Week 4: Digital Media and Computer Control Across the Curriculum

In this weeks session we looked at the digital media and ‘computer control’. These include devices that can capture images, take readings or measurements, and simple programmable devices.

One of the devices I was most interested in was the digital microscope. In 2002 every maintained school was given a digital microscope from the government as part of ‘science year’. But apparently, they are often neglected and forgotten about. Nevertheless, these microscopes are a great resource. They connect to the computer through the USB hub and transfer the digital image or video of the magnification directly. This magnification can then easily be projected onto the interactive whiteboard. It could be a useful tool in Science to look at magnifications of ‘mini-beasts’, microbes, and the parts of a plant, or flower. I think it could also be a useful tool in Art lessons, to reveal another perception of the world that is not available to us with our eyes alone.

A Teachers TV video suggesting ways of using digital media including digital Microscopes, and how you can get more out of a digital microscope.

Due to the increasing amount we rely on equipment and devices which use ‘computer control’ in our everyday lives, I think it is important children understand the role of these devices, and why we use ‘computer control’ in these devices.

Many people are scared of technology and of relying on technology. This is often because they don’t understand how it works. This fear is reflected in the media, in Newspaper headlines such as the ‘Millennium bug’ and films such as ‘Terminator. This is a similar story in Science, where peoples misunderstanding of science is used to sell products and newspapers. Ignorance surrounding understanding in Science has resulted in children’s deaths due to a surge in measles outbreaks following the rejection of the MMR in relation to claims of a connection with autism.  Therefore, the importance of children’s understanding of basic science and technology cannot be underestimated.

Children can be introduced to the concept of ‘computer control’ through small programmable robots, which respond to simple commands. These include ‘bee bot’, a small robot whose “simple and child friendly layout is a perfect starting point for teaching control, directional language and programming to young children.”

Another resource to teach computer control is Lego WeDo. These kits, created by Lego, provide the resources for children to build their own structure around a programmable robot frame. You can view the promotional video here.

It’s useful to be aware of the many  resources and devices that may be available to us in schools, and to I am starting to think of ways to incorporate them into lessons.

On another note, In our Lecture on Dyslexia this week, I was made aware of a programs which are useful for children seriously struggling with reading and writing.

This were:

Dragon: a speech recognition program that writes as you speak.

Clicker 5 from Cricksoft: A reading and writing tool.

Word Talk: A Free text-to-speech plugin for Microsoft Word.


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