MetaMoJi had the pleasure to sit down with Slovenian teacher Bostjan Papez as he explained his success story using Note Anytime to win over students with learning difficulties. He reported to us that Note Anytime gives his students a platform to make learning fun. Even students who previously had very little interest in learning are now actively working on assignments within Note Anytime. Mr. Papez states that Note Anytime allows him to “gamify” the learning experience with dynamic and interactive lesson plans on their tablets and smartphones. Here is the full interview:
Q. What age of students do you teach?
A. It is called K-12 - but most of my students are 10-12 years old
Q. They are all students with special needs?
A. No, it is a regular school but I teach those who need more help, sorry my English is rusty.
Q. You also take care of children with special learning deficits?
A. I teach those students that come from un-stimulative environments. You know the term: gypsies – the Romani people? We have a quite large community in our area and they need a lot of help with languages and courses.
Q. And they move around a lot?
A. No, our Romani don’t. Here they are settle, so people live in small places.
Q. Do children use Note Anytime for drawing or to type?
A. I use it as a starting point. A paper with signs on it. Usually we do it with paper. But with Note Anytime, I usually start with a link, I can add a webpage that it clickable in Note Anytime. Our government started a program making electronic textbooks that should be free for all. I put a link in a Note Anytime document to specific content in the textbook. Or I link it to Padlet, you know that app? It is basically a whiteboard that you can write on simultaneously and put sticky notes on it. We start here, either with a link to the content of the topic we are discussing or link to the Padlet, so we gather our information on what they already know. Then they have tests on Note Anytime. Just like we do with paper but they type the missing words. We have exercises like flipboard, flipchart. You know, the card that you flip. I put the word underneath the picture. Especially gypsies, they have huge language disadvantages. They have their own language. So the terms have a picture associated, then we move the picture, see the word and put the picture back. Or, I put a picture of a castle and they have to learn it has a mote, a drawbridge all around it. So I hide the word under a question mark. Then we discuss it, delete the question mark and replace it with a word.
Q. Do each of them have a tablet?
A. Yes we have one classroom sponsored by our government and they all have tablets. Samsung Galaxy type, free. But with my students, the Gypsies, they almost all have some kind of smart phones. We took a few pictures today, I will send you later. So they have a really small screen and I had to adjust the editorial video. The manual said that you can import a pdf file. In our school, we use Google Docs. You can import a slideshow from Google docs in text format. And I had already prepared those powerpoint and assignments and all I had to do is import them to Note Anytime and we were ready to go. So no hassle. The only thing was I had to correct on one sheet of paper in the Google docs, I was short of one assignments, so it was many scribbles on a small screen. But that was 15 minutes work.
Q. Yes, you can shrink within any screen.
Q. Some of your students are working on tablets and some are working on their phone?
A. Yes. But when they try it for the first time, a few months ago, they still had the motivation to do it. They wanted it. It is like a game, it “gamifies” the whole learning experience. We like the term too.
Q. That’s a great term, gamifying. Actually, your English is really good, so don’t be embarrassed. It is a challenge to have to communicate in another language! So this is general education? You teach them all of the standard topics, like math and reading?
A. We have minimum and higher standards. We concentrate on getting the minimum standards. So a lot of repetition, a lot of explanations, a lot of videos. One thing that I tried a couple of weeks ago, is flipped education. Do you know the term? (no I don’t)
The teacher actually makes students do a screen cast. Basically, you explain the topic and you post it on Youtube is what we do. Do you know Can Academy? (no I don’t) Basically you do it at home, you explain the topic and make it into a video. There is a nice app for ipad called Doceri that allows that. Usually I make a video explanation of the topic they have to learn and add the link on the Note Anytime document, so that they can hear the explanation over and over again. Also useful with my pupils, is that they are constantly losing their textbooks and notebooks but as it turns out, they never lose their phone! So when we started using this, not a day goes by without them having something to work on.
Q. What would you say in terms of your students has been a kind of illustration of a student that succeeded because of it?
A. There was one student highly not committed to work. His reading is like an eleven year old. But when I presented to him the app and the electronic assignment, he read the whole thing slowly, read it again. He asked, he wanted to complete it. On paper, nothing, it was boring. But the same assignment in electronic form, he all of a sudden wanted to finish it because it was like a game.
Q. How is he progressing?
A. It is hard to say in such a short period. He is working on it. Usually they don’t do any work at home. It is at school and nothing. But the other day, he came back and wanted to show me that he had done work at home. That he had opened the app and he had done his homework all the way. Although I hadn’t asked him to do the whole thing. He had blank space and wanted me to tell him what he was missing. So it is unbelievable! I don’t know if he will be more successful, it is too short to say. But he is motivated. Absolutely!
Q. I am really glad to hear that. As you said, it became like a video game.
A. Perhaps it is all it takes. It isn’t a chore anymore, it is a game.
Q. Besides the few things you mentioned earlier, are there other features that would help you more in your classroom that you don’t have now?
A. I would like to lock things in place. When I do an assignment from scratch, everything can be moved or deleted by accident by the students. I found out that I had to create the doc first in Google App then import it in Note Anytime. Because in Google Docs, the background and elements I put can be fixed while some elements can be changed.
Q. I know what you can do. You can draw it from scratch and save the note as a template. It will be just like a Google doc. They will only change the changes they make. Hopefully this will solve your problem.
A. Oh. Ok. So I do it half way, save it as a template and load it. So I will try that.
Q. Yes, if you save it as a template it will be just like a Google Docs template. Students will just record the changes they made.
A. Fine, fine, fine. Problem solved then!
Q. If it doesn’t solve it, I will have Ben help you out with it.
Q. Education is a very important market. I think that this is all the questions I have. I really appreciate your time and input. And will be communicating with you about your questions.
A. Thank you for taking an interest. I really like both Note Anytime and Share Anytime. It is an honor to share my experience with others.
Q. Thank you so much for taking your time.