5 July 2013

Learning with Garfield

Those involved in education and lesson plotting will understand how I regularly reflect on the use of digital technology in the classroom - Can objectives be met with paper and pen? How can objectives be achieved with digital tools?  Will the choice of digital tools enhance in any way the learning process? Do we need tools at all?  Will my students enjoy learning with the tool?

As another academic ended, there is one certainty in my days: I have become more comfortable with probability and uncertainty. This is not to say that I begin my lessons mindlessly or at random; this is not saying that digital tools are more relevant than pedagogy. Quite the contrary, for if there is no pedagogical reason to use a digital tool (whether an online tool or App), then I don't. It is this fine balance of choices that make my teaching today far more interesting than ever. If in the past I spent hours searching, developing, cutting up cardboard and paper for games which would achieve the same aim as in the course book which I found mind-numbing dull, today I turn to the digital world and its rich offers of options.  If I want my students to feel remarkable, why not introduce a remarkable way of learning practice?

Comics Lab is one of those sites that is delightful for students to create their own cartoons. Easy to use, learners can practice linking text and images in a media they are often familiar with. 

Creating a punchline for a short comic take practice and thinking, for which there is also support for students and teachers to develop this skill. 

Another exercise with comics is Professor Garfield's Reading Ring

Learners begin by reading the comic strips and then have to put them in the correct order. To win the round, they then have to answer 2 questions correctly. To become a Word Wrestler Champion, learners need to win 3 out of 5 rounds. 

With the ease of drag and drop (as you can see in the image on the side), students will also be told if their answer is correct or not and be given another chance to re-order the comic strip. 

Professor Garfield includes other games and learning tasks which are fun to explore as well and can be introduced to different levels and ages (though mostly K12). 

Characteristics of learning may be the same as in the past, but students have changed. Their worlds are in perpetual digital flow. 

Capturing their attention, their delight in learning and using information for learning is essential. Meeting students in their digital world, helping them develop digital skills for learning is no longer an option. 

What other characteristics of pedagogy do you find essential today?


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