Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What could educators do with a Flip Video Camera?

Not really a post as much as an idea from a tweet.
isteconnects Digital Wish is offering 2 for 1 Flip Ultra camcorders for your classroom! Cool deal w/no catch. Info here: http://bit.ly/6xSiA

Giving credit where credit is due...Let's get 10 ideas from across the pond.

Taking to another level, the easy starting point is letting the kids tape themselves in class. However, taping yourself is not as revealing as seeing others in new and interesting ways.

Put the kid reporters to work. I know an elementary school that does a newscast in the mornings. They limit their stories to the studio. Let those kids go find stories in assemblies, trips, after school/community sports, science & technology fairs, and anywhere else they normally go.

How about a video pen pal program? Teacher--send your video camera to a friend teacher that works in another school, town, state, or country. It should have some interesting facts about your class and the things you like to do. That teacher can share the information with his/her class. They can do a similar thing and send it back for your class to see.

Bring the business partners to the school level. Many public schools seem to have challenges attracting good business partners. It should not always be about the money. The school can use vide to show what gaps additional products and services can fill. The video could almost be an add on to the school's strategic plan. On the other side, a business partner could be interviewed by a student. This helps the school community understand what the partner does for the school and why they contribute. It would not hurt to let them do a little pitch for their business as well.

One take away that I would like you to get your hands around...how many of these things were even possible (at a reasonable cost) when you were in school? It's a different world; let the kids prepare to be productive in it!

Finally, here are more ideas that come from Mark Belinsky and Tom Barrett.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Teacher Communications

I am interested in the happenings at my child's school. This is particularly true of the classroom activities. We get paper updates about once a week and grade level updates about once a month. I want better, more modern communications.

The school has a website, but it really doesn't communicate much current, dynamic information. The likely method of communication is multi colored tree killer piles of paper on Thursdays. Twitter has Follow Fridays and the school has Tree Trunk Thursday. Interestingly, in this era of tightening school budgets, we still have not made better progress with free communications.

Here's my suggestion. Each teacher should have a page on the website and a school approved twitter account. The webpage should be simple enough to let parents know what the teacher thinks is important. It could be a combination of pictures, assignment & activity dates and class highlights. You can omit pictures of the students for security, but the basics of what the teacher would want the students' families to know would go up on the page as soon as the teacher chooses. This eliminates the long lag for any good things that happen the day after the weekly push of printed material. One way for teachers to do this without cost would be to use a blog. In the case of educators, they might try Edublogs. Another option would be to get the students involved and start a wiki. You can expand your page to include multi media, but for now it is sufficient to recognize it as a great way to communicate with the extended school family.

Once the teachers have a method of putting their information into a webpage or blog, the next step is sharing that information with the parents. Twitter is an easy way to do it. When the teacher updates the webpage/blog, they send a tweet. This would alert all the followers to check the page. The followers should be the student families. It could also include peer teachers and interested administrators. Here is an example of a school district twitter feed.

There are several upsides. There is less paper purchased and used. This is another step to save the planet and teach the kids about options that are environmentally friendly. The school website becomes more useful once it includes the active teacher pages. There should be an increase in traffic which may allow them to better monetize the website. This increased traffic could also make it easier to recruit business partner advertising.

The burden on those that want to keep up with student information is small. It can be done via computer (at home, work or a free one in the library) or your mobile phone by receiving text messages. If you want to print the information, you can.