I really enjoyed our time today. I most likely spoke way to much and threw too many ideas and concepts at them, but this was the first time that I've ever met with a group of pre-service teachers and I wanted to show them as many possibilities as our short amount of time would allow. We started out our meeting with a visit from my colleague and peer down at Plano Middle School, Scott Meech. It was nice of Scott to take time away from his busy day today to speak with us about some of the things we've been up to in our Protecht project. We talked about how we use some of these tools to collaborate and work with one another even though we're scattered all across the country. Scott brought up the concept of the "back channel" which was something unfamiliar to this group. Vicki Davis, the "Cool Cat Teacher" from Camilla, Georgia, wrote an interesting blog post on using a back channel with students. We did have one of the students talk about how she uses SMS messaging on her cell to back channel and talk with other students in class. This was interesting, as I've read quite bit about cell phones as instructional tools this year. Anyway, it was great to bring Scott into the mix as he always brings up interesting points that make you think and I'm glad the students were introduced to Skype as a way to invite remote guests into a classroom environment.
After our talk with Scott, we took a look at Karl Fisch's "Did You Know Video" and followed this up with a brief discussion. I've used this video this year with parents, teachers and now pre-service teachers. It is such a great piece to frame any discussion on what it means to teach and learn in the 21st century.
After our Skype conversation with Scott we fired up Ustream and broadcast our session. I twittered out the ustream URL and we had 3 or 4 other folks tune in (thanks to jepcke, jerthebear, and plennig for joining in the conversation via the chat box in ustream-I'm sorry I wasn't able to check the chat box...for those of you who would like to see the chat transcript, click here). I also sent out a Twitter post asking some of my twitter buddies to say hello. I think the impact of twitter, Ustream and Scott's visit via Skype really had an impact on this group. We received hello messages from my Twitterbuddies all over the world, which was pretty powerful for them to see. I took three screenshots of the Twitter replies to our group... these are posted online: Screenshot 1, screenshot 2, screenshot 3.
I was quite impressed with this group-I think they're going to take some of these ideas and concepts and run for miles and miles. Many of them are already using Facebook and tools with similar features and capabilities. I hope that they can tweak things a bit and customize the way they use these tools so they can be leveraged as instructional assets in their classrooms (or "studios" and "global communications centers" as we talked about!)
As promised, I told Pat that I would provide a link to the list of "Emerging Technologies" that Ryan Bretag twittered out last night (talk about just in time professional exchanges!) You may find this document online by clicking here. I'm fairly certain that this document was created collaboratively by folks in Ryan's professional learning network (PLNs-for more on PLNs, check out Vinnie Vrotny's K12 Online conference session on PLNs from last fall).
Today we also talked about productivity tools in comparison to creativity tools. To me, the tools that we talked about today are ones that promote and foster creativity. Here are the tools that I currently use most often to collaborate, communicate, learn, create, and engage in professional development:
- Google Docs-Watch the "Google Docs in Plain English" video on YouTube*
- Delicious Social Bookmarking
- RSS (I really wanted to touch on RSS and Google Reader more today, but I just ran out of time. RSS and Google Reader are two tools that allow you to effectively manage and sift through all of the streams/information that you subscribe to)
- Google Reader
- Flickr Online Photo Sharing
- Classroom 2.0 - Professional networking community for teachers. Has a similar look and feel to other social networking platforms. This is a wonderful way to share, exchange, and meet other educators from all over the world.
The recorded conversation and slides from today's meeting with the Alverno students is embedded below. At some point I'll edit down the recorded audio and post that here as well.
*Photo courtesy of a user on flickr who gave me explicit permission to use this photo for educational purposes (name is not mentioned because it isn't "K12 friendly")