Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Voice Commenting in Google Docs! Can it get any easier?

Collaborators can now comment on documents in Google Docs which is a terrific feature for classroom teachers! How? You'll need to install the free app Learn.ly to your account, open the file differently, click record, and then share the recording with collaborators. It is really easy. Watch this brief video which walks you through the process!

Friday, April 19, 2013

I have failed or "seen the light!" I can't do it...

FOR you. It has taken me nearly 20 years, but I NOW GET it!

In my current role as an educational technology facilitator, I spend a lot of time developing trainings for teachers that will help them integrate technology into their instructional program. After "discovering" the technology tool(s) and seeing ways that can be used to engage learners, I develop the content, organize it and then create a training, nicely packaged. Teachers come. They learn. I try to make it easy for them! I am there to guide and support them, keeping them from frustrations (at least some of them).
We have fun! Despite my best efforts (and the efforts of the teachers) the training so many times isn't implemented. There are a myriad of reasons, but I think the biggest is that I was trying to do too much FOR them.

The piece that really takes the time is the shift in pedagogy that comes with using technology in new ways. Very few come prepared for that. First, we are asking teachers to create more student-centered classrooms. Technology (the piece we have advertised) comes after that. There is really no way that a teacher can come and shift their practice to facilitator, learn the tool, see the implications for integration with the content, and understand how to introduce it in the classroom in a few hours. In fact, this blog post The Ugly Truth of Technology Integration by Mark Fijor says it well.

Constructing and communicating knowledge is personal, is messy, and takes time, whether it be teachers or students. If we can help teachers see the opportunities and then commit to spending time developing their understanding and skills, we will all be more successful, students included. I hope that I am prepared to make the shift to facilitator as well!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Flat Classroom 15 Challenges

Recently, I purchased Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds - Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time figuring that it might make it easier for me to help teachers ease into global projects if we had a process. I have been a huge fan of Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay and the Flat Classroom Project ever since I was introduced to it in Atomic Learning back in 2008. Being a Google Apps district as well as an Edmodo one, we have lots of tools that we can employ in our classrooms to be successful with global projects. We also have a diverse population that should be able to help us make the connections. Everything seems to be in place!

So, in an effort to share my interest in making global connections (and in conjunction with our Google + Networks = Collaboration Network this summer), I thought I would publicly share my experience with the Flat Classroom 15 Challenges! I'm curious to see how much "overlap" their is with the way we are planning our summer networks!

Challenge 1: Set Up Your RSS Reader
To be honest, Google Reader was not my thing. Something about the visual layout never worked for me. I did have an iGoogle start page until our district went Google Apps and we removed that feature due to security concerns with students.
I am a Diigo user and belong to the Diigo in Education group which is a group that I learn from constantly. Love it! (Shameless plug!) I have a Diigo SBISD group that I then share my finds with. I am a bit disorganized and probably not very efficient when it comes to my PLN. Somedays I use my bookmarks bar, some my TweetDeck account, etc. However, it seems to have worked for me.

From the comments I read on the FlatClassroomBook site, I decided that I would try Flipboard. I had heard about it and read some rave reviews, but I had never taken the time to set up. So last night, I set up Flipboard and brought in some of my favorites: Miguel Guhlin, Karl FischKim Cofino and George Couros (a new find from #ETMOOC). Additionally, I brought in my Twitter feed. I don't like Facebook and only use it from time to time personally (guess I'll get on board once I have grandkids), so I didn't include that. I'll see how I do with that. I think Google+ wouldn't connect because of the way we do LDAP authentication. I hope we reconfigure that this summer. I really like Google+ and Hangouts!

So, we'll see how that goes!

Challenge 2: Set Up Your Blog
Luckily, I already had this blog! While WordPress has more beautiful themes, I like the ease with which we can create Blogger blogs since we are a Google Apps district.

Challenge 3: Connect and Reflect
I had never really paid attention to the term Connectivism before this book. I like it. We are working to help teachers take the time and find the value of a PLN. I started my PLN back in 2008 (at least that is what I remember) when I first learned about the Flat Classroom Project and Diigo. And, as they say at the Oscars, "I wouldn't be where I am today" with my PLN.
In response to this challenge, I have accomplished the following:

  • added the Twitter hashtag #flatclass to my TweetDeck feed
  • visited the Global Learning project - they have some Voicethread book reviews in different genres, a heroes voicethread and more
  • visited Mrs. D's Flight Plan blog where she reflected on a collaborative project with another classroom on social justice

At SXSWedu this year, I attended a session by Lindsey Own around place-based education. We tossed around lots of projects that classrooms could collaborate on! There are just so many opportunities! Interested? Let's get together and move forward!