Instructional Media or “What’s an Overhead?”

Communication, Collaboration, Publishing- Web 2.0 hits the Classroom, but are teachers ready?

October 3, 2009 · 1 Comment

Communication

    Edmodo

- The beauty of microblogging in a safe secure class environment

Edmodo is unique in that teachers create an account, then set up groups (“classes”) for which they receive a code, which is then shared with the students in the class. Students create their own account, with no email address required. Then, when all students have registered, the teacher can change the code to avoid intruders. The result is that the messages to/from the teacher and students are limited to the class. This provides a closed and scure environment for classes to share information- links, feeds, messages, assignments. There’s even an internal poll utility.
What was curiously missing was any mention of age/consent i.e. COPPA requirements. It would be be the responsibility (not to mention common sense) of the teacher to request parent permission. It might also be wise to invite the parents to the Group, if the main purpose of your group is homework announcements and sharing.
The hallmark of Edmodo is its simplicity- share a document, a short reminder, a calendar, an assignment and have students hand it back in. It’s not much more than that at a superficial glance, although the style is very student friendly, trendy if you will, and has the potential to engage students. The Help Wiki provides sufficient support to get started, and there is a Blog too, for further ideas, and even some testimonials. I liked this one about a student who began to engage in his schoolwork through the teacher’s Edmodo site.
Initially, the site could be used for an academic subject such as English or Social Science as a teacher-peer-peer homework help site, where students could receive their assignments in digital form, ask questions of the teacher and peers, and finally complete and submit the assignments. The possibilities are wide open, however. The teacher could groups students to work collaboratively on projects and monitor their interactions and dialogue through Edmodo. The capability of embedding video or RSS feeds also could be implemented while doing project work.
I like Edmodo! There are pitfalls to every Web 2.0 app and Edmodo has them. But it is far more secure than Twitter, has the openness of the Internet but the closed structure that teachers seek when first stepping into the Web 2.0 world with students. It would be prudent for teachers to keep their administrators and parents fully informed of the ways you are using Edmodo, but the way it’s used is only limited by ones’ creativity.

    Collaboration

Google Docs

– Share and share alike!

I am a recent Google Docs convert. Just this week, when my school’s Technology Committee was supposed to meet, and could not, I conducted a virtual meeting using Google Docs. Gone are the days when a document was created in MS Office, sent as an attachment, edited by the recipients and sent back to the creator, who then edited the edits of the collaborators. Now, documents are edited in real time by all collaborators! This video from Google explains that this was the primary reason why Google Docs were created, I quickly learned. The example given at the beginning of the video of how outdated collaboration methods using the old paradigm are so counter productive that perhaps Google Docs will lay them to rest.

A full series of support pages which answer almost every question a user might have about Google Docs is available, and teachers would be wise to scan through them. School-wide collaboration is now completely within the realm of even the smallest school, as email, documents and calendars are integrated through Google education services.

As for using Google in the classroom- where does one begin? I’m no longer a PE teacher but this Blog caught my attention ! Imagine streamlining your Physical Education class’ fitness results collection, equipment inventories, activity choices, event registrations and even evaluation tasks? It can be done using Google Forms, which allow the input of data directly to a spreadsheet. Formative testing can even be conducted this way! Real student collaboration is now an easy task, and the learning curve for doing so, even with younger students, is not that steep. However, there are risks, and students need to be reminded that shared documents are exactly that, shared and viewed by a variety of people, including their teachers. The best netiquette must be taught and used at all times. Schools can create their own Gmail domain and create their own accounts for students to create a higher level of security for students, as well as minimize liability of the school. But like all similar endeavours, parent awareness and consent needs to be obtained.

    Publishing

Glogster for Education- put an end to Powerpoint boredom!

Not since bristol board entered schools in the mid 20th century has the poster seen competition like this! The ability to create virtual posters with text, photos, audio and video (and more) in a secure, teacher moderated environment is a move into the real world of 21st century learning, where students become thinkers, creators, and evaluators of their peers’ and their own digital media. Teachers set up classes and moderate student activity. There is a huge selection of resources and ideas that teachers can tap into on the Glogster educational site too.

Categories: Project Based Learning



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