Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tech Trends

Choosing a tech trend to focus on for this week's artifact was challenging.  Learning more about educational analytics interests me but  I'm also interested in learning more about open content and using mobile devices in class. I settled on doing something with mobile devices and cloud computing.  I am currently involved with a pilot project which involves Chromebooks so this seemed like a natural fit for me.  I decided to create a list of features I wanted to use in an Edtech tool.  I wanted to find an educational tool that:

  • Helps me create an engaging BYOD lesson
  • Would work on multiple platforms
  • Has interactive components
  • Is easily shared with students

To begin with, I searched the Google App Store and found Nearpod.  Nearpod allows teachers to create interactive lessons which can be used on multiple platforms and it allows teachers to embed quizzes and polls into these lessons. I was not happy with what I created. The lesson I created looked great and the learning analytic function provided useful information, but I found Nearpod's platform awkward and time consuming to work with. For example, to include a video from Youtube, you first had to convert the video to something other than Flash. I also found it difficult to share the lesson with students as they would need to download an app and be provided with a pin for every lesson created. I was using the free version; perhaps these issues are resolved in the upgraded version for purchase. In the end I decided to abandon my Nearpod idea, and find something that allowed me to easily create a BYOD lesson and would still be an effective learning tool.

I decided to see if I could use Google forms to deliver content. We have recently adopted the Google platform in my school district, and I have experimented with Google forms with simple surveys. I was certain I could create a lesson that students could access on their mobile devices, go through at there own pace, and would give me some data on their level of of understanding. The lesson I created has a variety of sources which students interpret (an important skill in our social studies curriculum) and there is a variety of formative assessments the students complete as they work through the lesson. In using Google forms this way, I found a tool that has the technological features I was looking for that also enhances student learning.

This is a link to the lesson plan I created. Direct access to the Google form can be found here.

In completing this artifact, I have gained a greater understanding of the benefits of using mobile devices in the classroom. Until now, I have had students use their own devices as a research tool. I may ask students a question and have them Google the answer using their phones and tablets. Now I see that I can create a lesson students can do at their own pace or even do repeatedly until mastery is achieved. I can also direct them to information that specifically targets learning outcomes which leads to a more efficient learning environment. I have gained a new appreciation of what Google forms can do. Whenever I learn something new within the Google environment, I cannot help but think Google created these tools with educators in mind. I have even started thinking about where I take mobile device use in my class next. The next step for mobile device use in my class is to have my students create using there devices. Perhaps they can film an historic re-enactment or maybe create a presentation for their classmates to use. It may sound cliché but the possibilities are endless.