One idea that I am still mulling over is if and how I might “open” up EDU 807 to bring in additional voices of teachers and teacher educators who would want to experience the course in a MOOC-like manner. That is, participants would be able to listen in and participate in our class discussion, both in a synchronous manner through video conferencing as well as around discussions of our shared reading.
So, for all of you reading along this far… if you have any interest in this potential MOOC-like experience, please let me know by sharing a comment below or sending me a tweet or email. If there is enough interest, I may just pursue it.
More on EDU 807 to come soon, most likely around the idea of how we will use tools like Kami, Hypothes.is, and NowComment for our initial reading discussions.
For anyone that has read this blog, seen my guest post on the Heinemann website, or heard me speak in the past few months, you know that I am becoming more and more intrigued with Mozilla’s Popcorn as a digital writing tool. Last week, my students in ENG 201 started playing around with Popcorn as one possible tool for creating their final, multimedia projects.
Before I share this example from one of my students, Cali Winslow, I wanted to note just a few quick notes about helping guide students to this point of the semester.
First, I have been fortunate enough to teach and honors section this semester. While most times I teach English 201 I am focused in on various forms of academic writing, and especially on the techniques of argument, this particular semester has been interesting because I am guiding students, as freshmen, to think about what they want to do for their senior honors capstone research project. As a part of this work, students will be submitting what I’m calling a “very rough draft” of what they would like to do as a senior honors project proposal.
Second, because we’ve been talking about digital writing throughout the semester, I am asking them to share their final presentation not just as a PowerPoint, but in some kind of multimedia form. Over the past few weeks we have begun looking at a number of different tools, and Popcorn is one of them. My hope is that the few students will use this tool for their final projects, especially since I have so many students interested in topics related to media.
All of this is a lead up to what I found to be a truly wonderful project. Mind you, this was meant as an opportunity for play and exploration, a formative assessment opportunity just to see what students could come up with in a limited amount of time. My guess is that Cali spent much more than just a “few extra minutes” outside of class to get this creative representation of her many “fandoms.” In fact, she noted in her reflection, there are many things to consider when embarking on such a project:
This project revealed some important benefits and drawbacks of using multimedia presentations. One clear benefit is that, if executed properly, it can provide a concise, engaging presentation related to the topic. A one-minute video can be much more compelling than a page of text presenting the same information. It also allows the author to be more creative in how they present their message, which can draw a wider audience. As with any media, however, there are some limitations. The biggest problem, in my presentation, was due to technological issues. As I mentioned, I had five tracks that were all timed precisely to fit with one another. Several times I tried to play them back and one would glitch and become out-of-sync with the others, which in some cases, even somewhat changed the message I was trying to get across (some of you may also have had this problem if you tried watching my video).
This is one of those projects where a student clearly went above and beyond, and I think you’ll find the final results to be compelling and creative. If this is what she was able to create just playing around with Popcorn for fun, I can’t wait to see what she — and all of my students — with their final projects.
In the next few weeks, I will be participating in a few events related for Digital Learning Day. Here’s one of them:
January 19, 2014: Celebrate Digital Learning!
As you prepare for Digital Learning Day (#DLDay) — February 5, 2014 — join two NCTE members and edubloggers for a conversation about classroom technology’s past, present, and future.
Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax) and Troy Hicks (@hickstro) will host #nctechat on Sunday, January 19th, 8 PM EST, and will invite you to consider three big questions while sharing tech tips and teaching tools:
To begin, what was your first brush with technology and how did it change the way you wrote, read, and interacted with others?
As you think about your classroom right now, what are your plans for Digital Learning Day this year? With critics concerned that technology has become more and more of a distraction, how can we help our students stay focused on smart, intentional work?
Finally, what are you looking forward to learning, trying, or making in 2014?
Join us for a conversation about the history of Digital Learning Day and great ideas for teaching digital reading and writing in your English classes!
Darren Burris: @dgburris Teacher & Instructional Coach at Boston Collegiate Charter
It was an incredibly fast-paced and informative conversation, especially because we thought we had to get it all in 30 minutes and were then allotted about 45. A few of us tried to keep pace with the #TheDigitalClassroom on Twitter. A few retweets are still happening today, and I hope that other colleagues involved in teacher education and professional development may find this a timely and useful resource for sharing during workshops and methods courses.
After an email exchange with Antonio Rowry, a cofounder at 21st Century Youth Project, I felt it was appropriate to share the work of their organization here on my blog. They describe themselves as “an innovative after school initiative to do a small part to change education” and here is more straight from Antoinio:
The idea first came to us when we read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. To give a quick synopsis, one of our major takeaways from the book is that to become very successful, it’s a combination of several elements: perfect place, perfect timing, with the proper training. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell highlights the massive forces that combined to produce Bill Gates and Bill Joy. They had access to computers and equipment that enabled them to code far before most of the people their age. What does the 21st Century Youth Project entail:
Mobile App Development: We are using the Google Android platform where the students will each create their own unique app. The fun part about this is that they can create apps for their friends, family, schools, places of worship, or for the general community. We want to develop leaders, and we’re excited about the power of a student creating an app for their school, and receive recognition for the contribution in the same way as a school athlete.
SAT Training: We want to develop students for the next level, being college. Enabling them to slowly receive instruction, we hope to improve their scores so they can attend the school of their dreams. I’m particularly excited about the opportunity to give ACT/SAT math training to communities where paying $1,000 for a class isn’t an option. In many ways, your scores on standardized tests are directly linked to income levels and training, and we’re aiming to bridge that gap.
Business Planning: In addition to building an app, we want the students to understand the business implications and executions of their concepts. They will be formed into teams to discuss their business opportunities and create value for their customers.
Mentorship: The founder, Prof. Emile Cambry, Jr. is excited to give back because he was very fortunate to be a byproduct of many free educational programs that exposed him to business. Growing up, he thought he was going to be a doctor, but his mother always enlisted him in several programs to learn. It has led to his intellectual curiosity and more importantly; he realized business was his calling. He had attended the LEAD Program in Business and in many ways; the 21st Century Youth Project is based on their implementation. The students will be taking tours to college campuses, primarily those with strong computer or engineering departments, attending technology events in Chicago, and attend lectures taught by Chicago software developers.
Open-Source Educational Curriculum: We are slowly enabling, on an invite-only basis, an opportunity to create a dynamic curriculum to be used in the classroom. This curriculum can be edited like Wikipedia and by keeping it open and dynamic, we hope to develop the best curriculum that isn’t based on state mandated codes, but instead, on what is best for the children. We will have topics in business, technology, finance, film, music, fashion, etc. We only care about providing instruction that the students respond to and learn the most.
After nine months of meetings, conference calls, presentations, and pitches to parents, students, faculty, and administrators, we are finally launching the 21st Century Youth Project. Our first day was February 12th, 2011, one of our MOST personally and professionally satisfying experiences. We’re documenting the progress of the pilot in hopes that we can gear up for a highly successful summer program.
For many years, I have been a fan of Thinkfinity, especially ReadWriteThink. And, while I have generally stopped posting messages about new web-based products and services from the many, many emails that I get each month, this one caught my attention:
The Verizon Foundation have partnered with nationally recognized leaders in educational disciplines including literacy, math, humanities and science to create Verizon Thinkfinity. The award-winning free digital experience brings to life educational resources, interactive games, lesson plans, news, and webinars to foster excellence in students, parents and teachers alike and was recently named a “Best In Tech” website by Scholastic Administrator.
Thinkfinity’s lesson plans are tailored to meet state-standards in teaching and all K-12 resources are grade-specific in hopes to raise educational standards by offering excellent resources to kids, parents and teachers, in addition to providing an extended community for all. Verizon Thinkfinity Professional Development engages educators with online and in-person training to assist with them with not only effectively navigating the site, but also integrating the vast array of Thinkfinity resources into the classroom.
The folks at Thinkfinity are eager to have you peruse the site and its resource and provide them feedback from your experiences in hope you find resources and materials available to be a fantastic way to inspire both students and teachers towards achieving their goals in education.
So, there you go — even though summer is nearing an end, this is a useful update on Thinkfinity. If you want more info, you can contact Clint Kaminska at Mainframe Interactive.
Email him at: clint [at] mfinteractive [dot] com
Back to school begins for many of this week, including faculty development days for me beginning tomorrow. Happy new (school) year!
Today, I received an exciting announcement from Kellie Bramlet with MIT Press Journals. In addition to the series of books that they released last year with a Creative Commons license, they are now offering the following new journal:
The International Journal of Learning and Media
MIT Press, in cooperation with The Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE), is pleased to announce the publication of the first issue of The International Journal of Learning and Media (IJLM). A first of its kind, the journal is devoted to examining the intersection of media and learning in multiple contexts. Volume 1, Issue 1, edited by David Buckingham, Tara McPherson and Katie Salen, is now available for FREE at http://ijlm.net . While IJLM retains the peer-review process of a traditional scholarly journal, its editorial vision and electronic-only format permit more topical and polemic writing, visual and multimedia presentations, and online dialogues. IJLM will allow the broad community interested in digital media and learning to share its insights using the tools of digital media. Sections of the journal range from shorter pieces on critical issues of a timely nature, through longer essays on keywords shaping the landscape of learning and media today, to traditional peer-reviewed scholarly articles.
http://ijlm.net is currently in its beta stage and we welcome your comments, questions and thoughts on how to improve the site. Please contact us by clicking on the Feedback button in the upper right corner at http://ijlm.net
The development and publication of IJLM is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of its 5-year, $50 million, initiative in digital media and learning.