Apr 4, 2010

Low Floor, Wide Walls, & High Ceiling

Technology has changed so much in the 20+ years I have been teaching! While most of what is available seems very similar in output to earlier tools, the biggest changes have been in ease of use (low floor) and integration (wider walls). Put those two together with greater/cheaper access and collaboration and what is possible has greatly increased (high ceiling). 

What toolkit would I recommend these days? Well, before getting into that, all the tools in the world won't get you very far without brave, collaborative, creative, thoughtful (reflective), and critical students. Assuming you have created a culture for such kids I'd recommend:

  1. A MacBook, NetBook, or iPad to create content and access all those web 2.0 tools
  2. Wiki - An amazingly flexible tool that allows my students to easily integrate text, images, audio, video, and widgets galore. My students are the producers instead of just consumers! Currently I prefer Wikispaces, though I would be quite happy with several others
  3. Moodle - For the forum tool alone it is worthwhile. It also allows for integration of the elements mentioned above, but the nested nature of the discussion helps my students follow the conversation, and therefore encourages it.
  4. Multimodal tools
    1. GarageBand or Audacity - Audio recording, not just for the students who have difficulty writing, for anyone who wants another form of communication that offers its own rich set of options and strengths
    2. Flip Camera - Get video into your web 2.0 world
    3. Still Camera - And images too! It's time to move beyond clip art and other people's photos. Let the kids bring their world into the web 2.0 world.
  5. MyWebspiration.com or Inspiration - Graphic organizers and concept maps offer students a deep way to demonstrate the connections in their knowledge.
  6. iChat or Skype - Another way to bring the outside world in and to get our students heard in the outside world.
  7. VoiceThread - Still learning this one, it may move up.
Related Link - http://web.media.mit.edu/~mres/scratch/scratch-cacm.pdf (page 3)

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