What would you like to do?

My big plan (yeah, I have one) is to get folks to recognize that the pedagogy must come before the technology. While technology can inspire us, at its base it is just a set of tools (or toolset, in the current lingo — like Sears Craftsman).

Good classroom teachers moving into an online environment tend to let the available/popular/supported technology dictate what they do. That’s like letting my wrench, screwdriver and tape measure tell me what to build (though that would make a good Disney movie). Isn’t it more natural to look at a piece of wood, determine it needs to be cut in half, then look for the right saw?

I have seen classroom teachers who excel at discussion and interaction give it up when they get online, and instead start loading Word documents into the preset Blackboard categories. What a waste! So many free tools are now available to do these things, and if a Course Management System must be used, these sites can be linked out from inside what one presenter at Ed-Media called “BlackCT”.

So whatcha want to do? Have students work in groups to create posters and present to the whole class? Try Bubbleshare, which lets students upload and edit slide programs, using the Groups feature of the CMS for discussion, or use Skype so the students can talk to each other as a group. Have students annotate visuals? You can use Flickr for that, either uploading the images yourself or having them do it. Have them study urban growth over time? Try Trulia Hindsight. Collaborate on a paper or wiki, or use free applications for planning, meeting or writing? Zoho is good.

More tools are available all the time. It’s about what you want to have happen. Dream first. Then find the socket wrench.

1 comment to What would you like to do?

  • Ms. Whatsit

    You are absolutely right about the order of things. It’s important to not get caught up in the faddishness or cuteness of what’s available out there and water down the content of what they are learning.

    I work with middle school kids, technological natives and opposed to 40-ish me who is an immigrant. Given free license to create using technology, many of them will surprise me. Sometimes giving them that freedom is good pedagogy.

    Thanks for sharing the links. Some of them are new to me, and it’s always good to have many tools in the toolbox.