07 February 2008

Pedagogy: reinvent classrooms using simple technology

This year's Horizon Project report identified the emerging trends, but what does that mean to a middle school or high school teacher and class? I think these trends translate into tools .... opportunities for engagement. How? Let's start with a basic approach:

Grassroots video:
Most schools have some video equipment that can be used by any class. At the very least students have cellphones with a camera that does rapid photos or a video. Teachers, put together a simple assignment - to start with - that students capture and bring back to class. The way they deliver it to you will vary, the simplest might be they email you the files and then you display them using a LCD projector connected to your computer.

English class: have them capture a conversation of language you are studying in class
Science class: capture an example of characteristic that describes a living thing

Collaboration webs:
Since we are just beginning, let's start with a blog. Many blogs are free to teachers and classes. Teachers can post a weekly assignment where student log into the blog and study a web site or web pages(s) to reveal solutions to the assignment. Students record their findings in the blog under the appropriate weekly assignment.

Mobile broadband:
Set up work or a specific assignment that requires students to use a cell phone. Here is a math class example, divide the class into groups of three or four students. Have the groups arrange a time after school to work on an assignment. Give each group a different problem to solve. Have the individuals in each group assign them self a number - 1, 2, 3 4 and so forth. tell the groups to start with #1 and have that person do the first step of the problem and call student #2 with the answer. Then #2 will use that answer to do step two and then call #3, who will complete step three and then call #4 and so forth. This process continues until the problem is solved. The last student in the group brings the solution and to class for discussion.

Data mashups:
In this trend the students can compile data from different sources in a PowerPoint file, or a free goggle application, to substantiate an investigation. For example in a history class studying World War II, have students break into groups and give each group a different concept or subject to study about the war or events leading up to it. The groups compile that information, text and images, into the PowerPoint file/presentation. The finished presentation is saved as self running presentation that anyone can view.

Collective intelligence:
Publication of data takes place here, which is accomplished in a blog that we discussed earlier or in the PowerPoint presentation file that gets distributed. Another way to accomplish this is to collaborate information by using an application like Google docs. In that application a document/file can be shared with with multiple people who all have access to edit the content. Google docs are available for free to people who have an email account with Google: gmail.com.

Social operating systems:
This may be the most difficult one to establish with one class. Since the theme is connecting people with common interests, the first step is establishing those common interests among students, then producing a medium where the individuals can communicate with other students having similar interests. A tool to facilitate the communication is a blog, wiki, or a monitored forum and all of those are free.

Here are resources for free tools:

Google Apps
Google Earth
Web Page




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