Thursday, March 13, 2008

Alverno College Pre-Service Teacher Meeting

I had the good fortune and privilege to speak with 16 pre-service teachers in Alverno College's teacher pre-service teacher program this morning. Pat Walsh, who is taking over as the facilitator of this class titled, "Technology in Education," called me 1 week ago asking if I'd be willing to host a class session on our campus. Pat's colleague who started out at the instructor was unable to continue due to health complications. I said I would be happy to host the class and I also thought up an activity to have the students participate in prior to our visit today. After hanging up with Pat, I called her back and suggested that her students watch Sir Ken Robinson's wonderful TED Talk titled, "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" Students watched the 20 minute clip and then reflected on the video and introduced themselves to me in the form of a text comment on a Voicethread that I emailed over to Pat. You can click here to meet these wonderful students!

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:
*Actually, all of the "Plain English" CommonCraft videos are excellent. Lee Lefever has videos that explain blogging, Twitter, Wikis, social networking, and other concepts in "Plain English." Click here for the CommonCraft channel on YouTube.

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")


  1. Ann Mauro4:34 PM

    Thank you for introducing me to such wonderful concepts as creativity tools -vs- productivity tools and studio -vs- classroom. I have talked about our time together with several peers and instructors. I have also forwarded the link to Karl Fisch's "Did You Know Video" to several people. I look forward to meeting with you again.

    Ann Mauro

  2. It looks as though you did an awesome job. I'm in my third year of teaching and I can still remember my EdTech class consisting of knowing how to use the Microsoft Suite. I often wonder now, how many things do I use now that existed back then. It is unbelivable to think that universities are embracing this so slowly. What we are ending up with are students who are changing the world themselves, with little or no guidance. In some cases this is perfectly acceptable, but I think we have a lot of catching up to do!

  3. Matt~
    I was one of the preservice teachers that attended this class. I wanted to thank you for sharing so much of the technology that I did not even know existed. I already subscribed to twitter and classroom 2.0. Thank you so much!
    Lisa Heid~

  4. @Mr. Kimmi-thanks much for the comment. I was pretty surprised to hear about the curriculum of this university level technology in education class myself. But then again, I can't knock it too much. Up until roughly 24 months ago I was pretty much a web 1.0 teacher and technology coordinator.

    Great point about kids getting involved with little to no guidance and mentoring. Once we all start to take a more active role in this process I think we're going to see more incredible content produced by kids. Imagine being able to blend the experience and wisdom of a teaching adult with the natural enthusiasm and creativity of the young mind. Powerful stuff is likely to ensue.

    @ann and lisa-I'm glad we were able to meet up here at USM. I certainly had a blast and I'm glad to hear that each of you have taken some actions (eg-started a twitter account, joined classroom 2.0, passing along Did You Know video to other peers, etc). Good luck during the rest of the semester if I don't meet with you again!