Internet Safety

This looks to be a nice collection of resources that pulls together actual research re: students and the Internet.  In is maintained by the Research Advisory Board (RAB) out of Harvard University.  The RAB is comprised of scholars and researchers whose research addresses children’s online safety.  I think the article titled: Online “Predators” and Their Victims: Myths, Realities, and Implications for Prevention and Treatment is a must read.

It's Elemental!

Matter-Iron-Kiran from Science5 on Vimeo.

This week, students in Miss Blandford's & Mrs. McCann's science classes began to finish up their element "videos" and they have really turned out great.  Of course, the student projects are fantastic but I'm really proud of the teachers.  About a month ago - during a "lunch bytes" session (lunchtime technology professional development) - I introduced the idea of using PhotoStory to do a project.   I spent a minimal amount of time showing them how easy the application was to use, showed them the basics of the workflow (writing a script, storyboarding, gathering images, etc.), installed PhotoStory on their computers and they did the rest.  I bounced in from time to time to answer a question or two but otherwise they did it all.

Even better, they are already thinking about how else they could use this application (creating procedural/directions videos, unit summaries, book reports, etc.).  I mean, now that the students (and teachers) know how to do it, why not leverage that knowledge.

A couple of observations and things I liked about this project:

  • the use of free applications means the kids can work on new projects at home

  • the students created educational artifacts that can be viewed by other students

  • students worked through a logical process to create a product

  • it was easy to do

  • the teachers are thinking about new ways to use the tech skills they learned

  • it blended pedagogy and technology

  • the tech guy (me) was a minor participant

  • I now have examples and ideas to share with other teachers

  • it was fun :-)

Food, glorious food

I'm a big fan of project-based learning (PBL) and students in my 6th grade technology class just finished what I believe to be a great activity.  Fun, creative and loaded with all sorts of learning opportunities.

I began the unit by telling the kids that I had just spoken with the CEO of the once powerful MegaFood corporation.  She explained to me that, given the recent economic downturn, the MegaFood company was in a difficult time.  In short, the company needed our help.  Sales have been down and moral was at an all time low.  What they needed was a new product to re-invigorate the entire brand.  They needed us to create a new "on-the-run, quick meal" product.

I explained to the kids that it was going to be their job to create several different product ideas and the advertising campaigns for those ideas.  Once they were finished, they would pitch these ideas to the CEO and board of the company.


My goals for this unit were:

  • to work on descriptive and persuasive writing and speaking skills;

  • to understand the advertising techniques used to sell (i.e. to become savvy consumers);

  • to understand some of the basics of quality design (and how it can aid in getting "the point across")

  • to practice effective presentation skills

  • to promote risk taking and creativity

Of course, the students also learned a load of technology skills related to PowerPoint, Excel, CoreFX (drawing on the computer), Audio recording, Internet applications, and more.  What is important here is that they improved their technology skills by participating in an activity where the focus was not to learn the technology.  The purpose was to improve the skills required to create, design & pitch a new product... which, I am proud to say, they did with flying colors.

Take a look at one of the finished projects by clicking on the image below.  For best results, download the PowerPoint for viewing (that way the animations and radio ad will work - click the radio on the radio ad slide to play).

I uploaded all of the finished (and mostly finished) presentations up to our space for sharing and "showing off".   I think that some of these products could actually be taken to market (hmm, maybe my retirement scheme). I love projects like this where all of the kids have the same general assignment but they all go about it in different ways.

How online video engages audiences

Some new research (conducted by Forrester research) provides some insight about the power of online video.  To me, as an educator, a couple of tidbits jumped out at me:

Forrester defined Engaged Viewers as those who watch more than an hour of online video per week.

  • A third of them - 36% - are between 13 and 24 years old

  • They spend 2.5 hours with online video a week (on average), watching 6.1 different types of video content

  • They pay close attention to what they are watching (vs. when watching TV)

  • more likely to pay full attention to the videos they watch

  • Engaged Viewers want even more content

We know many students enjoy videos.  We should be creating educational videos, related to the concepts we are trying to teach, that compete with the skateboarding, faceplanting, exploding videos that they are currently watching.  As teachers we should create video to help students understand complicated concepts.  Even better, we should be facilitating the creating of such videos by our students.  They can watch them online and download them to ipods.  They can shoot short 15-20 second clips on their cell phones and send them to each other.  Imagine, having student create short, purposeful 15 second phone clips to summerize a concept or conduct a reflection.  I don't know how it all could work or what the pitfalls might be, but I'm willing to try.