15 Comments

  1. I want to be the one who decides what tools I use to document my learning and share it with the world.

    When I engage in any kind of learning, I use the tools that work best for me. I still keep ‘pen and notebook’ notes about my students, because I find it easier to write down my observations when I am reading their documentation of learning online. I don’t like switching to another window or device to take digital notes because it interrupts my workflow and thinking flow.

    There is a place in our schools to learn about many digital tools. It is a digital literacy to understand the many tools available and how they can be used to enable your personal learning and to streamline personal workflow.

    As part of UDL, we need to ensure that ALL students are capable of understanding who they are as a learner, what the task is and what the environment is, and then they must have the freedom to choose the tool that works best for them in that context.

    Ira Socol explains this much better than I do here:
    http://speedchange.blogspot.ca/2008/05/toolbelt-theory-for-everyone.html

    I don’t want to decide for other learners what is best for them. I want to empower my learners to do that for themselves.

    • You raise an important point, Donna. And I agree that students should have a toolbelt of skills and that they need to decide what is best for themselves. I don’t think George is inferring that this is not the case.The point I see being made in this post is that when it comes to a learning/digital portfolio it is far more effective to be consistent. Over the course of their academic career students should learn how to use and create in Slides, Sites, iMovie, Prezi, Garageband, share on Twitter, (ie a variety of tools), but ultimately where all of these are curated and their access to this upon graduation is an important consideration for Districts. I agree that if we use Edublogs in grade 1, move to Google Classroom in grade 3, Eportfolio in D2L in grade 4, where do students have the opportunity to see the culmination of their learning and reflect upon their experimentation with the tools they have acquired in their toolbelt? If it’s housed in a closed LMS, are we helping students to develop digital literacy skills that involve an authentic audience and ultimately, can they use it as a portfolio for their own learning? We need to do both, in my opinion: empower students to decide what’s best for them (which we do daily when we give students choice and voice in their learning and ask them to metacognitively reflect on those choices), while providing a place for them to curate that learning over time.

  2. Tracy Sockalosky

    Agreed that that the digital portfolio choice should be district, or at least, school, wide. (Elementary schools are all about SeeSaw these days but it would not work for my 7th grade class.) That said, I believe the conversations in classrooms and PLCs need to start with the fundamentals of HOW the technologies work. Students AND teachers need to understand what EMBED means, what a network is, how to cite content, and finally how to best demonstrate AND present our understanding in a digital format. Regardless of what resource a teacher or a district selects, these skills are the foundation that every individual requires to be technically literate today.

      • Tracy Sockalosky

        I teach 7th grade social studies (World Geography and Global Citizenship). We are a google apps district so I have been having my students build their portfolio on Google Sites, and call it their Global Citizen Museum. They link to or directly embed anything they create for the course or whatever they feel is necessary to demonstrate their understanding of the course concepts. Not only does this allow them to reflect on their learning, it also teaches students the skill and creativity of curating a website. I have requirements of what must go on the site (projects, assignments, reflections, etc.), but then offer students the opportunity to add their own ideas and extensions to their pages. The sites are closed to me, the student and the parents until the student decides they are ready to share it with others.

        • Great thought on using Google Sites. I’m a principal in k-5. We have recently been utilizing the G Suite in the past 2years. Sites has not been a focus as of yet, but SeeSaw has been picked up by many elementary teachers for its ease of use all the way to kindergarten. We do have some upper elementary classrooms making posts in a closed group using KidBlog. Our school/district is still looking for a user friendly tool that will transition seamlessly to meet the needs of learners k-12.

          • Tracy Sockalosky

            The new Google Sites is very user-friendly. I like Blogger for blogging and it is possible to close it to just the class or a selected community. Kidblogger works too, but if you are looking for something to transition K-12, know there are options in the Google Suite.

        • Catherine

          Tracy – I am very interested in your Global Citizen Museum assignment. Would you be willing to share information with me. If so, please let me know and I’ll send you my contact information. Thanks

  3. The heart of your post really hits at the fact that learners should be posting to the same platform throughout their school career, but for some reason, I found the beginning misleading. It really sounded like you were saying they should be using similar tools across the board (both to show their learning and to post their learning). But a similar platform throughout the learning experience and IT not being the ones to pick it? I can agree with that. Still a few hurdles here for sure:

    1) Teachers aren’t often included at the table where these district-wide technologies are selected.
    2) The tools chosen, for some reason or another, often seem to be embedded with several design flaws that don’t work in classrooms. The committee choosing the tools is often comprised of people who aren’t looking for certain features due to their lack of experience/time away from the classroom/students.
    3) Trainings and support with new tools are always an issue, but that’s a different conversation.

    Another separate, but real issue, is that school districts are also choosing the tools that students use to make learning visible. For example, our district iPads have been moved onto a central “district image,” where we have to use specific apps and are not allowed to use others, even if we’ve been using them effectively for years. This lack of autonomy isn’t very well-received in any other area, so I’m not sure why it’s acceptable to impose in the arena of technology. Why should teachers have to constantly re-learn technology too? For me, if this autonomy was given back, I would gladly use some kind of district-chosen portfolio system in return.

    • Andrew Chlup

      “Why should teachers have to constantly re-learn technology too?”

      Isn’t this what your asking students to do based on their teachers preference for the year? I find that people argue to exhaustion about their personal preferences and aren’t really that focused on the learning.

      It is truly rare that a technological task/feature cannot be replicated in numerous systems/platforms.

      I believe the point is if everybody is willing to give a little by using common technology platforms, it provides more opportunity to focus on the actual learning. Otherwise you are losing time ever year just to train on new tools.

    • Andrew Chlup

      “Why should teachers have to constantly re-learn technology too?”

      Isn’t this what you’re asking students to do based on their teachers preference for the year? I find that people argue to exhaustion about their personal preferences and aren’t really that focused on the learning.

      It is truly rare that a technological task/feature cannot be replicated in numerous systems/platforms.

      I believe the point is if everybody is willing to give a little by using common technology platforms, it provides more opportunity to focus on the actual learning. Otherwise you are losing time every year just to train on new tools.

      • Sitembiso Ncube

        You make a great point Andrew. I am personally struggling with that too as a student. I have found myself spending sleepless nights trying to figure out how to use the new technology that my class is requiring me to use. It boils down to learning how to use the technology at the expense of the reason why you are using that technology.
        With the rapid change in technology development, there will soon be a need for educators to set priorities in terms of assessing the benefits of using new technologies. Educators must evaluate whether the new technologies are not duplicating themselves using different names and whether using every new technology that lands on the market is innovative enough to be providing better learning experiences to students to improve conceptualizing learning material.

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