(Cross Posted on techlearning.com/blog)
As a technology support person at my school, my job is to help teachers with both the how and the why of technology. The vast amount of tools available for use today on the web makes it virtually impossible to know it all. Although I continue to research and use new tools, trying to know everything that is out there is overwhelming. Therefore, I choose where to learn and what to learn in the hope that I can stay one-step ahead of the teachers at my school.
When that doesn’t work, I rely on ‘just in time learning’: often learning something only when there is a need to know it.
With the number of tools available on the web today and only so much time for me to research and learn about them, I have to rely on some help. Many tools I may even know about, but do not have the time to investigate their educational potential. This is where teachers who are early adopters come in to play within our school. Sometimes they come to me and show me the cool things they are doing with a new tool that I might have overlooked.
Case in point: Kate Thornburn, one of our art teachers, has been constantly looking for ways to help her students reflect and share their art on the web. She uses the school’s Flickr account to upload their pictures and she uses a blog as a place for students to reflect. Last year, she had students record conversations with each other as they reflected on a piece of their artwork. I listened to the podcasts last year and found myself captivated by the conversations students were having. This year Kate took it to the next level by having students create a VoiceThread where they discussed their artwork. Using VoiceThread, students were able to draw and explain their thinking right on the piece of art for all to see, and were able to share that art/thinking with the world.
After seeing Kate’s use of VoiceThread, other teachers started talking about its use and came to me for support. I knew of VoiceThread, but up until this point, I had no need to learn how to create one. However, the need is there now with one of our science teachers wanting students not to just write out the scientific process in a lab, but take pictures of the experiments and have a conversation around what they learned. A debrief of sorts about their experiment as a group. In order to support this teacher, I found myself needing to learn how VoiceThread worked.
So here is my first ever VoiceThread. Over the Chinese New Year holiday, my wife, mother-in-law, and I flew to Cambodia to visit the ancient temples of Angkor. I have created a digital story of what I learned, what we saw and this will hopefully allow you to also see the power this tool holds for learning, conversations, and sharing.
Swain, Jon (1995). River of Time. London, UK: Random House.
Ray, Nick (2005). Cambodia. Lonely Planet.
Albanese, Marilia (2006). The Treasures of Angkor. Turin, Italy: White Star Publishers.