A message to you

This week we are collecting together all out resources to complete the final report for the project and in doing so we realise just how much has happened over the year…

10 presentations,(you can see the powerpoints on slideshare) three teacher meetings (and another one next week), four core team meetings, and the Digital Bloom installation in the Sheffield winter gardens, not to mention all the events that the teachers have or are arranging with their schools.

We are looking at the reflections of the project participants, and although they have not all come in yet, it is evident that the project has had a considerable impact on many people.

For me it has opened my eyes to the fact that there are many facets of digital literacy,  and it is quite extraordinary how the teachers and students in the project have been able to spot and take advantage of the facets of digital technology that will enhance their teaching. I realise now that although I have certainly expanded my own knowledge of the uses of technology, I am aware that there are many more areas of which are still quite alien to me, and that achieving ‘digital literacy’ is somewhat akin to reaching the end (or beginning) of the rainbow.

There is a part in the final report that asks

How has the wider community benefitted from your project?

We know that the schools have reached out to their local communities by involving parents, museums and local parks with their projects.  We know from our conversations with the public during the ‘digital bloom’ installation in the Sheffield winter gardens, that people are interested and keen to support digital technologies in schools.  We know from the conferences we attended that there is an awareness of the issues that this project addresses, and a curiosity and appreciation of how the participants have engaged with them.

However we do not know what impact this project has on the even wider community- the readers of this blog…I wonder what people in Australia, Guatemala, India and South Africa think of our project.

Has it changed your attitudes towards digital literacy in education?


DeFT Regional Conference October 2nd

The DeFT project is hosting a Regional Conference on 2nd October at the Sheffield United Football Ground, 9.30 – 15.30.  The keynote speakers will be Doug Belshaw and Bob Harrison.  DeFT academics from both Sheffield Universities will be there to present the project, together with the teachers and tutors who took part. Teachers from ten schools from in and around the Sheffield and Rotherham area  will be presenting  case studies which contain information which would prove useful to teachers at all levels of education.  Five case studies are from secondary schools, including one school that caters for children with special needs and five are from first and middle schools, one of which has a nursery attached. It promises to be an extremely interesting and informative conference. This event is now full: to check if there are any places available owing to cancellation email a.gruszczynska@shu.ac.uk

Digital bloom – we’ll be back!

Kids from Mundella Primary visit the installation

It’s been a whirlwind of a week – over 400 visitors (still doing the sums!), nearly 400 paintings created with the Brushes iPad app and countless conversations on digital literacy and Open Educational Resources with members of the general public who happened to be in Winter Garden in the centre of Sheffield and wandered into the pod with the Digital Bloom installation. Obviously, we need time to process everything that went on throughout the week, but overall, we’ve managed to reach out to a very diverse public between the ages of 2-82 (ish) and helped make Sheffield a digitally more open place. A big shout out to everyone who made it happen, especially the developers from RealSmart who gave up a considerable chunk of their weekend to make sure that the children from Mundella will be able to see their flowers.  Richard Johnson from Sheffield Children’s Festival once again added creative fire to the project with  Tori, Kayleigh and Jess from Sheffield Hallam University doing a great job as pod assistants. Last but not least, this installation was made possible thanks to the tireless efforts of the DeFT team – now on to the online version of the Digital Bloom and hopefully a second iteration of the public event, this time with the meadow focusing on student and teacher voices.

Have a look at the latest artwork on  http://www.flickr.com/photos/82405818@N02/

Digital Bloom – day3

It has been another busy day in the Winter Gardens in Sheffield.  Word has got out about the action in the ‘pod’.  School children from Dinnington have come to see the digital meadow, and have found out about how the children in Mundella Primary school use the Brushes app in school.                                                                           “Does that mean we will all have ipads in school?” asked one excited pupil…

Although Richard Johnson was not able to be there today, our brilliant pod assistants Tori and Kayleigh were able to make a couple of ipads available for anyone who fancied a go on them!  They said that it was a popular activity, and that people took their time to make their pictures, and explore the stories on the display.  The art work reflects the wonderful diversity of our visitors!  IMG_0586

As promised we have uploaded the pictures onto a flickr account again… this time you can see them here:   http://www.flickr.com/photos/82405818@N02/show/

There are still a few more to be uploaded, so if you cannot see yours yet, you will probably see them tomorrow!

If you missed yesterdays display, they are all here:


We will be there until 12 noon on Friday, so come and visit us if you haven’t done so  already!

Digital Bloom – day 2

So what do the following people have in common: a trio of Malaysian students on a summer journalism course; year 2 group from Mundella Primary School; a man in his sixties who’s never used an iPad, two American kids on a “spring break” (in July…) and a two year old who turned out to be a world champion in dummy distance-throwing? All of them happened to be part of the digital art drop-in event which took place in the Winter Gardens as part of the “Digital Bloom” installation.

Picture by Gary Lee (portraying his daughter aka sister of dummy-thrower)

The resident artist, Richard Johnson from Sheffield Children’s Festival set up a workshop outside the pod and anyone who passed by was invited to have a go at creating a digital painting using the Brushes app on an iPad and this way learn more about the creative potential of mobile devices. We also used the event as a chance to talk to people about their understandings of digital literacy and openness, the two key themes explored throughout the “Digital Futures in Teacher Education” project. The leitmotif of the day seemed to be that of technology as a threat and an opportunity – the teachers we spoke to were excited by the potential of technology to enhance learning, a number of workshop participants lamented the loss of innocence of the children who seem to be living their lives immersed in digital technologies in a way that is perhaps less authentic, whatever that might mean. Overall, we collected a veritable treasure trove of stories on digital literacy, all of which will be making its way to the project website as Open Educational Resources in the not so distant future.

To view the art that has been created on our ipads, visit flickr:


Digital Bloom at Sheffield Winter Gardens, 9-13 July

You may have noticed that the banner at the top of the blog has recently transformed into a meadow populated with flowers and no, we haven’t decided to ditch the project for the lures of (digitally) greener pastures. The meadow is a front-end for the “Digital Bloom” installation which celebrates the work of pupils from participating schools and will be on display at the Sheffield Winter Gardens over next week as part of Sheffield Children’s Festival.

Digital bloom installation inside the pod

If you happen to be in the area, feel free to drop by between 9th -13th July (Mon- Thurs 10.00 – 17.00; Fri. 10.00-1300) and step into the pod to find out more about the digital stories told, among others, by pupils at Mundella Primary Schools who created digital artwork using the iPad Brushes app, or pupils at Bradfield Dungworth Primary who acted as digital reporters for the Camp Cardboard event.

The idea stems from our attempts to explore the intersections of digital literacy and creativity as well as reflect on the ways in which creativity informs learners’ digital literacy practice, both within and outside of formal education institutions. In particular, we are also keen of capturing the stories of young people who have been excluded from the curriculum and focus on digital practices which happen outside of school environment. At the moment, the meadow incorporates stories submitted in the context of the project but we are working with developers at RealSmart who will help us offer an online version of the installation where other users will be able to add their own stories. Do watch this space for updates and help the Digital Bloom grow!