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Category Archives: EdTech
Interesting video from the mind behind the Khan Academy. Here he discusses how online learning is meant to mesh with — not replace — classroom learning. For me, this echoes Karen Hume’s discussion of balancing tradition with innovation. “Salman Khan Describes Future Classrooms with Blended Learning” on YouTube:
What is Today’s Meet? From their website, http://todaysmeet.com/:
Imagine you’re giving a presentation where you can read the mind of every person in the room. You’d have an amazing ability to adjust to your audience’s needs and emotions. That’s the backchannel.
Using Twitter at social media conferences has become a great way to do just that. But Twitter isn’t appropriate for every situation.
- Your audience isn’t on Twitter.
- You don’t want the discussion to be public.
- You need to see only relevent updates.
That’s where TodaysMeet comes in. TodaysMeet gives you an isolated room where you can see only what you need to see, and your audience doesn’t need to learn any new tools like hash tags to keep everything together.
TodaysMeet helps you embrace the backchannel and connect with your audience in realtime.
Encourage the room to use the live stream to make comments, ask questions, and use that feedback to tailor your presentation, sharpen your points, and address audience needs.
The backchannel is everything going on in the room that isn’t coming from the presenter.
The backchannel is where people ask each other questions, pass notes, get distracted, and give youthe most immediate feedback you’ll ever get.
Instead of ignoring the backchannel, TodaysMeet helps you leverage its power.
Tapping into the backchannel lets you tailor and direct your presentation to the audience in front of you, and unifying the backchannel means the audience can share insights, questions and answers like never before.
Here’s an example of Today’s Meet being used in my Grade 12 University level English class as we navigate our way through Hamlet.
When my grade 12′s first got on our Today’s Meet ‘meeting room’, their habits of doing and saying whatever they want on the Wild West internet took over and a few of the students started writing ‘shout-out’s’ to other students — and to me — such as, “Whaddup” or “Mr. Cooke brings the boom”. And then some students started to get a little cheeky or mildly inappropriate by making jokes, including joking about the word — wait for it– ‘butt’. Needless to say, I had to simultaneously chastise them for writing that while reminding them that this is for school purposes and that it is permanent, and that I would shut it down if they couldn’t use it properly. They did settle down, and what transpired was a really interesting and, I think, powerful experience in the classroom — using the ‘backchannel’. But because their thoughts appear live right in front of them, they thought it was ‘cool’ and they were all engaged.
I have been following Will Richardson by reading his articles or his tweets for a few years now and he never fails to
Who is Will Richardson? He is “an outspoken advocate for change in schools and classrooms in the context of the diverse new learning opportunities that the Web and other technologies now offer.” www.willrichardson.com
Here is a quick 5 minute presentation he gave recently. (The slide titles are below.)
- Give open network tests — not open book tests.
- Roll Your Own Textbooks.
- Be Googled Well.
- Flip the Power Switch.
- Change the World. — Broaden scope of lessons
- Don’t “Do Your Own Work.”
- Learn First. Teach Second.
- No More Workshops for Teachers.
- Share Everything.
- Ask Questions You Don’t Know the Answers To.
- Repeat after me: “I want to be found by strangers on the Internet.”
- Unlearn. Relearn.
- Resume. Shemesume.
- Stop Googling. Get a Network.
- Go Free and Open Source.
- Create an “Uncommon Core.”
- Don’t Deliver… Discover.
- Disrupt the System.
Wow. I read this article when I received the magazine in February and remember it being powerful. But re-reading it now, it kind of scares me.
In a way, the article lays out a challenge to me as a teacher, and in that challenge are calls for, essentially, seismic shifts of the tectonic plates of traditional
education. ’Time and place’ learning, personalized learning, even differentiation with a small ‘d’ are not quite adequate enough for reaching and empowering today’s learners who live in a world of personal choice 24/7, who need to be shown how to learn on their own. (Indeed, I have students who already have ‘outgrown’ this version of the school system, and online learning, such as The Khan Academy, facilitates this ‘spreading of the wings’).
Richardson discusses re-formatting the very nature of the classroom experience, the curriculum, and the role of the teacher — and this is scary and exhilarating to think about. Sacred, time-honoured texts and lessons and activities would be supplanted by learning objectives that serve as the north star to follow, and with this objectives in place, the students choose the content, the product and even the pace. That’s a pretty massive shift in the structure of learning.
Furthermore, the mantra of “We need to prepare them for university” casts a pretty long shadow over — and even extinguishes — initiatives, such as ‘personal learning’, before they even gets a chance to be discussed, let alone be introduced in an experimental fashion.
I do, however, have a few questions:
- One element to ‘personal learning’ is that it relies upon or is facilitated by web 2.0. What if computer access is limited in the home and in the school?
- What if students are uncomfortable with this form of learning?
- What if only one teacher engages in this type of learning and it goes contrary to what other teachers in a department or school are teaching?
- What are the mechanics of managing 20 to 30 students in a classroom setting?
- What are the mechanics of managing ‘assessing in the moment’?
Nonetheless, I am definitely intrigued by the ideas Richardson puts forward here, and perhaps part of the scariness of this article is that asks me to ask myself, “What is my role as a teacher? The repository of all knowledge on a topic? The gatekeeper? A people-manager? A facilitator? A ‘guide on the side’?”
February 2012 | Volume 69 | Number 5
For Each to Excel Pages 22-26
Preparing Students to Learn Without Us
By pairing personalized learning and technology, a teacher can help students learn what they need to learn through the topics that interest them most.
Here’s what I wonder: Can my 12-year-old son Tucker, a kid who lives for anything having to do with basketball, learn just about every math concept he needs to be successful in life in the context of playing the game he loves?
I posed that question on my blog a few months ago, and the post elicited more than 60 responses from readers who connected basketball to the study of bivariate data, complex equations, statistical analysis, slope, variables, predicting outcomes, probability, geometric shapes, mean, median, mode, averages, arc, force, angles, percentages, fractions, linear inequalities, volume, speed, mass, acceleration, and dozens of other concepts that are no doubt part of Tucker’s K–12 math curriculum (Richardson, 2010). And when I showed him some of the great ideas that teachers had left on my blog, he lit up. “Really?” he asked. “I could do that?”
Yes, I think he could. That’s not to say that he wouldn’t need…
PLUS: An article Richardson references that he himself wrote in 2009:
I just created a page here on Project-Based Learning because I want to know more about it. Why? I have been given an amazing opportunity to work in a high school with a fascinating diversity of cultures, abilities, interests and learning styles.
Not to overstate things, but I feel a little like all of the mind-blowing professional development that I have had a chance to learn from might all come in to play in this unique and rich learning environment. Indeed, with such differences simply part of the culture at WSS, it would appear that differentiation is really a necessity not just a interesting, once-in-a-while activity.
And as I have circled around PBL for the past year or so, my ‘Spidey Sense’ has been tingling as I wonder if PBL is something that might be a great fit as a tool for accommodating and harnessing all of this wonderful diversity.