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HOMEWORK: keeping children, parents and teachers together

A new interactive learning system which helps parents keep in touch with what their children are doing at school is proving to be a great success with children, parents and teachers, according to new research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The research, based at the University of Sussex and the London Knowledge Lab, developed the ‘HOMEWORK’ interactive learning system which enables children between the ages of 5 and 7 to learn and practice Key Stage 1 maths using a range of multimedia technologies - both in the classroom and at home with their family.

The researchers found that using HOMEWORK:

- improved communication between parents, teachers and learners
- provided continuity between home and school learning
- made numeracy learning more engaging for many learners
- increased participation and enjoyment in homework (by parents as well as pupils)

- and may have increased the effectiveness of time spent learning.

HOMEWORK integrates educational software with broadcast quality video from the Channel Four educational TV series ‘The Number Crew’. Children work in a teacher-led group using an interactive whiteboard, either on their own or in small groups using tablet PCs. The teacher can use his or her own tablet PC to plan lessons, manage the class, allocate work and monitor each child’s progress. Parents can see what their children have been doing at school, are able to offer help and hence feel more involved with the classroom.

Teachers were enthusiastic about using the HOMEWORK system - as long as it was robust and well integrated with the rest of the school's activities. For the children using HOMEWORK meant they spent more time on their learning, displayed greater concentration and engagement and enjoyed the choice of activities and computer game style ‘rewards’. Parents enjoyed using the tablet PCs with their children, they were better able to talk with their children about school numeracy work and were able to better understand what, and how, their children were learning at school.

Commenting on the study Professor Rosemary Luckin, who led the research team said: “Children benefited from having their own personal tablet for learning about maths at home and in the classroom. Teachers appreciated being able to offer learners exciting multimedia activities and non-paper based homework. Parents enjoyed working with their children using the technology at home and being able to see what their child had been doing at school. All-in-all a great success and a model for other such schemes"

Annika Howard | alfa
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