Over the past couple of weeks I have come across lots of different tools that would be fantastic to try within your organisation. Many of these suggestions come courtesy of Twitter whilst others arrive via corridor/staff room chats!
Snapguide is a fantastic free IOS app that allows users to create simple step by step guides. Not only can the Teacher produce instructions for activities or experiments but learners could create their own. This has fantastic potential especially as they can import pictures in to their guides. Here is an example of a Snapguide for you to check out.
Watch2gether is a great website that allows you to watch a YouTube video with others. On loading the page watch2gether.com a private room is created and a unique URL assigned. You simply then share the link via email or using Facebook/Twitter. The private room requires you to enter a display name, and informs you when your friends have joined. The pane on the right allows you to discuss the video you are watching which is great for analysis or reflection.
Dispatch is a project management tool that allows you to add multiple files to a single ‘Dispatch’ including Messages, Notes, Files, Google Drive, Drop Box etc. Once you have added your files simply add Team Members (by adding their email addresses). All activity is time stamped to support project management.
I first started to explore the use of augmented reality within education some time ago. More recently i combined it with short assignment support video i created using VideoScribe. In short, I produced a short video that helped students to ensure they fully understand the assessment method, criteria and structure of their assignment. Using Aurasma I linked an image of the assignment brief to the short video clip. Student were impressed with the results especially when using an IPAD in class.
Whilst shopping at the weekend I called in to the O2 store and came across a product called appQuiz. In short it was simply an iPad dock with 4 buttons that allowed four people to complete a quiz game. I thought it had huge potential was a learning activity however after further enquiry it seemed you were limited to the quiz questions set by the app. I’m therefore keeping my eye out for other similar products online.
I recently attended the BETT 2013 exhibition at London Excel with some colleagues. This post aims to provide some commentary to the photos below. Personally I didn’t feel there were as many innovating products as there was at the previous BETT 2012, although many of last years highlights had been significantly upgraded especially in terms of design. I did take some inspiration from the furniture and exhibitor stands and felt that educational establishments would benefit from embedded touch screen technologies in classroom, corridor or active learning zone walls! Many exhibitors also had followed the Apple Store approach with brilliant white walls and large wooden tables. A Technogym rep explained how there products have been further developed – could we learn anything from them? Finally a presentation from Frog and there development within the school sector also provided a useful insight.
Last week I explored the use of Twitter in a class setting. Whilst watching a short documentary, learners were provided with an opportunity either take notes (with a pen and paper) or to use their mobile devices and send a Tweet. Hashtags were created and displayed on the whiteboard. The group often tell me they are constantly on Twitter and therefore i assumed they would take advantage of this opportunity. Unfortunately on reflection it was evident that the group preferred to take written notes! When i questioned their preferences/choice the main reason for lack of engagement was the fact that they saw their Twitter accounts as personal and did not wish to ‘Tweet’ about College work. On reflection I can fully understand this especially as the group was predominantly 16-18 year olds.
Fortunately I did attempt to lead by example and therefore was tweeting key facts and information throughout the documentary. In addition a colleague across the City also engaged with the activity (without being prompted) and he also managed to include professional sports players in the discussion. Learners were particularly intrigued that ‘other people’ were interested in what we were doing….. so maybe this approach can be revisited after setting up College Twitter accounts for my students?
visibletweets.com was used to display the # commentary (see slideshow below).
One the of challenges faced by many ‘Teachers’ is how best to evidence learning (the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, practice, or study, or by being taught) or progress made. Progress as a definition is “Forward or onward movement toward a destination.” however in an educational sense this is often applied to academic progress. The Ofsted CIF (2012) suggests ‘staff initially assess learners’ starting points and monitor their progress, set challenging tasks, and build on and extend learning for all learners’.
Today i attempted to use technology to support the tracking of progress made against standards, and to improve the timeliness of feedback in a class setting. Using Google Sites I created a ‘Lesson‘ which included a knowledge section, a range of activities (including extension activities), embedded media (video, podcasts, publications), and clear success criteria. At the end of the lesson section i embedded a Socrative Quiz. This was a short 8 question method of assessment for learning, used to check understanding on completion of the task. Learners were provided with a set of instructions and were tasked to complete the lesson and quiz within 1 hour. A crib sheet was provided for them to make notes and also record any questions they may have as they work through the resource. Individuals who completed the activities set were targeted to complete the extension activities as appropriate.
The images below aim to demonstrate some of the key impact measures of this technique. Firstly the Google Site is public although you could restrict this to your local domain if required, either way this allows individuals who missed the session or need to review aspects of the lesson a chance to do so 24/7. Using the Google iframe i was able to embed the m.socrative link within the site and simply provide the room number for students to enter. As learners worked through the quiz i was able to track live progress to see who was engaging with the assessment. I was able to share this live view with the group as learner ID numbers were used and therefore individuals scores were not identifiable to their peers. After each question learners received instant feedback as to whether they answered it correctly. This is especially important in a world where games consoles provide instant feedback yet educational establishments can take several weeks to mark learner work!
On completion, I was able to download the automated report which had built in conditional formatting, thus i was able to see during the lesson which learners had answered which questions correctly and use this information to target individual students.
This week I was notified that Concept Board had been integrated within Google Drive. I wanted to explore the potential of this integration within the classroom (although the next step if for collaborative learning outside of the classroom). On a basic level some of the features are similar to Prezi in that you have a blank canvas to collaborate whether that be designing processes, capturing ideas, or simply making notes. You can upload a range of existing documents *.pdf *.doc *.ppt etc, take screen shots, and add directional arrows and shapes with ease. Using a style can also enhance some of the other available tools such as the fine liner pen especially if you have large fingers! There is lots of potential for this especially for group activities both in and outside the classroom.
Already this year there has been several naturally occurring opportunities to promote the use of Google Sites for collaboration and measuring progress.
The first was during the January staff development training session where colleagues (some who didn’t even have Gmail accounts at the start of the session) worked together to build a wiki using as many of the Google Apps features to support their work. The approach was to introduce the group to Google Docs and demonstrate how to collaborate on a document. The next step was to create a Google Site and invite all participants to join with editing rights. As we only had 2 hours i had already created the site and added some pages which contained an activity brief. In pairs staff had to complete the collaborative activities remotely (although we were all in the same room), therefore any communications between group members must be via the site or using Gmail (or Circles). Like in a office environment colleagues were able to discuss, question, and ponder with the people sat directly next to them which promoted peer review and support. I was able to monitor progress remotely as well as circulate the room to provide any technical support. The outcome was the final wiki which was accessible for all colleagues to see.
This week I tried the same approach with a group of 14-16 year old learners. The result was equally impressive and the final wiki will be assessed as part of their module assignment. The main difference was that many of the learners already had gmail accounts and most were a lot more confident to explore the product independently. I was fortunate that in addition to the Learning Support Assistant who works with the group on a weekly basis I also had a volunteer. One of their directed activities was to remote ‘review’ and ‘check’ learners and highlight any areas for improvement during the task. The impact of this was extremely powerful especially around basic spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes (and also plagiarism!). One other benefit of this was the ability to use the ‘page revisions’ feature which allowed for learners to access previous versions if work was deleted or change by mistake.