Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thinking About the Finished Product

A couple weeks ago, our instructor in Internet for Educators introduced us to some useful, and free, internet sites including Evernote, Slideshare, Livebinders, Animoto, BlipFM, Prezi, and Shape Collage to name a few. While playing around on these sites, and seeing the never ending possibilities someone as uncreative like me could produce (see my last post for example), left me wondering why we don't encourage students to use these in the classroom.

Let me explain. Last spring, I had the opportunity to teach grade 9 and 10 geography. In my unit on natural resources, I got students to get into small groups, pick a significant natural resource in Canada, do some research on it, and present the information they found in the form of a handmade poster. Now looking back, the process of learning worked well and students were engaged until it came to presenting the information. How practical is making a handmade poster? Where are students going to use that skill in life after school?

In my geography classes, I should have introduced students to free online tools that would have sparked their creativity as Animoto sparked mine. Students could have presented a Prezi, included a collage using Shape Collage, or even made a poster, but using pictures compiled on Flikr and using a poster template in PowerPoint. This would have made a professional looking product and the skills they developed while showing their learning would have transferred into their lives beyond the classroom. Now part of the problem in my situation was my lack of experience with these tools and the lack of computers for students to work on. However, these are things we as educators should be thinking about. Even if it’s not in the curriculum, our job as teachers is to help students succeed outside of school. In a constantly evolving, technology driven world, assigning handmade posters as the finished product will not cut it.


Jay Sun D said...

As we move towards graduation and closer to our own classrooms it is good that we have been able to be introduced to some of these tools that we can use moving forward. I completely agree that having the students create something on the computer to display their research would have been a good idea and I'm sure that lots of them would have enjoyed it as most students love working on the computer no matter what they are doing. I also plan on using these tools once we are out in the real world in our own classrooms. Can't wait.

The (IT) World According to Aaron said...

That's the main idea I think we need to carry with us out of this faculty and into the classroom: giving students experience with tools and skills that will help them after school. These tools will be in constant flux and likely just as outdated as the poster and paper mode are now by the time some reach the workforce, but we need to expose them to the tools and skills so that the students can evolve with technology and not in a standstill as time marches on.

iMaunder said...

Definitely, giving students the opportunity to exhibit skills not only in research but in practical presentation is important. There are the logistical problems that may occur with lack of computers, but in putting forth these options for the students it'll have double the reward. It is rather mind boggling how many different and unqiue sites and tools that are out there on the internet. They surely push creativity to different levels.