history of educational toys

Amanda Archer, Mum, Teacher, Researcher, Education Expert

Heather Welch from Edx Education today we will be in conversation with Amanda Archer, Mum, Teacher, Researcher, Education

Expert Amanda has worked in education for 25+years as a teacher, consultant and currently researching digital language and communication. Today we are chatting with Amanda about her current research, love of learning and communication and digital language.

Here are the highlights:

{2:45} Every child counts

{5:34} Education always changes, but some consistency is good

{9:20} Teaching social media responsibility

{14:51} We need to move away from band aid fixes

{15:43} A more LGBTQ+ inclusion curriculum

{20:06} Girls are more negatively affected from social media than boys

{24:04} Changes to school policies around online use


Heather Welch (00:02):

You’re listening to education experts with edX education. Education is evolving. Join Heather Welch from edX education, chatting with teachers, psychologists, parents, authors, creatives, and other tons of experts to keep up with the trends and what’s happening from around the globe. This podcast series edX education discusses, home learning, school readiness, being creatives, changing in education, discussing what’s next hands-on learning. Or as we like to say, learning through play

Heather Welch (00:38):

Welcome everyone. I’m Heather Welch from edX education and today we’ll be in conversation with Amanda Archer. Amanda is a mum, a teacher, a researcher, and an education expert. Amanda’s worked in education for 25 years as a teacher. She’s also been a consultant at edX education for doing some design scaffolding activities with children, with stem, I should say steam actually, steam activities in Dubai and she’s currently researching digital language and communication. I have to tell you, man, she’s one of my very good friends who I first met in Dubai and has lived all around the world. We first met living in Dubai as ex-pats and she was always been a great source of education advice over the years and just an amazing mum friend. So today I’m very excited to have a manager on board with us because also international podcast week as well. So today, Amanda, we’re chatting with you about your research, your love of learning and communication and digital language. Welcome, Amanda. We are so happy to have you here today

Amanda Archer (01:39):

Oh, thank you for having me what a wonderful introduction. Thank you.

Heather Welch (01:42):

So listen, I know, that now you’re living, you’re still living overseas, so we’ve both left Dubai, which is always a fun experience, but what have you been up to, I want to hear a little bit about this researching that you’re doing at the moment.

Amanda Archer (01:55):

I think living in the Netherlands now for two years, and I’ve, been speaking a lot to people about, the language around being online for mostly generation X. So I’ve been talking to educators, I’ve been talking to millennials, and it’s been a really interesting, insight into where we’re heading with regard to comments online and how children engage with, being online.

Speaker 2 (02:30):

So I suppose, you know, I mean, I know for myself, I think the last 12 months has maybe supercharged the younger generation in this, in this as well, but that’s, before we go too much into this, I’d love to know why did you first go into teaching?

Amanda Archer (02:45):

I’ve always loved the process of teaching and learning and discovering new ways to engage in this process. I am invested as an educator in progress results and not final results. My educational philosophy is simple. Every child counts and the travel is good too. I’ve been studying teaching and education for a really long time. I started teaching in 1996, my first 10 years, teaching in cities all over Australia. I also completed my master’s in education in online learning. The conclusion I came to from my study was that online learning will never replace a teacher. And I think during the pandemic, we’ve realized to be to a certain degree that, a lot of things can be done online, but I think we also need to realize that the teacher will always play a role in our children’s education. So after that, I taught in London, after teaching in Australia, I had two children. I worked in supply teaching in London, which I learnt quite a lot about, children and young people and also, how they are engaging online. I taught in Dubai, but in Dubai, I may mostly focused on the impact digital media was having on the education sector.

Speaker 2 (04:09):

Which is really true. I love how you say that that, online teaching will never replace a teacher. It is true. I mean, I think we’ve both been through it in the last 12 months with our kids learning at home, learning through zoom or any sort of online platform. It’s very true, but I think what you would have looked at no masters, back then probably has changed a lot about online learning these days. Don’t wouldn’t you say?

Amanda Archer (04:31):

Yes, because I think at the time I did my masters, we just went far enough down the line to really have online learning as an impactful, a way of allowing children to engage. Also, the cost of the technology was just too high. A lot of people thought it was just a waste of money in those, in those early days. The early two thousands and, and the politicians just didn’t want to get on board. I think now is the time that we have to realize it is making an impact.

Heather Welch (05:06):

Yeah, that’s very true. It’s funny, you know, they’re saying in the business world, there’s a new word for being hybrid, the hybrid model. So being physical and digital, they call it, I think it’s the phygital or sort of phygical or something like that. It’s physical and digital combined. And they’re saying that’s the new way for the hybrid of moving forward. So it’s been really interesting. Now I know you love teaching because we’ve always spoken about teaching. And I’d love to know, you know, what first brought you there. Why do you have this love for teaching?

Amanda Archer (05:34):

Well, the children, firstly, I really do enjoy working with children. Education is always changing, but some things stay the same and I think I like that consistency and it’s what has kept me in education for so long teaching and learning are fundamentally the same the world over, which has been great for my lifestyle, living in different countries because I can just go and work anywhere, I can pick up work wherever I am. And that’s been a real advantage.

Heather Welch (06:08):

Here’s a question, have you found it different working in say for example, schools, international schools around the world compared to being in schools in Australia, which you wouldn’t have as much. I mean, you do have an international community, but it’s not as much when international community.

Amanda Archer (06:21):

Definitely. And I think that you have to really sign up for it as a parent. If you want your child to have that expat experience, it’s a much broader experience. But with that comes some complexities that you wouldn’t necessarily have to deal with. If you say stayed in your home country, it’s something that you have to consider. And I think that the online world has had an impact on that in good and bad ways. In for example, my children have been, overlooked on chatting with their friends from all different countries, playing different games and they have to figure out which child, which friend of theirs is in the right time zone for them to play FIFA 2021 together and things like that. So it’s, been, yeah, it’s an interesting question. But I think as a parent, you really have to decide whether it’s for you and your family.

Heather Welch (07:22):

There’s a lot of maths in that, working out what time is it in Dubai to, or what time it is in Europe? What time is it in Australia? We can, how can we get us? So that’s the, you know, even now when we do appointments, I still get it wrong. I have to use time clock converter and all this. So they’re probably doing better than I am.

Amanda Archer (07:41):

I am sure they are doing much, better than us.

Heather Welch (07:43):

And then look, I love this, your latest research project, looking at digital language and communication children. I mean, I know with my own children, it’s been supercharged due to home schooling and relying on these mediums, working from home. However, you know, I do think that parents as parents, we get confused with what your actually researching, which is the change in the digital language and, the developments to learning online. You know, say, for example, if I have my youngest child, you know, learning to read on an app or something is different to what you’re actually researching. So I was wondering if you could explain it a little bit more to us.

Amanda Archer (08:22):

Sure, I’ve been looking at mostly, children, you are in the preteen, range group and also teenagers. And what they have to realize is chatting online is not the same as chatting in real life. That’s basically in a nutshell, what we need to convey to them. It’s not, I haven’t been looking at how children learn, with the apps. I think that that’s been done, but I think what we need to really focus on is comments, what they’re reading about comments by other people and how we need to interpret this. So first of all, a lot of the comments, hold no weight. And what we need to focus on is the people behind the comments. Let’s talk about who are these people, first of all, do you know them? Do you, you don’t know them, why are they posting?

Amanda Archer (09:20):

Why are they saying the things that they are saying? And we talk about the kind of people that they are in; this can be in a positive or a negative context. And we need to be able to think to ourselves, well, these aren’t, they’re not, difficult conversations to have without our children and young people, but they may be a little uncomfortable, a great way to engage with, with your child about these type of conversations is have, maybe for example, if your school writes to all parents saying, we would like you to talk to your children about WhatsApp messaging and the damage that this can have, and that is a bridge to, to starting the conversation. And then you don’t have to go in and say, what do you want to talk about? But it’s more about, okay, I got this message from your teacher, or I’ve been chatting to your sports coach and, having a bridge that lets them talk about, say other things, and then get to the heart of the conversation.

Heather Welch (10:27):

No, I guess it’s having that. So, you know, on the football field, if you say something off the cuff, it’s not there forever, but if you write that in, say for example, on a WhatsApp message, it’s there forever. I mean, you can delete it, but you know, they may have already read it. So the damage is done and that’s very different than an off the cuff comment when you miss a goal or something in a team. And I mean, even then it shouldn’t be said, but you know, it can be forgotten to a degree. Is that what you’re kind of saying?

Amanda Archer (10:53):

Yes. Well, there’s, there’s context there as well in the real life, in real life world. And also there’s the ability to be able to read the situation. And I think you don’t get that online and children don’t realize this, they see it online and they interpret it how they want to. And particularly if they’re having a bad day, they might read it in a way that’s really negative. It’s a really interesting, source of, of education that we, haven’t really touched on because we haven’t needed to, we haven’t been in this situation where, children are looking to us for direction. Because online is something that we’re will trying to get used to.

Heather Welch (11:40):

We were speaking last week and you gave me a really lovely way to explain that and a really good learning, a learning sake of your own children. And you were explaining about the Euro 2020 football final where you saw a lot of online hate messages posted about particular players. And I suppose, could you tell our audience about that? Cause that was, I thought that was such a lovely way to, you know, use a real life experience that they can connect with. And they’ll kind of part of to a degree cause they can see what’s been written and not understand why it has been written.

Amanda Archer (12:13):

Yes. So for, my children, football for them is, is something that they engage with their friends. They play on the weekend. They’re not exposed to a lot of the negative negativity around football. I’ve managed to find some really great coaches in, in the Netherlands for, for them to see as role models. And I think they’re aware they become becoming aware that football does have some negative aspects to it. But we, instead of me asking, oh, you know, have you read the posts? Because of course they follow the players, the football players, they know a little bit about why people are saying the things that they’re saying online, but I didn’t focus on the comments. I focused on the people who were posting. And I said, tell me what do you think of the people who are writing these things? One son said “they’re idiots”.

Amanda Archer (13:17):

And the other said they don’t deserve to be even watching football, you know, cause they, they hold the game in high regard. I think it’s a wonderful game. And only for people, who respect the game. And I think there’s a time and a place to talk about racism and it’s equally as important a conversation. But at that time, I didn’t want to give weight to the words. And I think we need to shift away from that and talk about, well, who are these people and why are they posting and why do you think they they’re saying these things? And that’s what my focus is. And, again, it, we need to talk about these things, and it’ll come from the school, say, or from coaches, please have this conversation with your children about being online. And I think we’ve heard from researchers we’ve heard from, from people about the data and it’s shocking. And we can’t just keep blaming, the big text politicians we have to start saying, well, let’s take some control and let’s start doing that. And I find anyway for, me from my research is that it’s communication and language development that needs to be the focus to help children and, guide them through being online.

Heather Welch (14:51):

Yeah, no, it’s definitely. And especially in the last four months we have actually all, I suppose we have actually increased time. You know, I love your children’s responses in a child’s eyes. They just give us the best responses straight away, you know, straight away. They actually had an understanding that, you know, they had the emotional connection and they said, you know, they’re idiots. They don’t deserve to watch something that they love so much. I think that’s such a wonderful way to explain it because it’s so simple. It’s so simple. Simply put, but education is key. I can’t agree with you more. And maybe this is something that, as you say, we haven’t started to really have these conversations with children. We’re sort of kind of bandaid fixing it. I think, you know, like if something happens all of a sudden we’re like, oh, okay, you know, talk to them about this rather than having, we need a whole solution or even part of the curriculum, because this is part of our curriculum these days, isn’t it?

Amanda Archer (15:45):

It is and I actually made a lot of government policy and procedure. And, and I think what we need to remember is it’s just not one conversation. It’s an ongoing conversation that it needs to, to happen. And, and it has to happen often because the children will be in different situations at different ages. And I think that what we need to realize is that there is no answer to being online and the real world, what we need to do is build the bridges together, whether it be with the school, whether it be with, your sports club and how the kids interact on their WhatsApp groups, with their sports friends, the premier league, how my children follow the premier league, how, how is the premier league going to interact with us? This week I saw a great Instagram post by the, Instagram, the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri. And he said, oh, we’re taking a pause on Instagram for kids, which is for 10 to 12 year olds, we’re taking a pause.

Amanda Archer (16:55):

So we can talk to researchers and educators about how it’s impacting children and what they want to see from it. And I thought, I didn’t realize that I had to have that conversation about Instagram for kids. So I think that’s it, but he’s got a lot of skin in the game. He wants to promote Instagram for kids. And I think what we need to do is, is to have a really good base with our children as to what is acceptable and what we do. For example, Instagram, I’ve done a whole heap of research on Instagram. And when my, my eldest son was eight or nine, he wanted an Instagram account. And I said, no, you’re too young. And I said, okay, well, let’s set one up. And we put it in his real birthday. Then a few days later, he said, my account’s gone gray, it’s gone.

Amanda Archer (17:45):

I said, well, yes, I received an email, Instagram shut you down because you’re too young and you’re not old enough. And he realized that Instagram, the big brother’s watching. And I didn’t go into the whole concept of the big brother and how there are algorithms and, and actually people who monitor, but he realized it’s not just about posting photos and, and having your friends say nice comments about you or something that, is, is quite potentially not so nice about you as well. Yeah. And settings, I follow Adam Mosseri and he’ll say, put up, we’re putting, we’ve included new privacy settings and I’ll try them out and, and to see how far they actually go. And it’s an interesting experiment into finding out, well, okay, Instagram will promote their new privacy settings, but they just don’t go far enough sometimes to really, my children don’t have an Instagram account.

Amanda Archer (18:58):

But my son, I think he’s been scarred. He’s actually 13 now. So we haven’t told him no Instagram account, but he said, you realize, cause we talked about platforms. And he said, well, I sometimes see tiktok. And I have WhatsApp groups with my friends and we talk, it’s very boring. And we talk about let’s meet at the supermarket in 20 minutes. Or are you riding your bike to school today? And so he said, it’s not very interested. And I said to him, because it is, and it’s more like a, Hey, do you want to play FIFA? Are you home? But I said to him, because I wanted to take some of the heat out of the conversation. I said, look, you have to realize that recent research that was actually published two weeks ago by the wall street journal of a leaked document by from Instagram disgruntled employee, late to document about their own internal, research into the impact of Instagram on young people.

Amanda Archer (20:06):

And one in three girls were negatively impacted by Instagram. And I said, well, we have to, in life, I have two boys. They said, look, we don’t really get online lunch. And I said, I want you to realize that this impacts girls more than boys, and you have to be aware and sensitive toward that, that girls are feeling really low and feeling really down about themselves because of posts and what is being said online. And that really made them think about other people and the impact it’s having, not just on them, but on other people and me bringing it back to research, and research and documentation and data that’s coming out now made them realize that it’s not just me talking or their teacher it’s actually, that, that was an interesting and interesting conversation. And he’s, I said, what about Instagram?

Amanda Archer (21:15):



So Instagram shut me down. So he’s not too keen on having to sit on if I want to watch football, as I watched them on YouTube clips from world cups in 1960, whatever. Yeah. They can, they can find all these things. And so I know what, which areas they’re in, but if I could not explain to you all the parents who controls on all of these different platforms, because I realized that it’s impossible and I could never get around the mall, I can never completely make them safe online. All I can do is let them know that we were there. And if, if they see anything online, they’re not comfortable with just shut it down, just turn it off.

Heather Welch (22:00):

Yeah, That’s really true. I mean, that is such an important conversation, as he said, they’re going to see it anyway. We might as well, you know, even, I mean, we could ask Alexa certain questions and Alexa may say that may answer or may not, or may just say, I’m not sure I can answer that question if it’s something a little bit contentious. So, I mean, they have, they have, they’ve got, I suppose they’ve got information at their fingertips, which we sort of had to research, or we had to go into, even when I was at university, we had to go into Eric, which was a system. And then we had to go through the system to book them, to get a library book, to see if the library book was there or to get a journal and we could download it. We had to wait three days, you know, it wasn’t like it is now.

Heather Welch (22:42):

So the thought would be gone. And then, you know, you’d find something another way to, how can I, because we didn’t really have, I mean, when I’m just trying to think when the internet came in, but now, I mean, it’s so developed and there’s, everything is at our fingertips and it’s quick, everything’s quick. Our children are used to things, you know, whether it’s, an Amazon parcel coming, being delivered or another massive company, you know, from these Amazon, but any of the, the big e-commerce, they’re just used to, it’s a very different lifestyle, I suppose. But you know, I mean, many people will be interested in this subject demand, you know, how can they read more about it or, you know, is it, do you have any great tips to give people that want to read about this or even, you know, a little bit more information to be able to communicate with their own children. I know that there’s common sense media, which is something that we’ve used when it comes to talking about, say, if my son wants to TikTok account, I’ve said no at this stage, because it is actually recommended ages 13 and he’s not there yet. So we sort of use things like that and we can show him and say, actually, do you know, you know, realistically you should be safe to have this. So, you know, how can people read more about this subject, especially digital language and communication?

Amanda Archer (23:50)

Well, the, the go to your school, go to ask your child’s teacher for access to their, policy for online. Yes. So that’s a really good starting point because it’s particularly now since, post COVID or post pandemic lockdown, they should have updated all of their policies regarding online use. It should have been done actually during, during lockdowns as, and also what you need to do is think about getting as much information as you can, through resources. I mean, the BBC purchase, amazing, clips and short films about online use and children, and they, if you follow their education, a writer, sorry, when they has escaped me, but they have a whole section on education on their BBC app. And you can go in and you can search for all the latest research and data.

Amanda Archer (24:55):

So go back to how think about, talk to your friends about, well, how was it for you as a teenager, talk to your friends, talk to people who have been going through the same experience with their children. I think that we need to stop looking at people who, trying to tell us what we should be doing and thinking like a Nick Klegg, he’s the head of PR for Facebook. I don’t think he really has my child’s interests at heart and fair enough. He’s, it’s not his job. So, the people who, who do, who are thinking about my children are the people in my local community, and my support group. So look to them as well, but yeah, a good starting point would be your school and ask them. I really like to see your policy for, for children being online. And also the issues around that that were raised with, everyone’s invited that is going to change the way schools approach, online education and online information for that they, are giving to children.

Heather Welch (26:10):

Amanda thank you so much. It’s really exciting to hear about your research and especially, you know, it is changing the digital language and development is changing in many ways. You know, whether it’s for the way that we’re going to teach, it’s the way that they’re educating themselves as well, which I think, and then trying to make sure they’re seeing what is real news, what is real, what is real life, what isn’t real life. And, you know, I mean, even as, I suppose mothers, we sometimes look at this and think, wow, how have I got such a perfect house or player in my playroom never looks like that. You know, even the same silly as that, which can affect you if you are sort of feeling a little bit down. But now I really look forward to reading about and having the difficult conversations with them, I suppose, my own children as well. So it’s been really good. Some of the tips that you’ve given today, and I thank you so much.

Heather Welch (26:27):

There are so many exciting developments happening right now in education edX education would love to hear from you. So do get in touch for subscribed to our podcast, which is available on apple or Spotify tune-in. And so many more, this podcast series is brought to you by Heather welch for Edx Education. As she’d like to say, that’s create lifelong learners.