Lubna Malik’s UK Visit 2016

During May-June 2016 I was able to visit the UK again, this time for three weeks. My visits to the UK have added a variety of learning experiences to my personal and professional contexts. These purposeful visits satisfy my interest in exploring cultures and the concept of ‘living in one world’.

I had various opportunities to attend educational events which helped me to widen my professiolubna2016_2nal learning. The main purpose of my visit was to participate in the workshop at De Montfort University:  ‘Education innovation and pupil achievement through practice-based research’ but
I was also honoured to attend a number of other places and activities to see ICT in use for teaching and learning. I am grateful to Dr Christina Preston and the members of the MirandaNet from the UK for the welcome and opportunities they created for me.

I was accompanied on a tour of De Montfort University by Ms Rajvir Cheema, a researcher and a member of MirandaNet. While the university was quiet at that time because most students had left the campus for the Summer break  my interesting meeting with the director of the department of Creativity and Innovation explained how her department provides opportunities for students to initiate different projects embracing creativity and involving the community.

lubna2016_5The one-day workshop offered a collaborative environment for teachers, leaders and researchers to work together on professional development strategies to implement innovation in teaching and learning to improve the performance of teachers and learners. In the first  session classroom practitioners shared their findings from MirandaNet research projects that showed how the effective use of multiple technologies have raised student attainment and achievement in their schools. They also found that the use of technology enhanced teachers’ professional development.  The most exciting part of the workshop was second half when the participants worked collaboratively in groups to plan action research projects focusing on new ideas to bring innovations into the classroom. This session helped developers and researchers to focus the design of technology to meet the needs of students.

I visited Mellor Community School, Leicester in the company of Ms Atisha Palmer, my host. I had a detailed discussion with Atisha regarding the use of ICT in their school and during my tour of the school I observed ICT in use for teaching and learning . I found that we are almost on the same page in terms of using technology and face the same challenges.

The session regarding e-safety by Childnet at Avanti House Community School, Brockley gave me an insight into how the government is involving the private sector in the focus on the use of the of internet in students’ lives and how they should live in in the digital world.  E-safety is a big challenge for all of us to deal with. I asked the presenter a similar kind of event about e-safety could be arranged for the The City School, Pakistan. He agreed that this might be possible.

lubna2016_8I had an amazing tour of Redbridge Primary School near Ilford where myself and Christina were welcomed by the ICT teacher, Ms Katherine Steel. We observed the use of technology in the classes and the ICT suites. I was inspired by the performance of the Year 4 student ‘Digital Leaders’ who enlightened me about various happenings in their school. They specifically explained about the functions of multiple technologies used in their classrooms/ICT suites. They talked about MacBooks, Green Screens, iPads and Beebots. They had shared their learning and exposure through presenting their work about ‘Classroom of the Future’ at BETT 16. They were ambitious and told me the school would be buying Makey Makey boards and Code Bugs for next year to develop physical computing skills in KS2 (a move on from Beebots). The ‘Advocates’ from Year 5 facilitated us during the walk through and explained everything in a comprehensive manner. I must acknowledge that the students’ performance was amazing.

Ms Katherine Steel and I discussed the current practices of ICT in our schools and we agreed to share resources, software, curriculum and assessment tools. Christina also promised to support us further, particularly in the area of assessment of ICT, as well as suggesting that we develop a link between the students from London and Lahore for example by the creation of a group of ‘Digital Leaders’ in Pakistani Schools who could work collaboratively with the digital leaders in the Redbridge School.

I pay tribute to the people in England as a nation who show very polite behaviour and courtesy towards other people and specifically towards visitors like myself. I brought home a bundle of learning experiences and happy memories with me as a way forward and, amazingly, on the flight back to my country, the person sitting next to me was connected to various educational projects in several European countries and expressed an interest in working in Pakistan where possible.

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