Archives for October 2007
This afternoon I'll be teaching a new after-school workshop on Modifying Lessons for Digital Kids. I've put the “slides” I am going to use up on slideshare.
Slideshare is a free resource for sharing presentations. I created this online version by uploading a PDF I created using Keynote.
Just this past week, a new 43-minute discussion was published as part of the Pop!Cast podcast series, which was recorded at the Pop!Tech conference. This conference is held each year in October in Camden, Maine, focused on “an ongoing conversation about science, technology and the future of ideas.”
This video nicely moves forward the conversation that was started at the beginning of this school year, when you as Goochland educators reacted to the video I showed entitled: Did You Know…Shift Happens. The video podcast is of several forward-thinking folks who had been recognized at the conference by Sun Microsystems for their work in the field of educational technology.
These “education fellows” talked at length about a simple concept, that “knowledge is not proprietary”, and that the Internet is “one huge cosmic copying machine.”
You may watch this video online at http://www.poptech.org/popcasts/?lang=&viewcastid=40.
You can also download the video in Quicktime format: http://wmarc001.bcst.yahoo.com/yahoo/EducationFellows.mov
Or listen to the discussion in MP3 format (audio): http://wmarc001.bcst.yahoo.com/yahoo/EducationFellows.MP3
Some highlights of the presentation include the following talking points:
– Do only experts have a stake in teaching us?
– How do we tap the “blogger's voices” – some 30-50 million people who “never had a voice before” to help us be educated?
– Students are empowered when they are connected and communicating to collaborate. The sum of their knowledge is greater than what's found in a textbook.
– Things are changing quickly… teachers 5-10 years ago had no experience with Web 2.0, blogging, iPods, etc., as it wasn't a part of their culture… but it is a part of the culture of students today.
– When you are disconnected you are away from the knowledge, and you're at a loss for the power that knowledge provides.
– Simulations on the computer can better prepare students for a real-world experience.
– Technology allows us to connect all the stakeholders in making education happen.
– How is the definition of literacy changing? Information and media literacy… thinking about becoming content creators… 4th graders have e-mail addresses and have social connections on the Web.
– Some school districts can't keep up. The average teacher in NYC gets one hour of paid professional development per year. Their students get one hour on the computer per week.
Among the best content I found were seven “education errors.” They directly reflect the memes I have been catching in recent readings, conference presentations, and my own conclusions:
– The classrooms are the primary learning device. Only open 15% time of the year.
– Sages on stage vs. guides on the side
– Stakeholders don't need to be connected to the net 100% of the time like business and industry.
– That words and text have a monopoly on literacy
– Students are products instead of partners
– That testing will tell us what is happening and who is succeeding
– that technology will eradicate all of the above
Will this presentation change the way you teach? Will it save you time? Not necessarily. But it does tackle some big-picture issues that are plaguing our educational system and inspire change. Feel free to pass this presentation onto your colleagues, friends, family members, and extend the conversation in your own “neck of the woods.”
I hope to share more great content from this year's Pop!Tech conference in future episodes of my TechTimes newsletter. Thanks for reading!
This appeared in the October 19th edition of my TechTimes newsletter…
I'm done with “PowerPoint.” Keynote too. At least the way these tools are used in classrooms across the country.
A web search for “using powerpoint in the classroom” turns up countless sites online for how teachers can put together so-called “dynamic presentations.” One site (http://www.online.tusc.k12.al.us/tutorials/pptclass/pptclass.htm) touts the ability of teachers to use PowerPoint's “flair” through graphics and animation.
Go ahead, the good, bad, and ugly is all to be found through Google (http://www.google.com/search?q=using%20powerpoint%20classroom).
Yet another source I found online had more I was likely to agree with.
“…it's not always obvious to teachers how to turn a PowerPoint presentation into a useful learning experience.” (http://www.wired.com/culture/education/news/2002/09/54675).
My favorite quote, from the same website:
“To critics, PowerPoint serves largely the same role in the classroom as pre-processed snack food does in the lunchroom: a conveniently packaged morsel that looks good but doesn't match the intellectual or corporeal nourishment of, say, a critical essay or a plate of steamed spinach.”
If we think about the traits of digital learners, the activity of copying notes from screenfuls of bulleted-lists can't be fun or engaging. And what about students creating their own presentations? I'm more fond of this use of PowerPoint in the classroom, but… like teacher use, it's easy to do it poorly.
Students and Presentation Software
When you ask students to create a presentation, it should fulfill one or both of the following two objectives in your lesson:
– to have students communicate with a small to large group information that includes original thought, expression, or a conclusion
– to have students summarize (sometimes called “distill”, “re-tell”, or even “synthesize”) content gleaned from a classroom experience, real-world experience, or research activity
Slides could therefore be a “storyboard” for a final project that includes a written document, a podcast, or a live “presentation.”
Teachers and Presentation Software
Of all the pedagogical approaches teachers may enact in a day's worth of lessons, “presentations” are many times used to have students copy notes, or to enhance direct instruction by the teacher.
Instead, presentation software should be used to enhance the verbal presentation of information with visual enhancement. Examples might include keywords that are displayed when information is being spoken for the review of key concepts and vocabulary, but more often, visual imagery is used that enhances the spoken word. In other words, the presentations used by teachers should be primarily visual instead of “typed notes.” “Variety” as one website suggested, may in fact keep interest going, but the greatest PowerPoint won't save the dry presentation of a topic. Instead, the presentation software should take a back-seat many times throughout a lesson for student feedback, input, and decision-making opportunities. Different media, including video, can also help break-up a topic easily using the presentation software for variety.
The dynamic changes once again with the use of an interactive presentation, such as a Promethean ActivStudio flipchart. Here, the malleable content on a flipchart page can be used as a tool for all learners in the classroom for a continuously-stimulating and interactive learning experience.
Where to Go From Here
PowerPoint was invented as a tool to create transparency slides used in business presentations. It was never designed to teach school-age children. Nevertheless, presentation software can be an effective learning tool when we take into account the traits of digital learners.
It's great for teachers in the classroom when:
– you want to present data charts (graphs) that are clear to read,
– you want to review concepts before an assessment, or at the close of a lesson,
– you have quality visuals that enhance your own presentation of information, and
– you want to present information from the viewpoint of others (video).
When creating a presentation to be used in class,
– pace the slides to move quickly, with limited information on each slide,
– include frequent breaks for classroom discussion and decision making,
– provide an interactive component that doesn't simply copy the slides, but presents limited information where students “fill-in” the blanks and make appropriate choices (worksheet, Activotes, graphic organizer);
– the majority of slides should be visual in nature: using digital photographs and video before icons or clip-art.
When used with students,
– the presentation slides should force the organization and collection of ideas and content,
– the presentation slides should provide a scaffold for a public or recorded presentation, or
– the assignment of creating “a stack of slides” should be really an exercise in summarization, and
– presentations created by students should always abide by all copyright laws, however restricting they may be. Because of the common use of presentation software in the world of business, students should be “trained” from the beginning to assume their work is intended for an audience (and not private/personal use), subject to copyright.
A sober reminder that copyright violations can catch-up to you! A good read for teachers and students alike.
I've never really understood the appeal of Twitter.
But after reading this, it might not be bad to try it out. A great tutorial!