and I'm all out of bubble gum…

One of my responsibilities at Jewish Day School is to write a weekly “tech tips” column for the online faculty news. This is one such tip.

One major challenge that students (of any age) face when learning how to use a new tool is that, when demonstrated, the application seems simple and easy. But now, on one’s own, finding that button or toggle that made everything easy in class is deucedly difficult. There are a number of ways to combat this, ranging from having the teacher physically present every moment that students are completing their first (and maybe second and third) projects to shrugging our collective shoulders and averring that, in fact, the puzzling-it-all-out process builds character and reenforces learning. Pain doesn’t reenforce learning; pain reenforces aversion to learning. Instead, how about providing instructions? Perhaps even instructions in the manner in which they were presented in the classroom, creating a familiar context and voice? A number of teachers have been exploring the possibilities of screencasting — recording what’s happening on your computer — in teaching with technology this year. It’s easy: it only takes a few minutes to record a screencast and post it to the internet, where you have a link to share with students at the end of a lesson.

An example of a quick use of screencasts to reenforce in-class teaching: A quick introduction to iMovie ’09

All these tools have links to screencasts explaining how to use them on their front pages! (How meta is that?)

Further resources: [A colleague] and Seth Battis talk about their experiences screencasting this year on the Laptop Leader pages.

February 12th, 2010

Posted In: "Tech Tips" Column

Tags: , , , , , ,

As part of my education technology role at my school, I am a member of our high school “Laptop Leaders” group. A few weeks ago, at the end of our first quarter, the Laptop Leaders were asked to document the work they were doing, to create a shared resource, both for themselves and for other teachers. Ultimately, this is preparation for more large-scale adoption of laptops and technology in general as teaching tools in the high school.

The teachers in this Laptop Leaders group were selected last spring, so I joined the group late, at the beginning of the school year and had, really, only a sketchy plan for what I would be working on. The outline (lightly revised) is below. My intention is to share my various write-ups related to this process in this space.

Collaborative Writing and Editing

I’m working with students to develop a class wiki as a collaborative information source, with students contributing class notes, screencasts and other updates and expansions on course content.


I’m working with students to use the class blog as a publication platform for ideas/questions relevant to the greater community in their discipline (e.g. develop [my class] blog into a discussion of [media and design] and related ideas in the outside world).

Social Bookmarking

I’m working with faculty (and students) to use social bookmarking tools (specifically Diigo) to create dynamic and annotated resources for each other (and for and by students).

Social Media

I’m working with faculty and students to develop personal learning networks that tie together all of these Web 2.0 tools to create an online identity and a group of “fellow travelers” studying and exploring the same area. In students’ case, we’re working on this as a class (blogging), but for faculty tools like Twitter (and personal blogs) may also be useful. Also looking at other sharing sites (e.g. Flickr) for use as collaborative tools.

Useful Tools

In the interests of sharing, when I was at my last school, I sat down and created an profile of the handy applications that I use day-to-day. I’ve added this to my profile [on the school wiki], along with a (slowly growing) list of tools that I’ve built for special purposes around school.

Updated November 22, 2009: I should mention that I have Bowdler-ized some of these posts to protect (at least a little), the identities of my students. When posted to our school wiki, there are a number of links to examples. If you pop me an email or a comment and identify yourself, I’m happy to share these examples. Just trying to do some due diligence with regard to my students’ privacy.

November 22nd, 2009

Posted In: "Expert Plan", Educational Technology, Teaching

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,