Northern Ireland strikes again!!

David Stinson is the 3RD NORTHERN IRELAND TEACHER to be highlighted by Anthony Salcito, Microsoft VP Worldwide Education. 1st it was Barry Corrigan from Millennium Integrated Primary and then it was Matt McGinley and the team at Christ The Redeemer Primary. Now David Stinson from Sullivan Upper is highlighted. You should be familiar with David and his work as I have been shouting his praises for 3 yearsSmile.

A huge congratulations goes to David, Matt and Barry for the ground-breaking and innovative work they are doing in their schools with their students. Wait until you see what David Young from Limavady HS has up his sleeve for this year’s WW Education Forum in November!! Watch this space!!

Reproduced from Anthony Salcito’s Daily Edventure Blog:

“In many cases it is good to let the kids take the lead with the technology they are using and see how far they can run with it.” – Northern Ireland

David Stenson - Ireland

Jul 17

For David Stinson, e-portfolios are at the leading edge of 21st century learning. Stinson pioneered the use of video and audio diaries to improve students’ learning, forming the basis for his e-portfolio work, which incorporates electronic files, images, multimedia, blog entries, hyperlinks and sound bytes. “Pupils can choose to express themselves and their ideas in a format which may suit them better than what would traditionally have been done through writing or drawing,” Stinson notes.

The approach benefits all students, regardless of ability. Stinson points out that “Pupils
who have special educational needs can talk about their work in audio or video files, giving a much clearer picture of what is in their mind. Effectively and efficiently capturing what is in the mind is a key goal of an e-portfolio as many pupils have difficulty expressing themselves on paper.”

Stinson’s Partners in Learning Project, “Pupil E-portfolio,” had students creating personalized e-portfolios to record and advertise their work on a charity event project. Stinson also initiated a STEM project at his school to encourage pupils to explore their ideas on citizenship, social causes and issues such as poverty, social and global inequalities and social injustice – all heavily supported by ICT, of course. The project is used as an example of a best practice by the Northern Ireland Council for Curriculum Examinations and Assessment. He’s been recognized at the European Innovative Teachers Forum Awards, and received a Becta Award for Next Generation Learning. Today, Stinson shares more about the e-portfolio concept, and why he believes the approach is integral to teaching 21st century skills.

Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?

I am fortunate to have had an opportunity to share my work at a range of conferences across Northern Ireland. It is good to be able to showcase my work and see it being used in
other schools. Teachers are always keen to hear about new and innovative approaches to teaching. As we live in a rapidly changing technological world, schools want to keep in step with what is current.

What has changed as a result of your efforts?

In some way I presume I, and others from Northern Ireland who have won national and international awards (see our conversation with Stinson’s colleague Barry Corrigan), have helped my fellow teachers to aim big. Even a small country such as ours at the fringe of Europe can produce leading edge work.

How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

Keeping pace with the latest software is practically impossible. In many cases it is good to let the kids take the lead with the technology they are using and see how far they can run with it. I don’t think it is reasonable for a teacher to keep pupils within the confines of what they know. This may make some teachers feel uncomfortable but I believe it is essential to get the best out of our kids.

How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

I have developed a comprehensive range of e-portfolios suited to a broad spectrum of
both pupil and teacher activity. A pupil-based e-portfolio typically incorporates a range of modern technologies and software to develop an interactive, evolving picture of a pupil’s potential. Moreover, e-portfolios capture pupils’ learning in a much more dynamic way than traditional paper-based approaches.

I have also recently been exploring a range of new approaches for capturing thoughts including the use of a Nintendo DSi with children as young as six years of age. Capturing information is only one aspect of an e-portfolio as probably the main benefit may lie in the inherent reflective processes which stimulate cognitive development. A learning method which encourages self-reflection has many potential benefits for pupils in developing a greater impression of self, understanding how they are perceived by others, personalizing their learning and equipping themselves as independent learners. I believe that e-portfolios encourage pupils to take ownership of their work which tends to foster individuality and creativity.

Pupils in Sullivan have been developing all sorts of novel approaches to their work,
including the use of a wide range of cutting-edge software. For example, one group has researched and developed the use of ‘Blue Screen’ giving them the ability to superimpose themselves on their work just as weather forecasters give the appearance of being in front of the weather maps. As part of their work exploring ethical issues in technology, this group has designed a concert to promote an animal charity including the stage, promotional materials and performers. Their e-portfolio shows them taking a virtual tour of the stage including comprehensive video and audio diaries discussing all aspects of their work. This group, like many others, have used e-portfolios to fully incorporate ICT as an integral part of their work and have persevered to develop an in-depth understanding of a range of software. It is also interesting to see how pupils can push the limits of commonly used software, such as PowerPoint, and produce very exciting results through e-portfolios.

One challenge for this innovative approach to learning is that teachers can often find
themselves understanding less about a package than some of their pupils. I would argue that our job as educators is not to limit our pupils to what we know but to be prepared to enter uneasy territory and take risks occasionally to learn together. In addition, e-portfolios have potential benefits for the ‘other side’ of the classroom as I have been piloting work on professional review and staff development and the Professional Qualification in Headship. Teachers can electronically record lessons or meetings at a time of their choosing. This can relieve much of the current strain caused by having to cover teachers to observe their colleagues. Good practice in the classroom can also be shared
with all staff more easily. This approach could provide an opportunity for teachers to develop a library of sample lessons for them to reflect on and archive successes.

Technological advances are continually providing us with different ways to communicate with each other. Children tend to be at the leading edge of any new technology as
they have an innate desire to explore and an unclouded ability to embrace change. E-Portfolios can tap into this interest and bring it into the classroom, integrating it at the heart of school work. I would contend that e-portfolios in some form are the logical and natural progression from traditional handwriting or word processing.

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

The biggest obstacle lies in the perception many students have about themselves. If your sights are set low there is little chance of you reaching for the stars.

What is your country doing right to support education?

Education is generally perceived as being very important for our future prosperity. Much work is being done to improve standards which will hopefully pay dividends for our UK

What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

More support for those in society who are socially deprived. There is a general perception amongst many that society and its social classes tend to repeat itself every generation.

What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

I am fascinated with the potential of computer adaptive testing and teaching. I don’t believe that anything could or should replace good quality teaching but I can see this as having a major impact. Too many children either get bored with the pace of their lessons or get left behind. Education tends to pace itself with the average pupil. Computer adaptive teaching has the potential to tailor the learning specifically suited to the ability of each child. Twenty-first century learning!

What advice would you give a new teacher (or anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

Follow your heart – have the self- confidence and determination to pursue what you think might make a difference for your students.

What educational “trend” do you think is
helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

The current drive to diagnose and help pupils with learning difficulties and special educational needs – it is our moral duty to ensure that every child receives the same high quality education.

Too much of education is set out in nice, easy-to-digest compartments. Yes, this is good teaching but it removes a lot of investigation and challenge. A ‘go getting’ approach to education can be good also as I believe it encourages children to think out of the box. Our society and economy needs more entrepreneurs and innovators.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

I would give each child a tablet. Tablets offer so much potential as they make everything digital much more accessible. Apart from the obvious connectivity benefits, the portability of a tablet is very attractive from an e-portfolio perspective. To be able to carry a device which can both capture and stimulate one’s learning offers immense scope for creating a
personal dynamic portfolio.


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About David Stinson

Birthplace: Dundonald, Northern Ireland
Current residence: Ards Peninsula – County Down – on a small bay overlooking
Strangford Lough.
Education: Royal Belfast Academical Institution & Stranmillis College – Queens University Belfast
Website I check every day: BBC – Science and Technology
Who inspires me most: Winston Churchill for his charisma, determination and
confidence and also my parents as they were great role models and helped me to
develop a healthy set of values.
Favorite childhood memory: Inventing and building gadgets when I was off school for the summer.
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Pleasure – intend to return to
Orlando next year as my two young sons enjoyed the Disney experience so much.
When was the last time you laughed? Why? Watching American Pie: The Movie. It is light and happy – good to escape reality occasionally.
Favorite music: Coldplay and Snow Patrol

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1 Response to Northern Ireland strikes again!!

  1. Pingback: Northern Ireland does it again!! | Partners in Learning Ireland (N+S)

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