From my previous post titled: Evolving Google Apps for Edu
Now that many classes, schools, and districts are using GA4E with their students, I find the next logical step for Google is to start partnering with educational software tools to provide a wider breadth of applications. It is a brilliant move! Google hooked us educators with a great web platform; and now they can leverage the user base to get these 3rd party companies to sell us products. I have always said, the education sector is the next big industry and technology is driving that business. Since GA4E is a simple and robust administrative platform, it will make it easy for technology administrators to bring in new education applications into their infrastructure without much overhead. If evolved strategically, GA4E can become the web platform for the next generation edtech initiatives. Can you imagine in the future, GA4E integrating with Learning Management Systems, SIS, virtual worlds, and online interactive education content? You would have to think Google had this in mind prior to launching a free Google Apps for Education…muahahah!
How Google+ contributes to the master plan?
Rather than relying on third party apps for social media, Google decided to launch their latest SM attempt with Google+. When I first signed into Google+ (thanks to @teachingwthsoul for the invite), my immediate reaction was Edmodo. It felt like Edmodo because of the groups (circles) to share certain information with. While Facebook does have this feature, it is built to be open and is a pain to manage lists. I realize Google+ is technically in beta mode, but they will need to add some core features that Edmodo provides to make it more manageable to tag, store and categorize information. Google has the user base to truly make Google+ an essential learning tool for education. By adding some education features to the platform, I can see it become the platform of choice for 21st century collaboration.
The driver to make Google+ the social media platform of choice is the soon to be integration with Google Apps for Education. I can only imagine the capabilities it would provide for teachers and students. Teachers can group students in circles and provide differentiated lessons, dialogue, and activities. It would definitely evolve the concept of literature circles and socratic seminars. If they build school and classroom management capabilities, Google+ on private GA4E domains can provide a safe and secure platform for students to collaborate and share information. If I was Edmodo, I would definitely keep my eye on Google+…
Integrating 21st century skills of critical, collaborative, and creative thinking is another important component of a quality education model. While these skills should be embedded in the overall curriculum, building structured learning lab time is essential to providing learning opportunities and authentic assessments of 21st century skills. Using open source and web 2.0 technologies, students and staff can engage in 21st century learning in a regular basis. Below are some ideas I have used in the past and recommend to structure critical, collaborative, and creative thinking lessons and projects.
The focus technologies to structure critical thinking and problem solving will be the use of computer programming software. Introducing the engineering design process at an early stage will help develop the skill of critical thinking and problem solving. Students can engage in design theory, mathematics, troubleshooting, quality assurance, and the scientific method while working on computer programming software. During the learning lab time, students can be using computer programming software developed specifically for K12 environment. Programs such as Scratch, Alice, Kodu Labs, and Google Sketchup can all be used to structure critical thinking and problem solving in a 21st century scientific/math environment. Engineering Design Tools for K12
There are host of web 2.0 technologies available to engage students in collaborative thinking. For example, lessons can be structured where students develop presentations, canvases, documents, spreadsheets, and wikis to share, edit, and collect information. One of the free tools available today is the private communication platform called Edmodo. Edmodo can be the secure private platform for students to social network and engage in online collaborative learning. Students can share docs & presentations, start threaded discussion, embed videos, and create polls to engage in open collaborative 21st century learning. This collaborative thinking platform can focus on writing, research, and presentation skills of students.
Developing and nurturing creative and innovative expression is a vital component of 21st century learning. Fortunately, the technology environment we live in today gives our students the ability to create and publish without investing heavily in expensive studios. There are many open source applications that will engage our students in multimedia editing and publishing. For example, our students can create podcasts and videos using Avidmux, and create posters using Glogster. The tools are easily accessible allowing our students a platform to engage in creative expression in its fullest potential. This creative thinking platform can focus on artistic, global, and ethical skills of students. Here is a list of open source software that can replace expensive Adobe multimedia software: K12 Technology Solutions on a Budget
The more I use Edmodo with my students, and the more I am finding new web 2.0 apps that can be embedded into Edmodo, I could envision the website as the hub for digital learning in the K12 market. As of today, I have been able to embed YouTube, MyStudiyo, SlideRocket, & Slideshare into Edmodo. The ability to embed HTML coding from other web apps really provides a unique opportunity to bring the best of the web into Edmodo. If more websites provide the embedding code such as the apps above, Edmodo could become the forum to post all my projects. My students could create and complete all their assignments with other apps such as SlideRocket, and then embed the presentation into Edmodo. The collaboration and communication provided on Edmodo could really enhance the experience of all the other apps. The combination of the private communication platform and the ability to embed third party apps into program has some interesting potential for Edmodo. Lets hope Edmodo continues the good work and more importantly, lets hope more web 2.0 companies provide their code to allow us to embed it into Edmodo.
According to Wikipedia, “The Socratic Method (or Method of Elenchus or Socratic Debate), named after the Classical Greek philosopherSocrates, is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate rational thinking and to illuminate ideas.”
When using this classical method of teaching, the student takes initiative to drive the conversation to stimulate divergent thoughts on various topics. In my classrooms, I often use the Socratic Method to create a safe forum for students to bring out their ideas through guided questioning. When I present an idea or question, I typically stay out of the conversation and simply take notes without expressing any approval or disapproval. Often when teachers intervene in conversation, the student ends up following the thoughts of the teacher authority (soldier mentality). One of the natural outcomes of the Socratic Method is to encourage risk taking, critical thinking, and problem solving. All skills in developing leaders, not soldiers (the paper pushing worksheet teacher). The students are situated in a circle with me deliberately sitting outside it. I simply state my thought or question, and then the students take over. Obviously, it requires scaffolding and modeling at first, but when the students understand the Socratic process, the conversations go beyond any textbook, video or worksheet on the same topic. I have always preached the Apple motto of “Think Different,” and have based most of my teaching with that in mind.
Then the idea came to me that fit naturally together, the marriage between classical learning of Socrates and the collaborative real time environment of web 2.0. Hence, my name Socratech on Twitter. I began thinking how my traditional classroom setup using the Socratic Method can be integrated using educational technologies. A flurry of ideas came to me when thinking how web 2.0 is the 21st century version of the Socratic Method, where we encourage risk taking, divergent ideas, and an open forum to express our thoughts. Now I just needed to implement a lesson with middle school students that exemplifies the almost eerie similarities between Socrates and web 2.0.
One such example that has successfully remixed the Socratic Method with web 2.0 is when I hold virtual Socratic Seminars in Edmodo. Edmodo is a private social communication platform where I allow my students to converse on various topics guided by me or another student. The beauty of Edmodo is that the conversation provides real time threading with multimedia capabilities to enhance the experience. I held a Socratic Seminar using the Did You Know YouTube video. I guided the conversation by asking questions related to video that stimulated debate and other questions about technology and the Internet. The ideas expressed was beyond any teacher lead discussion on the same subject.
Its no wonder why History was my favorite subject in school. Now it is making sense…
*It is important to note that academic language is strictly enforced in any online or oral Socratic Seminar to mirror the scholarly language of classical Greece. I tell my students to use starter sentences such as “I agree” or “contrary” backing it up with always a support (because) statement.
For more information on the Socratech Seminar Method of learning, feel free to contact me.
It was over six months ago when an idea came to me while shopping for air filters at Home Depot; how can we evolve the Accelerated Reader idea into a web 2.0 environment? I write this in hopes Accelerated Reader decides to move to this environment. Otherwise, I have the alternative solution to the reading quiz phenomenon. For those who are not familiar with Accelerated Reader, it essentially is an independent reading program where students read books and take quizzes based on reading levels. It helps teachers monitor independent reading where students earn points for successfully taking quizzes on the books they read.
With web 2.0 technologies now readily available, I have come up with a free solution for those schools unable to afford the Accelerated Reader software. I came across a free quiz making program called MyStudiyo and I finally created my first quiz on it. I remember being on the phone with my good friend Gilbert, telling him what if there was a crowd sourcing solution to creating quizzes of children’s literature. Now it is still a raw solution and doesn’t provide the full analysis of an Accelerated Reader, however, the potential is there for a community of teachers who contribute to quizzes on MyStudiyo. I can envision an “Accelerated Reader” like community of quizzes on this site with ratings of the best quizzes. Now, if MyStudiyo can create “Accelerated Reader” like metrics, students can login to this website and take quizzes for free. I can see the traffic exponentially grow for this website if they could add the features. If MyStudiyo is reading this blog, feel free to contact me about this novel idea.
Best yet, you can embed your quizzes to private communication platforms such as Edmodo. Here is an example of my embedded quiz on Edmodo. As powerful as Accelerated Reader has become in the education world, I can see a web 2.0 version becoming bigger because we are relying on the power of the teacher population instead of so-called “experts” who create these AR quizzes.
I write this giving away my idea that I proposed months ago, but I have no capacity to create such a website. I just hope I get mentioned for the company who does make this happen. “Accelerated Reader 2.0”
I often write to express my thoughts and reflect on my profession, hoping to share and collaborate with colleagues and peers. Today, I write in hopes to be heard. Today, I have been inspired to finally write this grand idea that has been brewing for quite awhile. It is in fact “dreaming big…”
I have been in the educational technology field for a few years now and have fully embraced the concept of web 2.0 as the 21st century way of learning. In the past three years, I have built a technology program at our school that embodies collaboration, problem solving skills and innovation. From my engineering class to our teacher professional development program (TEKA), our school has embraced 21st century learning. This year has been particularly successful as we have moved to a Google Apps environment for our collaboration efforts. The real time collaborative environment allows staff members to communicate more effectively and share knowledge to truly create a personal learning network (PLN). Our ever growing internal wiki has expanded ten fold with information and lessons tailored for our environment. I can safely say we are an empowered group of learners who understands self-directed learning in a collaborative environment.
With much success at our school, I have been inspired to see how this PLN can grow to our bigger charter network. Upon reflection, I couldn’t think of a better way to promote the web 2.0 concept than at our annual charter school conference. Having been inspired by collaborative efforts at other conferences, I thought using web 2.0 tools at our annual conference would be a game-changing idea.
Our annual charter conference brings together the brilliant minds and passionate educators from all over the nation. For the past three years, I have come away inspired and motivated to teach after our week of collaboration. However, I have come to the realization that despite the inspiration that comes from the conference, the knowledge and collaboration efforts that extend after the conference has been comparatively minute. I also come to realization that during the conference, the chances of more collaboration and instant reflections may not be fully materialized without using technology to drive the conversation.
I remember going to a conference over a year ago where I was first introduced to Twitter and how it was used at the conference at that point was beyond my scope. However, having used Twitter actively now for the past three months, I finally put together the purpose of using Twitter at that conference and the potential impact it can have on information sharing. The concepts of web 2.0 has been around for many years now and trying to describe it here is not going to turn any heads.
Instead, I want to connect web 2.0 with our annual charter conference. I want to dream someday that our conference will utilize web 2.0 tools such as Twitter to spark conversations with true real time collaboration. I can envision being at one of the sessions and “tweeting” my reflections on the speaker and having another teacher responding to my thoughts in real time. I also see others learning from each other through the #conversations and archiving people’s topics and links. Moreover, having several active television monitors spread across the conference for people to learn and be in the “know” of what is going on at the conference. Active live “tweets” will take the conference into a whole new level of real time reflections, surveys, and polls. Using other web 2.0 tools such as wikis to archive and Poll Everywhere to get instant feedback will bring and keep new ideas into fruition. The best part of Twitter is that mobile technologies allow the individual to post their thoughts instantly through Internet ready phones or texting capabilities.
I dream of having having a booth (Adelante Cafe) with my students teaching teachers how to use web 2.0 technologies such as Twitter and Edmodo at the conference. It would be a sight to see my students helping the conference participants logging on Twitter and learning how to RT and create #edchats about our #kss10 conference. It would be a beautiful thing to see the power of the crowd produce content rather than just listening to content throughout the conference. In my humble opinion, it will greatly enhance the experience of the week as all teachers and staff members will feel actively involved, as they share out their reflections, ideas, and information in real time.
I write this idea inspired by one of our program’s important mottos of “Dreaming Big…”