Jamie Balfour

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Moving everything to digital in education

Moving everything to digital in education

Over the last few years, one of the things that has been changing in the landscape of education is digital. Technology never stops changing, but education is now starting to catch up with this with different elements of education such as Google Classroom, Drive and much more becoming more a part of daily education.

I'm, obviously, a big fan of the idea of moving everything to be digital since I have been developing tools to do this since I was about 20 years old (Wonderword included tools to collaborate with others as well as online learning tools) and now I have been moving more and more to my own cloud.

Schools are becoming increasingly Googleified, a term which I use to refer to the shift towards technologies powered by Google such as Google Classroom, Drive, Meet and just generally the Google Workspace tools. When I first did some teaching back in 2015 I used my own website as a front for some of my worksheets which I think was fairly clever at the time. I'm not a fan of Google as a company, and so I have always found it awkward to use their products (I use Duck Duck Go as my search engine, Zoom for meetings, Apple Maps for maps etc.).

Anyway, one of the main areas I moved away from Google was with my lesson slides. Over the last year or so I have moved to building my lesson slides with HTML and CSS, which you can find here. These slides are powered by reveal.js and I use slides.com to create them. But there is more to it than just that since I have built a viewing platform around this that allows me to do much more. My lessons are now interactive, feature my own tools such as timers and buttons that weren't possible with Google and can have embedded tools. When I talk about interaction in my lessons, I'm talking about things like allowing the pupils to select answers from within the slides, complete quizzes, watch live streams of video from my phone or screen recordings and much more. As well as this, my slides also incorporate admin features such as being able to download lesson files without leaving the slides. 

My approach doesn't seek to replace the teacher however and offers a perfect blended model of learning whereby my own teaching is supplemented by my own developed technologies. So over the last few weeks, I have begun developing better lesson worksheets, starting with S1 Scratch. 


These worksheets are interactive, allowing pupils to tick sections as they finish them, and they store this information between sessions. They also include accessibility shortcuts to make the lessons more accessible to everyone (I'm trialling these at the moment).

This work is going to continue on for the next few weeks as I finish the S1 Scratch lessons and move towards doing the same for the S2 micro:bit lessons.

Posted in Education
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