by Rachelle Dene Poth
In my prior blog posts, I talked a lot about taking steps into integrating some type of technology into your classroom. I started with some general ideas about what you might consider and questions you might ask yourself to determine what might benefit your classroom. Thinking about the best ways to help your students is the first step, and also an important way to focus on what you can do that will also benefit your practice as a teacher.
The underlying premise is that all involved have to take some sort of a risk. The teacher has to risk trying something different and new that perhaps is way off from the traditional practice of their classroom or perhaps it’s just a minor change in how they deliver instruction, with a learning target in mind. The students have to take a risk because they are the ones that will be using this new technology. They will be trying a new tool, creating a project with a new presentation style, communicating and collaborating outside of the traditional classroom. And maybe even more importantly, stepping outside their comfort zone.
So it comes down to not only a change in thinking but also a willingness to expand one’s comfort zone and through collaboration, work on building something that can lead to many benefits for students and teachers in the learning environment.
The reason I decided on this topic is that while I have been talking about things I’ve been using in my classroom and how I got started, I also decided that I needed to branch out and try some new methods of delivering instruction. And even more important than my own risk in trying these things was the risk in getting the feedback from the students and learning what the impact was on them as well.
One of the things I love most about Twitter chats and reading blogs is that you get a lot of great ideas and feedback and I very much value the perspective of others. So when trying something new in my classroom, I truly want to know what the students think about it. Did they like it? Did they have problems accessing it? Did it enhance their learning or did it take away from something that would have been more beneficial? In other words, could it have been considered a total waste of valuable learning time.
A few months ago I decided to try Educanon (now Playposit). I have wanted to try it for a while, and since it was available as an app with Edmodo, I definitely wanted to try it with a group of my students. Over the past few years, I have been using some tools to flip my classroom and provide more blended learning experiences for my students.
In doing this, I also wanted a way to make them accountable for the activities that I was having them do outside of class. Without specific interactive tools, it can be difficult, aside from actually giving students a test or other assessment, to have proof that they watched a video; this was a risk for me.
I’m fortunate that my students are interested in learning new things and tolerant of the fact that I like to try new tools in our classroom and work to find a variety of engaging ways to help them learn. Playposit is integrated with several different Learning Management Systems, making that part easier.
I decided to take a small step and have Spanish II try it out first, chose a YouTube video and created a lesson. There were some initial glitches, most of which occurred because students did not follow my instructions and I had to troubleshoot, however the feedback was very positive and the students really enjoyed it. Another area which was challenging for me was that I would not necessarily be able to answer their questions, because it was new to me as well.
I had researched and learned as much as I could before assigning the first “bulb” which is a lesson. Other concerns I had were whether it would it be accessible to the students, would it indeed benefit their learning and how would they respond to yet another new tool. My goal was to find another way to connect the learning and engage students, and even more, transform their roles from learners to leaders in the classroom.
How Does It Work?
It is very user friendly to create your own “bulb.” You can select your video from YouTube, Vimeo, SchoolTube, TeacherTube, and Google Drive, and simply paste the URL into your lesson. You then can add a variety of questions, discussion, audio, images, equations and more for your lesson, even explanations and descriptions. Once you are finished, assign the lesson and the students can begin.
There are a lot of choices for analytics to see how the students are progressing, their answer selections, see if any questions were skipped or that students found confusing, and look for trends across the class. Several ways to share the lesson, either by having students sign up, upload a roster, or have it integrated with your LMS. There are diverse ways to create the lessons that will help to engage your students more and deliver lessons which provide more personalized learning experiences and give you the means to provide feedback to the students.
I have encouraged students to create presentations using tools like this, because I think it really helps them to learn the material, they can personalize it, it is interactive, they build on their technology skills, and they can see what it is like to be the teacher, to have the power to drive the learning in the classroom. Feeling valued and having input into the classroom, engages students more and enhances the learning opportunities for all.
As the teacher, I take part in their lesson and enjoy learning from them as well.
The nice thing about Playposit is that there are premade “bulbs” or public lessons already available, so if you don’t have a lot of time right now to build your own, take a look at what is already made and try it in your classroom. Talk to your students and see how they like it and how it impacts your learning environment.
There is nothing wrong with trying it out and seeing what others have done. Sharing leads to new ideas and it is all part of the growth process. The important thing is to just start somewhere, start small, and work your way up. It may go really well and it may not go as hoped, but it is an opportunity to learn, expand skills and involve students in the process.