Building on a theme

It’s snow day number two of the new semester and I’m almost stir crazy enough to go outside and film a re-enactment of To Build a Fire by Jack London.  Rather than freeze my camera as I fake freeze to death, I’ve been fine-tuning the course plan for a 1 credit class I’ll begin teaching in a couple weeks.  I’m looking forward to sharing and exchanging information with these rising teachers over the next several months.  In the first two classes I introduce two skills that I consider important for success with anything edutech related: Google Apps and Embedding. In those same classes I also establish the theme of the course – student centric teaching.

I consider Google Apps an essential piece of any rising teacher’s knowledge base.  From accessing RSS feeds in Reader to help build and follow a PLN to storing pictures in Picasa that students can access for projects, your Google account is a one stop shop – and it’s free.  Even though it can be difficult to untether people from Microsoft Office, once they see the utility of Google Docs they’ll never want to go back (in my opinion).  It’s difficult to help teachers gain a full appreciation of its utility in a one hour presentation or seminar – people need some time to use it and take it through the motions with real world tasks.  This is why I introduce it in the first class.  My school has had Google Apps Education edition for three years and I can’t imagine teaching without it.  It is often a centerpiece of my attempts to be as student centric as possible.  Google Apps makes it incredibly easy for students to create, collaborate, and receive guidance from the teacher.

The second skill, embedding, is a relatively simple one that many people familiar with educational technology take for granted.  Many young teachers (and experienced ones) can navigate Facebook with ease, but have no idea how to add a YouTube video or set of flash cards to a webspace.  There is so much great content that students and teachers can create on the web that would sit at a distant and hard to locate web address if it weren’t for embeds.  In my experience, this skill is usually embraced right away.  Show people how to embed a Grooveshark song on their site and hesitant tech students become instant webheads.  It motivates teachers to want to do more.  Below are some of the instructional companions to in class content on emedding.


One thought on “Building on a theme

  1. I agree, Google Apps have become an indispensable part of my day. I would never go back to Microsoft!

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