Beyond Technology group meeting in Aalborg


Set in freshly fallen snow, the Beyond Technology group met in Aalborg, Denmark in January 2019 to discuss what we observed and worked with over the last 6 months and our plans for the next 6 months. One of the exciting news was that we were joined by Olli Rekonen a Finnish Master student (see also news from Finland). The teams will work together with their classes on the Children’s Manifesto on smartphones – watch this space.



Working with school owned and student owned technology

The following activity was part of a 3-day science activity. Preceding this were learning activities to do with sustainable energy production. This time the children were given data loggers (sensors) that measured temperature, light (different kinds), CO2 or voltage. The children hd to use apps to extract the information and log it on their phones or computers. The task was to investigate how to use these school owned data loggers. The children were asked to find out what the software could do and set up an investigation on sustainable energy.

One group tried to investigate the influence of temperature on conductivity of different materials to reduce the loss of energy due to heating.
Another group tried to investigate how much CO2 is absorbed through photosynthesis.
A third group measured the velocity of wind and change of wind speed over time.

Given that they had freedom to explore the sensors and what the software could show them, the children were motivated and curious to explore things and ask their own questions. They felt competent to try things out, evaluate ideas and practice communicating the things they experienced and observed. The technology they were given forced them to think about what other technology they may require to set up a working experiment. Lots of trial and error and excitement!

Student measure how conductivity is influenced by temperature.
Students analyzing data from an investigation on carbondioxide.


The children’s manifesto on smartphones – or a start on it…

Following this year’s activities, the Danish class at Sofiendalskole discussed and summarised some of the good and bad things about smartphones. Here are their thoughts:

How we live in a world of smartphones

• People can become addicted to checking their phone.
• Phones can be a problem if you have poor self-control.
• Phones can disrupt your sleep at night.
• One can get bored without one’s phone.
• Smartphones are good to have on long journeys and can provide you with entertainment.
• It is important to be able to receive calls and call if you are injured or sick.
• Younger children should have ‘light’ phones with fewer functionalities.
• For younger children, it might be good if parents lock parts of the smartphone functionalities.
• When you buy a phone, you should consider what functionalities are actually needed.
• The feature called “phone” is not used very much.
• Maybe it is necessary to propose how old you have to be before you get a proper smartphone, perhaps when the child is old enough to use social media – e.g. 13 years for Facebook and 16 for using Snap chat. However, there are probably not many people who in reality would comply with such a rule.
• Parents should teach their children that phones are a tool that can be used for special and important things, including SMS and calls. It is not necessary to learn how to download apps and search on the Internet.
• It may be necessary to supervise younger children when they use apps.
• Parents must determine when a child is ready to get a smartphone and have a talk with their kids about the use of the smartphone.
• How to use a smartphone can be a part of necessary parenting skills.

What we should consider in using smartphones at school
• When you receive messages on your smartphone at school it can interrupt your attention for a considerable amount of time.
• It is a bad idea to take phones away from students because students will think of their phones throughout the day, and make them less concentrated. Students can also forget their phones after school.
• When school tasks are digital, they can be solved anywhere and anytime with a smartphone.
• Smartphones have many useful features such as calculator and camera. There can also be downloaded several apps that are used in teaching.
• It can take pictures of smartboards or tables if you do not have time to write notes.
• Smartphones can be like a Swiss army knife.
• Smartphones contain several sensors that can provide interesting data for learning.
• It would be a good idea to have a group of students –super users of smartphones- who could teach teachers how smartphones could be used for their teaching.

Year 2 meeting on Egholm by Aalborg, Denmark

On Egholm

For the second time in the Beyond Technology project, we have met now towards the end of the school year to exchange experiences, ideas and think about where to go.
We have discussed ideas to do with affect and digital technology, programming, media consumption, and when at the confluence of on-and offline technologies students can become navigators of their own learning.

Year 2 meeting: Pizza, class and parents & lots of great presentations

The year started with a great get together! After having worked for a few weeks on their investigations to do with astronomy, more specifically ‘rotations and the universe’ the 8th graders at Sofiendalskole presented their projects to their interested parents.

Presentations included one in a stardome, set up in the school’s library.

Topics included how the Earth’s rotation and its relationship to the moon influences the tides.

The parents were paying full attention to each group’s presentation.

We continued the evening with looking back at the achievements of 2017 and our plans for the new year. Parents and students were also asked to review their consent to participate in the project.

Teacher Bjarne Poulsen and researcher Kathrin Otrel-Cass were sharing their plans and the focus of this year being technology use in the classroom.

The plans include:

Video observations of one full study unit over several weeks, and

joint video analysis of selected episodes by students, researchers and teachers.

The evening finished with lots of empty pizza boxes!!

Recording films on mobile phones gives students voice

What we did

We asked students to make videos where they share with us how they use their mobile phones. We asked them to do this either on their phones or using video cameras they had. We received a selection of videos – not from all children – but from the children who felt comfortable to share their stories and often from students who worked together as a group. The production of videos didn’t seem to be too complicated for the students, the video material was at times edited and prepared at quite a sophisticated level.


Our reflection on how it went

  • We used students’ videos in an attempt to work closer with them and to identify different opportunities for dialogue
  • We felt that video productions orchestrated by children provide more opportunities for ‘giving voice’
  • The video productions allowed the children to give insights also into creative interpretations of young people’s experiences, feelings and how they see themselves operating amongst adults
  • However, we are aware that this is still an orchestrated process, largely steered by adults (researchers/teachers) and their interests and categories (James 2007)
  • Students have acted within the bounds of defined school community practices


Take away message for researchers

Young people need to have more opportunities to share with researchers (adults) their ideas to show what they know and can do.

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Recording films on mobile phones gives children and young people the opportunity to select and capture, edit and share stories in creative and personal ways.

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Films produced this way provide an opportunity to discuss and find out more, about a given topic but also about the person/s. and their ideas. We found this worked really well when we asked children to tell us about the role mobile phones play in their lives.

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