Much of the world has gone digital, so must learning at school. Creativity is vital, and good leadership matters. Stagnant, accomodation-level technology integration makes technology investments in our schools a waste of money. School leaders can and should encourage teachers to use digital learning tools in transformative ways to open new doors of opportunity for students as well as parents. By focusing on creating, communicating / sharing, and collaborating, principals can help develop a shared instructional vocabulary with teachers which is focused on student engagement. Without creation, there can be no creativity. How will you let your students create? How will you give students choices? How will your students teach the curriculum? These are essential questions to ask together with teachers, as we seek to effectively (and legally) "talk with media / pictures" and leverage the constructive power of digital media tools for learning inside and outside the classroom.


Blended Learning: Curriculum and Social Networking Tools

Blended learning combines face-to-face and online experiences to engage learners, and extend learning beyond the classroom walls.

Whether you are interested in planning for "Remote School" or simply generating increased student content mastery, collaboration and self-direction, this hands-on workshop will introduce you to social networking tools, resources and ideas that can be used to begin building a blended learning experience.



Social Networking Tools that Support Blended Learning


TodaysMeet

TodaysMeet helps you embrace the backchannel and connect with your audience in realtime.
Encourage the room to use the live stream to make comments, ask questions, and use that feedback to tailor your presentation, sharpen your points, and address audience needs.

WallWisher

Wallwisher is an Internet application that allows people to express their thoughts on a common topic easily.




EDU2.0

EDU 2.0 is very similar to online course management systems like Blackboard and Moodle, but with a couple of distinct advantages.
  1. Teachers can share their lesson plans, quizzes, videos, experiments and other resources in a shared library that currently hosts more than 15,000 pieces of content.
  2. A community section allows teachers and students to network and collaborate with other members who share the same educational interests.
  3. Everything is hosted in the cloud for free.

This means free access to some great tools: An online gradebook, customized quizzes, a debate tool, chat, classroom blogs, the ability to track proficiency and a customized portal page. You can also create a network by connecting classes by school and schools by districts. Users are automatically enrolled in the free plan for up to 2000 students.



SymbalooEDU

  • My SymbalooEDU User ID: GallowayATC
The popular visual organizing and sharing tool Symbaloo launched its “EDU” version last fall. According to the company, 50,000 teachers are already using Symbaloo to organize classroom resources. The new EDU version comes with academic subject-specific resource pages or “webmixes” and top tools like TeacherTube, Slideshare, Google Docs, Flickr and more are fully embeddable. Paid teacher accounts can add their school logo and customize the links. The site also allows students to easily share their SymbalooEDU webmixes, pages and projects with classmates.

“It not only becomes a way to organize yourself and find your websites, but a place to put your work, SymbalooEDU becomes sort of the e-portfolio.”



Collaborize Classroom

There’s no replacement for hosting in-person discussions in classrooms, but there are some benefits to moving portions of the discussion online. Class discussions tend to be dominated by about five to seven students. The same set of students talk, and other students don’t speak at all… However, for some students, online discussions are less intimidating to participate in.

Collaborize Classroom gives teachers four discussion format choices. Students can either agree or disagree with a statement, answer a multiple choice question, post responses, or have the choice between adding a new response or voting for someone else’s response. Teachers can add photos or videos to their prompts and all of the discussions take place on one class page.
Use the site for ice-breaking activities, creative writing prompts and peer editing or you can check out other lesson plans that are conveniently posted on a teacher resource page.

Collaborize Classroom is designed to complement classroom instruction and engage students in online activities, assignments and discussions that allow for deeper participation inside and outside the classroom.
  • Do more with less. Allow your students to participate on their own time with an easy-to-use private platform.
  • Enrich your curriculum with multimedia. Embed Microsoft Office documents, videos, pictures, and PDFs.
  • Give every student a voice. Teach students how to have productive, respectful and supportive discussions online.
  • Publish discussions to a results page so students can see tangible outcomes of their conversations.
  • Access detailed student participation reports that make grading easy!
  • Download FREE lesson plans to help get you started.



Edmodo

Edmodo looks and functions much like Facebook. But unlike Facebook, Edmodo is a controlled environment that teachers can effectively leverage to encourage class engagement. The platform allows teachers and students to share ideas, files and assignments on a communal wall. Teachers can organize different groups of students and monitor them from the same dashboard. Once they’ve organized classes, they can post assignments to the wall and grade them online. At the end of the school year, they can then archive the class groups and begin new ones for the following school year.

There are several aspects that make Edmodo safer than Facebook: There’s a group security code that users need in order to view class discussion pages, and although students and teachers can communicate privately, there’s no private communication function between students.
Some other nice advantages of using Edmodo are the ability to connect with other teachers, a group calendar where students can easily see when assignments are due, and a mobile version that allows teachers to moderate discussions from anywhere.


Recommended Follow-up Activities

  1. Watch and reflect on Joyce Valenza's 2009 K-12 Online Conference "Getting Started" strand keynote, "The Wizard of Apps."
  2. Join the K-12 Online Conference Ning, and participate in the conference!
  3. Join Galloway's EDU 2.0 and Collaborize Classroom communities!
  4. Join the Blended Learning group on Edmodo!





Common Considerations for Facilitation in Blended Learning Environments

  • Typically, what counts as good learning and teaching practice in face-to-face situations also applies in blended learning environments.
  • The technology supports the learning, not vice versa! Begin by working out what you want to achieve, then bring the technology in to support it. Your Level Technology Cooridnator and Academic Technology Coordinator (Danielle Klaus) can provide support for eLearning initiatives.
  • Collaboration and group work - these activities need to be well-designed in advance, with clear roles and agreed responsibilities. Learners need to understand why they are being asked to work in groups. Online tools such as wikis and Google Docs are excellent tools for collaboration.
  • Reflecting on teaching and learning helps us to identify and challenge underlying assumptions in our practices and our daily lives. Reflection is an important task for both teachers and students. Online tools such as wikis, blogs and journals can support highly effective reflective practices.

Principles for eLearning

  1. eLearning is an integral component of all curricula
  2. eLearning tools, technologies and processes aim to be pedagogically informed
  3. eLearning tools, technologies and processes aim to provide equitable opportunities for all learners
  4. eLearning processes contribute to curricula by promoting conversations and encouraging active learning
  5. eLearning processes encourage the development of relationships and creative participation
  6. eLearning processes ensure that learners’ contributions are valued and respected
  7. eLearning processes provide and promote meaningful, authentic tasks
  8. eLearning processes communicate high expectations of learners
  9. eLearning processes accommodate students’ learning preferences
  10. eLearning processes assist in the development of literacies and capabilities for life-long learning



Additional Resources and Materials