The discussion of equity and the digital divide reinforces the need for the guidance and advocacy of teachers as children learn technology. Our affluent American culture tends to take for granted or assume that everyone has access to broadband and a computer. The statistic Aleph Molinari mentioned in his TEDx Talk, “Bridging the Digital Divide,” that 70% of people in the world are digitally excluded and therefore unable to prepare for and “participate in the workforce of the future” made me reflect on why this topic is worth our concern and energy. Molinari’s RIA network of community centers made from recycled materials in poor urban areas in Mexico should be a model for all countries because of the program’s preference for the poor and respect for the earth and its resources through conservation, both initiatives of Pope Francis.
Kimberly Bryant (“Crashing the Digital Gender Divide”) is also doing wonderful work with her Black Girl’s Code. I don’t think her program should be limited to girls of color only, though, since poverty does not discriminate according to race. Girls of all races and types (including the Barbies, which I’ve been accused of being, lol) would benefit from being taught computer programming since, according to Bryant, “80% of jobs over the next decade will involve math and science.” Taking down the virtual “no girls allowed” sign from the tech treehouse is a worthy endeavor since leaving girls out means that the computer science field loses their unique skills and talents.
Going forward, I will keep in mind Michael Mills’s comment in “BYOD to Bridge the Digital Divide” that student success is not just about having tech skills, rather it depends on effort, patience, and focus as well as the guidance of a patient mentor. Even though I am not a “digital native,” I see a clear role for myself as an advocate for technology in the classroom as well as a trainer of students, parents and fellow educators. When I worked for SAIC as a desktop publisher/technical writer and editor I was asked to train employees in QuarkXPress and was told that they got lots of positive feedback from the people I trained because I explained the software in simple terms and took time with each person to answer their questions, make sure they were comfortable with the process, and enable them to work independently. That experience and advice from a senior manager convinced me to make a career change into teaching.
In the classroom, I would like to help with the challenges to the educational equity gap created by the family and environment as well as expectations as described in “Study: Free Computers Don’t Close the Rich-Poor Education Gap” by being sensitive to the disadvantages of children from low income families. This can be done by planning alternative ways for them to learn the content from flipped lessons and other online homework assignments while having the same high expectations for their learning that I would have for any other student. I would also actively research what free computer and broadband resources are available in their communities and make that information available to their parents, an idea suggested in “Digital Divide is ‘Major Challenge’ in Teaching Low-Income Students, Survey Finds.” Providing training for parents on safe internet practices and digital literacy would also be something I could do to make a difference for all students, since even higher income parents may not be familiar with some of the newer digital education tools their children are using.
Symbaloo is a free educational/social bookmarking tool that you can use to share all of your digital resources in the cloud. It helps teachers curate content and share web resources with students. Teachers can add any link they find on the web to a customized tile, and organize tiles in different webmixes (categories). They can also search for tiles in the Symbaloo tile database, and find content curated by other educators in Symbaloo’s gallery.
These are some ways teachers use Symbaloo:
1. Share a classroom website with students and parents (see link to article, “11 Ways to use Symbaloo in the Classroom” for a web tutorial on how to share webmixes).
2. Customize your lesson plans (create a webmix for each subject you teach).
3. Embed a webmix in your classroom website or blog.
4. Create a personal learning environment for students (students can create their own Symbaloo pages with their most used websites, and curate content from research for a class project by embedding videos, a Prezi presentation or a Google Doc in a webmix.
5. Organize digital portfolios for students.
6. Use Symbaloo as a classroom social hub.
7. Use Symbaloo to create a classroom playlist.
Symbaloo also offers free professional development training and certification.
You can download this user guide: http://www.symbalooedu.com/wp-content/uploads/Symbaloo-Manual-2014.pdf
SymbalooEDU is the visual resource management tool that helps educators and students organize and share the best of the web. Users save their resources in the cloud and access them from anywhere with any device. But it doesn’t stop there! With features like embedded content, group tiles and sequenced tiles, educators around the world are creating lesson plans, research assignments and personalized learning in many different ways. SymbalooEDU is used in schools to support:
Learn how to use Symbaloo with the interactive tour within minutes!
This report is a must read for educators, IMHO. It is exciting that students are using the digital learning environment to delve deeper into subject areas that interest them. Their reporting from students at schools with access to technology and digital learning that all students would benefit from and should have the same access is valuable information. Students want to learn in a way that is meaningful for their lives. Using tech develops workforce skills that they will need: collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and self-directed learning.
Noteworthy is the report’s findings on today’s students’ vision for the 21st century education experience: learning that is socially-based and collaborative, learning untethered from traditional constraints or limitations of education institutions, and learning that is digitally rich in content and relevancy. The report talks about five learning environments that can support this modern learning style: mobile, blended, virtual, STEM and “Free Agent Learning” where kids use many different tech tools outside of school.
The report lists how 6th to 8th graders use mobile devices/technology for schoolwork. They watched teacher created videos and posted to class blogs less than any other activity like reading online textbooks or taking online tests, so there is a lot of room for growth in these areas and perhaps more teachers need to be trained and enabled to flip their classrooms and create class blogs. A majority of students are also dependent on mobile data plans to access the Internet. Educators should be aware of this and try to give students time at school to use the Internet if needed. More dialog about the efficacy of allowing students to use their own devices in school and having unlimited access to wifi is also needed since students are calling for it and since many seem to already have similar privileges outside of school.
The report will help me plan my instruction by its highlighting of benefits of digital learning, according to the students themselves: they learn at their own pace, develop creativity skills, collaborate more with classmates, have increased control over learning, increase their understanding of class materials, develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, learn in a way that better fits their learning style, and spend more time mastering a skill or learning something. Who wouldn’t want these benefits for their students? I think planning a mix of digital experiences combined with personalized instruction in the classroom will reap rich rewards for learners and prepare them for the life-long, life-wide, life-deep, 24/7 learning that today’s learners want and need to be successful and empowered learners.
Adobe voice is a free app that is easy to use. I completed the project on my iPad and was able to do the recordings in one session.
I Googled Adobe Voice YouTube videos to learn how to use the app. I used a video made by high school students at a private school. After watching the video I felt that I could do the project without any other assistance.
I did initially ask the tech guru at my school for his recommendations on what app I should use and he suggested Storehouse, but I wasn’t able to use my Facebook pictures. Adobe Voice lets you do this in a few clicks.
I wanted more pictures from the Ivy League Tour than the ones I had, and our tech guy sourced them from the yearbook files and helped me load them on to my iPad. These were the pictures of all the seniors and me taken by the other chaperone, our director of international students. That gave me enough images to tell my story.