As educators and professionals in a very demanding role we are all aware that we have a responsibility to keep the communication loop open and feedback is an important part of our work. We must communicate with colleagues, leaders, our students and their families, as well as the broader community. This is all on top of the core business we have of supporting the learning and exploration of concepts outlined in the governing curriculum to rank students against a continuum of learning outcomes and communicate this information with the stakeholders who require this information.
Since moving to Google Apps For Education I have found myself continually satisfied with how the tools interact and the collaborative nature of them to comment and support students whilst they are working on their task. The tools I use and how I effectively use them to manage my work flow are:
I have always believed things happen for a reason, and the events that have led to me writing about what has been going on in my ICT classes since the beginning of the year.
It was a Sunday evening and like most, I was on Twitter. In my stream I saw a call out to Australian Teachers looking for someone to connect with a school in the USA. I was immediately interested as I had begun teaching ICT this year and am very keen to have the students use the internet to become true Global learners.
I responded to this tweet and from here things “snowballed”. As the conversations continued and the ideas flowed, a teacher in Charlotte, NC (Jill Muller) and I began the intricate details of how and when we could collaborate to develop the learning of our students. We discussed using Skype, but due to the desire to record the session to share with the remaining students we decided to use a Google+ Hangout. The day prior the teachers’ from Jill’s school and I did a test run of the technology and our connection. Everything was so exciting and it was during this conversation when we first met face-to-face, that I realised that the teachers on the other end of the line had never done and international conference before, (nor had I) but I had used video calls to connect with educators and family. The excitement was obvious. And the trial was a success. The technology worked and the connection was imminent.
Early the following morning (7:30am) I had a group of very excited students from my year 3-5 classes gather in our resource centre; and in Charlotte there was a group of equally excited students staying late after school, both to combine and have a conversation about their world’s similarities and differences. Although the questions and answers were pre-prepared the interview developed into a free conversation where the students and teachers all relaxed and began impromptu discussions. This learning was wonderful and helped everyone realise the value of what we had achieved.
We decided then and there that we would all be keen to do it again, so we made another attempt to connect again to allow more students to participate and enjoy this experience. For the first interview, we gained permission to allow student collaboration and in school private sharing but not public sharing of the session. For the second session, with experience behind us, we gained the appropriate permissions for this collaboration to be shared publicly and incorporate it into this post.
Unfortunately, Neither Jill or I bothered to check the time charts…we did it at these times only a month ago so the times worked for everyone, or so we thought. What we didn’t consider was the timeshift when moving in and out of Daylight savings! A lesson learnt. Unfortunately, due to this, the second hangout did not eventuate. We arrived an hour late; and they were wondering where we were an hour earlier. But all those who were in attendance at Ocean Voew College B-12 are all very keen to maintain the connections, even if it doesn’t mean face-to-face yet. We have already pencilled in the earliest viable date & time in early November.
The learning behind this experience is beyond anything any of these students has ever had before and the significance is something that these students will reflect upon and draw upon for the remainder of their lives. To encourage this we are providing the opportunities in class for these students to collaborate and connect through asynchronous means including letters at the moment and in the future we will share audio and video presentations.
We have a shared Google Doc folder where we can upload items for the other school to retrieve and engage with.
This experience has enabled all participants to develop their sense of being a true global learner. And because of this experience we have all learnt so much both explicitly and incidentally.
Thank you to Jill Thompson @Edu_Thompson for the initial connection and then to Jill Muller and your team (Ms Huntly, Ms Parks, Ms Graham and Ms Williams) and all of the students at Highland Renaissance Academy for your support and participation. Also, I would like to thank the staff and students at Ocean View College B-12 for your enthusiasm and excitement.
Unfortunately I don’t have a clip to add for you to watch but I will attempt to gather some images and add them to the post soon.
Have you have any amazing Global learning experiences?
What were the “take away’s ” from your experiences?
It is great to learn new ways to present learning to students but I believe flipping (although it has its merits) is not always the best method. I would rather see education change from a consumption of information to the apprenticeship of learning. This apprenticeship would teach the tools in the tool box (this may be done in an exploratory manner or flipped). Once the basics of the tools are established including rules and safety precautions. The students are then required to apply this foundation knowledge to the tool and demonstrate competencies in the possible use of it. George Couros wrote a post about the impact the “Flipped” classroom, and how it will not transform schools. His basic description of the Flipped classroom:
The idea of having students spend more time working in the classroom and connecting with the teacher, and having the content shared during a time where they can pause and watch the content at their own speed.
Although Flipped is great in theory there are some floors to the process. Teachers must become guide of learning and experiences. Teachers are the ones to share the Tool box and introduce the learners to appropriate “tool of the trade”.
“Thinking outside the square”, is a phrase we have all heard and used, but how many of us truly impress this on our students? How many classrooms share the basics information about something and then let the students explore and discover what they can about it?
CHALLENGE: Give a group of students an ambiguous object, maybe an old meat grinder, or a shoe horn. Ask them to hypothesise as to what the item is if you have students who know what the items are have them work on a different item or help with the suggestions about how this item might be used and how it’s purpose could change. This is the traditional model of “thinking outside the square”. Propose that in addition to these theories, students advertise the product, make a TV and printed advertisement. Present a ‘but wait there’s more…a set of steak knives!, in the shopping centre’ type demonstration of the item and see how many others were convinced.
Think about all of the Key Learning Areas the students would be using… Literacy/language, writing, public speaking, math -costings, video editing, desktop publishing, hypothesising (science), Humanities – the history of the item…and the list goes on.
Imaging a classroom where every student was working on their presentation using their chosen tool and media. Allow the students to choose the tools they use for their project and be there as a guide to support them in their discovery and learning.
I have always held the philosophy that: “You only have complete knowledge when you can teach it to someone else“. In many cases this is true, but the majority of information anyone needs to know these days can be found either by using a search engine (i.e. Google), YouTube for a video demonstration, picture search or even seeking relevant information from social networks. In recent times I have come to revisit my philosophy and am now working under the idea that “Sound knowledge is developed through exploration and meaningful experiences“.
Given the support and the time everyone can explore, discover and learn. The skills students are coming into schools with today are far broader than just a few years ago. They are now very connected even before they start Kindergarten. As teachers, it would be near impossible to keep ahead of all of our students in terms of technical knowledge and experiences. Thus, we must use the tool box of teaching in a different way. Rather than supplying the information and expecting to have it bounce back rebound style from our student’s when they have “learnt” it, we must provide key information and embrace their creative minds in making the discoveries and learning through their own processes. This may present more challenging to the teachers than the students as there would be no assessment schedule and no guiding boundaries, but this is what we are teaching our students for..an unknown future where they will not only need to be problem solvers but problem finders. they will need to identify local or global issues and then develop strategies to solve them.
This proces of investigation and exploration lends itself to “flipping the classroom” just as equally as conventional “un-flipped”. The process seems to be less of a factor to the learning than the process by which the learning was achieved, and both take the onus off the teacher and puts it back on the learner.
Flipping the roles not the classroom.
How do you provide the tools for your students?
Are your students the investigators or the consumers of learning?
A teenager or any young person using social networking is nothing unusual in modern society, and in fact if they are not connected in through one or more of these networks they are disconnected and have trouble keeping up with conversation. Other’s think they are different and continuing the conversation outside of school is something we as teachers we want to encourage and embrace. When teens use the medium as a tool to funnel bullying or undesirable behaviour it becomes an issue for both school and community.
After just reading a comment on Facebook posted by an old school friend in her frustration of her son’s experiences, I truly believe teens with Facebook and social networks are the “have’s” and those who don’t are “have-not’s”
“if your not on FB your not even worth talking to”.
To develop the education of young people and the appropriate behaviours online we MUST begin the education well before they are legally allowed to participate in such media. Just as we don’t give the keys to a car upon the teen’s 16th birthday and send them off on the roads alone with no guidance or supervision, – we instead sit beside them and guide them through the situations as they arise.
Alex Summers posted on the 17th November 2012: 6 Things to Teach Students about Social Media. In this post he says
There are several things that teachers can begin teaching students early on about social media that can help them as they enter college and the job force.
- Online Reputation
- Keeping Connections
- Establish Your Expertise
- Use it to Your Advantage
- Stay Tuned
I believe although as teachers we do have the resources to share proper use of social and opportunities to demonstrate this use in and educational environment, Parents must also play a significant part in this education. The need to be involved and discuss and share these online tools with their children from and age of about 7 right through to the mid to late teens and beyond. This will give all students the chance to become educated before participating and remain guided and supported throughout their developing maturity.
Parent’s, teachers and all adults must be supporting guides for the teens who are ‘coming of age’ in the social networking sense. We must teach what we can before they get the keys and once they have demonstrated they know the appropriate way to conduct themselves and drive themselves along the right road we can then begin to give them probationary licence to participate with some restrictions. After a period of time they can then gain full control of their account and network. But, again like driving there is allowance for social jurisdiction and loss of permit for misbehaviour and breaking the rules.
This structure has been very successful for many years for driving a motor vehicle so why not apply this to the internet superhighway? When cars began their evolution we only had bumpy unsealed roads and no speed limits. As we begin the evolvement of the internet and social media we must also reduce the speed limits and monitor more closely the ‘friends’ our young people connect with and how they communicate. We must monitor the traffic on the internet superhighway and ensure that networking can be utilised and applied at appropriate times whilst controlling the distraction of unproductive interruptions.
I know and understand the importance of using social networking with teenagers and young people. But when it is impacting upon them and their study it becomes another distraction rather than enhancing their collaborative working. I have previously suggested that changing the common title of networking from “social” to “collaborative”. My reasoning behind this is that the perception that social is unproductive and you can’t learn from social but collaborative has much more of a productive connotation where working together to achieve a common goal is more desirable.
As parents and teachers we are torn between the knowledge that participation is better that isolation, but when the impact is unproductive we know there must be some restriction.
But, how much restriction should we apply?
And, how can we truly determine what impact this restriction will have both academically and socially?