Kicking off with a 1:1 class this year?
Love the idea of 1:1 and want to build up to it?
Realising that 1:1 is coming (or arguably, already here whether it’s official or not) so it’s probably time to get savvy with it?
Not quite sure what to do or what you need?
Here’s a starting point of tools, ideas & skills.
Personalised technology these days assumes that the Internet is bundled with it.
If you’re not prepared to have a presence on the web, you’re not prepared to teach 1:1.
It’s that simple.
Knowledge acquisition in today’s world happens via inquiry, which happens through accessing a range of sources. Creating things in today’s world has capacity to reach a global audience for collaboration, critique & reflection. Communication today happens through myriad digital channels, both synchronous & asynchronous, and open & directed.
The good news is that you don’t have to always be looking at a screen to be always on the Internet. Where do you store the things you create? Where do you collect the things you find useful and informative? Where do you share your thoughts or communicate with your network of people?
If the Web is going to be your primary source of information, knowledge, and discussion, you’re going to need to know how to search it well, and have something to help you stick bookmarks and Post-It notes all over it.
It’s not all about Google, and it’s definitely not all about a simple search. Be specific – the Dewey Decimal-style topic-first approach will give you the big runaround online. Get your head around Google Advanced Search and use it daily with your students. Form a habit of approaching search as problem solving, rather than answering questions, because there’s still an awful lot of awful questioning happening in classrooms.
If you’re searching for media to download and use, break the “get pictures off Google” habit. Those belong to people, and if you want to stop piracy laws from becoming more draconian, modelling some awareness and respect of content authorship is a great place to start. Searching the Creative Commons will open a goldmine.
What about if you’re searching for something quantifiable, or want to explore the numbers associated with some other topic? Hit up Wolfram Alpha, the computational knowledge engine.
Kind of like the old bookmarks or favourites menu in your browser, only this one sits online where you can access it from anywhere, it’s always backed up, and it can be shared in the blink of an eye. There’s a ton of solutions here, they all do more or less the same thing, but they all differ slightly – especially in how they go social. Bitly is simple, pretty, and good for collaboration & sharing. Delicious is a good keyword-driven master list. Diigo is a pretty full-featured research assistant that allow organisation by list and by keyword, as well as having annotation tools baked in.
As for video, don’t overlook owning a YouTube channel. Even if you publish nothing to it yourself to begin with, the capacity to subscribe and curate lets you take control of the world’s largest instant video store to turn it into a powerful assistant.
Break up with your word processor. It’s holding you down, holding you back. It’s paper on a screen. You don’t need paper anymore because everyone has a screen. Continuing to rely on paper on a screen severely limits activity. Limiting activity in a 1:1 class is like putting floaties on Olympic swimmers in the paddling pool – their potential remains entirely untapped in the name of comfort zone fortification. I’ll write more on this in another post.
Have a play with making things just for screen (Keynote is an absolutely brilliant Swiss army knife of a program), like posters, infographics, videos, animations. These days the only difference between not being able to do something and being able to do something is an attempt, and some practise. The tools will help you out if you let them.
While we’re at it, you’ll need somewhere to store it online. The amount of cloud storage you can get for free these days in tools like Dropbox, Copy, Google Drive, or others is immense. Storing online means your shareable resources are already in orbit, reducing the amount of time and clicking required to provide access.
Lastly, there’s a ton of online tools that actually create online. Canva is the one I’m playing with this week – a beautiful, easy, contemporary graphic design environment. It also has the Canva Design School attached, which helps you learn the principles of beautiful graphic design in easy, bite-sized ways. And no, it doesn’t have borders or clipart!
Kids will play, interact, and socialise on the Internet, with or without our influence. We can all draw to mind a number of situations in which that’s Gone Real Well. At the end of the day, it’s interpersonal skills, not technical skills that separates the humans from the troll-king keyboard warriors.
Have an online space to model publishing & sharing, to invite & shape conversation, and to share with a community. Involve the kids in posting to it and commenting on it, and involve the community in viewing and giving feedback.
Part of that community connection is the connections you make as a professional. Join an online community of educators, and talk shop. Twitter is hands down the best free PD you can give yourself. Think of it as forming connections and learning with others. Our timezone here in Perth is home to such a massive slice of the world’s population, there’s a massive pool of smart, talented, creative and generous educators already in that space who are only too happy to meet more people. Get on board.
What can you make or leverage in one place to be useful in conjunction with something else? Most of Operating happens in the MacGyver part of your brain, so if you’re prone to saying “I’m not a creative person,” break that habit now. Creativity’s like fitness, and it doesn’t necessarily mean “artistic”. The more you exercise it and the more situations you apply it to, the better it gets.
As for tools to help it along, IFTTT (If This, Then That) is an absolutely brilliant little assistant. I call it my robot butler. Connect your web services to it, then give it commands. If I take a photo with Instagram, then put that photo in my Dropbox. If I favourite a tweet, add the link in it to my bookmarks. It’ll save you a lot of running around, help you stay organised, and give you far greater digital reach.
Make Ethical Decisions
Publish, share, communicate, participate. Difficult social media problems, copyright breaches and exasperation at what kids would rather do than their school stuff so often stem from a fundamental difference in the way students and their teachers use the Internet. This is a very broad generalisation, but it’s based on what I’ve seen in countless classrooms, schools, principal’s offices, education conferences, and groups of parents. For a lot of teachers the Internet is like a library, or like window shopping. It’s impersonal, it’s owned by someone else, and you’re discouraged from venturing into it alone. Look, don’t touch.
The web doesn’t work like that. People who feel at home on the Internet these days treat it more like a village market or bazaar. It’s big and social. It’s open and tactile. Best of all, it’s there to be personalised – functionally and socially. A sense of community makes it work for you as much as you work for it.
What does this have to do with ethical decision making? It’s participatory. The people you interact with are real. The media you consume was created and shared by real people. Hopefully the things you create will find an audience as well, however big or small. How do you interact with those people? How do you treat those creative works? What can you contribute to your community?
Give a little to get a little. Share & play nice.
The rub from all this, Aussie educators? There’s your AC General Capabilities for technology taken care of. Now strap yourself in and get cracking.