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When using technology makes a difference
by Kevin McLaughlin

I have a two year old nephew who loves to play like any other young child. He’s inquisitive and will get his face and fingers into everything. His mum regularly lets him use her iPhone which he manages quite easily. I gave him my iPad and he turned it on himself and started to use it without any guidance, focusing his attention on apps that were colourful or had animals on. Children today are surrounded by technology that they can use with little teaching and they have a desire to use this technology for play and learning. I am a firm believer that the effective use of technology can have great benefits for teaching and learning. That’s why I lead technology throughout the schools that I have worked in and why I am so passionate about it.

Last year I attended the Handheld Learning conference in Nottingham organised by ALT and the Becta. I may have been the only representative from the primary school sector, but every attendee made me feel that the job that I and many other ICT teachers throughout the country are doing is crucial. We are at the forefront of new technologies and in many cases we lead the way in the use of these technologies for teaching and learning.

Receiving the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year award has given me added impetus; upon applying for the award I also applied for and was successful in gaining a place on the Google Certified Teacher (GCT) programme. This course was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about Google's educational toolkit. I also met many teachers that are part of my learning network on Twitter. There were 49 other educators there from all parts of the world and for many it was the best curriculum professional development they had experienced. The pace was frantic but pitched just right, leaving us wanting to try the tools when we had more time to do so. I have been able to use Google Apps for Education in my own school by using its tools and environment to set up the school virtual learning platform. This is currently being rolled out to staff first then the students will have the pleasure of using it by Christmas.

Being a GCT and ALT Learning Technologist of the Year has also offered me the opportunity to become involved with further teaching and learning opportunities in the wider community which include training of colleagues at other schools, demonstrating our use of Google Apps to other schools, presenting at events such as Teach Meets and inviting PGCE students into my school to learn more about using technology for teaching and learning. With each occasion I attend I hope I can instil a better understanding of how technology can be used effectively both in and out of the classroom.

I feel honoured to be one of the recipients of  the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year award and would like to acknowledge the many teachers that have helped me throughout the years and especially those on my learning network. You are an inspiration.


Image of Kevin McLaughlin with Sugra Mitra

Figure 1: Kevin McLaughlin and Sugra Mitra

Kevin McLaughlin
Old Mill Primary school, Broughton Astley

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