In this post, we’ll be looking at the role of today’s teachers in the modern classroom. For a long time, teachers relied on third-party providers to supply resources they could use with their learners. However, changing technology and skills mean that, in our opinion, teachers can now create resources as good as those they can buy. We’ll look at the tools CDSM have built to enable teachers to do just that.
‘Content is king’ is a phrase often used in the creative/digital industries. As qualified education specialists, CDSM’s leadership team believe that good quality content leads to effective digital learning experiences. Consequently, we are committed to designing and delivering simple, powerful content creation tools that help teachers to respond to the new, emerging curriculum for Wales. This is the vision we shared with Welsh Government in 2014, and since then we have been responsible for providing Welsh teachers with a national, digital content repository: Hwb.
A key feature in Hwb is ‘Playlists’, CDSM’s answer to the demand for quick, easy-to-use content creation tools. An intuitive, engaging interface enables teachers to create high-quality, customised, online content with just a few clicks. Teachers can aggregate resources from both the Internet and the resource bank within Hwb – which includes Encyclopaedia Britannica resources – and add their own content in the form of text, image or video. This gives teachers an opportunity to contextualise their content, making it relevant to their class and learners. Fun and engaging activities and assessments can be added to their Playlist, which can then be shared or assigned, and finally, as of early December, assessed within Hwb.
We recently visited All Saints Church in Wales Primary School with our partner Encyclopaedia Britannica to see how Playlists were being used. We wanted to observe how teachers and learners interacted with Playlists, and also capture any ideas they had about enhancing the tool. What we saw was a blueprint for the use of educational technology adoption and utilisation. Largely pupil-led, we witnessed independent learning, critical thinking and mature decision-making all in one lesson.
Aled Williams – Deputy Head and Year 5 teacher at All Saints – started the lesson by reflecting upon the class’s recent visit to Cardiff Castle, where the pupils had learned about life in Tudor times. From there, it was over to his pupils to collaboratively create Playlists that reflected their experiences. The pupils knew that in Encyclopaedia Britannica they had an easy-to-access, safe, secure, and accurate database of information, from which they could harvest many of the specific details their inquisitive minds craved. The pupils knew they could return to their Playlists in the future for reference or revision.
The use of Playlists at All Saints was a perfect example of the ‘flipped classroom’ in action. Here pupils were leading the way – actively involved in directing their study and collaborating to create their own resources.
Using Hwb, Aled (and teachers like him) now have the opportunity to create and share teaching and learning resources on the latest curriculum areas with all teachers in Wales. By giving our teachers the power to create resources, they can rapidly respond to curriculum changes. From our experience, not only do they do this, but they engage their learners in the process too.
CDSM’s vision for Hwb is ambitious. We want Hwb to establish itself as the gateway and service provider for an ever-growing number of learning and development services. We believe Hwb has the potential to become a nationally-provisioned learning management system, an enabler for Wales’ regional and national school improvement programme, and the key resource provider for a range of other Welsh Government programmes.
If it’s in Wales and it has a learning and development requirement, we want Hwb to be the service that our fellow citizens, colleagues and young people go to.