This week I’m attending Punahou School’s Summer Technology Lab, four days of keynote speakers, classroom observations, and lots of chatting with interesting and diverse educators and administrators about interactive technologies. The major themes for the conference are 1) interactive technologies and online learning environments, 2) humanities and technology, 3) mobile technologies, and 4) STEM.
Here are my highlights/take-aways from day one:
- There are always new cool applications that make teaching/collaborating/working more efficient and seamless. The challenge? Finding them (staying current), learning them (some are easier than others), integrating them with other applications (seamlessly), and then filtering (eliminating those that don’t meet your needs or are too cumbersome for what they’re worth). I’m always impressed with the “homework” Punahou teachers do… you can rest assured that the resources have been tested. So, here are some new ones I came across today:
- Elgg – www.elgg.org – open source social networking engine. Similar to Moodle but integrates more “facebook” type functionality. Key tip mentioned today when using Elgg (or any other similar online learning community) – be deliberate in defining groups. Connie (teacher presenter) said that in the future she plans to create a group between herself and each student (1:1 group) as well as class (i.e. 10:00 am class) groups. Great way to have personal and public forums for communication.
- Google Voice – instead of giving out your personal cell phone number (especially to students) and voice messages go directly to email as transcription.
- Zamzar.com – converts anything. Simply upload a file and select what file type you want it converted to… pretty cool.
- ActivClassroom in action! I attended a presentation by a fifth grade teacher who shared the way she uses Promethean’s ActivClassroom. It was really fun to see how well she used the features and functionality of the software and board (teachers are so creative!) and to hear about her “journey” becoming a fluent Promethean user. Even more wonderful though was seeing the teacher participants light up during the presentation. It was evident that the teacher participants were amazed at the endless possibilities. My only wish is that students were present. I think teacher participants would have been even more struck by how intuitive the tools are for students and how engaging learning can be! Let’s harness this power!
Stay tuned for more…