Spotlight: VoiceThread

This summer, I was turned on to the webtool VoiceThread through a class I took on Multimodality.  Though I had heard of the tool before, I was quick to dismiss it for lack of understanding its capability.

As the folks at VoiceThread say, it allows you to have “conversations in the cloud.”  Capitalizing on cloud-based software, designers of the tool are filling a need for people who would like to comment (and save the comments) online.  Once I found that not only was VoiceThread literally as easy as 1-2-3 but there was indeed “an app for that,” I was hooked.

With an increase focus on flipping the classroom, I have chosen to investigate this tool due to its ease of use, iOS device friendliness and cloud storage.  Check out my journey…

As you can see, VoiceThread has major implications for:

Recently, the impact of VoiceThread was fully felt when my 7th grade social studies class began collaborating with the 3rd grade class for a unit on debating.  After watching a lively debate in my 7th grade class, 3rd graders debated the answer to which is more important: rights and responsibilities?  Due to scheduling conflicts, my 7th graders were unable to watch the 3rd grade debate live.  Quickly thinking, the 3rd grade teacher recorded the debate to a flash drive.  However, this meant that my students weren’t able to comment…in comes VoiceThread…

I uploaded the video to VoiceThread and my students recorded comments to each team there.  The third grade teacher is planning to play these comments for her students in the upcoming days.

Stories like these could occur in any setting, whether in education or not, where time is a precious commodity.  With the help of VoiceThread, educators and professionals alike can move their conversations to the cloud…and store them for future reference!

Dive in!

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The Future of Learning

The future of learning is here…and surprise, it involves students using with technology.

Everyday, more and more K-12 institutions investigate adopting 1:1 technology or BYOD programs in hopes of providing their students with the most cutting edge teaching and learning.  However, with each decision, although generally a minority, there are a loud minority of teachers, families and districts hesitant to give students that power.

Since when is students having access a bad thing?!

After meeting with a majority of families for parent/teacher conferences this week, and hearing 10% or so vocalize their opposition to 0ur school’s one-to-one iPad program in some way, I wonder “are we marketing the technology correctly?”

You see, it isn’t about iPads vs. laptops, school controlled vs. BYOD.  Technology is the pathway toward changing education paradigms, as Sir Ken Robinson shows.  For decades, students have sat passively taking notes, raising their hands and waiting to be recognized to regurgitate facts.  What learning has this led to?

It is 2012.  Students have access outside of the school building, why not allow access within the walls of the one area where they can learn to use it in the right way.  It is the wave of the future!  No family, whether in opposition to use of EdTech or not, can emphatically deny their child will need to communicate effectively, collaborate with peers, be creative with technology and think critically in the future.  Education technology is the means in which to teach students the 4 C’s of 21st Century learning.

On Tuesday morning, after @edmodo being down from 2-10pm Monday, I was met with many 7th grade students who couldn’t do their homework due to the outage.  So I asked, “what would we have done if it weren’t through Edmodo?”  Many said they would have written it in a notebook.  Then one student chimed in…”I did the homework, Mr. Reichert,” he said.

“Oh really, how?” I said, skeptical of where this was heading.  “I posted it on Edmodo this morning, on my way to school, using the 3G from my cell phone.”  I congratulated him on how he thought critically to solve the problem.  This is truly mobile learning.

You see, with the technology, students are not only asked to learn the content presented in new and more engaging ways, they learn how to troubleshoot minor problems as they arise quite unexpectedly.  It is stories like these which consistently reinforce that using technology to aid learning is not only the right thing to do; it is necessary to do.

To the schools, teachers and families who are so afraid of the giving power to our students, I ask, “isn’t the job of schools to prepare students for success in the future.”

“If we teach students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” -John Dewey

What are you waiting for?

Lifelong Learning in the 21st Century

A lot of buzz surrounds the need for teachers to be lifelong learners, consistently seeking to better their craft.  Though, as we know, “there are only so many hours in the day.”  Or, so the excuse goes.  With the rise of the Maker Movement, MOOCs and the ever-increasing popularity of using social media for professional development, the excuses diminish and the need to stay up with best practices increases.  As a self-prescribed progressive educator, it is time to put my money where my social mouth is (here!)…

DIY Learning: The Flipped Classroom

Teaching in a world where students are inundated with technology forces my hand so-to-speak so that I am able to use current technology as a tool to boost student engagement, achievement and learning.  I decided that this year was going to be my year to implement “the Flipped Classroom” approach in my middle school social studies classes.  Just one problem, I have never attended a professional development geared specifically toward Flipping…

 

After reading about the use of social media for PD on Scott McLeoud’s blog, I decided that would be one venue with which to begin my quest to learn how to flip my classes.  Naturally, if given an unlimited amount of time, I would attend a few conferences and webinars to learn the latest and most effective flipping strategies.  However, I’m in education, the time is now.

 

 

If given one year to learn to flip…

  • attend the PAIS conference on the Flipped Classroom
  • Follow-up with the presenter(s) and fellow educ
  • ators attending to seek out continued conversations
  • attend EduCon to understand how its being implemented “just up the road” in Philadelphia
  • attend ISTE 2013 to specifically seek out workshops geared toward this approach.
  • Enroll in a MOOC geared toward Flipping
  • Begin now creating “flipped” videos and presentations in preparation for implementation in the 2013-14 school year.

If given one week to learn to flip…

  • Google Search “Flipping the Classroom”…read top 10 results to determine which agencies, people and blogs to connect with.
  • Search Twitter for the hashtag #flipclass and setup a Twitterfall to link in to the current conversation
  • After reading some articles, blogs andthe like, I would hope to have a decent understanding of who is flipping and advocating for this approach.  I would connect with these groups and people on both Twitter and Google+
  • Once connected, setup a Google Hangout (and record it!) with a few people who are currently flipping around the country
  • Watch several videos from the Youtube results
  • Toward the tail end of the week, I would choose the class and lesson which I’d like to flip and begin to design a lesson or a mini-unit (depending on comfort level)

If given ten minutes to learn to flip…

  • Google It!
  • #edtechchat, #edchat and #flipclass
  • Give it a try…documenting and refining as I go.

By implementing social media and MOOCs, I am confident I could learn almost anything necessary to continue my development as a technology-integrated educator.  What would you learn?

Social Media Course Expectations

For the Fall semester, I am enrolled in EDUC 639-Social Media. I chose to take this elective for my program for a few reasons. First, with a specialization in Education Technology, I feel that I should know of and understand how to use the latest social tools and websites to better my practice. As a teacher to middle school boys, I believe it is necessary to implement social media in the courses I teach to further engage students by including as much of “their world” as possible.

As we begin signing up for and learning about the latest social tools and websites, I find myself paying close attention to which are iPad friendly. As a teacher in a 1:1 iPad initiative, knowing which web tools work synchronously with the iPad is critical. For example, upon signing up for about.me, I immediately checked the iOS app store and downloaded the app to my iPhone and iPad. As we continue to investigate the social aspects of the web, I would like to learn not only which tools are iPad friendly, but also how to best implement these tools into my study as a prospective education technology leader and practice as a middle school educator.