What is Chalkface 2.0?

What does ‘chalkface’ mean?

Chalkface is a UK term first coined by Ted Wragg writing for the Times Educational Supplement. It was adapted from the phrase ‘working at the coal face’ which mean’t basically working on the front line. It was quickly adopted by teachers in the UK and came to imply the same for education. Teachers working at the Chalkface were those standing in front of the class planning, delivering and grading.

It is a term I have used on many occasions as a teacher in the context of ‘going back to the chalkface’ (back to school) or in discussions on the applications and use of education authority initiatives and training – ‘how will this help at the chalkface?’.  As teachers from any country, I am sure this is starting to sound familiar!

Chalkface evokes an image of traditional teaching methodology. Chalkface teaching  is progressing away from teachers imparting knowledge  and essentially being the keepers of the information and moving  towards (love it or hate it) experiential learning.

Information is out there and it is free, subsequently technology and it’s role have become paramount in the classroom to develop real word skills.

Why provide opportunities to use Web 2.0 in your classroom? As teachers, technology is now the main medium to communicate understanding. We use it in order to speak the same language as our students, to prepare them for it’s use in the outside world and to enrich that knowledge that we still need to impart. The web is a tool of our trade that provides visualisations and information, but more importantly today Web 2.0 provides interactivity. Students expect to be given opportunities to interact through a computer.

Our students talk to teach other, they blog, video-cast, voicethread, animate and control websites. On many of these they are talking about education. If they are using this medium as their form of educational expression and communication, then as teachers we need to be learning their language and helping them access material in the digital methods that they know how.

Communication has driven our social evolution from the ancient chinese tablets of tortoise shell, to the Cretan hierglyphs. Our civilisation has always striven to communicate. We have used materials such as clay from the Assyrians to wooden tablets of the Ancient Greeks. In my life time alone we have moved from the blackboard to the white board. We are now moving from the whiteboard to the interactive web-board we call Web 2.0.

Teachers have to adapt in order to lead this revolution rather than playing catch up with our students.

Why Chalkface 2.0?

Web 2.0 – the interactive and collaborative web is the environment our students use everyday, cooperations, business, marketing and public relations all make use of the interactive web. Teachers need to be ahead of the game rather than playing catch up. We are educating a generation that views this mode of communication, interaction and promotion as the norm. I am an online teacher with a lot of chalkface experience. We provide training in the use of classroom technologies and learning platforms that school administrations subscribe to, and expect you to use. Training is practical and immediately applicable within classrooms.

Schools can provide the technology, but providing does not ensure it’s used to it’s full potential.


Top educational applications: Science, Maths and Elementary education

Strategies for staying on top of educational advancements at the chalkface.

The E-Portfolio: Uses in the K-12 Curriculum

The E-Portfolio is a function an increasing number of LMS’s are incorporating. They are  a working academic resume where a students profile, their academic and extra-curricula achievements can be demonstrated and work can be stored. An academic Facebook of sorts.

The presence of a growing e-portfolio can enable students to review their work and provide reflective continuity throughout their school years. The potential for reflective evaluation of progress aligns itself with meta-cognitive learning, where students are active learners and start to develop a clear idea of how they learn. It has the potential to develop greater learning awareness for students as well as storing and organising work.

Now, try explaining that to Grade 8! I can hear the response now: student “what do I get for doing that!” Teacher response “greater awareness of how you learn” Student “So?! how will that change my A-grade”. I hate to say it, but they have a point!


How an e-portfolio is rolled out and promoted within schools has to be with continuity and integrated through the curriculum in order for it to be a success. In which case,  the questions we should be asking should relate to how this can be integrated into students and staffs already over-burdened schedules. This has to add to the dimension of learning and not simply be a process that is “required.” We should be asking, what is in it for our students? what will they gain?:

1. What skills will this impart to our students?

2. How does this align with state standards?

3. Which subjects lend themselves well to developing this?

The E-Portfolio needs to be more than a storage space, it has to engage the students – it needs to embrace Web 2.0 concepts, promote active learning and be clearly beneficial.

At the most obvious, E-Portfolio’s are a portable resume of achievements. Try motivating a Grade 6 student with that! They do however provide a useful outlet for assessed course evaluation and learner reflections, that at  lower grade levels can be structured assessment activities, supported in a teacher-led framework to help develop the skills of reflective learning and evaluation.

Institutions tend to encourage even young students to set their own personal subject specific objectives. The e-portfolio may be the perfect outlet for this. This can further provide an opportunity for individualised teacher-student dialogue on personal objectives.

How can the e-portfolio be used?

The extent of the e-portfolio’s use is really up to the institution, but it is crucial they do not miss an opportunity to engage with students active learning. E-Portfolio’s provide our younger students with a controlled, safe environment to practise blogging, social networking and web design while using appropriate language levels to engage the broad audience of the World Wide Web! A concept  we can all forget at times. Students can also produce and display interdisciplinary team/project work in the e-portfolio. Skills that are practical and ‘real-world’.

Everything in Balance!

If the E-Portfolio is over-assessed it will become a chore, the roll out program needs to promote school-wide continuity in it’s use while allowing some freedom in the editing rights – as social networking sites do. For example the students blog and profile can be made public, so updating can be addictive in a Facebook-style,  the look and feel of the site can also be altered and personalised.

The nuts and bolts of Learning Platforms.