It is often said that one of the only constants in education is change. Sometimes that is a good thing, sometimes anything but. Technology is rapidly developing and becoming a core part of many classrooms.
When I started teaching (a mere 11 years ago), the height of technology – at my school – was an OHP, a bookable computer suite and a photocopier. Go back a few more years, when I was at school myself, we had a typing room and ‘the’ school computer.
The danger is that technology is often used without any thought of whether it is useful or practical. Hours of my time have been spent on resource creation for VLEs, and other forms of technology, that have then been discarded almost before the resources have been used, so I always like to run a few trials before committing myself to a new piece of teaching kit. I will try a new piece of tech, or a new teaching idea, with a class or two and ask the following:
- Does it engage the learners?
- Does it help them make progress?
- Is it easy to use?
- Does it take longer to produce a lesson or resource than the students will take to complete it?
I am going to explore some of the technologies available to classroom teachers.
I have been toying with Prezi on and off for the past couple of years. Prezi offers teachers and students a free educational licence at prezi.com . It certainly impresses the students and allows a smoother transition from text to YouTube clips than Powerpoint does. Although easy to use, it can be time consuming to create. Used in a lesson, it really just does what Powerpoint does, in a rather more attractive way. However, for me, where Prezi really comes into its own is through the use of the ‘path’ tool that allows you you direct the viewer. This is great for tasks where a series of clips are being explored – for example for analysis in Media Studies – or for revision materials to be viewed outside school. It is also very useful for students to create interesting presentations.
This is an example of a revision Prezi I created for WJEC Film Studies FM4 Urban Stories.
This is another idea I picked up from Twitter, this time from @coolcatteacher. SideVibe is a free tool that allows you to create online worksheets that ‘float’ over webpages. Teachers can sign up for an account at SideVibe.com and students can get a free account.
When you sign up you download a toolbar that allows you to select any website you brouse. This ‘companion’ will let you select sites and create mini worksheets that allow you to ask students to respond to the material.
It can be used with a whiteboard, but my initial trials will be restricted to a series of homework revision tasks for my Y12 Film Studies class and a lesson on short stories for Year 9. I created 6 revision ‘vibes’ pretty quickly; the ‘vibes’ for Y9 took longer, mainly as I had to come up with a series of questions the group could do in class. As a back up, I have decided that we will look at the stories on the whiteboard if there are problems with students logging in. I have also decided to be brave and ask for feedback both on SideVibe and what would make the lesson better – a bit nervous about that, but nothing ventured…
I will feed back once my classes have had a chance to use them.