In the writing of my new schemes of work, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to use the fact that the year groups in school that have their own laptop. What I don’t want is for the laptop to become a digital exercise book or a digital text book (of lesser quality even than the text books you usually find in our subject area). I want the laptop, when it is used in class, to enhance learning. Also, I noticed some of my colleagues giving students the option of doing their termly assignment either on paper or digitally, and I think it is valuable that students have this choice.
I really enjoyed the #dojochat this week on the uses of social media in the classroom. Social media is something that many teachers are wary about, and I think we are only just beginning to explore its potential uses in the classroom. In my previous school, I set up a department twitter account with one of my esteemed colleagues, more about which in this article I wrote, and I am about to do the same thing in my new department. I can see some advantages to this in the sense of promoting the department and its achievement, and in communicating with other departments, parents, and so on (and this is probably enough to warrant opening the account), but I confess that I question its value as a learning tool. In my previous school, there was a group of students who accessed revision videos linked on the department twitter feed, but many would not follow us. I used to do a daily ‘knowledge’ tweet, but again I’m not sure that this was valuable.
So on to other forms of social media. I have a strict personal-use-only policy with my Facebook account, which I only use for sharing with family and friends. I can see the advantages of having a department Facebook page, but my concerns with privacy (and the desire to uphold the work/life split) mean that I’m not going to do it. However, I think I can see a perfect solution in Edmodo, which I am about to set up for all of my classes. It has all of the benefits of a Facebook page – it is a forum for discussion, I can post links, students can ask questions – but is even better in that it is explicitly targeted at a particular group. This makes it easy to share homework tasks that are links to websites containing videos or articles.
I am also embedding two apps (well, in fact the full web version probably, given that students all have laptops rather than tablet devices) that I learnt about from @nmckain at #NATREnorth: quizlet – as a homework/revision tool – to combat that decline of knowledge in memory – and socrative – as a formative assessment tool mid-term.
What would you recommend using as a digital tool to enhance learning?