Tag Archives: tech tool

Experimenting with Open Collaboration

In week 3 of the #TeachtheWeb MOOC, we were asked to find someone to collaborate with and create something together.  The theme for the week was the open web and that was the inspiration for our collaborative work.

I loved the guiding blog post that was written for this week because it succinctly and accessibly covered some of the most important issues around opennessdecentralization, transparency, hacakability, ownership/authorship, collaboration and  remixed derivations. Although many of these topics were ones that I had examined and discussed in both #ETMOOC and the #MediaLabCourse (openness seems to be a MOOC hot-topic!) I appreciated the focus on webmaking and looking at openness through the lenses of “technical implementation as well as the social and cultural usage of the Web.”

After Kevin posted in the G+ group asking if anyone wanted to create a comic, I join him and two other collaborators, Chad and Hayfa, in using a new tool (Bitstrips) to make something together. We slowly worked out the technical details and each took turns adding one frame of the comic and then Kevin added some closing frames (he wrote more about it here). I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn and test out a new tool. Bitstrips was pretty intuitive in terms of comic-creation (maybe a little less so in terms of collaboration) and I appreciated how many options were available to create life-like avatars and manipulate their movements.

bitstrips menu

The theme of our comic was a play on hacking the web and somewhere along the way, we also started a train metaphor. It was fun to be part of a co-created product and exciting to wait and see what the next person would add and find out how the story/comic ended. I think the project would have had a different feel if it had involved real-time collaboration but I appreciated the suspense of this approach and opportunity for us each to leave a mark individually while still being part of a larger whole. You can check out our final product below:

hack the web bitstrips comic

Next, Kevin actually created a remix of our collaborative comic. I love the idea of being able to continue building, layer upon layer, on a collaborative project. This allows each of us to learn from each other and spark innovative design/creation ideas that we might not have come up with on our own. It also reminds me of a collaborative Google Presentation that came out of #ETMOOC where people added slides about connected learning. As more and more people joined in, the slides began to get more complex and detailed as people inspired one another and led participants to realize new ways of using the tools and expressing ideas.

During the #TeachTheWeb Twitter chat this week, we talked about how transparency can motivate others to innovate and make/create. The transparency that’s possible in a shared Google Presentation, where you can see others working in real-time openly making changes and letting their work and inspiration be seen, is really motivating. This same transparency in code – the ability to use the X-Ray Goggles or other tools to see how someone created a website, has pushed me to experiment and try new tags and edits to make new web creations.

Although we didn’t have as much transparency in the making of our comic, we did have another vital component that we also discussed during the Twitter chat – a willingness to try and to fail. Without necessarily knowing the tool, the collaborators, the end-goal or product, we all responded to Kevin and said, “I want to try.” This mentality of openness goes a long way in helping to create open products and build an open web and also encourage others to join you or remix your work to make more open creations. So in the spirit of being inspired by others’ openness and an interest to continue our momentum, here’s my remix of Kevin’s remix of our collaboratively created Hack the Web Comic!

hack the web remix mpowers

 

Apps in Early Education – The Big Questions

With the start of the school year right around the corner, I wanted to take some time to explore the use of apps in PreK through 2nd grade. I realized that a number of my thoughts about apps for this age level focused on questions. Such as:

  • How are educators currently using apps?
  • How are young learners using apps (at home and/or school)?
  • What are the best review sites for educational apps?
  • What rubrics exist for evaluating apps for this age group?
  • How can app devices (e.g., tablets & smartphones) be used to connect with other tech tools (e.g., interactive whiteboards)?
  • What type of teacher PD resources exist for new app users?
  • What resources exist for young children learning how to use apps?
  • How can apps best be used when you only have one device?

Clearly, there is a lot to consider when examining how and why to use apps with young learners. I decided to start with some of the key questions above and did some web searching. Here’s what I found:

How are educators currently using apps?

out a bout app

Out-A-Bout App by Fred Rogers Center

To start, I reviewed the initial survey results from the Early Childhood Technology Collaborative, which show that only 35% of surveyed teachers of young children are even using tablets. So I realized I needed to narrow my focus to my #ECETech PLN to get information about how teachers who are actually using these tools in their practice work with apps. From there, I discovered a great post by @mattgomez detailing the apps he uses with his kindergarteners and links to how he uses many of them. I also checked out the Fred Rogers apps, which provide suggestions for how to use them and reviewed some other app collections, such as these two pinboards, iPad Apps for Early Childhood and Early Childhood/Preschool Apps, with suggestions for how to use each app. I also found a helpful post of how apps are being used in a 1st grade class and overall,  teacher blog posts seemed to be the most informative to learn not just what, but how teachers are using apps with this age range.  How are you using apps for education? 

How are young learners using apps (at home and/or school)?

Aside from teacher blog posts about how they are using apps with their students, this question was hard to answer through general online research. I did find a very cute video of kindergarten children talking about how they used iPads in a butterfly study in their classrooms. I would love to see more of these types of active examples of technology used as a tool to support or enhance a project/learning from the child’s perspective. How are your young learners using apps? 

What are the best review sites for educational apps?

My go-to sites (in no particular order) are:

kindertown logo

Where do you go for trusted reviews of apps to use in school with early learners?

What rubrics exist for evaluating apps for this age group?

Some rubrics that I’ve found recently (and I hope more and more will be created to meet different needs!):

Do you have other ways of assessing educational apps? What criteria do you use?

How can app devices (e.g., tablets & smartphones) be used to connect with other tech tools (e.g., smartboards)

Apple VGA Adapter

Apple VGA Adapter

It can be helpful to display apps on a larger screen, such as a SMART Board, so large groups can share ideas and see content at the same time. To display your iPad/iPhone screen on a SMART Board or other large screen, you need either a VGA adapter or an HDMI /Digital AV Adapter if you want to connect to an Apple TV/HD TV.

If you want to actually control what’s displayed on your screen from your iPad instead of just mirroring the image on your mobile device, then you’ll need an additional application, such as Doceri or Splashtop. These are helpful if you want to access your computer programs on your iPad.

I want to continue investigating these options because it seems like one of the best uses of the an interactive whiteboard (IWB) and a mobile device  – using the IWB to control your device (e.g., interact with an iPad app on a SMART Board) – isn’t currently possible. This combo could be especially helpful for early learner’s fine motor skills and large group collaboration so hopefully it will be available in the future.

What tips do you have for connecting app devices to other tech tools?

What type of teacher PD resources exist for new app users?

This is one area where the Internet provides a rich treasure trove of resources! In addition to Twitter and a PLN full of other educators who are experimenting and playing with various apps and sharing their tips and tricks, there are numerous articles written on this topic. For example, this site is full of professional development resources  for teaching using iPads in the Classroom. Apple provides a page of resources, as well as ongoing webinars for educators using their mobile products and Android4Schools is a good resource for those with Android devices. 

Successfully finding professional development resources is connected to creativity. Be creative in selecting platforms to search. When looking for resources, include wikis, Pinterest boards, LiveBinders, Twitter, and other networks, as well as news sites, video-tutorials, and of course, colleagues!

What resources exist for young children learning how to use apps?

Although I feel like any technology should be used as a tool to enhance learning and simply another language kids can use to express their creativity, there are still some basics that can be helpful to review before handing a mobile device to a child. For example, how to: turn it on, control the sound, understand when it needs to be plugged in, swipe, click, and so forth.

It was tough to find resources to help with this but I do like the suggestions in the book Teaching in the Digital Age, by Brian Puerling, about how to introduce an iPad to young learners.

I also found these colorful posters about acceptable use, which could be helpful reminders for older children who can read and serve as a good reminder about building in time to discuss digital citizenship and acceptable use with even very young learners.

How do you introduce apps to early learners? What resources have you found?

How can apps best be used when you only have one device?

Finally, working in an environment where children may have access to app-filled devices at home and teachers often have them for personal use but there are no classrooms full of mobile devices, I wanted to consider this question. Luckily, this  has been a popular topic lately and there are many resources online for working in a “one tablet/iPad classroom.” Some only include app suggestions, others take the form of podcasts, blog posts, articles or collections of project ideas and links to explore in more depth.

Do you have suggestions for using only one mobile device in the classroom? 

My head is filled with many additional questions, such as how to use mobile devices to facilitate global collaboration, creative expression, and documentation but those might have to wait for later in the year. I’m excited to keep exploring and to hear from others about their experiences and ideas!