My latest podcast discusses Tech Fair, some astounding tech news, and podcasts. Remember a few years ago when everyone in education was talking about podcasting? We still should be!
BYOD (Bring your own device) initiatives have been around for more than a decade now in one form or another in schools and businesses. As I conduct workshops or engage in conversations with teachers on using student-owned mobile devices in the classroom, there is almost universal agreement as to the incredible potential of today’s pocket-sized supercomputers. There is, certainly, some trepidation, as well–questions regarding discipline, management, privacy, theft, etc. The thing is, while these concerns are not unjustified by any means, we are not blazing a new trail here. Thousands of classrooms have gone before us, and there is a mounting evidence in the research of the benefits to students of the well-planned BYOD program. For those on the precipice, here are 3 painless ways to test the waters when school starts this year.
1. Student Planning/Scheduling –Instead of having students copy assignments off of the dry-erase board or projector screen every Monday morning, as is the ritual in countless classes, have them use their cell phones’ calendar apps to save assignments, due dates, etc. As quickly as young fingers nimbly text on their tiny keyboards, this isn’t likely to take up more time than having them use paper and pen. It’s also more reflective of what most college students or adults would do in 2014. My daughter’s principal told me last week that students at her middle school will do this starting this fall–kudos to Mr. Garza for a great first step.
2. Class Backchannel –Using free tools like Todaysmeet, Google Forms, Twitter, etc., teachers can easily leverage student devices to gather student observations, understandings, and questions. These can be used for quick formative assessment during class to re-direct activities or instruction as needed to clarify or correct misunderstandings. By creating a unique class hashtag (e.g. #mrsmithsmath), Twitter goes from a potential distraction to a very powerful group discussion tool, and it is not necessary for users to follow one another to utilize a common hashtag. Just search for the hashtag within Twitter and see the entire discussion at once.
3. Podcasting –Class podcasts, especially audio podcasts, are very easy to create and provide a powerful tool for archiving student learning, sharing creative works, communicating news, and more. If you’re still not sure what a podcast is, it’s like a TV or radio series, only based on the web. Here’s an example by an educator friend, Technlandia. The great news is that it doesn’t take incredible techiness to be able to put together a show like this. Basically, you or your students record an audio file and upload it to a host site, like Podbean or Podomatic. Even easier, try a tool like Audioboo for Education. Audioboo’s app is ridiculously simple to use. Students can quickly record, title, tag, and upload audio podcasts to their own or a class podcast. Ease into the idea by having a student record announcements into a daily/weekly class podcast, then move on to letting a student share a short summary of the day’s lesson(s) at the end of class, share their writing, etc.
These aren’t flashy, but they’re easy to get you and your students started. The aim is to give students opportunities to leverage the bigger capabilities of their phones and get students viewing their phones as something more than entertainment or 24/7 pipelines to their friends. Not an easy task, but management gets easier as the novelty fades. I’ve heard of teachers using many different strategies to varying effect. At the outset, a simple technique is to require phones to be left face-down on the desk’s corner when not being used instructionally.
If you’re planning on giving BYOD a shot this year, good luck! It’s likely to be a learning process, as with any resource, and you and your kids will come to see ways to use the devices naturally and effectively with practice.
Discussion of some alternatives to essays or PowerPoints.
In this short episode, I had the privilege of interviewing my friend, Todd Nesloney, better known as @TechNinjaTodd of Twitter fame. Todd is a 5th grade math teacher here in Texas who was named one of “20 to Watch” by the National School Board Association this year. Todd and I chatted briefly about what it means to flip a classroom, the challenges, and the benefits.
Just posted a new podcast on the idea that our kids need more opportunities to engage in “productive failure”, or “failure to succeed”. The idea is taken from the engineering design process, and it focuses on the premise that high level problem solving will lead to many failures before it achieves success. I would very much welcome your thoughts on this. Agree? Disagree? How can we give our kids greater opportunities to fail to succeed in the curriculum?
This edition of the 2-Minute Tech Challenge is all about a great and often ignored tool that is on most teachers’ desktops: iTunes. Specifically, it’s about iTunesU, which is an amazing collection of lessons, lectures, demonstrations, and other resources on just about any and every topic imaginable. Elementary teachers can find math lessons on basic addition, for instance, while calculus teachers can take advantage of a large selection of lessons on math topics that might as well be in Martian to me. Seriously, it is an outstanding resource, and one that every teacher and student should explore.
And that is it–probably as easy as a 2-Minute Tech Challenge will ever get. Just post the title of the podcast/lesson you found in the comments and tell us why it interests you.
One more point I should make here is that Apple has created some great tools to allow teachers to put their content on iTunesU. If you’re a Seguin teacher who is interested in exploring how to do this, please get in touch with me, and we will make it happen. Have a great week!
Information, implementation guides, and early research on flipped classrooms:
Technology tools for flipping the classroom: