iPad: helpful tool for faculty

iPad: helpful tool for faculty

Originally uploaded by seanmckay

I’m grading this morning and the iPad continues to wow me in being a part of a mobile toolkit for working with my class. First off, I appreciate the ease with which I’m able to navigate 15 weeks of course material on the iPad. Scrolling with a wheel or magic mouse gets tedious with the number of screenfulls on my course homepage. The iPad, however, provides an efficient scrolling solution. Swiping through the pages is a much quicker process.

The iPad proves to be a portable and handy 2nd screen while I’m grading student work. I was able to view and bring up student work on the iPad while editing my feedback using my MacBook Pro. The iPad’s screen is excellent for reading and eliminates the need to switch between multiple windows or tabs on my laptop.

Quick, instant on browsing access is a serious strength for the iPad. The only wait time that I’ve experienced is when I first bring the iPad into a new wifi network as it takes a few moments for it to connect to the access point.

Finally, the iPad’s email application is incredible. The screen it completely utilized for email — no general operating system user interface bits and pieces are visible…just email. Furthermore, an iPad with an Exchange connection to Google Apps for GFU (including Gmail, which is coming this summer) means I have my email, my calendar, and the university address book available.

All in all, I have not missed Adobe Flash. The only site that I have encountered a problem with is Flickr’s Flash based slideshow.

That’s all for now. I will continue to share as I gain more experience.


Blog Assignment

Your assignment is to create a blog. Decide upon a plan for using a blog in your classroom and setup a basic scaffolding for your blog there. Share with the rest of us, using your blog, what your vision and plan for a blog for class would be. Some of you might decide to create a blog that is not focused on your classroom, but on other topics of interest to educators. I’m happy to be flexible with the exact focus. My primary objective is that you have an opportunity to setup a new blog that is professionally oriented around topics such as teaching, learning, your classroom, educational technology, school administration, etc.

Once you have setup your blog, please share the link to it in our Blog Discussion Forum in FoxTALE.

If you have any questions about the assignment, please use the Blog Discussion Forum.

Desktop or local wiki solutions

I’m thinking about offline or local wiki solutions that can run in a lab or on a classroom computer. Next week, we’ll be discussing web-based solutions that can work in the classroom and I’m hoping to put together a list of solutions that will work even in a classroom with only one computer.

So far, I have the following solutions:

  • Swiki (http://wiki.squeak.org/swiki/)–the first wiki I ever deployed. It has served us well for many years and can run on just about any old computer (Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, Windows 2000-Vista).
  • Tiddlywiki (http://www.tiddlywiki.com)–a new favorite. This gem can be run from your local hard drive or uploaded to a server and served up over HTTP.
  • MoinMoin desktop edition–This is a Python based wiki that is quite functional. I have not had a chance to use it much though.

What are you using for a standalone wiki engine?

The 3 “R’s”: Rigor, Relevancy, Relationships

Diane Demée-Benoit from the George Lucas Foundation mentioned the 3 R’s today in her talk about Technology-Infused Project-Based Learning at the annual OTEN conference in Portland today.

She mentioned the importance of raising the bar in education. Instead of saying, “do a ‘PowerPoint’ on rain forests”, teachers need to ask questions and curriculum needs to be based on inquiry research, centered around critical questions, and deeper levels of thinking.

Problem-based or project-based learning provides opportunities for students to engage actively and self direct their learning. It provides connections with outside experts and resources. It is a cooperative learning environment where students are active in creating the learning activities around a project.

King Middle School, Maine

Diane showed a video about how Maine’s King Middle School used the laptops from their program to transform their curriculum. Instead of buying textbooks for students, they bought laptops for every 7th grade student in the state. The students at King Middle School developed multimedia reports, CDs, videos, and newsletters regarding field experience, and expedition learning projects they engaged in.

Every student had access to high quality learning and produced excellent products. Students were working together on collaborative projects and the curriculum was integrative of multiple subject areas. Art students produced scientifically accurate water color illustrations for the project, the orchestra produced the soundtrack for the project, and the media/film department developed a documentary about how the project was created. Summing up the experience at King Middle School, one of the students said, “No one around here feels like they are stupid any more.”

Nuuana Elementary, Honolulu, Hawaii

  • Let every kid, not just the “good kids” use the technology, otherwise everyone won’t have an opportunity to learn.
  • Students created autobiographies and histories of their families using multimedia tools. They were able to find ways to communicate about their family history using audio, pictures, and video, as well as writing.
  • The students at Nuuana engaged in a project where they collected data about a local stream’s health. They worked together with the city’s department that keeps track of water quality and captured and produced a video of the work that they did together. One of the city’s scientists commented that the kids who are participating in projects like this realize that “[These are] not just lessons, this is real life.”
  • It’s ok if there are technical issues in the midst of a project–let the kids work out and solve the problems themselves.

Union City, New Jersey

Turn around story. In 1989 they had the worst test scores. Today, they have the highest test scores in the state. They focused on the following principles:

  • Early literacy
  • Project based learning
  • Infusion of technology in every aspect of learning
  • All education should focus on the child

Made changes in how they spent money: they spent less on textbooks and spent more on computers and changed their curriculum to more project-based learning exercises. As the elementary students made their way into middle and high school, they became a force of change in the high school. Teachers who used traditional teaching methods were challenged by students who had spent their elementary and middle school years engaged in project based learning using the internet for research. Instead of relying on encyclopedias in the library, these students would engage in active research on the internet.

My First Class in Second Life

Met together with my First Year Seminar students yesterday to talk about our class together. We had a good time getting to know each other better and getting ready for this semester. We are going to use Facebook as place to share our weekly reflections during the course and I’ve assigned Justin, Taylor, and Alison the responsibility for setting up a procedure for how we will be using Facebook for sharing our reflections (I’ll be crossposting this to Facebook). In case you didn’t know we’ll also be holding class in the virtual world of Second Life — this is the first course I will be teaching using Second Life. Anyone else out there teaching a course in SL?

I’m hoping that we will have an opportunity to build a community of learners together that will have greater opportunities to interact with each other because we can all meet together regardless of whether we are in class or in the same dorm or on the same campus. I also hope that we will be able to stay in touch after our sessions are over.

More to come…

New year coming

Some leaves have started to turn on the maple in the backyard and you can almost feel fall in the air. This is a great time of year and I’m excited for what is coming. This semester I will be teaching two courses. One, first year experience for incoming freshman, and the other a course in our EDFL program on technology in the classroom. The two should provide an interesting contrast as one will be centered around new beginnings for mostly 18-20 year olds who are starting their undergraduate experience and the other about equipping in-service educators/adult-learners with skills for using technology in their classrooms and schools.

This year also marks a first for the SOE in that all of the school’s faculty on the Newberg campus will be located in one building. It will be good to be able to so quickly “walk the halls” and touch base with so many of our faculty in one building.

What does the semester hold for you? Are you facing new challenges or opportunities? Leave a comment and let me know.

Yes, but who is actually teaching in SL?

Sylvia has some excellent insights into the world of Second Life. I have been growing sceptical regarding its potential for online teaching and learning. It is certainly an immersive and captivating environment but I question its ability to be used to actually deliver lessons to students. I’ve found myself several times over the past few months asking the question, “Who is actually teaching a course in SL?” …and the big guns from SLED have no idea. There are a lot of educators going around talking about it, but very few actually doing it. So, here is an informal poll — are you teaching an actual course in SL? Please leave a comment if you are.