Is Your Child at the Centre of Their Education? – Part Three

In previous blogs, I’ve examined the birth of student-centred education.  John Dewey the father of all freethinkers in education influenced several generations of other similarly minded educationalists such as Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and Maria Montessori. Check out the previous blogs: part 1 & part 2.Read More

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EdTech News – April 2021

During the last year, we’ve all found our own ways to adapt and this is also the case for how and where we learn. Some students have had the luxury of their own room, a desk, whereas others have had to share the kitchen table or sit on the bed. What’s the connection between student engagement and learning environments?Read More

Image showing a young student learning and engaging in online classes

How To Increase Student Learning & Engagement When Learning Goes Online

Motivating and engaging learners can be challenging in any learning environment. But understanding self-determination theory will give you a structure for helping you do this. Self Determination Theory represents a broad framework for the study of human motivation. It suggests that when people are motivated to grow and change, they become self-determined.Read More

Illustration of young girl sitting at her desk in front of a laptop with books and school supplies

10 Reasons Why Educational Videos Are Super Effective

Throughout history, educators have learned through no small feat that in order to connect learning with students, they must adapt their learning resources into what works with each new generation. For Gen Z and Alpha, online videos is the way to go. You probably already know that however, so let’s explain ten reasons why educational videos are super effective for students.

#1 – Engagement

Numerous academic studies have been released on how video increases motivation and deeper learning, while also being able to specifically impact students’ ability to facilitate discussions and identify problems.

Want to learn more about the science behind it? We deeply recommend reading Cynthia J. Blame’s ‘Effective educational videos’ from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

#2 – Accessibility

Let’s be honest, accessibility is still an over-looked subject even in 2020 but leaps and bounds are being made to make digital equipment & the virtual space it connects to far more accessibility to a wider range of people, particularly with disabilities.

From subtitling to audio description to transcripts, accessibility is finally becoming more mainstream and we at Makematic continue to discuss what steps we can make to do our part with our own content.

#3 – Portability

Print media is, unfortunately, becoming a thing of the past, especially for the new generations. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, is the need for trustworthy digital, learning resources that can be shared and used immediately around the newly-formed online classroom.

Unsure where to find video content for your students that will work on a wide range of devices? Why not check out our ever-increasing, educational video series on the Makematic VOD available on:

#4 – Ease of Production

You don’t need a PhD to make an effective, learning video, although it may certainly help! As long as you have access to a decent smartphone, you have all the tools at your fingertips to plan, produce and edit an educational video on a subject you love.

For kinesthetic learners, and students with learning disabilities e.g. Dyslexia. Video is a great tool alongside other resource mediums to help overcome barriers when trying to increase your student absorption of cognition & knowledge.

#5 – Replayability

Have you ever re-watched a film or television series and suddenly noticed new things that you didn’t pick up the first time you watched it?

A great benefit for video-based learning is how it allows anyone to pause, stop, rewind, and other timeline manipulation factors that can impact an individual’s learning experience. Unlike the traditional classroom or a group lecture, learning via video – you’d never have to miss something again, just as long as you can re-watch, you can always go back and re-absorb any missing info.

#6 – Visual Factor

Now, I love a good book from time to time, but even have to admit that video is only as good as the source material that inspires it. But that’s not to say the visual element of video is powerful and more appealing to learn from, particularly for my attention span.

Articles, journals, essays and more may feel more offputting to generations raised on television & online video. However, when you combine multiple sources of educational resources together with students, I truly believe you can get the best out of them.

#7 – Authenticity

Humans love to connect with fellow humans and if online video platforms such as YouTube & Twitch have taught us anything, it’s that having a human narration or even industry experts within your video adds a level of user connection that can be lost in translation through other forms of learning resources.

When we released our Teaching Online Masterclass (TOM) series, we had this in mind. The free-to-watch series contains numerous industry experts in the education industry. Why not check it out: https://tom.makematic.com/.

#8 – Collaboration

Successful learning is not just an individualistic experience. Having the ability to work with other people opens the conversation for feedback, ultimately providing students with inter-personal, social skills and the ability to take constructive criticism.

Video is a fun way for your students to create brainstorms and group learning experiences that can allow them to see easily their input to an educational topic while giving them that level of passion needed to connect to the subject matter in ways other mediums may struggle.

#9 – Contextual

Unlike relying on just reading literary materials, video provides strong visual cues. These help learners understand what’s happening, even when the language and prose is hard to follow.

Utilising infographics, source material and first-person accounts within your video help provide that much-needed cognitive downtime when learning and help keep the overall topic visually-stimulating.

#10 – Creativity

Video-based learning is a creative process, even when covering a specialist, STEM topic. It opens cognition to not just utilise the logistic side of your brain, but also your creative side too.

Creative thinking is fast-becoming one of the top employability skills for the future generation and by striving to incorporate video into your classroom, you allow the possibility for your students to begin to train themselves in these fundamental skills going forward.

We strive to inspire creativity through our videos, particularly for subjects that don’t get the reach they should. Just like our Untold Series where we delve into the fascinating history topics throughout the History of America.

Image of teachers and students in the classroom learning

What Does It Mean To Support Students With Learning Disabilities?

Lately, I’ve been doing a fair bit of work with my school leaders to help our staff be better positioned to teach and support our Students with Learning Needs (SWLN). It’s not to say that our staff are not doing anything – they are. It’s also not to say that they don’t know what they are doing – on the most part, they do. But I’ve come to the realization that there is, a lack of understanding in knowing the ‘why’ behind their supports, (aside from the obvious why that is).

Why do we modify, adjust or accommodate the learning needs of students?

The obvious answer lies in our legal obligations. The Australian Disability Discrimination Act (Government, 2020) and Disability Standards for Education (DEAT, 2018) relate to ensuring that

(1) a person is not treated unfairly because of their disability and

(2) that a student with a disability can learn and participate in education on the same basis as their peers.

Within our classroom and our teaching practice, it is up to us to ensure that a SWLN is able to learn and is not made to feel different because of their struggles. I mean you wouldn’t ask a student with a broken leg to run 100 metre race, would you?

And it’s the words – modify, adjust and accommodate – that I’ve come to realise that staff struggle to understand. By unpacking the differences between modification, adjustment and accommodation I’ve seen a real change in classroom practice.

Let’s unpack this further

Modification. In education terms, modification means that changes in academic expectations need to be made. That the student is working at a level below their peers, and as such, we need to modify the curriculum expectations to enable them to achieve and feel success. A student with an Intellectual Disability or a Developmental Language Delay requires modifications. They are cognitively behind their age appropriate peers so cannot be expected to complete the exact same output as their peers. Teachers need to modify their level of work so that it is more cognitively appropriate. Students who require modification may also benefit from accommodations and adjustments, depending on the subject and their challenges.

Accommodations and adjustments can be discussed in the same manner. This is where teachers need to make decisions that either accommodate the disability or the learning is adjusted because of the disability.

  • When we accommodate, we use our knowledge of the learning challenges for the student and use this for their outcomes.
  •  Yet, when we make adjustments, we are changing the way we expect an output from a student because of their challenge.

Take Dyslexia for example – it is a Specific Learning Disorder generally related to reading and writing. We can’t ask a student with a reading disability to sit and read a passage of text aloud to the class, or even to themselves, without some sort of accommodation or adjustment. To accommodate the dyslexia, a teacher would avoid asking this student to read aloud. To make an adjustment for dyslexia would be to allow the student to use assistive technology that reads aloud to them as they follow along.

How to know which is appropriate?

This is where your knowledge of your student in your class is paramount. When planning your lesson or assessment task, teachers need to take the time to consider the following question for each SWLN.

  • Is the student capable with a couple of tweaks or will it not be enough to just tweak?

If the student is still not going to be able to achieve with adjustments, then modifications might also need to be made.

Always ensure you have consulted with both the student and their family to ensure they are

(1) aware that changes to their curriculum need to be made and

(2) to give the student a voice in their learning – that they have been consulted and agree to what you’re planning for them.

I always tell my parents that they have a PhD in their child, and this goes a long way to helping us at school to know how best to support their learning journey.

Online Video within a Classroom

How Online Video Can Revitalise Your Classroom

Online video is needed more than ever within the classroom. By educating students through innovative methods, educators can continue to inspire.

The UK has an average world rank of 15 ⅓ across reading, mathematics and science according to the PISA 2018 summary, however, the USA is 29 ⅔! Some may regard these as respectable scores but surely, we can do better?

Educators are struggling to connect to this new ‘generation z’ of students. The curriculum needs a shake-up and I’ll hopefully explain some, potential ideas to help re-engage the modern-day student while having a look at what new tools we can utilise.

Learning styles have vastly changed

McCrindle Research summarises Generation Z’s disconnect with traditional classroom settings best stating “traditional classrooms were constructed to keep distractions out, keep the students in and keep them facing the teacher.” However, modern-day classrooms should be reconfigured and rewired to accommodate new students, new technologies and new learning styles.

“It is easy to be critical of a generation that focuses on screen time more than conversations; virtual social circles rather than real social circles. These individuals and many others are experiencing depression at ever-increasing rates and are as comfortable in the digital world as they are in the virtual world. However, to paint these students in a negative light would be greatly reducing the impact of their value, creativity, and ability to be thoughtfully-minded young scholars” elaborates WCET Frontiers.

According to UpFront Analytics, Gen Z shuns conformity and traditional however relate to storytelling and visual displays. Video is the perfect platform for delivering such content and most likely, the major influence for Gen Z to state this preference. This use of an iPad or Smartphone can aid all three of the VAK learning types for students:

  • Visuals
    • Linguistical = Kindle, Blog sites, Twitter
    • Spatial = Video-streaming sites (e.g. Makematic, YouTube, TikTok), Instagram and Pinterest
  • Auditory
    • Music/Audio = Audible, Voice recordings/note-taking, Podcasts
  • Kinesthetic
    • Movement – Adobe Sketch, Use of keyboard or tablet to transfer V/A information.
    • Tactile – Interactive quizzes and engaging, educational games.

Rise in ADHD culture?

Gen Z picks up information far-faster than any generation prior, they are natural multi-taskers after all. They strive to work in tech and influencers are their role models. According to SXSW, Gen Z’s attention span is roughly eight seconds compared to the 12-second span for millennials. Some may regard this as ADHD culture however such toxic categorising only continues to isolate the future generation away from educators and further into influencers – mutual trust needs to be re-established.

Shortform video and online sites are powerful tools that these internet-natives are drawn to. Combining them with education may seem like an arduous task that could disconnect them due to ‘pandering’. However, it can work as I will showcase below.

Bill Wurtz is an American singer-songwriter and online video creator who went viral back in 2016 for his interesting take on the ‘History of Japan‘. The video provides a highly-saturated, bursts of infographic-based information with auditory, music tracks.

The comments alone prove this video is working – it’s engaging and revolutionary educational content can learn from such methods of engagement.

Procrastination is the major stumbling block when incorporating these elements. Firstly, it needs to be redefined. I know from first-hand experience listening to music while working on a project doesn’t detract from the work produced, it can help focus the brain and quiet the dopamine-craving release from completing an online video.

Educators must open-mindedly allow input from this generation about content that works for them. I understand it will take a compromise from both sides to work practically in any nationwide curriculum but the standard exam-system just doesn’t work any longer.

Video can be engaging, educational and no longer should be seen as a ‘relief tool’ for educators to take a break from mundane learning. Incorporating them into a hybrid alongside student engagement and a better understanding of VAK learning styles and providing alternatives for each type of user is the way to a fairer, more engaged educationally society.

Teaching Key 21st Century Skills In Every Classroom

Research by The Sutton Trust found that 94% of employers, 97% of teachers and 88% of young people regarded ‘life skills’ as being at least as important as academic grades to future success.  These life skills include what we commonly refer to as the 4Cs – communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

Developing these key 21st-century skills is an ongoing process and mastery takes many years to achieve. Research has shown that two things can really help these skills – explicit teaching of these skills and extra-curricular activities. Whilst we can’t help with extra-curricular, we can help educators develop these skills to be explicitly teaching them in the classes.

That is why we worked with Participate to develop the series – The 4Cs. Part professional development part classroom resource, the series will help educators:

  1. Understand how to teach these skills in their classes on a daily basis, 
  2. Understand how these skills are used in the workplace
  3. Better prepare lessons to develop these skills with those they teach.

What’s Included?

Educator Professional Development

Series 1 – What are the 4Cs?

8 live-action videos with educators explaining what the 4Cs are and how to teach them in every classroom.

4 educator podcasts case studies where educators talk about how they have implemented the 4Cs into their everyday teaching practice.

Series 2 – In the workplace

4 live-action videos with people talking about what the 4Cs look like in the workplace.

Student Facing Resources

Series 3 and 4 can be used in so many ways. They can be used as whole class activities or as part of a blended or flipped learning experience. Whilst series 3 and 4 have been created as standalone resources, they can be used as a sequence.

Here’s an example:

You’ve decided that you want to develop your student’s creative thinking skills by introducing them to lateral thinking

You can engage your students with the skill by watching How To Be More Creative With Lateral Thinking from series 3. Following watching and discussing the contents of the video, as a class or on their own, students could develop this skill by completing any of the following activities from series 4:

Series 3 – How can …?

12 animated explainer videos that give the audience an understanding of how and why each of the skills can be developed by focusing on different sub-skills of each of the Cs.

Communication and CollaborationCritical Thinking and Creativity
Giving and Receiving Feedback
Understanding Body Language
Social Skills
Listening Skills
Creating clear messages
Email etiquette
Multiple Perspectives
Being Opening minded
Analysing arguments
Ideation
Divergent Thinking
Lateral Thinking
Series 4 – Activities

12 animations designed for individuals to develop skills on their own. These can be used in a classroom as a whole class, as part of a blended or flipped classroom methodology.

Communication and CollaborationCritical Thinking and Creativity
Improving concentration
Mic expressions
Are you a good listener?
Funnelling questings technique
Relaxation for public speaking
The subject line pitch
Questioning basic assumptions
Rebus puzzles
Recognising patterns
Brainstorming on your own
The alternative uses test
The elevator problem

Access the entire series here.

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