May 10, 2011 · 1:40 pm
Most schools and classrooms have bulletin boards, but what is the online digital equivalent? If you are using a course management system, there are lots of tools built-in that approximate this experience. But if not, there are various options that offer lots of options for interaction between users.
They can be used asynchronously so that people can leave messages anytime and the conversation happens over a long period of time. They could also be used in real time so that users can interact in a very visual environment. Messages can be various sizes, color-coded, and dragged around so they can be grouped together in various ways.
One online bulletin board is Wallwisher.com, which allows a user to create a wall to which other users can add “sticky notes.” It’s quick and easy to use, but unfortunately it appears to be a victim of it’s own success — in my recent experience the site is not loading quickly, possibly due to being overwhelmed by a large volume of users. If these issues can be worked out, Wallwisher will be a very useful tool.
A very similar tool is Stixy, which allows sticky notes and other items (photos, documents, and dated to-do list items) to be posted on the wall. Clicking on an item opens a menu with lots of options for color, font, as well as placement (in the front or in the back, relative to the other notes). You can also lock certain notes so that instructions or introductions, for example, can’t be moved around like the rest of the notes. And the site doesn’t seem to have any problems loading due to demand. Yet.
This site also allows the creation of sticky notes, including very small word-sized stickies, which could work very well on an interactive whiteboard as a way to make fridge-magnet-poetry dragable words.
In addition to the sticky-specific applications above, it’s worth noting that documents created in Google Docs can be configured to be edited by a group of people. Create a new document and use different colored boxes in place of stickies and the same effect can be achieved.
For information on these tools and others, visit The Pursuit of Technology Integration Happiness which includes several examples that you can test drive.
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Tagged as blackboard, board, bulletin, bulletin board, CMS, communication, community, content, course management system, efl, ell, ELLs, english, esl, internet, management, moodle, online, system, teach, teacher, teaching, tool, tools, wall, web, wisher
April 21, 2010 · 4:35 pm
It seems like today's students are born with phones in their hands.
WTMI stands for Way Too Much Information, an example of shorthand commonly used for texting and instant messenger. There are lots of others. I frequently hear stories from students and colleagues about how proficient students are at texting. Some can allegedly send text messages without taking the phone out of their pockets. The mosquito ringtone — a ringtone so high-pitched that adults can’t hear it — is another means students have to covertly use their phones.
Many of our students (and many of us) use text messages everyday. A recent article in the Columbus Dispatch reported on a study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. I wouldn’t say the study has way too much information, but there is a lot.
Among the findings: 75% of 12- to 17-year-olds own cell phones and 88% of teen cell-phone users text. In fact, use of texting is so widespread that teens send more texts than they make phone calls. Is this last part surprising? Although I’m a relatively late adopter of texting, now that I use it, I find that I do text more frequently than I talk on my phone.
I’m not sure what percentage of schools ban cell phones, but 65% of cell-owning teens at those schools take their phone every day. Obviously, we don’t ban phones at Ohio State, but the fact that 64% of teens with cell phones have texted in class and 25% have made or received a call during class is worth noting.
In addition to the startlingly large total numbers of texts (a third of teens who are texters send more than 100 texts a day; about 15% top 6,000 a month,) the increased use of texting and cell phones over the last five years is amazing. In 2004, only 45% of teens owned cell phones (now 75%), and in 2006 only 51% of teens were texters (now 88%).
What are the ramifications for the classroom? In our pre-college intensive ESL program (which is obviously very different from elementary and highschools,) cell phones are a part of students’ lives. Very few have a traditional landline. When possible, I try to embrace this technology. For example, I had students use their phones in class to listen to the cellphone tours of the statues outside the Ohio Statehouse before a recent field trip. Used in this way, cell phones could conceivably replace, or at least supplement, a traditional listening lab.
Students taking calls and sending texts is an obviously a distraction. I usually take the opportunity to address classroom culture and etiquette, but it can be a constant classroom management struggle.
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Tagged as cell, cellphone, cellular, class, classroom, efl, esl, iep, IM, instant, management, message, messaging, pew, phone, statistics, teach, teacher, teaching, tech, technology, text, texting