using social media to expand the classroom community
Posts tagged with students
Was it worth it? I am always interested in student feedback on my experiments. So, here a graph of the student feedback I got back on the SimCity Urban Design Challenge (see my previous post):
Click to enlarge
And here is their written feedback:
- I liked the project a lot and it helped me understand how city planning and managing a city works. It helped a lot since I’m a visual learner also.
- Christian Lucas Says, it actually really helped me understand how a city works. And I especially liked how it was interactive, you basically found out the hard way how a city worked and it was fun.
- I found this to be the most stressful assignment all year. I did learn from playing and it showed me how complicated managing a city is but I would never want to play this game again. For the future, I would somehow change this assignment either by making it shorter or by briefing people better on how to play.
- Even though the correlation to the unit is there, it didn’t really help much with comprehension and was really sort of frustrating.
- I thought the game was valuable because it reinforced many concepts and made me actually deal with a lot of issues that city planners have to do. But it was really challenging and frustrating as well and although I think it was beneficial to understand what city planners go through it was also stressful. Overall I liked the idea though and I think future classes should do it.
- It was helpful to a certain point. There were some things missing from the game that we went over, but many things in SimCity were helpful.
- Sim City was a good tool to use when we were learning about urban planning. While I understood the terms and programs that urban planners used before we played Sim City, the game just really reinforced how difficult it really is to maintain and expand a city.
- SimCity helped me learn zoning, and city budgets.
- I was never really that confused about what we learned in class, but the game helped explain it further.
- I thought it was a fun way of learning a lot like being involved.
If you want to know more about lessons learned from the game, you can read an account at our class blog.
Will I do this again? Probably. I just heard that Electronic Arts,the maker of SimCity, is releasing a new version designed for use in education! Check it out.
What would you do? Did any comments resonate with you?
I’m wrapping up a week in Cincinnati, Ohio. I spent the last seven days reading AP Environmental Science exams. The College Board managed to get 350 college and high school teachers here, get them to establish and then grade essay questions by a common standard (rubric).Amazing process to witness.
One of the neat things about the event is that I get to mix and mingle with educators from all over the the world. It is neat to learn what others are doing, thinking, etc…in your field. We all eat together, work together, play together. Got it? It is a lot of togetherness. Most of that togetherness is positive.
However, I had one experience at breakfast a few days ago that I am still trying to process. I had breakfast with a dinosaur. Really.
I sat down at a breakfast table with a few other AP teachers in the middle of a spirited discussion. One very experienced teacher was absolutely on fire about the topic at hand–her state (which will remain nameless) wanting to put iPads in the hand of every high school student. Let’s just say she was not happy about it.
What struck me was that she was not resistant because she did not want to learn how to use a new tool. She was complaining about the kids!
Yes, she was convinced that the kids could never use iPads responsibly in her room. She was convinced, if given iPads, the kids would “waste all their time on Facebook.” She went on to explain how none of her students (juinors and seniors) could do any worthwhile research online, so why give them even more access to the internet. She went on, and on, and on…..
I’m always struck by these conversations–the ones that focus on what’s wrong with the kids. The conversations that focus on what the kids can’t do these days..as if kids have changed.
If we are going to incorporate new technologies (is any of this really new anymore?), then don’t WE have to teach students what responsible use looks like? If research is something kids will online experience online, then don’t WE have to reach them what good research looks like–how to access, analyze, validate, and synthesize it into their own ideas? Don’t WE?
Of course, I did not argue with her. I just wanted to eat breakfast-and help her file her retirement papers.
In my last post, I shared a little feedback from my students about blogging (WordPress app) on iPads during a two-week science course/trip in Costa Rica. Now, I want to share a bit more student feedback on using iPads as a work platform and/or “digital backpack” while on that same trip.
I offered students the following prompt in an online survey during out last week in Costa Rica:
How did the iPads change the way you learned or completed course work? What were the positives and negatives of bringing iPads instead of a traditional notebook? Did they enhance your learning or provide too many sources of distraction? Was it convenient to have all course materials and communication in Charger (Google) Apps? Why or why not? If you have trouble, imagine this course without the iPads-how would it have to be different? *Note: I am considering running a year-long class off iPads only, so your feedback here is very important. I need anything you can share about strengths and limitations of using these devices!
And, here’s what I got from them:
1. I think that a set of laptops would probably be better. Everyone would be familiar with the operating system, and the kind of portability the iPad offers isn’t necessary.
2. It helped by making sharing very easy. As far as negatives, bring confinded to a wi-Fi signal could get annoying, but the positives out-weighed the few negatives. Again, the google apps was only useful with an Internet connection, so there’s a slight limitation. The course without iPads would have been…moist… With the constant humidity and paper.
3. I liked it a lot but you need to think about if you do a full long course, your students will most likely wander onto Facebook or onto another site all the time and not get work done or pay attention. But I love the note taking programs and the writing programs.
4. I felt they helped a lot. It would not have been the same trip without them. WordPress was absolutely perfect for the blog although it did glitch sometimes.
5. The iPads are very useful for short term trips, but I wouldn’t want to take a class off one. There are too many distractions for a year long class, and the keyboard is a pain to type on. They were better than carrying a notebook around, though my handwriting deteriorated.
6. Good, though net books would be better for school work and less clunky(for blogging and such). iPads are cooler though.
So, what can I conclude from their comments on this little experiment? Are iPads a good platform for student work? Typing can be frustrating (even for these texting-savy kids) on lengthy passages. But, students were often working on projects in short bursts (and I had a dock available for those that wanted it). Having readings and videos/podcasts preloaded was wonderful-I simply had to so something like “go to videos, and watch ____ segment on deforestation” or “go to diigo and read the article on the history of shade-grown coffee.” Overall, the students survived and thrived without paper and notebooks. I think the iPad2 (we had iPad1) presents even more powerful tools for creating/sharing with the camera. Maybe it is time to sketch out a pro/con list….
At this point, I’m still set on running an environmental science class off the devices (paperless) this fall…stay tuned.
Back from a little rest and relaxation, I’m trying to reflect on a 1:1 iPad (1st generation) pilot project. In a recent post, I shared HOW students were utilizing the devices during a science course/trip in Costa Rica. In an another post, I shared some lessons learned (capabilities/limitations) from using the devices with students. Now, I’m trying to reflect on student feedback. There were only six students in the course, so I do not have a lot of data.
I offered students the following prompt in an online survey during out last week in Costa Rica:
Describe what it was like learning to blog with the WordPress app on the iPads. It would be most helpful to know things that are hard to do on the machines. Also, it would be helpful to know suggestions to help me help you.
And, here’s what they (only 4 of 6 responded) had to say….
1. Hard to do fonts, videos.
2. I like it alot but the only confusing thing was how to crop and rotate pictures before putting them on the blog.
3. The WordPress app worked really well although I wish we had time to get used to it before the trip.
4. Blogging is much better than anything we could do on paper. The iPad’s screen size makes it better than one would expect, but it can still get a little cumbersome.
Nothing really earth-shattering there. I was impressed that students took to the app so easily and found work arounds for limitations. For example, some students knew a bit of html code for italics and bold and they taught others who wanted to use those features. As for video, I hear that inserting video is very easy in WordPress with the iPad2 (again, we had 1st generation). Another student figured out you could crop and rotate pictures by rotating the screen view, zooming in on the image, then taking a screenshot. It was helpful to have a keyboard dock when students had to write a lot of text.
Overall, there were not a lot of complaints. Students managed to complete daily travel journal blogs as well as multimedia projects with relative ease. I am amazed at this bird project one young lady produced with an iPad, her digital camera, and a little html code! The students really seemed to appreciate the portability of the devices. Here is one of my favorite images of a student working on a project while half submerged in a hotel pool:
So, are you using WordPress and iPads for student blogging? If so, what issues are you dealing with? Please share! I’m going to try to run a paperless class this coming school year using iPads…
In my last post, I wrote about how I was attempting to use iPads (1st generation) for consuming and creating course content while traveling with six kids in Costa Rica. We are now 8 days into our trip, and I think I’ve learned a thing or two about going 1:1 in a class:
1. Choosing content to upload in advance is key. When we have had “down time,” the kids could view/read “homework.” Then, we could spend our face-to-face time doing more outside.
2. The initial synch-up with the “master Mac” for the class has to be thought through carefully. I noticed, after synching all the iPads, that I was logged into multiple apps. So, if I did not log out the students would be able to purchase apps at the iTunes store or post content under my name at YouTube or access my mail in Google Docs.
3. The students don’t mind the touch screens. I brought one keyboard dock, but the kids seemed content to type away on the touch screen just fine. I was amazed at the amount of content they could generate in a short time.
4. If I gave the students enough to do, they stayed on task. I know they used the iPads to entertain themselves, check Facebook, email home, etc…but when I designated “classwork” time, they went at it. In fact, sometimes I had to tell them to quit!
5. We’ve largely managed to operate the course “paperless.” With the exception of bringing an environmental science text and a lab notebook (for data collected in the field), everything has been done/read at our blog or in Google Docs or in notepad-type apps on the iPads.
6. Trying to run a wiki on iPads was an epic fail. Thus far (June 2011), there does not seem to be any reliable app to author/edit wikis on the iPad.
I’m sure more will occur to me as this trip winds down and I find time to process and reflect at home. I also plan to survey and/or interview the kids on the whole experience. If you have time, check out the work the kids have done at out class/trip blog: http://pdsblogs.org/costarica/
In my last post, I told you I’m heading to Costa Rica June 6th-17th with a colleague and six students for a summer school travel course in tropical ecology. Today, Matt Scully (our IT guru) started “packing” our “digital backpacks,” what I’ve decided to call our iPads. I’m trying to meld an intense 11 day Life 1.0 field trip with the latest in Web 2.0 digital tools to shape a unique learning experience for our students. Part of what I’m doing here is laying out the logistics and reflecting on what transpires. So, how does “packing” work?
Well, first I created an “image” of a student “digital backpack” on my iPad (most of the apps are listed in my previous post) I also added course related videos, TEDTalks, podcasts, and ITunes U lectures and some related reading via Diigo. Then, I synched it with my computer. Then, I synched each student iPad with my computer. Now, I didn’t give them access to my entire library or all my apps. The beauty of the synch system Apple created is that I select and upload (synch) just what they need. Tomorrow is our trial run. The kids are coming in to learn how to use the iPads, as well as some basics on how to use a wiki and how to post on a blog. Stay tuned…
A student wrote this on the board the other day. She really struggled first semester, so I was really pleased to see it when I walked in the room. Gotta love 7th graders…
In my last post, I explained a new project I tried this year using flickr. I was excited that the project continued and culminated despite school being closed for a snowstorm. In general, I was pleased with the results of my experiment. However, I am always curious as to what the students think of such ventures…
Being a science type, of course I like some data to scrutinize:
Student Feedback (click to enlarge)
So, it seems as if the 27 seniors (of my 34) who responded most got something of value from the project. Right? I did encourage students to provide some written feedback also:
1.A complete waste of time.
2.It was fun, but I can’t say I really “learned” much, I just got to see what needs work in our city.
3.None of these choices really fit my thoughts. I did the project and thought it was cool to actually identify locations around Charlotte that we see everyday as either “good” or “bad” urban planning. However, I felt that, for me, the end result wasn’t as worthwhile considering the effort it took for me to find a satisfactory picture/location, upload it, add some descriptions, and comment on other photos. It was also frustrating considering I put a lot of effort into finding the pictures and examples, yet had no comments on my own photos.
4.I enjoyed this project because it applied what we’re learning to our own hometown and it was not difficult. Doing this made me think while I’m going around town as to what is a good design and what is a bad design in my own city! I love when classroom material is applicable in my own life because I am more interested and therefore, I learn more from it.
5.It was cool to see all the poorly designed areas.
6.I definitely liked using flickr as a resource.
7.I learned how to use flickr, but I didn’t necessarily look at everyone’s pictures. The comment aspect was probably the most helpful part of the project in terms of understanding. That being said, I think I would’ve understood urban planning at the same level without doing the project.
8.If we spent more time on the project I think I would have had more time to appreciate what we could learn from it.
9.It was a lot a work for a little project. And it didn’t help me learn anything about urban planning.
10.I thought that it was a really cool project…I found it interesting and clicked through most of the images and left two comments…It was interesting to see areas near my house or areas that I know but hadn’t considered from an urban planning point of view.
11.Not so much frustrating but not the most useful thing.
12.Flickr confused me.
13.I did not feel the assignment was necessary. I could have learned just as much if you showed us a few pictures.
14.I mean it was interesting but I’m not really sure how much I got out of it. Some of the examples were pretty obvious and I probably would have known all that without having the whole flickr.
15.I really liked this project and it wasn’t too difficult but i think it actually helped me a lot.
Feedback is always a bit of a mixed bag. What advice should I use for the next time I try this with a group of students? What should I ignore? Which students “get it?” Which students missed the point (sharing and collaboration)?
Not my typical social media post…We are eight weeks into a new year and the first reports have gone home to parents. So, it is time to work with the kids who are struggling. More often than not, I find that how students respond to challenges in my class does correspond to their mindset. If you have not read any of Carol Dweck’s work, I highly recommend it. This blog post does a great job breaking down her analysis of fixed vs. growth mindsets…nice graphics too. I wonder how many teachers know of her research or agree with her findings?
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In previous posts, I discussed how my high school students have used wikis and blogs for exam/test review. This spring, someone took using social media for exam review to a new level. Yes, this spring someone organized a national AP environmental science exam review on facebook.
APES "study group"
If you are on facebook, check it out. I did not participate, so I cannot speak to its success. I’m not sure the organizers tried to evaluate the effectiveness of the project. You can at least see the comments left by kids who did value the forum.