recognise evidence based approaches, and to use these effectively to remediate literacy difficulties and increase attainment of children most in need.

3.35pm – Discussion

3.55pm – RaISe - Closing Remarks

4.00pm – Networking and Refreshments

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Parliament Buildings

Stormont

BT4 3XX

United Kingdom

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