Five disruptive ideas I love in online/blended education
A is for Apps.
If you are not using apps yet in your classroom, it can revolutionize what you do and energize students. The first app I used in class was a simple calculator. Most phones have them and it was amazing how many fewer times I had to deal with students who “forgot” their calculators. I have never been taught of thought the same since.
An app, is a mini-software application which can run using a minimum amount of computing storage and power. Many work by linking/connecting to web based applications, while a few are actually stand alone. Anyone using an iPad, knows that it is all apps. iPads use minimal full software, and focus more on media storage.
Pros for the classroom: Apps can be custom tailored to exactly what you want you students to see and experience. This is a huge advantage when dealing with the natural tangents of general internet usage. It allows you the teacher to focus students and spend less time monitoring what else they have up on their screens.
Cons for the classroom: finding a pre-made app can be time consuming and making one can be costly. In addition, for equitable use you need school supplied technology to use it. Otherwise you end up with a have and have not situation. Finally, no one has won the war on this front yet, tablets and phones still use a variety of platforms which vary and mean that if you do not supply the tech yourself, you will have to deal with multiple versions operation on iOS, Android and traditional operating systems.
E is for eLearning Brothers (http://library.elearningtemplates.com/)
eLearning Brothers is a company which makes making elearning content simpler for the educator. I tend to be a low to no cost advocate. But this is one case where I feel like I got what I paid for. Anyone who has ever tried to program in flash can tell you it is an egg-head’s game. If you love coding and eat it for breakfast, than by all means have at Adobe Flash. However, if like me you are a teacher first and a technophile second, eLearning Brothers is for you. They have a host of templates which are reasonable priced and set up so that you can make that Flashy content you always wanted without needed a degree in code. Fast easy and performs as promised. Just my speed.
Pro for the classroom: Fun and easy to use. Imports into every web platform I’ve tried from straight HTML pages to a variety of LMS’s Looks professional and works well.
Con for the classroom: initial $$
I is for iNACOL events (http://www.inacol.org/events/)
Th International Association for K-12 Online Learning is a leader in providing quality professional development in online and blended learning. They look at both the administrative and teaching sides of this growing field, and offer webinars as well as face to face opportunities to learn. If you are looking for growth in this areas, this is the organization to join. You will meet your disruptive brothers and sisters 🙂
Pro: Great event, lots to learn
Con: I’d like more input on the topic selection. Sometimes it gets a little onr track minded.
O is for Open Source
Software for everyone, regardless of income level. Families and educators are hurting in this economy. We got very used to a quality of life in the 80’s and 90’s that most Americans can no longer afford. Compared with struggling countries we still have it great, but one significant leveling factor on the playing field of technology is the idea of open source. We share, like we were taught in kindergarten.
Pro: Free, much of it is good quality
Con: You may have to fight with your tech people to allow the downloads.
U is for Unplugged
More and more people are realizing that online learning doesn’t have to happen at a computer. It can be mobile, or it can even be downloaded and done offline. So online learners should unplug and get out there every so often, just to make sure the world they’re learning about is still there.
Pro: Education happens everywhere and everywhere
Con: if something is too available, it can be easier to procrastinate because of the sense that you can always do it.
For those of you who have never heard of Big Muzzy, the title of today’s post is an homage to a popular language teaching cartoon. You can view the English Language clip here