Since the start of the year I have introduced a DER User Group (thanks to my Twitter buddy Bianca for the idea) at my school to help support teachers in their use of technology in the classroom, especially with the introduction of the laptops. In my school situation there are many teachers consistently using the laptops in their classrooms but often only for notetaking (OneNote), word processing and powerpoint presentations.
This is a great place to start but there is far more potential for the laptops in terms of engaging students and preparing them for the 21st Century. The common cry from my staff though is, “I don’t have time to go looking for other applications”. This is where the DER User Group comes in. I am no where near a techno guru but I love looking for new things to use in the classroom, always have, always will. And, I love to share what I find.
There were only 3 teachers at the first meeting plus myself, the HT in charge of the L4L and the TSO. Despite the small number we all found it very valuable; sharing ideas and identifying great tools to use. For example, one teacher told us how he gets the students to turn their screens to him while the lesson is focused on the front of the room. Great idea! No more worrying about what they are doing while you are talking, discussing etc. We also talked about the value of Moodle, Wikis and Blogs – looking at examples and discussing how they could be used in their classes. The emails that night from the participants were really positive and encouraging.
We have just had our second DER User Group Meeting and 3 new teachers turned up, adding to our group. This time we looked at Adobe Portfolios, Glogster and Prezi. Adobe Portfolio is a great way to combine files into one document – easier to send, easier to access. Great for authentic assessment, writing portfolios as well as for teachers sharing their unit resources amongst each other.
I love the possibility of Glogster! Glogster (http://edu.glogster.com) is a site where you can create multimodal posters – adding sound, images, texts and video. It is easy to use and a great tool for research projects, visual presentations and more. You can sign on for free under an education account and link up to 100 students to your account.
Prezi ( http://prezi.com ) is a more dynamic form of presenting information than PowerPoint. You are able to zoom in to different bits of information as well as add images and video to your presentation. This tool would be great for teaching and student presentations. Again, as a teacher you have free access to a Prezi and signing up is easy.
Again, all teachers were positive and keen to go explore these tools for themselves as they saw their potential for use in their classrooms. Three teachers also joined up to the school Moodle for use with their Year 10 classes at the end of the meeting. There were more positive emails that night and one teacher has already introduced her Year 10s to the wonders of Glogster.
Teachers will embrace new tools if they are introduced to them and they can see how it could enhance what they are already doing in the classroom. They might not have the time or inclination to spend hours trawling the net to find them but there are always peope like me who will do that for them.
And where do I go to find these tools? I have to admit many of them come courtesy of my Twitter nework. Working together we find the best ideas, theories, tools and videos and share them. Many hands make light work and there definitely is power in numbers.
Speaking of numbers, hopefully the DER User Group will continue to snowball in numbers as word gets out on how valuable this group can be. I’ll keep you informed.