Saturday, February 23, 2008

Learning 2.0, A Continuing Conversation

Today, Bud Hunt and Karl Fisch put on Learning 2.0, A Colorado Conversation. What a great experience! This really felt like a conversation from beginning to end; a bunch of tech minded educators discussing successes and frustrations around LEARNING. Almost secondary to the conversation was the best uses of the tools themselves. You really get the sense that everyone is really trying to get their heads around what it all means and how we can best meet the needs of our students with technology in mind.

A good conversation piques your interest and leads to more questions and continued conversation. Choose, Act and Reflect right? Here are my takeaways (the ideas are a little messy, but I will lose them if I don't get them down):

  • How do I help my students build their own personal learning networks? Skype, Blogs, Twitter? Are other teachers already doing this?
  • Tonia Johnson and I discussed the possibility of building a network of learners within our district, Adams 14. A collaborative blog? Following on Twitter? This would be a great "first step" to expanding the network outside later. If we began it now, it would be a great model for future Global Learners and reluctant teachers who are wondering about the practical applications for these 2.0 tools in the classroom. Great way for students to collaborate with other students about the "why" in the classroom and to get a window into other grade levels.
  • Am I most effectively blogging by using Blogger? I wonder if there is something out there that helps my students more easily access the benefits of blogging without having their own email account? What are others using for student blogging?
  • Student forum with Arapahoe High Students where they discussed the importance of technology in ed. Why not ACSD14 students? (Tonia's question) There were some very powerful ideas:
    • Learning is the focus not the tools (the first point made by a student)
    • They can take charge of their own learning (researching their interests, decide what is useful for the learner, customizing/tailoring their credits by creating personal curriculum)
    • Personal (student)Learning Networks rather than "top down" (their words) teaching
    • A teacher created a "help me blog" so that students could help other student with problems they were having on a particular subject.
    • A lot of talk about connections that these students were making for themselves. They are accessing and taking charge of the learning like never before!
  • These tools really bring a renewed energy to the classroom, increase motivation and effect achievement. We need to share the "energizing" effect that this technology brings to the classroom. We need to do this without cheapening it by calling it "fun" or "cool" (I sometimes find myself using these types of words and then kick myself...).
  • How do we begin to put data to all of this? I think the Global Learners in ACSD14 are in a good position to begin doing this next year.
After today's conference, I have less answers and more questions. Excellent!

The conversation continues.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Top Ed Tools

Obviously, since today's date is February 3rd, I'm a little behind on this, but I just stumbled upon the eLearn Magazine's Top 100 Tools for Learning 2007. I was struck by two things: 1. The number of tools that the Global Learners are using regularly in our classrooms, we are ahead of the curve in Adams 14. 2. They note that only two of the top ten (Word, PowerPoint) are commercial applications, the others are free. 75% of the tools in the top 100 are free.

Tools are just tools without great teachers using them to impact learning in their classroom. Tonia's post addresses this important point: learning comes before tools. Take a look at the top ten. What tools have impacted student achievement the most in your classroom? In 2007, my students have improved their writing through the use of blogger as a publishing and reflection tool. They have become more reflective and better editors by tweeting our lessons throughout the day. Our wiki has helped my students use the internet better for research.

There is a call for best tools of 2008 already. How will student achievement in Adams 14 be impacted through the use of these tools in 2008? (I can't wait to find out...)