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Collaborative Project Management Tools

Collaborative project management tools are geared toward the logistical aspects of planning, scheduling and workflow around educational projects.  Using collaborative technology tools gives every group member the ability to participate in the project and develop strategies for managing time, collaborating with team members, assessing their progress, and maximizing learning experiences.

Schools in the K12 arena don’t need to purchase special project management software.  There are plenty of collaborative document editors that can be used for assignments and many have built in project templates, schedules or calendars.  Project Management tools focus on:

  1. Task management
  2. Time tracking
  3. Workflow routing
  4. Milestones
  5. Calendaring

Google Apps for Education is an online productivity suite that schools can use to bring communication and collaboration tools to their community for free.  Students have access to email, contact management, chat, calendars, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and websites.  Schools administer the accounts and can turn on/off the features they need.  Everything is automatically saved in the cloud which means that emails, documents, calendar and sites can be accessed – and edited – on almost any mobile device, computer or tablet.

For a group project to be successful each team member needs to understand the learning target, know the overall project plan, what’s their responsibility, due dates, resources etc.  Students or teacher can build schedules and project planners using Google Docs.  Group members can create a simple sortablespreadsheet (from Google Doc Template Gallery) that can be used to track member’s progress, schedules, resources, assets, and contacts.  Team members can refer to the document to know the next steps, click on links to shared documents, or add their own contribution.  Teachers can easily check progress or leave comments to the whole team.  Users can build surveys with the form editor and collect data from fellow students or the public. All the responses would then recorded in a spreadsheet for analysis by all team members. Forms could also be used for self or peer evaluation during or after the project.  To stay organized all of the project documentation, forms, resources and calendar can be embedded in a Google Site and every group member can contribute their part.

Microsoft Office 365 is a similar online office productivity suite.  Office 365 offers free email, instant messaging, group video and voice chat, and online document viewing and editing.

 

WikispacesWikispaces: A wiki is a website which allows its users to add, modify, or delete its content via a web browser.  Wikispaces provides these tips for collaborative projects using their wikis:

  • Organize group work with Projects – Assigning group projects for your students is easy, but managing those assignments can be hard. It takes a lot of scheduling, and it can be tricky to make sure that everyone is doing their fair share of the work.Projects let you cordon off little sections of your wiki and hand them over to groups of students. And as a teacher, you can manage the permissions on those teams and check in regularly on content as it progresses, which is pretty neat.
  • Encourage discussion – Every page on your wiki can have its own dedicated discussion board. Depending on the type of assignment the group is working on, you can use it in any number of ways: Teachers can pose open-ended topics for discussion. Students can ask the teacher for help or clarification. You can even hold lively debates — and, however you use your discussions, every query and post stays with the work on the wiki.
  • Give feedback and comments – Our comments feature lets you scribble notes in the margins of a wiki page (figuratively speaking). This means different things to different people. For teachers, it’s a way to ask pointed questions about specific passages, to guide students in the right direction as they work, and to give more meaningful feedback during assessment. For students working together, it’s a way to communicate more efficiently throughout the project and to engage in peer review.
  • Schedule Project-related Events – If you have Projects on your wiki (and all education wikis will have Projects), you also have the ability to schedule Events. These let you schedule certain activities ahead of time, so you can lock or unlock projects for editing, send student reminders about dues dates, archive Projects, and more.

Evernote is a great tool for students and teachers to capture notes, save research, collaborate on projects, snap photos of whiteboards, record audio and more. Everything you add to your account is automatically synced and made available on all the computers, phones and tablets you use.  Notebooks can then be shared with group members and accessed from anywhere. Evernote has also been used effectively for portfolios.  Individual students or small groups can use Evernote to document their learning.  Evernote for Schools

It doesn’t matter what platform you use.  Each of these productivity suites give students the ability to collaborate together to plan projects, stay on task, and work together.  Staying accountable to the group by being organized and doing their part will give students a sense of satisfaction that they helped their group succeed.

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Communication Tools for Collaboration

The backbone of any type of collaborative effort takes place in the context of communication. Many features of collaboration tools are geared toward the facilitation and management of effective communication among team members.  Depending on your grade level the following collaborative technology tools can facilitate various communication functions: Email, IM, blogs, discussion forums, virtual meetings, web conferencing and social media.  Two of the communication tools that I have used the most in the classroom are blogs and discussion forums.

Blogs

WhyBlog?A blog is an easily created and updateable website that allows an author(s) to publish instantly to the Internet.  A blog is different than a website that relies on consistent information and content.  Blogs are comprised of reflections and conversations.  In his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms, Will Richardson states, “Blogs engage readers with ideas and questions and links.  They ask readers to think and to respond.  They demand interaction.”  Because blogs can be posted daily (or multiple times a day) they are often short and posted in reverse chronological order.


Educators who blog
 do so for many reasons.  Some reflect on their daily work while others share resources and links to educational sites on the Web. Some post lesson plans or engage in responses to other educational bloggers.   Readers can leave comments to individual posts and other visitors to the site can view those comments and respond with their own comments or questions.  The blog posts can include images, videos, podcasts, and links to other posts and citations.

When educators give students the opportunity to blog about their learning  a new type of interactive experience deepens and enhances the learning process.  Students learn to read more critically, think about that reading more analytically, and write more clearly.  They are building relationships with peers, teachers, mentors and professionals who interact with them through their blog.  Classroom blogs can be created by individual students  or authored by the entire class.  They can showcase student work, be a collaborative space, ePortfolio, class portal or even an online filing cabinet of shared images, resources or knowledge content.  Blogs are the ultimate collaborative learning tool because the real benefit of blogging comes when there is an authentic audience that reads and responds to the blog posts and then the student bloggers respond back.  Comments4Kids is a way for students and teachers to find blogs to comment on and to get their own posts commented on.  Comments4Kids is a great way to teach your students appropriate digital citizenship skills in an authentic learning environment.  Think blogging is just for older kids?  Check out this list of primary age blogs organized by blogging platform.

Some student-friendly blogging platforms are:  EduBlogsKidBlogClass BlogmeisterePals, and Blogger (not part of Google Apps for Education core suite and must be activated by admin).  Teachers who want to blog might also consider these platforms:  WordPressPosterousTypePadLiveJournal orTumblr.

 

Discussion Boards

An online discussion board provides asynchronous written conversation about a topic or theme.  One of benefits of using a discussion board is that it levels the playing field and gives every student an opportunity to share and have their opinions read.  This is especially helpful for the introvert who needs time to compose their thoughts without being interrupted during a face-to-face classroom discussion.  It can also extend the conversation beyond the classroom, provide a platform to demonstrate understanding of the content being learned and build connectiveness among classmates.  The limitations of not seeing facial expressions, body language and vocal inflections can sometimes cause confusion with written text as opposed to web conferencing, but the convenience of composing offline, posting when ready, and ease of use makes written discussion forums a popular choice with older elementary through high school students.  Caitlin Tucker has some great advice:  Dos and Don’ts of Online Student Communication.  Edutopia has put together the Mastering Online Discussion Forum Resource Guide at:  http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/stw/edutopia-onlinelearning-mastering-online-discussion-board-facilitation.pdf

Some popular platforms for discussion forums are:

  • Learning Management Systems: SchoologyHaiku (both have Google Apps integration), Blackboard, and Moodle (Open Source).  These are much more involved and will require IT department to set up the system for a school.
  • Online learning platforms:  Schoology (Individual teacher), Edmodo and Collaborize Classroom –  These are more of a social learning network but also include discussion forums.  They can easily be set up by an individual teacher.
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Leveraging tech tools to support collaboration

FRAMEWORK FOR 21ST CENTURY LEARNING

FRAMEWORK FOR 21ST CENTURY LEARNING

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has developed a vision for student success for our global economy called the Framework for 21st Century Learning.  This Framework describes the skills, knowledge and expertise students must master to succeed in work and life.

Every 21st century skills implementation requires the development of core academic subject knowledge and understanding among all students. Those who can think critically and communicate effectively must build on a base of core academic subject knowledge. Within the context of core knowledge instruction, students must also learn the essential skills for success in today’s world, such as critical thinkingproblem solvingcommunication and collaboration.  The focus on collaboration involves:

  • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
  • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
  • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member

How can we leverage collaborative technology tools to support this type of communication and collaboration in the classroom? How can we plan lessons that effectively engage students and support learning goals?  The factors with the greatest influence on student achievement are instruction, professional learning, collaboration and learning time.

Technology tools that exist to support collaboration can:

  • Facilitate real-time and asynchronous text, voice and video communication.
  • Assist in basic project management activities
  • Support co-creation by enabling groups to showcase learning in real-time or asynchronously.
  • Facilitate consensus building through group discussions and polling
  • Simplify and streamline resource management
  • Enable locate and remote presentation and archiving of completed projects (Deal, 2009).

Teachers should not only learn how to effectively integrate collaborative technology tools into the classroom but actively participate and apply these principles to their own learning and understanding.  We also want to make sure we are using sound pedagogy when using technology to support learning and aligning our instructional goals with the National Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S).

Get ready to collaborate!

 

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Embracing Mobile Devices

iPad AppsThe Common Core State Standards call for students to develop digital media and technology skills. One way to help them reach that goal: incorporate gadgets they’re already familiar with — cell phones, tablets, and smartphones — into their learning environment.

There are, understandably, some concerns about mobile devices in the classroom. The biggest is that they distract from schoolwork. Educators, however, need to take advantage of their ability to engage students in a classroom setting and provide opportunities for collaboration.

Early research supports the notion that these devices can lead to measurable learning benefits.   Lucy Gray, project director of the Consortium for School Networking’s (CoSN) Leadership for Mobile Learning initiative discussed North Carolina’s Project K-Nect in a recent Edutopia article.  K-Nect is a pilot program assessing whether mobile devices can effectively boost learning and math test scores.  Teachers report that Project K-Nect students “are demonstrating a greater responsibility for their learning and developing more collaborative learning skills.”

Because of their mobility, mobile devices in the classroom lend themselves well for collaboration.  Students can take the devices anywhere to take photos or video, work together on projects, interact with others using communication tools.  Some apps are specifically designed so multiple students can work on projects at the same time (Google Drive, Subtext, Prezi, etc).  Oftentimes using mobile devices as a student publishing tool allows students to share or present knowledge with one another in a creative manner or with an authentic audience.

iBooks Author is a Mac app that allows anyone to create beautiful iBooks textbooks for iPad and Mac. Teachers and/or students can work on various chapters and include galleries, video, interactive diagrams, 3D objects, mathematical expressions to create original textbooks.

With so many Apps out there, it can be challenging to find which ones to use in the classroom.  Browse through the links below for information about mobile devices in the classroom.

General Apps listings – many are organized by subject or grade level

Early Learners

English / LA

Math

Modern Languages

Music

PE

Religion

Science

Social Studies

Special Ed

Visual Arts

Evaluation Rubric for Educational Apps

Resources

Robledo, S.J. (2013).  Edutopia:  Mobile devices for learning – what you need to know. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/mobile-devices-learning-resource-guide.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.

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Library in Your Pocket

The school year has begun and I started a program in my Library called “Library in Your Pocket”.  I was inspired by Shannon McClintock Miller and created small signcards and placed them around the Library encouraging students to download these apps on their mobile devices.  I also embedded the following screencasts on our school Library page.


 

Library in PocketHelpful video links:

 

QR_LibInPocket

 

Gone Mobile?  Download these apps on your mobile device and have informational resources at your fingertips all the time.  Get access to Schoology, Destiny Quest – Library Catalog, AML Gale Databases, Google Drive, EasyBib, eBooks or general helpful educational apps.  Click here for the full listing – or – click here to see a Listly list with links to the iTunes App store.

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Photoshop Screencasts

One of the challenges of teaching my Multimedia / Web Design course is that students come with all different levels of experience and expertise.  We don’t have a specific textbook and as an introductory class using all different software tools (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, iMovie, etc..) I find that students have a hard time remembering how to do specific techniques learned earlier in the semester.

I’ve just started creating screencasts of our favorite Photoshop CS3 techniques to embed on our class website.  This will allow students to easily review the procedures and also help those who missed the initial instruction.  Here’s my first one (too bad the bell rang towards the end).  I used Jing for the screencast and the uploaded it to my YouTube channel.

Note:  This technique came from Matt Kloskowski’s book:  Layers:  The Complete Guide to Photoshop’s Most Powerful Feature.

My ultimate goal is to have the students in the Tech Media Arts class create a series of these screencasts about all types of different techniques too.

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Creativity and iPhoneography

This next term I will be teaching a new Technology & Media Arts elective at my high school.  As a Fine Arts credit, it will be a combination of Drama, Music and Art and be completely project-based.  The goal is to expose students to creative technology tools (Photoshop, Garageband, iMovie, Illustrator, InDesign, etc) while providing an authentic audience for their creations.

I really want to change the way students see design and creativity in their everyday lives.  One of the ways I will be doing this is by encouraging students to take creative photos with their cell phones and upload them to Instagram, Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, or Pinterest.  We will explore free photo editing apps and experiment with editing in Photoshop.  Students will take their images and create collages based around themes, inspirational quotes or for specific school purposes.  I have a few ideas in mind but I really want the students to come up with their own ideas.  Most of the students at my high school have a cell phone but we also have access to five Sony Bloggie Touch cameras – so everyone should be able to access to equipment.

Here are a few photos from my camera where I have been experimenting,  Some of the Apps I use are: Pic Stitch (free),  Popsicolor ($1.99), Juxtaposer ($2.99), PowerSketch ($0.99), InstaEffect FX (Free & $1.99), and Camera+ ($0.99)

Mt Hood Colorful Me
Childhood Memories

A Walk in the Park

Thanks to Nicole Dalesio for inspiring me and providing so many wonderful examples of Digital Art Tutorials.
Check out How to Improve Your iPhoneography Skills by Nicole ???? on Snapguide.

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Learn iBooks Author – YouTube playlist

Ran across this great resource from Sean Jenkins who tweeted about this YouTube playlist on Twitter.  The playlist is from Emerson’s College Journalism Department and is a series of 26 short videos to teach you how to use iBooks Author.  I was very interested in the resource because the mobile initiative planning team at my school plans to create an iPad orientation book using iBooks Author.  Our teachers are most likely receiving iPads before summer and our plan is to install the book on their iPads and give them activities to do all summer on their own or as part of our two-day orientation in June.


Follow these simple steps to learn how to create your own iBook and send it to the iBookstore!  You can find searchable transcripts of these tutorials at http://ecjourno.com/diyjourno/

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Collaborative Technology Tools in the Classroom

This term I am teaching a new online class for Portland State University for their Instructional Technology Certificate program.  The course topic is collaborative technology tools in the classroom.  Just as my students are reflecting on their work – I too will be documenting our progress and sharing my own thoughts and ideas.

How can we leverage collaborative technology tools to support communication and collaboration in the classroom? How can we plan lessons that effectively engage students and support learning goals?  The factors with the greatest influence on student achievement are instruction, professional learning, collaboration and learning time.

Technology tools that exist to support collaboration can:

  • Facilitate real-time and asynchronous text, voice and video communication.
  • Assist in basic project management activities
  • Support co-creation by enabling groups to showcase learning in real-time or asynchronously.
  • Facilitate consensus building through group discussions and polling
  • Simplify and streamline resource management
  • Enable locate and remote presentation and archiving of completed projects (Deal, 2009).

In this course, students will not only learn how to effectively integrate collaborative technology tools into the classroom but actively participate and apply these principles to their own learning and understanding.  We also want to make sure we are using sound pedagogy when using technology to support learning and aligning our instructional goals with the National Technology Standards for Students (NETS*S).

Portland State uses Desire 2 Learn (D2L) for their learning management system.  This program is fine but too many instructors have only used the text and discussion forum features.  I plan on integrating Portland State’s Google Apps program with D2L.  We will use Google+ hangouts for some webinars, shared documents, email, etc.  Also we will be USING all the collaborative tools each week like Edmodo, Diigo, Twitter, Collaborate and ones that individual students choose to explore (VoiceThread,Prezi, Evernote, etc).

One of the things that I will be playing with is including a weekly podcast lecture using iTunes U.  Last week I set up the iTunes Course Manager and added my written weekly lecture.  What I hope to do during the term and record a weekly podcast related to our week’s theme.  This will give me an opportunity to talk directly to my students, discuss current trends and share new resources.  Students can subscribe to the course and automatically receive the podcasts each week.

Next Week:  Talking about Digital Citizenship when using collaborative technology tools.

 

Deal, A. (2009). Collaboration tools. Teaching with technology white paper. Retrieved from Carnegie Mellon University website:  http://www.cmu.edu/teaching

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NorthWest EdTech 1.8.13

Last night I had the privilege of being part of NorthWest EdTech (show notes) – a Google+ Hangout show hosted by Sean Williams and Jeremy McDonald.  We discussed what projects we are working on, favorite apps and upcoming professional development opportunities in the Portland/Oregon region.

Check out the Twitter list of:  Connected Oregon Educators — building our #PLN #ORedu

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On days like this …

Senseless killing in Oregon and Connecticut this week has made my heart hurt.  A friend shared this prayer with me …

 

I have to admit, God,
that sometimes it’s hard
to even call your name.

On days like this
I can’t help but think
that if you had been there,
we wouldn’t be here—

—here in a world where
so much violence
has changed everything

—here where such bloodshed
fills today’s news
even as many more die
each day alone.

But here is where we need you,
and here is where we cry to you.
Be here with us, Lord, be here.

Let us be angry for what has been done,
but don’t let us be consumed by it
that we no longer recognize ourselves
as your creation.

Give peace to the children.
Unbind them from the bonds of grief and fear
that they may become again
children of joy, of love, of trust, and hope.

And not today, Lord, but in time,
if there’s at all any room in our hearts to forgive,
then so let it be,
for we all need to be created again.

Be here with us, Lord, be here,
right where we are, as broken as we are.
Be here with us, Lord, be here.
Amen.

(c) 2012 Diana Macalintal
— at Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.

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Daily Edventures 365-day Blog

I am honored to be included in Anthony Salcito‘s Daily Edventure’s 365-day look at global heroes in education blog.  Salcito is Microsoft’s Vice President – Worldwide Education.  Every day the blog features a different educator from around the globe.

I used this opportunity to promote connected learning, the importance of certified school librarians and my involvement with edcampPDX.

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Daily Prayer resources from #CatholicEdChat

#CatholicEdChatInsomnia strikes and I happened to get up early on Saturday morning and jumped onto Twitter — just in time for #CatholicEdChat.  What a wonderful way to begin the weekend.  I appreciate the leadership of Nancy Caramanico, Barb Gilman and Nick Senger for getting this going.

After introductions and sharing of activities of the week we began earnestly connecting with one another – talking about faith families, teacher-led PD, Noodletools , an 8th grade class blogschool-based edCamp, social justice themes with literature connections,  sharing resources for going 1:1, discussing Google Apps for Education, Google Docs for Kids book, The Catholic School Standards Project, BYOD resources, daily prayer resources (see list below) and using iBooks Author to make a daily prayer book for iPad.

The group will archive the chat stream HERE and also has created a Edmodo group (c6u263).  Look how much I learned in ONE HOUR on TWITTER!!

I requested daily prayer apps/ web resources that I could share with my teachers.  Here are the results:

iPad Apps

Web Resources

Greg Miller from Alberta, Canada shares a bulletin board from his school

 

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Staff development for mobile learning initiative

Our school is developing staff development for our mobile learning initiative.  Our plan is to require every teacher to go through “bootcamp” when they  first receive their iPads.  Then the department chairs who have been part of our planning team will work with their department to share apps and resources.  We plan to then offer a series of workshops focusing on productivity apps, content-creation apps and interactive experiences.  All of these activities will be to support student learning

Teacher Learning Targets The teacher can:
Teachers can use and care for mobile devices in a responsible manner

 

Teachers can use mobile device to access and use La Salle Prep related resources

  • Operate device, learn basic procedures & care for devices
  • Access wireless networks
  • Install apps & sync with Institution computer
  • Take attendance and access/input student grades with PowerTeacher app & browser version
  • Access & manage school email
  • Access student resources:
    • Access Google Apps using Drive App & browser Desktop version
    • Save Library web page as icon on iPad
    • Access Moodle using browser
  • Access school resources
    • Access Library databases using Gale  Apps
    • Access Atlas Rubicon (view only)
Teachers can use mobile devices to access resources that support their curriculum area
  • Access web resources and subject-specific websites
    • iTunesU, Khan Academy, LOC, YouTube, eduTecher, TEDed, etc
  • Locate, install & use subject-specific apps and digital books
    • Apps, iBooks, Flipboard, Google Earth, Inspiration, The Elements, Algebra Touch, Sketchbook Pro, Notability, etc
Teachers can use mobile devices to access, create, share or edit teacher productivity tools and can apply file management procedures
  • Create & manage documents/presentations between device, computer & school network
    • Pages, Keynote, DragonDictation, Google Drive & Dropbox
  • Create & manage subject-specific documents
    • Numbers, Inspiration, iAnnotate,
Teachers can use mobile devices to create, edit or share content-creation tools
  • Use screencasting apps to record & share lesson
    • Explain Everything (ShowMe & EduCreations)
  • Web clipping or bookmarking tools
    • Built in Bookmarks, Diigo, and Evernote
  • Create, edit & share video/audio/creative projects
    • iMovie, Garageband, SonicPIcs
Teachers can use mobile devices to create interactive experiences with students
  • Create interactive polls for mobile devices
    • Socrative, NearPod
  • Use collaboration & communication tools
    • Edmodo, Skype, Facetime
  • Create & share projects using subject-specific apps
    • VoiceThread, iBooks Author, Instagram
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