When you have a book, you have a book. You look at it , you ingest it and you do what the book says. When you have access to technology there are so many avenues for learning which you can pursue and so many ways of looking at the same thing. When you plan a lesson or a topic this provides a great opportunity for creating differing approaches which will suit more people. You can provide print text, videos, slide presentations, applications, podcasts, animations. You can provide an in depth approach or a light hearted one. You can set it all to music if you want to. Content can be manipulated in so many ways. It means students can access content in ways which mean something to them. The building blocks of my lessons and topics are :
With technology you can explain the new topic or lesson in so many ways. You can use slides, videos, audio, electronic pens, websites, games,applications, images. You can appeal to so many senses and engage students in so may ways. If they don’t like the little video they might like the images or the audio or respond to tablets. They might follow as you pass from slide to slide. They can be creating their own interpretations on their laptops as you go along. I shall never forget one student who would transform my information into very artistic slide presentations as I went along. Her keyboard skills were excellent and she knew the software. So that brings us to action.
Students need to be able to digest the information and synthesise it as they are working on it. It might be making a movie, a dialogue, an interview, a podcast, some online exercises, a game, a document. Show them the tools which will meet their needs and encourage them to share tools they know. In my classes the action and exploration tend to be running concurrently. We will be looking at how to build up and extend our knowledge, how to get reliable information, how to verify information, how to find examples of what we want. I’ll show them how to use software to turn that information into a product or content sharing opportunity. I’ll help them, they’ll help each other and then we’ll look at what we need to troubleshoot or strengthen. Sometimes it goes very quiet during these times of exploration and action. They become very absorbed. Initially I always show them a way of structuring what they are learning for themselves. I then build on that.
I have found reflection is very powerful when they do it orally and when I give them a structure. Initially we do it informally on Twiducate. I’ll just get them to say what they thought of the assignment and what they have learnt. If a want a formal response I have found the best ones come from using Photo Booth on the Mac. They record their thoughts and I have a video of them. They take this very seriously. I give them a list of things they can talk about and tell them to decide what they think is important and then to add anything else. They think it out well and then prepare themselves very carefully for video feedback. This surprised me. I thought they would just go on the laptop and talk with maybe a few notes. This has never been the case. For them the video message is far more important than the paper message. It has a validity for them which we need to take into account. The depth to which they will respond is impressive and they will say exactly what it is they know and what they need to build on. They will articulate clearly how they went about an assignment and now what each step provided for them. I don’t get that in paper responses and perhaps we need to look more seriously about how we are now differentiating with the information we get on paper and that we can have on video. Cognitively, students are seemingly responding quite differently to different media. It is something I plan to explore more next year.