> Mrs. O'Neill's Blog: Pioneering Spirit and the online classroom

Monday, May 07, 2007

Pioneering Spirit and the online classroom

Several times in my teaching day I wish my pupils could work online.

Here are a few of the things I wish I could do:

Individual consolidation or revision work. We’re reading a poem and a pupil looks bewildered when you mention ‘metaphors’. It’s a piece of cake to everyone else. I direct the pupil to an interactive resource on metaphors. Better than a worksheet. They can wait until the whole class time is over or go directly to the resource returning when they are ready –they won't miss anything since the lesson is available online.

Modelling. I could highlight best practice in pupil work as and when it appeared. At the moment if I spot a good response in a pupil's work I can read it out to the class. Great for the auditory learners. Unless it's very brief and I have time for pupil to type it onto my laptop for the whiteboard -or write it on the board, I need to copy it out later.

Research. Why do we need to be the ones finding the material? Pupils could find material on the internet themselves. Talk about ownership. We would have to teach them how to evaluate that material. How useful would that be? Very useful for your entire life I imagine…

Wikis. I have discovered that wikis can’t be edited at the same time by several pupils. At first that struck me as a weakness. Now I’m not so sure. Pupils are being forced to wait on one another before they can ‘do their bit’. There’s a healthy bit of peer pressure and a sense of how we work as a team mixing here.

Absentees. Having a class website or wiki would allow pupils who are absent through illness or family holidays to keep up with the work of the class. Never again could a pupil announce that they couldn’t do the homework because they were off when I gave it out. Of course their excuses would sound vaguely familiar. Here are some real live examples from a recent attempt to use a class website.

‘My internet broke’ (sic)

‘ My brother was playing online poker and wouldn’t let me go on’

‘It’s not working on my computer’

Reality check. Thanks to Jonesieboy for posting about this article in the NY Times: Seeing no progress some schools drop laptops. David Warlick has also blogged here on what this article tells us. Any schools going out on a limb to use technology will have to deal well with the areas highlighted by this school’s experience. They will need a pioneering instinct. But it will be worth it. After all, in the world we prepare pupils for, they aren’t thinking of going back to pen and ink are they?


Ewan McIntosh said...

Remember that, if you want to have pupils working live on one document, you could invite them via email to edit a Google Doc. (docs.google.com) VERY useful for classes working from home on a project, using Skype or Instant Messaging to chat about their work.

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

I signed up for google docs -and I like the idea of pupils being able to talk to one another about work.
Has anyone got advice about getting started with it -or shall I just try something out and see how it goes?

Neil WInton said...

I'd just go for it! You find out more by trying (and oftimes failing) than by any other method!

PS: Tig... you're it! (see http://nwinton.wordpress.com/2007/05/15/tag-ging-along/ for more info!)