Teachers who are new to online teaching and learning need a place to begin, some scaffolding to help them restructure their courses and make sense out of this new world. So I came up with these 5 building blocks to give our teachers a foundation on which to build their online courses.
I. Content – Provide students with content to learn.
*Goal will be to use more than one content type per lesson
- Games that teach the concept
- Interactive learning modules
- Google Earth, Sky, 3D
- Online flashcards
II. Social component—(learning is socially constructed)
Asynchonous (not in real time)
- Discussion boards
- Commenting on each other’s work
- Small groups in Edmodo
- Interview someone through email
Synchronous (in real time)
- Gchat/video chat
- Live classroom discussions
- Collaboration with peers
- Interview someone through skype or google video chat
III. Do Something – the assignments –these are as authentic and relevant as possible – real problems or challenges
- Write, produce, create, think critically, solve problems…
IV. Share It – students should then share their Do Something with peers or with the online community (the Creative Commons) – to build knowledge. Our students are Knowledge Curators and Producers, not just consumers.
V. Assess learning
- Can assess their Do Somethings
- Peer review Do Somethings
- Quizzes/tests – formative and summative
- Standardized assessments when needed
- Pre and post testing to measure success
Just like with real building blocks, teachers can rearrange them, stack them, lay them flat, and build until they have created something that reflects their vision. Oh, and it’s fun.
I want to start sharing more examples of what I mean by Positive Technology. I’ve coined this phrase to try to get at the heart of what I love about technology, which has nothing to do with the actual “thingness” of it, but everything to do with how it is used to genuinely improve our lives in a way that has to do with the relational, whether it’s intrapersonal (helping us to understand ourselves) or interpersonal (how we relate to the other 7 billion of us out there and the planet that we all share).
Example 1: I was leading a workshop for teachers the other day on global collaborations. I started out by mentioning Skype. “Of course you all know about Skype and how that might come in handy in these projects,” I said. The five teachers in this small group looked at me, then each other, then back at me, and one finally said in a very embarassed and apologetic way, “I’ve never used it.” Turns out, none of them had. So we spent the next 45 minutes downloading Skype on their MacBooks, role playing with one of them moving out to the hall and pretending to lead a session with another teacher in the room pretending to be her homeschool student, sharing files and desktops, laughing and gasping and oohing and ahhing over the possibilities in education. At the end of the session as everyone was about to leave, one of the teachers leaned over and whispered something to another teacher, whose eyes immediately filled with tears. After everyone had left she explained to me that her friend had asked her how her mom was doing. Her mom is in hospice care on the other side of the country and she hadn’t seen her for months. But at that moment, she realized she could actually visit her mom in hospice through Skype. “This is a miracle,” she said to me. “You’ve just changed my world.”
Example 2: Allie, my 13 year old, and I were at dinner last night. Any of you who have had 13 year olds, or who remember what it was like to be a 13 year old, know that communicating with their parent is not always their favorite thing to do. In fact, Allie’s favorite thing to do is put in her earbuds, turn up Nicki Minaj, and tune me out. I have struggled over the years with our communication, so this is nothing new. Allie was adopted from Haiti when she was almost three, and we’ve spent 10 years trying to overcome those first three years of not knowing each other. So when we find things in common to chat about, it’s a happy moment. Allie loves three things (besides Nicki Minaj). She loves books, technology and games. We have the first two in common, but I’m not much of a gamer. However, we always play hangman or tic tac toe on napkins in restaurants while we’re waiting to be served. After 10 years of this, it’s getting a bit old, but habits are hard to break. Last night I pulled out my iPad to check my mail, then it occurred to me that we could play hangman on the iPad instead of on a napkin. Great! I handed it over to Allie to find a free app, and away we went. I won when she couldn’t guess the word “bovine.” Then we decided to play Words with Friends (the restaurant was busy so we had plenty of time to kill). Then she said she’s always wanted to learn chess, and maybe we could find a chess game. I wanted to learn too, so I splurged and paid 99 cents to download the app with tips for beginners. We spent the next hour trying to figure out which piece did what, wiping wasabi off the screen, and laughing about our pathetic skills as we tried to figure out the basics together. We’re moving to Brazil soon, and I told her there will be a lot of cafes there where we can sit outside and spend hours trying to improve our game. I could see she was visualizing her many future triumphs over me, but I felt like I had already won with that 99 cent download.
No iPad? No problem. Make a multimedia etext with iAuthor and share it with your students for free on any computer.Posted: February 15, 2012
I wanted to make a multimedia etext for students, but ran into a little trouble. One, our students don’t have iPads to read the new iBooks created from iAuthor, and two, they aren’t getting them anytime soon.
But no worries, I found a way to create rich multimedia etexts or learning modules that your students can download for free on a Mac or PC. They can even take notes on it, highlight passages, and search through the entire text for a word or phrase. Read the rest of this entry »
Positive Technology is my spin on Positive Psychology. I used to teach a class in Positive Psychology and I loved the focus on using our minds to create engagement, flow and happiness in our lives. I see technology in the same way. It can be used to make us better people and improve our world.
As a technology coordinator, I am charged with the task of helping teachers to integrate technology into their curriculums. Teachers frequently ask, “What program/app/web 2.0 thing should I use?” and my answer is always, “What are you trying to teach, and what skill or character trait would you like your students to develop?”
- Trying to teach math concepts? Khan Academy might help.
- Trying to teach compassion? Go to Heifer.org and teach students how a class fundraiser of $120 can buy a pig that will change an impoverished child’s life.
- Trying to teach critical thinking and problem solving? Let your students embark on ThinkQuest competition.
Positive Technology is all about putting human development and global improvement first, and using technology to support it.
Click here to see the spreadsheet of Global Education Resources.
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Global Education is a compelling term that is getting a lot of use these days, which is great. But what exactly does it mean? Different things to different people, I’m sure, but here are my definitions:
Education is a basic human right (see the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26)
Everyone is entitled to a quality, free education
Global education is about sharing resources, collaborating, and learning from each other
Global education helps all students to become global citizens, something our students need to prepare for their futures
Technology can help create educational equity and a flat education – leveling the educational playing field
To further our understanding of Global Education, I have begun compiling a list of resources.