Currently, I am a second level teacher of Mathematics in Palmerstown Community School, Dublin 20. I am also the school ICT Co-ordinator with responsibility for co-ordinating the school’s eLearning policy as well as having full responsibility for maintaining the school’s hardware and software consisting of more than 150 PCs, 20 iPads, 30 printers, 40 data projectors and a networking environment that includes 2 Servers and 2 LANs with a 100 Mbps broadband feed. I have been teaching Mathematics for approximately 30 years but I have been teaching with the assistance of ICT (PC and Interactive Whiteboard) in my classroom since 2011. However, my association with ICT goes back to my primary degree course in the early 1980s which culminated with the award of a BSc Degree in Computer Science, Mathematics and Chemistry in 1983.
Over the next few years, I am hoping to develop a comprehensive digital system to assist in the effective and efficient delivery of the learning outcomes described in the Junior and Leaving Certificate Mathematics syllabuses. The system as envisaged will consist of content-rich interactive multimedia courses, with adaptive and personalised learning, embeddeded in a LMS. The aim is to develop a system that will greatly enhance the classroom teacher’s ability to teach, and the student’s ability to learn, mathematics. When fully developed, the system should provide teachers and students with a comprehensive and integrated system of materials, courses and digital applications/tools for teaching, learning and assessment all easily accessible via a back end database and front end advanced graphical user interface. It is hoped that the system will eventually be deployed across all popular platforms which currently included PC, Mac, iOS and Android mobile devices.
In order to achieve the overall aim described above, I need to bridge a knowledge gap in relation to my understanding of the theory of, and best practice in, eLearning in a range of educational contexts.
To achieve this aim, I am planning to use a blend of software applications and tools including Adobe Captivate, GeoGebra, Microsoft Excel, Moodle, WIRIS, Intuiface, Microsoft Kinect, TAO, Mixpanel and Segment. Other than GeoGebra and Microsoft Excel (both of which I am familiar with and skilled in), I need to become familiar with the other applications/tools and develop an awareness of the challenges and opportunities associated with each. I hope to develop and evaluate a partial prototype of materials, courses and systems as part of the practitioner based eLearning project that is part of this MSc course.
Although I am familiar with a number of learning theories, having studied them as part of my Higher Diploma in Education (1984-85) and my Masters Degree in Education (1990-94), I hope that this course will help me to develop an excellent understanding of eLearning theory and practice. I developed an eLearning artefact for the thesis component of my Masters Degree in Education in 1994 without any real knowledge of best eLearning practice. I understand that there are approximately 30 years of empirical research that today underpin the multimedia principles that should be utilised in the design of effective eLearning.
In summary, I applied to do this Masters Degree course to bridge gaps in my understanding of the theory of, and best practice in, eLearning (a pedagogical challenge) and to become more aware and skilled in eLearning technologies with which I am currently unfamiliar (a technical challenge). I hope that the modules on Tuesdays from 10:00 to 13:00, combined with self-learning and interfacing with staff and students on the course, will help to bridge these gaps.