Thursday, 31 January 2013

Website whiteboard

Inexpensive and convenient, the White board has provided me with a place to explain my ideas to my students for many years. It still does, in fact. I've never used an interactive whiteboard, but I've heard they are good. That is until you go to a classroom which doesn't have one as my friend pointed out. 

Even so, it gets annoying when you have to write the same thing over and over again. Furthermore, I wanted my students to have a copy of what I had written. To save time I told them to take pics, but they were difficult to see.
I needed a new way to display and save the information I was writing on the board. The answer lay in something I had been using for a few months already.

Screen shot from Wiki page.

I have a projector in the classroom, so all I have to do is project the Wiki page on the screen. I can then type my notes for the day live.

It can be saved or edited at anytime and the best part of all is, my students can access it at anytime.

Now, my students can access all the notes from each day. They can get or even add new information to it. Everything from homework, deadlines, useful information can easily be displayed on the page.

It even allows me to add videos, audio tracks and upload PDF files which the students can then down load. Now because of this flexibility and the prospect for collaboration & sharing with my students, I now have a truly interactive whiteboard.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

To blend or not to blend. Isn't that the question?

I've come to realise that in order to blend, it is important to go the whole way. By this I mean, the way students access notes, where they hand in homework as well as a place to collaborate with the teacher and other students. 

Over the last year or so I have gone from thinking that eLearning is the way to save modern day education. I then swung back after a little more research of my own to decide that it was just the old wrapped up in the ways of the new. Now, I guess I am somewhere in the middle. 

In my classroom I have created a fully online environment. On the first day of class I tell the students that there will be no paper. All work will have to be submitted online and all handouts can be downloaded online.

Of course there is some trepidation by the students and teachers. I had one student who told me that he had never used Wikis or computers before. He was genuinely worried about the whole prospect of this tech class. Anyway, I gently pointed out that all students in the class had never used a Wiki and together, as a class, we would learn how to use it. 

Anyway, that student became one of the heaviest users of the site. He was embedding video, changing the code, collaborating with other students online, emailing me for advice. I have experienced this a few times now and I have come to an understanding regarding tech in the classroom. 

The students will do what is asked of them. If we tell them to upload work online they will learn how to do it. If we ask them to create a web page with pictures, writing and links, they will do it. I  used to think that I shouldn't use too much tech for fear that they will not be able to use it. I now realise it is my own fear that prevents me from trying out new stuff.

I hope I am / have gotten over that fear now.