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Personal learning workflows 

The key to driving up standards when using edtech is using the personal learning workflow, says Chris Copeman

Posted by Hannah Oakman | July 07, 2016 | Primary

At Whaplode Church of England Primary School we are immensely proud of the computing provision that we have. We have been able to provide every one of our children with an iPad mini of their own and with this has come a great deal of change. Pupil engagement has increased immeasurably, results have improved, our curriculum is rich and varied, and children have a wide range of powerful apps and tools that are easy to access and right in front of them on a daily basis. We are also very proud of the fact that our hard work and effort in embedding the iPads into our curriculum has been recognised by Apple themselves who, earlier in the year, granted us the title of 'Apple Regional Training Centre'. At the heart of this change, and we believe, the key to driving up standards, is something we call “the personal learning workflow.”

Central to the personal learning workflow is the QR code. With correct use and deployment of this teaching method we can stick learning inputs into books and personalise learning for everyone of our children. However the whole process is still underpinned by good teaching and assessment practice and a sound knowledge of the class.

The first, and, arguably, most important step of this workflow is the personal input that the children will actually access. Assessing which children need such an input, and indeed what to include, is what really makes the whole process worthwhile. We tend to look for three things when planning such inputs;

1) Does a specific child (or group of children) have a misconception that a personal input can address?

2) Is a child (or children) ready to move on his/her learning whilst his/her peers are not?

3) Will the input be of value to the children and give them chance to further their own learning?

We usually use a screen recording app to create these inputs (such as educreations or explain everything) and link them to a QR code. This not only helps the children to access their learning instantly, and therefore avoid time-slippage, but it also allows us to evidence the use of these techniques in books. Once linked to a QR code the input is also easily recalled at a later date should the child or children need to look over their learning again. It also has the advantage that it builds up a bank of resources for the teachers to use again should the need arise. 

Once the children have watched an input they respond. The method of response can take many forms, be this short-video or photo (there are many many apps available to use) but, more often than not, simply results in the children completing their work in their books as they normally would. The beauty of this method, we have found, is that it frees up adults to support other children and really allows us to drill down into areas of learning for specific children that may be a problem. It also gives the children time to quietly listen to their input and as one child eloquently put it, “ I can rewind the Mr Copeman on my iPad as many times as I like. I can’t always do that with the real one.”

From here pupils are challenged to show what they have learnt or what they still need help with. They are encouraged to take pictures or videos of their work and document their understanding so that it can be shared on a class blog or padlet for both the teacher and their peers to see. The whole process then starts again.  

This is a process that is infinitely scaleable and so applicable to any number of children regardless of the number of devices you have available. Whether you choose to have a group of children watch one input together (on one device), or five children watch individual inputs on their own devices the workflow can be adapted to your needs with ease. 

Perhaps the best thing to have come from this kind of workflow has been the children’s ability to help each other. They will now share work openly with their peers and seek help from others when they are stuck. They have even been known to make video and photo responses and their own personal inputs to help other children; in effect, the teachers are removed from the learning experience completely.

The key to making a process like this work has been to not overuse it. The children know that when they see a QR code in their books, or when they are directed towards one on a display board, that it has been created to help them, or to push them on with their learning. They also know that they have the freedom to express their new learning (or problems with it) in anyway that they see fit.

For further information on how to implement this method in your school, or how it may be of use, please download Chris’ iBook from the iTunes store.

Christopher Copeman is a year 6 teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator working at Whaplode Church of England Primary School in South Lincolnshire.


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