Sunday, March 2, 2008

Safe Havens

The love of my teaching life at the moment is my Learning Platform. I love it because it encompasses everything that I believe a platform should be. It enables me to create that "Safe Haven" for my students to explore and utilise the new Web2.0 technologies that abound on the internet.
How am I doing this? Those lovely words "embed code". We have a Learning Platform that is flexible enough that it allows us to embed much of the internet - without taking students outside of the classroom. Yes it is easy to hyper link to websites like YouTube - but they have so many distractions for students that it is so much better to embed the YouTube video inside a classroom activity page.
What can I do with my Learning Platform - well the list keeps on expanding but so far we've been able to:
  • Blog - students can create their own blogs and decide who their audience (within the school community) will be. We are using blogs for students to reflect on their learning and extend their learning
  • Podcast - the latest discovery is that our Learning Platform can broadcast a Podcast - both publicly and privately. Yeh!!! no ftp, no file size limits, no format limits and the students can also create their own podcasts - it doesn't have to be teacher centred-- very satisfying. I've also discovered a wonderful web2.0 application called Feedburner that enables me to make a lovely interface for all of this
  • ePortfolio - yes it's a catchphrase at the moment but we've been working on digital portfolios at a district level and come up with some templates for both primary and secondary students. One of our main findings is that the tools you use need to be flexible and allow students to direct the outcomes (with guidance) - we're incorporating blogs and web pages as part of the reflection and analysis process.
  • wikis are coming to our learning platform - great!!! just in time for next terms project with Year 7!! Again they are within our school community so security is not an issue and you can allocate different wikis to different groups of students to create... I'm so looking forward to experimenting with these.
  • Tasks - you can assign tasks to a group of students, they can share their work, you can have private or public conversations with students about their work, you can see what and when they uploaded files. No more emailing work, no more saving and filing documents from students!! Love it. The best thing is that you can create a task that has embedded internet content, add a couple of files and also has teacher notes so if you share the task with several classes the teachers can have instructions or support materials that the students don't see!
My aim this year was NOT to use the photocopier - I think so far I've only made about 100 copies - the Learning Platform is not only letting me create the safe learning haven for my students - but is helping me to stay green!