Last Friday, Focus Group sessions were performed with teachers and students at the Liceo Classico Chris Cappell school located in Anzio, close to Rome, Italy. The Chris Cappell school is a public school in a privately funded building. The very well maintained school premises with view to the beach include a student library, a public library and outdoor as well as indoor facilities for physical education.
5 lively 15 to 16 year old students (3 boys, 2 girls) with migration background participated in the student Focus Group Session. Together, we tried out TeamUp, discussed the benefits and drawbacks for personal audio reflection in ReFlex, considered issues of the Sessions classroom collaboration tool, and lastly ideated use-case scenarios for Ambire.
Overall, not much teamwork is integrated into classroom learning activities, the students mentioned that TeamUp could foster this practice among the teachers. What the students particularly liked were the audio messages. They mentioned that it would be easy to catch up on group work after listening to the audio updates. Hence, the personal reflection recordings were considered positive too. Especially because they felt that speaking content out load would increase their memory of it. The students wanted to be able to record messages with their personal mobile phones. Regarding sharing of personal reflection messages, the students wanted to be able to chose which messages they shared with whom and receive audio feedback by the teachers as well. When discussing the Ambire prototype, the students felt that sharing their work with the classroom was generally positive, because seeing the work of other people would be used for improve your own work. However, the tool should not be used in a test situation ;-).
4 female and 1 male teacher of English, Maths, Latin and Greek participated in the Teacher Focus Group session along with the Italian National Pedagogical Coordinator of iTEC and me. After introducing TeamUp, we discussed the ReFlex, Sessions, Learning Story Player and the Ambire prototype.
Teachers agreed that the students would work with the TeamUp and ReFlex tool, because of their curiosity about technology. As on a general level, more individual work happens in the school, the teachers feel that ReFlex, affording individual reflection, would work better for them. Some teachers felt that the students should choose the topics of their reflections, not the teachers. Others raised worries about student choosing recording topics, because they might not be useful. Overall, the teachers felt that it is important for the students to practice speaking about their work and listening to how they speak. Especially because many dialects exist in Italy, and Italian is the second language for many. Regarding Ambire one teacher commented “The students should always remember that they are working in a community. So even when they are working on different projects, everyone can help. This kind of a board makes them remember that and makes them understand how everyone can help other people. It is really useful. For example in the jigsaw project.” Other teachers did not agree with that, because they felt that this would disperse the existing healthy competition among the students.