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.