Should my class?

Royan Lee posted an interesting article in his Spicy Learning blog today.  Titled “Should my class blog, tweet, Google App, Moodle, Desire2Learn, or Edmodo? Arrghhh!!!“.  I certainly had to check this post out immediately.  I know that his class does a lot of this so expected to see a “Damn Straight” post.

Key to his post was a matrix where he analyzed a few of the common tools that are available in many places.

I must admit that I don’t totally agree with all of his summarization though.

  1. The WordPress column talks about a teacher needing to be “very techie”.  What was missing in the description was a clear indication that this applies if you want to host your own instance of WordPress.  There are often alternatives such as this blog which certainly uses WordPress as it’s freely available.  I actually do have another installation of my own but prefer to model this version as it’s free and very easy to manage.  I think that it was an oversight in Royan’s table but just wanted to clarify.  It should be noted that there are also places on the internet where your own installation is done by a one click install.
  2. Very much along this line is the discussion about Moodle.  When it’s installed properly, it is a very powerful and I find intuitive Learning Management System.  There is an excellent Moodle resource on Facebook if you’re interested.
  3. I was disappointed that he didn’t devote a column to wikis.  Wikis provide a nice alternative to the standard web page, or LMS, or web resource.

However, those are relatively minor things and all are subject to interpretation.

He makes a statement “those “techie annoying types that make you feel like a Super Noob“.  I would like to think that we’re beyond that and yet, having said that,  I can think of a few people that come across that way.  The more realistic and human among us recognize that we’re all learning and placed on a rather non-linear continuum.  I can’t think of a time when the educational community has been more supportive of each other as we take on this technological universe.

For teachers, I can identify two major things that have changed our world.

  1. Electronic Report Cards!  It’s an awful time of year to mention that but the introduction of this has done something that years of poking along hasn’t – given a certain set of skills to get the job done.  Once those skills have been recognized, it has opened doors for more sophisticated use of technology.
  2. Mark Prensky’s statement about “Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants”.  Branding teachers as immigrants to the digital age has been a huge slap in the face.  For many, it’s been a chuckle but taken as a wake up call.  When you take the skills required to complete something like report cards, the immigrants are doing well.

I prefer the term “computer user in training” rather than “noob”!

Stepping back from this little rant, you need to read Royan’s post.  He’s done a nice job of summarizing some of the important areas of technology in education.  If you find yourself nodding in agreement or even gritting your teeth in disagreement, you’re well on your way.  Drop him a comment with your thoughts…it’s an important discussion worth continuing.

Finally, do you have to do them all?  I think all would agree absolutely not.  At any point, you choose the tool that will be effective in the classroom.  The tough part is determining which of the excellent tools is best for the task.  The best way to determine that?  Follow some great educational bloggers and read about their experiences.  Engage with them for details.  Give it a try.

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3 thoughts on “Should my class?

  1. Lisa Noble says:

    Nicely done, Doug, though I’m not sure I agree with you about the web-based reports having opened things up…..doing them now is a heck of a lot easier than the stage where you had to save them, and then bring them home, and then bring them back to school, and pray that nothing had gotten lost in the middle. I can’t tell you the number of tearful phone calls trying to import and export and…. – that certainly raised people’s skill level. (I certainly got good at remembering passwords for people who couldn’t remember their own)

    Now, if my secretary’s good at her job (and she is), all I have to do is log in, and it’s really all right there for me…no tab-separated files, no nothing. Might be different at the elementary level, where we’re not using a program like markbook, but, pretty easy on our end.

    I’m jumping into a new system this fall that isn’t on Royan’s list… might be a blog post in there once we see how it goes.

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  2. Heather says:

    Doug you mentioned report cards and while this is a huge leap on the topic I hope you don’t mind I place it here. My daughter came home today with her report card which she told me was a “bad note”. At home I proceeded to argue with her sister who insisted that “E”s were bad (French board). It broke my heart for my mentally young 5 yr old to learn on the bus from her friends that her efforts at school were “bad” and for this personal information to be so easily shared.
    In the medical field under PHIPA we are expected to take great care to protect the privacy of our patients. Teachers are skilled professionals recognised by their state/ province to give a educational evaluation for a particular year. How is this not different than a nurse to a patient’s records ? The legislation is FIPPA for Ontario educators.

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  3. I agree that WordPress is very simple and intuitive but I believe that Royan was referring to the self-hosting option (WordPress.org, rather than WordPress.com sites). I currently have a self-hosted WordPress site (www.nomadcreatives.com) complete with bbPress, Buddypress and Wiki integration for next year. It is complex and can be daunting. Learnable but daunting nonetheless. Does one need to be techie? Absolutely not. Just curious.

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