“Kids are bombarded by media,” says Blake. “They’re completely high tech, and they don’t know a different way. When you hand them a book, they’re going to say, ‘Is this all there is?'”
Looking for more structure and access control than the wiki system gave him, Blake switched over to Moodle software this fall to manage class-related conversations, homework assignments, and quizzes. He also encourages students to keep blogs using BlogMeister, a student/teacher system created by the Landmark Project. To tie it all together, Blake’s classes use Bloglines, a Web-based tool that aggregates RSS feeds generated by Moodle and BlogMeister, so all the school-related activity and conversation can be viewed in one place.
“This is a mix-and-match generation,” Blake says. “I’m looking at these things as a way to hook into what they’re doing outside the classroom. When they see that I know how to use the technology, they think, ‘This is going to be cool.'”
Blogs, wikis, Moodle, RSS working in concert to create a mix and match learning space for, as John says, a generation that’s becoming more accustomed to this loosely joined approach. And it fits with Clarence Fisher’s reflections of being able to teach his students from 500 miles away:
When I got back to my hotel yesterday and today from my inservice, I fired up my laptop and was incredibly excited to see a lot of stuff waiting for me. Blog posts from kids writing about what they had been doing in class that day. Comments from kids on my weblog telling me that they missed me. Email from kids asking questions and clarifying assignments.
And wiki pages.
I’ve heard lots of people say that should a teacher from 100 years ago walk into today’s classroom, it wouldn’t take all that long for her to figure out what was happening and dive right in. Textbook, noteboard, homework, paper…really all that much has changed. But here are two classrooms where that wouldn’t be possible.
And Miguel Guhlin adds an interesting comment about the “models” these classrooms are defining, that we should have classrooms
…that are “model” only in the sense they are focused on communication, collaborating and construction of solutions that address real life problems.
These technologies are cheap and easy, but they are amazingly expansive in terms of what we can do with our students in our classrooms. It’s just very cool to see more and more teachers beginning to find their way to them.