On day four at the MA New Literacies Institute we primarily had a series of Digital Texts and Tools sessions, and time for participants to work collaboratively on their units. My sessions included a focus on screencasting, audio podcasting, and Google Presenter. In working with participants to help them plan out and develop their work product, I tended to focus on larger questions and suggestions about their general work process in their classroom.
The primary suggestion I made for individuals was they they needed to fully create, develop, and curate their online brand. All of my sessions focused on Google Apps for Educators (GAFE) and capturing digital copies of their teaching materials. In my Wednesday session on Advanced Google Sites, I focused on the ORMS MOOC I build using Google Sites and GAFE products. The message was they anyone could build up an infrastructure like the one that I created using free, online tools.To achieve this synchronicity, I indicated the following steps…and provided Digital Texts and Tools sessions to support learners.
Create your own digital learning hub
Use Google Sites, or Wikispaces to develop your own digital learning hub. I prefer Google Sites if you’re fully invested in GAFE. Even if you work in a school district that uses their own website construction service, I advise teachers to build their own site and link out to it from their page on the school website. The reason for this is that schools (usually) pay a ton for these services, lock down the ability to really create, and don’t provide tech support. With Google Sites there is a healthy support infrastructure built in as there are tons of videos available on YouTube showing you exactly what you want to do…and support on Twitter and Google+. Build your own website, and slowly build up content over time. Start off with one unit at the beginning of the school year, and then continuously add over the course of your career. Build your digital learning hub for you…don’t name it after specific units, themes, content, or grade levels.
Build all learning materials using Google Apps and other online tools
Using Google Apps, start building all of your materials online and embed on your digital learning hub. I advocate for open educational resources, and suggest that teachers openly share their content online. Build your PPTs in Google Presenter, build worksheets in Google Forms, build support materials in Google Docs. My advice is to stop using Microsoft Office and fully embrace GAFE. Many of my sessions this week were subtitled: “How I learned to stop worrying and love Google.” Also, to fully embrace all things Googley, I suggested that teachers install Google Drive and transition over their previous teaching materials to their collection of online materials. Build everything in the cloud…and embed thoughtfully on your digital learning hub.
Create screencasts and screencaptures of all teaching and learning activities
All teachers (Pre-K through Higher Ed) should become experts in creation of screencaptures and screencasts. Creation of screencaptures and being able to annotate these allows teachers to drill down into instruction by including multimodal examples. Screencasts allow teachers to create video walkthroughs of their think alouds while looking at digital content. I urged all teachers to create digital copies of and & all teaching activities using screencaptures and screencasts using some of the tools we shared this week. The other key is to remain as device agnostic as possible. It’s not a discussion about iPads, or Chromebooks, or PC, Mac, or mobile. It’s a discussion about how do I create a screencapture or screencast…regardless of the platform or tool. Create screencasts and share openly on your YouTube channel. Embed all of this content on your digital learning hub. One comment that we received in the plus/delta at the end of day four nailed this home. A couple participants indicated that we all (all presenters) should have included screencasts of our lectures/teaching materials in work throughout the New Literacies Institute.