I was asked at one of my recent sessions if I could write a ‘how to’ for the iPad carts that I collaborated on building for 10 classrooms in my current school. I am going to do that, but before I get to the ‘how,’ let me tell you the ‘why.’
When we were working toward going 1-1 with school-owned devices in our school, we realized that the process would be a drawn out one if we couldn’t cut some costs. Retail cases, high-priced charging stations, and expensive management options were not in the cards for us. So we opted to get creative. It took some research, some elbow grease and some innovation, but we were able to come up with some very effective solutions for outfitting our devices, allowing us to get more iPads into more student hands sooner. So, in the spirit of maximizing the little money we have in education fro these kinds of purchases, here is the process, and the pictures to help you build your own iPad mini cart!
*this cart MAY work for regular iPads as well depending how well you space the levels of the racks, but I have not tested it.
Our first goal was to find something to contain a class set of iPads. Prior to going 1-1 in classes, we had provided 5 iPads per classroom and were using a power bar in a drawer to secure them in each room. Clearly this was going to have to change when adding 20+ more devices. So we looked at what could store that many iPads in one place. One of my colleagues found a cart that fit the bill…from IKEA
The Raskog Cart was the right size to fit about 30 iPad Minis side by side on the three levels, and was available to us at only $60 per cart. We needed some other accessories, but it was a good start.
Raskog Kitchen Cart from IKEA ($60)
Next we needed some way to keep all the iPads in the proper location on the cart. Thanks again to IKEA we found some dish racks that suited our purpose. (BOHOLMEN $9) When our local IKEA ran out we sourced some others from Amazon ($10) as well. We needed three of these racks for each cart, one on each level.
Boholmen dish rack from IKEA ($9)
Bamboo Wood Plate Holder from Amazon.ca
Power management was a major concern with these carts. We wanted to ensure that they would not be drawing too much power, and that we were not ‘daisy chaining’ power bars (plugging one into another.) We had to find another way to power all these devices that would fit into fire code. So, after some research we found these nifty devices:
Each of these 4-port USB Charging Stations can charge 4 iPad Minis using one outlet plug. It took some research to find this particular charger because most USB hubs do not charge devices, even if they are powered. With these hubs, they are strictly meant for charging, not syncing, so they fit the bill for a classroom cart.
With no more than 28 students in each of our elementary classrooms, we could use a 7 port power bar ($20) and 7 USB hubs to power all of our iPads. If you needed more iPads on the cart, you could source larger power bars as well.
All that was left was to run wire and use an extraordinary amount of cable ties to keep it all in place.
I started by securing the racks in place, and then laying an iPad in the first slot to measure how far out the charging cable needed to be, leaving a little play for students so they would not have to ‘pull’ the cord.
Find the right spot for the cables, and a convenient length for each, then cable tie them into place.
A view from the bottom, showing how each cable is tied to the mesh frame. I then cable tied all the cords to one side of the cart leading down. Note that the USB cables must be fed all the way from the bottom, unless you want them to have to travel down the outside of the cart to the Antec hubs.
Lead the cables to the side and secure them to the inside of the cart leading down, Your cords will be different lengths at the bottom, but that’s ok.
Once all your cables are leading through to the bottom, find the most convenient USB plug to put them in, wrap and tie down excess cord. Mine didn’t look pretty, but the key is that no cords will be hanging down and left to drag on the ground or get caught on anything. Don’t spare the cable ties, get EVERY cord.
You can see the attached power bar, 7 plugs leading to hubs, and many wires charging happy devices.
This is what the final product looks like in my classroom.
The finished cart, with all the iPad minis tucked in for the night.
It is compact, portable (the carts have wheels) and costs…$320 versus the thousands you could spend on a manufactured cart. As I said earlier it takes some work, but ultimately we had much more money to spend on devices for students by using some ingenuity. Another consideration we discussed was security, but our classroom doors remain locked in off times at our school, and during the summer months, these carts can easily be transferred to a secure location in the building. At this time we are comfortable with that, but I know this may not be the case for all schools. If security is a concern, you may wish to look at locking mesh bags as a security measure.
Let me know if you have questions, or found this useful. I receive questions about our project all the time, and I am happy to respond as I can.
In my iPad Oddities session today I was asked about resources for finding effective iPad apps and apps that are on sale. So I have decided to put together some of the best resources around the ‘net to locate apps that a teacher may want to use in the classroom. Obviously, any list such as this cannot be exhaustive and certainly is subject to change, but these are sites I use to research apps for apps I may want to use.
Apps Gone Free – This app will give you leads on apps that have gone from paid to free on the app store. There are hundreds or thousands of these apps daily, and Apps Gone Free aggregates them and gives you leads on the ones that will likely have value to you.
App Shopper – Another sale app aggregator. Based on your options, App Shopper will bring you sale apps and apps that are free. I like the fact that App Shopper allows you to choose the options you want and brings you a very personalized app selection
Teachers With Apps – This website features reviews of apps that are added on a regular basis. I like the layout of this site, and that they give direct iTunes links with each review. It is an effective, organized site.
iEAR.org – While this site hasn’t been updated in some time, it was a very effective site and still has great reviews to offer of apps that were listed before they stopped publishing. I like the layout of this site, and the fact that they categorized by level and subject matter. All reviews are written by teachers for teachers.
Listly App Review Site – This Listly post links to a Google Doc that is managed by Lisa Johnson. It is a comprehensive list of sites for finding educational apps, a fantastic resource for teachers.
If this isn’t enough, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter and I’ll search out whatever you’re looking for!
I had a great conversation with a teacher at one of my sessions a couple of weeks back. It was in the middle of my iPad Oddities session, and I had made a comment on the need to have expectations for effective mobile device use in the classroom. When I told the group of educators that I had no problem with students using personal devices at certain times during class, this teacher wanted clarification. For him, turning off a personal device was a matter of respect for the classroom, and what he was teaching. It’s a scenario that I hear about often when I am doing these talks, and so I took a few minutes to distinguish for him, and the group, an important distinction we are making when we ask students to turn off cell phones; and why it may not be in our best interests.
Cell Phones as Extensions of Self
Today’s students see their devices much differently than any generation previous. No longer are they items of convenience for many of them, they serve as items of personal extension and connection. So rather than being ‘relieved’ to turn off a device, as many of us might be, they feel cut off from their world. Though the merits of this can be debated, the truth is that not having a device on and near them may be as much or more of a distraction to some of our students than having them on and actively used. Our students want to be tapped in, and will worry about that connection when it is not present.
It also heavily concerns me whenever I have to put myself into conflict with a student. I abhor doing it, as my job as a teacher is to inspire and champion students. As such I don’t want to create forced compliance within the classroom, I want to have processes that are natural and make sense to everyone in the room. Also, simplicity in this process works wonders with students who need reminders from time to time.
My discussion partner mentioned that students have a responsibility to learn etiquette in social situations about the use of mobile devices, which I agree with. However, the difference may be that we need to instruct students on when to use devices instead of not using them. I likened the scenario to the session I was speaking in. Individuals were focused, attentive, and certainly not being rude as far as I was concerned. In fact, it was a very engaged group, yet I know many of them were using their devices in many ways around the room. It was up to them to decide if a given text message was important enough to draw them away from what was happening in the session, and I would hazard a guess that many of the attendees were still arriving at the learning they expected even with all the ‘distraction.’
This is not to say that students should have full reign with their devices, far from it in fact. What we need to understand is that just because their ‘off’ switch and impulse control may not be fully developed, doesn’t mean they are not engaged. I spent many years at the back of the classroom drawing in a notebook long before mobile devices were an issue in schools, and no one thought to take away my paper and pencil. I had teachers who would ask why I felt the need to draw and try to engage me in drawing things focused on what we were learning so it was a rehearsal of the message. Perhaps this is the better way to look at these devices in the classroom. How can we use our students’ constant connection for benefit instead of distraction? We also must remember that we need to strike a balance with this. There is a difference between a presentation on iPads in the classroom and learning how to deploy your parachute during a skydive. We have the right to require specific attention at some times, but we may find that gaining attention for those times comes easier if we meet our students halfway during times when the requirement isn’t as heavy.
I don’t propose to have all the answers on this issue, but I have had success with a rather simple process. Whether using school-owned or personal devices, students are to leave them face-down in front of them on their desk (I usually say top right.) I discuss with students the very issues I have already raised in this post, then tell them that they are allowed to use their phones in a reasonable manner, as long as they are engaged in the classroom. So, if their phone buzzes (not rings since it is on vibrate), they can pick it up, reply quickly and put it back down. As long as it isn’t pervasive, there is nothing wrong with that. Conversations are best left to other times, but just as many of us would in a meeting, PD session or many other circumstances, a quick text shouldn’t be an issue. I also ask out of courtesy that they use the devices above their desks. In this way, they self-monitor better as well because there is no hiding what they are doing. It makes a big difference when the use is a little less private to how much they are willing to engage in it.
Overall my goal is a happy classroom climate where we can all get to the exciting job of learning. I know I will never get 100% ‘compliance’ with cell phone use, but if that’s not what you’re shooting for then a functional and positive classroom simply becomes a nice place for everyone to work.
So to match my reboot on this site, I have taken a step back in my online history, and started managing my class using a blog again today. You can find my newly redesigned class website at www.keenansclass.wordpress.com. It’s nothing fancy, but it gives me a place to enter in the days events, post the assigned tasks in each subject, and gives my students a common place to look for online materials. If you read the first post, you’ll understand.
So why step backward?
Because as I so often find with technology, the simplest solutions are the best ones. I have plenty of tools and methods of completing many different tasks in education, and many of them are great! However, what I find is the more ‘stuff’ I add in, the harder it is for me to maintain. Wordpress (particularly the free .com site) is simple and easy to manage, and I have really great controls on what is being put out. Most of the alternate tools I may want to use are embeddable as HTML or links into the site, so it makes a great ‘home base’ to work from.
I also realize that website building is a scary thing for teachers, which is another great advantage that wordpress has. It has been around for so long, that there are literally thousands of support websites, videos, tips and tricks to support a teacher setting this up. However, it is simple enough that it will likely only take you an hour anyway, and if you get stuck, it walks you through the process.
There is a reason that educational thinkers like Grant Wiggins use WordPress, it gets out of the way to let you share what you need to, simply. I wanted that for my students, and I bet many other teachers out there do to.
I gave a talk a week ago at TEDx RockyView Schools, and I wanted to share it with a little bit of context for it with you. One of the biggest hesitations teachers often have when I am working with them on enhancing their practice and working with digital tools is that they are somehow losing in the process. There is an overwhelming feeling out there that the more teachers ‘put out there’ of their work and skill, the less value there is of having them in the classroom. I used to be unsure how to respond to that fear.
For a time I thought (mainly to myself) that if the world was changing in such a way that teachers could be replaced by online tools, then I would want to be aware of those tools, familiar with them, because someone has to know how to keep the ‘machine’ running. If all of us were on the ropes, I would at least be as valuable as I could by understanding the new technology. Then if the teachers were all ‘let go,’ I would possibly still have some value in the new system. It was a naïve perspective.
In doing my research for this talk, I found that I do believe that we are in the midst of a change because of technology and that we most certainly need to become familiar with technology. This is not because technology will replace us, but rather because it could replace us if we aren’t pushing our teaching practice to be as effective as possible.
Make no mistake, there are billions of dollars at work trying to figure out the ‘next way’ in education, you need only look to the United States and the various initiatives at work there to see how money and cost-saving can effect education. However, if you look to Alberta, Canada, you will also see some amazing efforts by teachers to integrate technologies both personal and publicly purchased, to change practice based on current research, and the possibilities the democratization of knowledge has brought to a modern education system. These changes have been brought about by an environment of research and study, willing to look at how to best blend the expertise of teachers with the innovation technology brings. It’s not perfect, but it does inspire hope that instead of looking to replace teachers with some learning program or hardware solution, the answer will continue to be a blended, human approach to learning.
When I was younger I used to carry a sketchbook around with me. In fact if I wasn’t drawing, I was writing, and if I wasn’t doing either, I was reading. I might not have been a party animal, but I loved losing myself in a story, poem or drawing. I haven’t done any serious drawing since University, when life turned busy and time spent on drawing seemed frivolous. Well, now that we are in the digital age, I have taken up drawing again, but this time with the amazing Paper app by 53. It started with my preparation for my upcoming TEDx talk. I was unable to find the images I was looking for, and was trying out some apps to draw out what I needed. I had tried Paper some time ago, but like many apps, I had tested it a bit then filed it in “Might use it someday,” well, last week the day came. By the time I had unlocked the app, I realized that I was unleashing a powerful creative tool and spent literally hours with a stylus in hand crafting some fun, some poignant and some effective images. Now my talk entirely contains images I have created, aside from a few technology images I had to use to illustrate points.
So, how does this relate to you? Well, there is a lesson I have learned with this app in relation to my practice with technology, particularly apps; there is a someday. I have downloaded literally hundreds of apps for reviews, for school, for presentations, very few of which have a permanent place on any of my devices. However, with the power of Apple’s distribution and the cloud, apps are never more than a minute or two away on a Wifi connection. If you think an app may be useful in the future and it is on sale, or you have a promo code, grab it. You may not use it right away, but that cloud of Apple’s can be really handy.
Finally, I am posting any images I am creating that I think might be useful to educators on my Twitter feed. If I have posted it there with the hash tag #freetouse you can take it, modify it, sell it in your assignments on Teachers pay Teachers, whatever. It is out there for everyone. All I ask is if you can, and remember, tag it with my Twitter handle so others can find the resources too. I don’t claim that my images are great, but I enjoy creating them. I have also started ‘visualizing’ many of the meetings and chats I engage in, to create a summary of learning. These will be posted to my Twitter account as well. It’s how I learn, so I might as well share it!
Have a great week everyone, and thanks for reading!
I have worked with several teachers over the years who have specialized in supporting students with exceptional needs, and have also worked in my own classes to utilize the resources at my disposal to support learning in the classroom. I have learned through this work that one of the most effective methods of providing student accommodations is to look at the problem with a creative lens. While at times this seems counter-intuitive, as there are long-standing patterns of support used in many schools, by thinking manly about the needs of the student and what they need to be able to do, sometimes we are able to bring a very cost-effective and meaningful solution that would have escaped us if we were just looking in the standard book of solutions.
Case in point; I was in discussion last year about several students in my class who were ADHD and or otherwise easily ‘distractible’ in my fourth grade class. We had tried several accommodations for them that had worked moderately, but they were still unable to function well in the quiet times of class, where they had to maintain focus on a single task for a period of time. As I watched them carefully, I was reminded of my tenth grade non-academic students who functioned in much the same way during writing times. Those students, with permission (or sometimes without,) would trot out their iPods and focus themselves by tuning out the rest of the class with their music. While I didn’t always prefer their musical selections, or the level at which they played them, I could scarcely deny the effectiveness of this self-accommodation to tune out their peers.
With the support of our administration and the learning support team last year, I was able to purchase iPod Shuffles for the classroom. I loaded these up with classical music to drown out the background noise, nothing lyrical, just pleasant and engaging music. The results were astounding. While it didn’t work for every student experiencing difficulty; for those that were engaged, it was a profound change for them. In fact, the students began asking for the iPods immediately as we sat down to work. Since the iPod shuffles have no screen, no other distractions, the students are not tempted to ‘play’ with them and are not distracted by the technology. They simply put the headphones in and get down to work, which is what I was looking for.
Our school has purchased 10 iPod shuffles and they are used in several classrooms now, with great results. Students enjoy the independence and focus it offers them, and teachers are enjoying having another, relatively inexpensive, accommodation to provide for their students. If we can look ‘outside the box,’ sometimes we will find what we are looking for set just outside. How can you approach student accommodations differently? What could your students need that no one has seen before?
I spend a great deal of my time thinking about educational technology, and the implications of it on the future we are helping to shape for and with our students. Like any teacher, these thoughts join me through the summer, and my mind reels with ideas and excitement for what the fall will bring.
My kids are very lucky in that though their dad is a technology guy, their grandparents have an acreage. We spend plenty of time in the summer collecting bugs and frogs, spotting animals, building with real tools, taking trail rides and a myriad of other activities. They get to balance ‘screen time’ with outdoor active engaged time, and I make a cogent effort to do so. However, I know that this is not the case for every child. In fact, I still wonder if my kids are getting the right amount of time away from technology, and what that amount of time is.
I advocate pretty hard for the inclusion of technology in the classroom, and believe strongly that students must have a familiarity and competence with using technology not only for their learning, but as blended with their life experience. I bring my iPhone with me on all of our summer adventures, documenting the wonderful finds, fun activities and surprising events. However, I also make a choice to stop at certain points to do this, so I can actively engage in the moment as well. We do little for students if we are so engaged in the technology that it overshadows the event of learning. It is this balance that can be so hard to find, and is so frustrating for teachers who are used to teaching without technology. As teachers, we can argue that technology is not appropriate to every situation, in fact I hope that it isn’t.
There are some real tangibles in life that cannot be experienced on a computer or touch screen. I see this as I watch my sons play with the frog we caught yesterday and built a habitat for, or in catching a real fish in the pond. However, for every event that my sons experience, they can tie that event in to social media, to a storyboard or other digital documentation to relive and review what they have experienced. Even in the warm, long days of summer, technology will no longer be far from our children, and there are ways to enhance and connect with live experiences that I never had as a child. I think this is exciting, as long as we as teachers and parents think carefully about the amount and kinds of interactions appropriate to involve children in.
It took a little time to get this post up, my wifi was not cooperating in the USA, and I have been very busy since touching down in Calgary just before the massive flood that is devastating that city.
I’ve decided to try something new with this presentation, and give you a slide-by-slide post of what I discussed, hopefully highlighting the same things I was able to discuss in person. At the end of the post is an embedded PDF that you can download if you would like the whole presentation.
I decided on this presentation for iPadpalooza because when I moved into my new classroom at the beginning of this school year, the iPad and Apple TV were the first system I was able to set up to be able to present content to my students and begin to start managing my classroom. In a converted library space that did not even have a whiteboard, I was able to set up a projector, connect an Apple TV and present to my students on the bare wall. Once my district was able to install more comprehensive equipment, the interactivity and use of the space became more refined.
Ways to contact me, and my current philosophy for professional learning, learn it because you want to and make it fun!
Whenever I speak internationally, I like to give a little snapshot of where I have come from. I find it helps to give some perspective for learners of where I have come from and how I came to be standing in front of the audience. Much of this information is available elsewhere on this site, so I won’t dive to deeply here.
An initial discussion of what participants wanted from the presentation followed. Quite varied responses and perspectives were given and I was encouraged by the fact that many of these educators were looking for ways to use existing technology that they already had more effectively. It seems the biggest hangup in schools is the wireless infrastructure in schools. Remember, if you are allowed to do so, you can pick up an Airport Express from Apple to make a cable connection into a local wireless network. A great advantage of this is that you can limit access to only your devices and are not competing with others for bandwidth to stream your signal.
Like the Airport Express, the rest of the equipment to set up a wireless solution for your iPad is inexpensive and simple to set up. If your projector does not have an HDMI connection (the Apple TV only uses HDMI) you will need to purchase an HDMI to VGA adapter. The two adapters pictured are available through the Apple Store online.
I wanted to present a little bit of the amazing research that is developing about iPad use in the classroom. Some very large-scale, sponsored studies have shown the benefit of iPads in the classroom, but there are now some very comprehensive qualitative and quantitative University peer-reviewed studies that are showing some very important results about iPad use in the classroom. The results; that there is no cost to learning with iPads, and learning continues. What does show clearly is that there are significant secondary benefits to students in using iPads, including increased autonomy, creativity and willingness to support other students. Many of the benefits that Sir Ken Robinson discussed could be the benefits of new technologies as used in education.
Another article I reviewed recently discussed the benefits of learning literacy using the iPads as an instructional and interactive tool with students. The key takeaways were consistent with those that Lisa Carnazzopresented at iPadpalooza as well. Students who were able to use iPads for literacy learning using effective apps and well planned lessons showed higher engagement and more learning when using iPads when compared to times when taught traditionally.
One of the great benefits of these studies are the comprehensive description of the apps and activities used in the classes. In this case, the apps used for instruction and rehearsal by the students included: iBooks, Popplet, Doodle Buddy, Strip Designer and Sundry Notes. Each of these apps, while not specific to subject content, offers the students ways of creatively and effectively showing their learning and working through problems. It is this capacity that makes them highly effective classroom additions, and draws us away from seeing the inclusion of technology as ‘play time’ for students.
Apple has come a long way in the past seven years of iOS development, and it is now quite easy to get connected with an Apple TV in the classroom. One of the key considerations you have to make is the state of the technology infrastructure in your school. If you connect too many devices at once, you may find yourself being disconnected and dropping signals quite often. When you are just starting out with this technology, that can be quite disheartening. If you have a computer that you usually leave plugged in to the projector anyway, a stable method of presenting is using the Reflector program on the computer, allowing you to mirror your iPad screen on the computer that is already showing on the projector. However, even this solution requires some network connectivity, so you have to make sure that is available. Another consideration you may want to think through is how this new technology will impact other teachers and students. While I consider it a positive pressure if students want other teachers to use iPads in the classroom and instruction, other teachers may not see it that way. It can lead to resentment, particularly if other teachers do not have access to the same technology as you due to grants and funding disparity. I have always made a point of sharing whatever technology resources I have freely, so that other teachers can try what is working for me, or just get a handle on the technology for themselves. I believe it has saved a great deal of stress for everyone.
It was at this point we discussed the current practice in education of purchasing tools to simply ‘drop’ into classrooms with little awareness of the stresses or intended uses of that technology. Many educators have experienced receiving a ‘tool’ that they did not ask for or particularly want, but were asked to use it in their classes. I am a big advocate of using the technology you do have as effectively as possible, and effectively pairing tools together to allow for even greater benefit, and the iPad is a good tool for this, as we can see below.
Smart has created a pairing that allows for highly effective use of their Smart Notebook software with the iPad. While it is not perfect (the iPad version can’t use Flash objects, for example) it does offer options for those who wish to interchange between the software and hardware that Smart offers to make better use of the technology they may have in their room, or have used in the past.
As time goes on, tools for educators evolve and become more refined, and one of the great developments in this area is in the area of multi-platform tools. Class Dojo is a great behaviour tracking and management tool, but better than just being a simple tool, it is multi-platform as well. In fact, it is one of the more refined multi-platform tools I have used.
Class Dojo allows for instant feedback of student behaviour for students, teachers and parents. When used in conjunction with an Apple TV, a mirrored computer or the Class Dojo app, teachers have various methods to note student behaviour, and any behaviours on each of the various methods updates on others simultaneously. I love this as I can have Class Dojo on the board at the front of the room during a class task, and then update it from my iPad or iPhone while moving about the room. The visual and audio feedback of the site still appears at the front of the room for students to respond to.
Google Drive is another solution that provides opportunity for real-time collaboration and connection. Districts can contact Google for a self-managed, free Google implementation for their students. One of the huge advantages of this system is that individual applications in Google can be turned on and off as need be. That means that students who are too young to need email don’t have to have a working email account.
I also discussed the benefits of giving students a shared document to collaborate on, and the benefit of putting work to be edited on the projector to display for students. Students on several iPads, or on yours, can brainstorm with the results appearing at the front of the class. As a multi-platform option, Google Drive can be used through an app or browser.
I believe that Aurasma, which is an augmented reality app, has incredible possibilities for us as educators. This app uses a trigger image (perhaps the cover of a book) and then overlays an image or video (perhaps with a review of the book) that appears when the image is scanned. It is pretty incredible, and there are so many ways you can ‘tag’ in the classroom to show student learning, or set up engaging activities for the class.
Learning solutions like Mathletics have built in mini-lessons and reviews that don’t only have to be used individually. Why not project these apps on your iPad and use these apps for class review, teaching and discussion? An added bonus of this use is that students are then seeing you use the app, rehearsing the manner in which it can be effectively used.
Three ring is an assessment and learning evidence collection platform. Using the app, the iPad can quickly collect video, images and audio evidence of learning. I use this app to collect student activities as they complete it. It uploads in a blog-like format and, like Class Dojo, has the ability to connect parents to the system to provide real-time learning data. It’s a pretty powerful platform!
Like Mathletics, puzzle games allow for the possibility of class solutions and modelling processes for students. Once the concepts are highlighted and rehearsed, students will be more likely to use apps effectively during their own time.
If you have the ability to secure even a few additional iPads, there are many ideas of how you can use them in the guide “Less than a Class Set” written by Kristin Redington Bennett. If you are proficient in project-based learning, iPads can become a very versatile tool that allows for different modes of expression and learning.
Ultimately, it will be your flexibility and perspective on using your iPad that will make the difference to any implementation of iPads. If you are willing to give it a go, you will find the Apple TV a highly effective tool for presenting and interacting in the classroom. If you need support, let me know. I’m always glad to help!
I had just finished a very brief chat on #cdnedchat tonight and, as I had joined late, found myself in the mood for more educational conversation. What happened next was one of those moments on Twitter where you realize the power of social media. Darin Johnson (@AnIowaTeacher) was lamenting the lack of a chat at that moment, and so I dropped the suggestion that we start one. At that moment #edchat8CST was born and both myself and Darin sent out the call for educators to join. Within moments we had a topic: Using Social Media to Start Something New in the Classroom and I moderated the conversation with four questions. We had teachers join through the whole hour, and I was astonished that there were people creeping the chat (reading and watching without participating), new connections to both Darin and myself, and the conversation was electric. One of the greatest outcomes was the side-chats and spontaneity of the group, willing to put more ‘out there’ because it was not a ‘regular’ chat. Our four questions over the hour were as follows:
Q1: What social media do you think would be most conducive to classroom use?
Q2: What innovative uses have you found for Social Media as you teach?
Q3: Brainstorming time; If you had unlimited technology available, what WOULD you try using social media in education?
Q4: How can we spontaneously make better use of SM in our classrooms? Like this chat?
I was so impressed that a tenuously connected group of educators (I had never had a conversation of any great length with Darin prior to our staring the chat) could create such a great collection of ideas and resources, experiences and positive conversation. It was the highlight of my week on Twitter, and it’s only Monday! At any rate. Thanks to all who joined in, and we will use the hashtag again for impromptu chats, keep watching! Please read the storify below for the full conversation!