Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tool 6

Perhaps the greatest benefit of participating in a vibrant, supportive PLN is the "leg up" one can receive. But one example of this is the world of online discussion platforms. The notion of Web 2.0 feedback is actually central to the concept of what Web 2.0 is all about. Whereas feedback was once limited to solitary grading of paper products and the student dreaded red pen or the equally dreaded chalk on blackboard, we have at our fingertips instant feedback. It was not too long ago that we were involved in activating our ActiveVotes and planning lessons for technology check-off walk throughs. With one simple and long overdue policy change, the ActiveVotes have been relegated to permanent placement in the expensive case - enter the ubiquitous cell phone, and the Smart Phone. Talk about a family funded 1:1 classroom.
I have found the use of TodaysMeet is better suited to a larger lecture format than what should be an more intimate and interactive classroom discussion. As far as instant assessment, a polling platform is preferable. Although the numbers are declining rapidly, I still have 5-10% of a class that does not own a cell phone. For 100% participation, the ActiveVotes are preferable. In the 55 minute limitation, actually verbal discussion is the ticket! Stepping away from the 55 minute box is where these tools really shine. OK, back to the PLN benefit. I received a message 2 years ago regarding the online discussion platform Collaborize. At that time, I had experimented with Google Forms with poor results. By that I mean in addition to the limitation of just percentage data, I experience too many technical issues. I wanted a way for students to dig a little deeper in their thinking AND be able to translate that depth in their writing. Because I had most of an entire year to play with Collaborize and in the process devote a fair amount to webinar training in that platform, by the time the district rolled out its Edmodo domain, I was already too invested in Collaborize to switch. Of course, a standard Blogger blog can accomplish the same substantive result that on online discussion platform can, but the students seem to enjoy being able to post their own topics and I like being able differentiate discussions to specific groups and be able to generate discussion statistics and reports. This past semester we used Collaborize to practice Brush Strokes and Voice Lesson as homework assignments. My goal being threefold: to teach access and operation of the platform, to get away from one/few word answers in favor or nuance and complexity of answers, and to model and create actual teachable examples of Netiquette and Digital Citizenship. Collaborize made realization of these goals seamless withing the context of delivering curriculum objectives. This coming year in preparation for participation in both the Flat Classroom project and, if the Goddess of Time allows, a global project of my own design, our class will embark on a Book Club project that will involve both intra and inter classroom components using both Collaborize and Skype. These two online discussion platforms allow the the merging of classrooms in a teacher's schedule, within a team, a department, a grade level, a campus, and other campuses.

1 comment:

  1. Ken, as someone who considers you part of my PLN, I'm really interested in the concepts you've set forth here: it's truly food for thought, especially "to get away from one/few word answers in favor of nuance and complexity of answers." True that!

    It seems that you've been integrating technology into your classroom for some time now, given the volume of tools you've worked with and clarity on how they fit together for your classroom. What advice would you give to a teacher just starting out?

    Also, I'm looking forward to hearing the results of the Flat Classroom project and more about your global project ideas. Let us know how I can support that (are you familiar with the #Collaboreyes project (http://www.collaboreyesproject.com)?