Posts Tagged ‘instructional technology’

Lunch and a Conversation with Denmark

October 8th, 2010 No comments

Along with a whimsical name, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan boasts a Canadian Armed Forces Base that serves as a NATO training base. I’ve enjoyed working with a number of young people from Europe as a result. They come and go. One girl returned to Denmark last June. We corresponded in fragments using Wikispaces over the summer. Two days ago she initiated contact with two former classmates currently in Room 7 while we were in the computer lab. The girls were very excited so I asked if she had Skype. Her father installed it quickly and within half an hour an inarticulate, somewhat repetitive conversation was in progress. Yesterday my young Danish contact phoned again. As I went off for lunch the girls and boys were back in conversation.

Location, location, location the real-estate agents are said to say. Location factors are still critical but not so much. I shifted my point of reference from “Mr Stange’s Class” to “Room 7”. It is one way to share ownership and reduce my primacy in the room. The name works but it references learning to a single room in a suburban school. The import of Web 2.0 is that location is increasingly irrelevant for many activities. Before Room 7 switched to what is laughingly referred to as the teacher’s computer, one boy tossed his Sony game into the center of the group. He had Skyped with their Danish friend himself. Not only is the technology in our classroom, it is also in my students hands. Skype is in five classrooms in our school at this point. It should be in all of them.

I am not a mathematics specialist but I am learning. Math manipulatives are one of the new learnings. When I introduce a new one in my room, I allow some time for play. After the possibilities have been explored, they can focus. I’m working for that with Skype. I want it to be a prosaic feature of learning; just part of the cloud of tools we reach for casually because at that particular moment it is the right tool for the job. Hand helds with wifi, iTouch, and smart phones are part of people’s lives now, dear God, why can’t they be part of learning?

Interactive Whiteboard Insights: The Reasons Why Interactive Whiteboards Are Being Attacked

June 13th, 2010 No comments
(Click the image for a larger view.)

I am a teacher. I have great respect for my colleagues around the world and for the profession itself. I chose to share this comic because it is an obvious exaggeration and in no way should be taken literally. It sheds light in a comical way on the ridiculous notion that IWBs in and of themselves are “bad” technology. Technology is just a tool. Hardware and software do not help our students learn in the absence of a teacher. It is completely up to the teacher whether or not an IWB is used effectively in the classroom.
Let me be clear, I don’t believe IWBs are appropriate for every classroom, but I do believe that interactive technologies in some form are.

I appreciate the time Emily Starr took to compile these arguments in favor of interactive white boards in our classrooms. My own use is evolving (as everything should) from strictly teacher-centered application to student-teacher shared space. My elementary students have shown an affinity to manipulating the board. As the year approaches its end, I have enjoyed stepping back and watching them use it for simple presentations. They move to the board to work out fractions or geometric shapes independently.

They use the classroom ActivBoard to share things they have published on third party applications most of the time. I need to introduce the ActivInspire software to them so they create their own flip charts. Time is against me so I guess that is a project for next fall. I know in the studio classroom I am planning to introduce, the ActivInspire will not take center stage. It will be a critical tool in my student’s learning.

Posted via web from edustange’s posterous

Studio Classroom: Designing Collaborative Learning Spaces — Campus Technology

May 20th, 2010 2 comments

A new type of classroom design, often called the classroom of the future, is becoming popular in K-12 and college environments. It’s based on the desire to move away from the traditional lecture-based pedagogy toward what is referred to as “studio teaching.” In this model, the instructor serves as a facilitator, by handing out projects, answering questions, providing resources, and moving around the room as necessary. Students work in groups to learn, and activities are structured to emphasize collaborative, active, student-based learning.

1. They have multiple electronic display surfaces oriented on different walls.
2. A good portion of the perimeter walls are made up of writing surfaces.
3. In some cases, the furniture is lightweight, movable, and reconfigurable to accommodate workgroups of various sizes.
4. At times, there is a formal instructor’s workstation. Alternatively, it might be mobile and small. In either case, most of the time the instructor is a wanderer, listening in on discussions, answering questions, and furnishing resource materials.
5. Remote control of the room’s audiovisual technology often is controlled from a wall-mounted control panel.
6. Though the entire building might have wireless network connectivity, an array of hardwired outlets is furnished to provide connectivity to support ultra-high-bandwidth multimedia applications.
7. The lighting is zoned such that the fixtures closest to the projection screens could be turned off independently of the other fixtures. Indirect lighting provides a comfortably soft illumination and is daylight-balanced.
Making it flexible8. The HVAC is quiet and possibly even independently controlled from each room.
9. For students who do not own their own laptops, a mobile cart of these devices could be available to support computer-aided learning activities as necessary
10. There may be fixed work surfaces along a portion of the periphery of the room.
11. The room would have a dedicated computer and DVD player and would be able to receive cable or satellite, as well as Internet based video programming.
12. Ceiling or flat panel speakers would be used to provide the sound from any recorded or live program material.
13. Dedicated video origination capabilities, consisting of cameras located at the front and rear of the room would be used to capture classroom activities.
14. Commonly, these rooms are designed with an enclosed equipment niche that provides access to the technology when necessary and hidden from view when appropriate.

I realize that my classroom has been morphing into a studio classroom. I have a request in for tables to replace the current horrifying student desk-chair rows. We will see if this request is met. If I can break free of the concept of students owning a desk I think the entire working environment will improve.

Posted via web from edustange’s posterous