Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Life on the Farm" - an outstanding example of the effective use of networked, digital technologies in the classroom

Take 10 minutes and interact with the "Life on the Farm" voicethread created by Kevin Jarrett, his kindergarten students, and a few farmers from Canada (Penny Lindbale, Joanne McMahon, and Brenda Sherry). It is an extraordinary piece and one that serves as a shining example of best practices associated with the use of networked technologies.

In so many situations in classrooms we use technology in ways that simply replicate the old way of doing something in a new medium (I know this is a fact, because I've been the architect of MANY projects that fall under this category).  However, this isn't true of "Life on the Farm."

Life on the Farm offers the following meaningful elements:

Sharing Beyond the Classroom - this piece is published for ANYONE on the Internet to learn from and interact with.

Community/Home Connection - think about all the people in the communities where Kevin, Penny, Brenda, and Joanne are from. Parents, students, family members, teachers and administrators are all able to interact with this learning object. I'm a BIG fan of classroom learning objects that allow the family to reinforce and extend the classroom learning through conversation at home. This learning object serves as a conversation hook that wasn't there before. Some of you have heard me say this in the past, but learning objects like this make the question, "What did you do in school today?" obsolete.

Global Collaboration - at the time of this posting, this Voicethread has participation from individuals in several parts of Canada and in New Jersey. Imagine where this could go with farmers from different kinds of farms around the world sharing their stories and practices. Incredible possibilities here that simply may not be realized without networked, digital technologies.

Permanence: The project creates a learning object that has a certain permanence. I have a feeling that the Life on the Farm Voicethread will be around for several years to come and will serve as a valuable learning object for others around the world.