Friday. Students currently enjoying coffee and croissants supplied by me (on World Teachers Day too!) as inspiration for an afternoon of feature writing with a 4pm deadline looming. So a chance to reflect on digital technology my students have embraced independently to enhance their learning as part of a Media Communication course.
It was with some delight I learned at the end of term one when conducting a survey on their study habits that several of the keener learners had been connecting outside the classroom via Skype. Now Skype (or a Voice over Internet Protocol VoIP as it’s technically known) isn’t new. But what has been interesting is how my students have utilised this tool. It has been hugely significant in terms of reflecting a transition towards taking more responsibility for their own learning which has been a challenge for many of them this year. While the keener learners set it up, the less engaged were also using this option by the middle of the year when they could see and hear how the rest of the class were benefiting from it. Skype has enabled them to :
- clarify ideas/concepts discussed in class
- brainstorm story ideas
- share ideas/networks for interviews
- develop their intro writing skills through the “tell a friend” approach
- learn how to give constructive criticism of their writing
- test their knowledge of key terms and concepts
- revise for tests
Yesterday they started work on a class newspaper with their peers in Christchurch. Coordinating a class newspaper with a team of fledgling reporters some 350km apart is a daunting prospect (for me at least). They met for the first time via video conference and learned when trying to allocate roles that paper-scissors-rock doesn’t work via VC due to broadcast delays!
That afternoon, they quickly set up a google docs account where they are building a bank of story ideas, allocating pages and assigning tasks. Again google docs is not new. It enables users to create and edit web-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations as well as store documents online and access them from any computer. I am interested to see how my students are using it to their advantage. Our chief reporter is currently watching the ChCh-based editor type feedback in real-time as they refine story ideas together. Simple.
And while I have used Moodle this year for extension work, sharing readings, assessment updates and to send email messages to students, the ChCh group has used Facebook. Straight after yesterday’s first VC my students were added to the ChCh group and can now instant message their peers to keep each other informed of progress, share ideas and give encouragement. Perfect.
So while producing a 14 page, tabloid newspaper with a group of students based in separate cities who have never met might seem daunting, suddenly thanks to digital technology, social media and good old Kiwi ingenuity, anything is possible!