The Effective use of technology to support learning

June 24, 2009 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Twynham School 

One of my favourite moments in education is going to visit a classroom of an Outstanding teacher to see exceptional learning. At Twynham we are fortunate to have many excellent teachers and one of the very best is Helene Tulodzieck who is an AST working in the French department. There are so many things I like about visiting her lessons but perhaps the two things that strike me most are the atmosphere and the use of technology. I think each classroom of an experienced teacher has an atmosphere you can some up in one word as you walk in. Whenever I go to a french lesson to see Helene and her students that word is learning. Everything that happens in her lessons is centred on deep and meaningful learning and the students love it.

Helene Tulodzieck winning the South West Teacher of the Year Award 2009

This is of course the same with other teachers but the thing which impresses me even more about these lessons is the use of technology. Many of us have made the mistake of creating resources using technology where the technology becomes the driving factor or the centerpiece of the process. In Helene’s lessons learning is always at the centre of the experience and technology simply aids and enriches the learning by adding greater pace, challenge or reflection. Watching learning taking place using technology which is both seamless and invisible is for me exactly how the use of technology should occur- as an invisible  and yet dynamic aid.

Another major strength of Helene’s practice is the use of pod casting. In many ways pod casting is now very much mainstream but the variety, range and depth of resources produced by Helene and the French department for our students is staggering.

Twynham School French Podcasting Site

Twynham School French Pod casting Site

Students can access this site from anywhere and anytime, selecting the relevant year group and term. In addition to a structured programme each half term there is an MP3 library covering a wide range of vocabulary for our students to practice.
Twynham School French MP3 Library

Twynham School French MP3 Library

When visiting Helene’s class earlier in the year (she was, unsurprisingly, being filmed by BECTA) students were making their own pod casts using software and the Interactive Whiteboard. To return to the original point of this post, what really struck me was the students’ genuine immersion in learning even though and perhaps because technology was ubiquitous in her classroom. The students took turns in front of their peers to come to the board in pairs and role play a conversation with a digital microphone and a laptop. The students took full control of the recording, preparation and editing of the pod casts. Throughout this process there was no fuss or emphasis placed on the technology being used- it was simply happening in the background. The learning throughout took centre stage and it was a genuine privilege to watch.


5 Responses to “The Effective use of technology to support learning”
  1. Ray Fleming says:

    Every time I read this kind of example, I think that there are so many teachers, in so many classrooms, in so many schools, who are all starting their own journey and creating their own materials. What would it take to create a system and an ethos of sharing – where Helene’s work is available for other teachers to take and use, or to modify for their own particular pupil group.

    Of course, the work that you do to share good practice in your school is great Mike – but how can we widen that. How can we have a community of good practice where it is as easy to find a good teaching resource as it is to find a good book on Amazon – with star rankings, and reviews, and “if you like this, you might also like this…” recommendations.

    Because I bet that right now there’s a teacher writing a lesson resource (midnight now!) for tomorrow that would be better if she/he had Helene’s stuff as a starter.


  2. Ray Fleming says:

    Whoops – having re-read it I realise that what I should have said at the beginning was “Brilliant, well done Helene”! I was trying to emphasise what she’d achieved, not minimise it!

  3. Firstly congratulations to Helene. Its nice to see technology being used in the “background”. Being from a technical background it is sometimes difficult not to push technology for use in classrooms but not have any clear educational goal or reason behind it.

    On Ray’s point of a Amazon style resource bank – maybe key Schools should get together under the stewardship of Microsoft and create a site of resources and help – both educational and technical. The site could provide resources such as lesson plans, podcasts etc but also live meetings, live chat help. The possibilities are endless – all I need now is the time to organise it.


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