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Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0’

I mentioned a new collaborative blog a few posts ago, HowToUse65, that a few teachers at my school started last month in order to foster communication and collaboration as we move to a new Master Schedule this fall. The new schedule will incorporate some longer periods (65 min) every 7 days. So, rather than just talk for an additional 20 minutes when that block comes around, what’s the best use of that time? That’s how the blog was born, and I’d love to hear any input you have on that topic (here in Comments, or at HowToUse65).

But it also got me thinking about how to collaborate with other educators (beyond my department, building, and school), and we’re all working to expand our PLNs to widen the net that we cast. And then I came across this post at TeachPaperless Collaboration and Lesson Planning by Andrew Coy, about summer planning and collaboration. Has anyone used this new Common Curriculum software? It looks really interesting. The four steps outlined on the opening page are:

  • Create Curricula
  • Publish Globally
  • Share Internally
  • Connect With Educators

This is what we’ve been looking for. I’m going to try it out.

Other teachers in Andrew’s post above mentioned Planbook.edu, OneNote, Edmodo.com, and wikispaces as ways that they plan (and sometimes collaborate) online. Are there others that you use?

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“Therefore, the technology cannot be discussed in isolation—it must be com bined with a description of the teaching strategy. A description of the manner in which a pedagogical strategy is combined with technology to teach specific content is crucial” (Bull, Bell).

At this point it’s become a little cliche to say that we don’t want technology to drive curriculum; we want technology to support curriculum, but it’s absolutely true. This is part of what Bull and Bell are saying above. The next step obviously is to say that the point is not to use computers to do the same old things (show pictures on a screen, type a report), but to find ways of using computers to allow kids to do things that they couldn’t do before (the internet helps with this, of course), with the goal of learning something useful (whether that’s science, math, French, or History). The tech is not the end product (we don’t really even need to teach them to use PowerPoint anymore so much as help them use PowerPoint effectively to show what they know, for example). But even that is fairly limited use of technology in the classroom, and doesn’t even qualify as Web 2.0, since it’s fairly static.

Our kids all use computers. In our school, incoming seventh graders next year will all have laptops as a part of their school “kit.” This presents some challenges in the area of classroom attention, focus, and work habits (keeping kids on target, working on the task at hand instead of browsing, etc), but it also presents some opportunities that did not exist before. The access to information is unprecedented. Students still need guidance on what to do with that information, and more and more, they need help sorting through and prioritizing the information that they find. They’re not so good at Googling yet.

There’s a ton of untapped potential in the area of collaboration and communication with the help of technology (as authors Bull and Bell point out). Having partners in a classroom use Google Docs to share research for a project allows them to do things they are not able to do with pen and paper and hard-copy notes (unless they were faxing each other copies of their notes each night, reading, and comparing. Does anyone fax anything anymore, outside of doctors’ offices?). The SHARING of their research (in real time) lets them divide and conquer topics more effectively, note the progress of a partner, and share their work with a teacher all at the same time (by inviting that teacher as a Collaborator as a new way of “turning in” work, another real time way to see work that also happens to be paperless!). They can also share information on the cloud, and work together while each in their own home. The time stamp and revision history features of Google Docs are also useful from a teaching and assessment perspective.

Friedman refers to the availability of information and the “flatness” of the world now, thanks to changes in technology infrastructure, speed of communication, and the subsequent leveling of the playing field. This matters in the classroom as well. How important are “recall of facts” skills relative to the ability to connect those facts with meaningful relationships? Where does learning happen? Are we still disseminators of information? (The sage on the stage model?) I think not, and since we’re in the thick of things, right in the midst of all this change with a number of new tools at our fingertips, it’s an exciting time to be in education.

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