This summer, during my sixth MET course (ETEC 510), I had a month-long contract with the Vancouver School Board to teach an elementary-level computing course, which I named the Web Wandering Workshop. It was a great opportunity to take some of the ideas I was learning on-line, and practice them in the classroom. Due to the limitations of the school’s computer lab – they had just removed the SMARTboard to reallocate the VSB’s tech resources – I had to make some on-the-fly decisions about how to present this daily two-plus hour workshop. Cloud computing worked wonders, yet there was still much more we could have done, had I been able to figure it out a bit better.
The class had nine students from grade four to six, all of them comfortable with navigating round the web. During introductions, I asked them if they had facebook accounts, and one or two admitted that they fb once in a while (I assured them they wouldn’t get in trouble, but we had other tools that we would use). We started off with assigned gmail accounts I had set up several firstname.lastname@example.org accounts, all with the same password, and some of them changed to protect their newly-acquired identity. It soon became a hassle to get them to remember what they changed it to, and for other programs we used (Picassa, Animoto, Prezi, WordPress etc) new passwords were needed once the “forgot password?” button was clicked.
One student animotos how to use a microscope
Each week, they got a number of web assignments, using their Gmail identity as their base. Most of these assignments were completed in about half an hour, leaving the rest of the time for them to watch Selena Gomez on YouTube (does she have more than just one song?), to play flight simulation games or for the more daring, to mess around with other classmates’ posted assignment – idle keyboards are the devil’s plaything! Since the course was not graded, there wasn’t really the incentive to wander much further, and by the third week the complaint most often muttered was “is that all we’re doing today?” The cloud helped me set up the class so we could all collaborate effortlessly, but with so many possibilities open to them, why shouldn’t they watch Selena over and over again. Next time I run this workshop, I’ll either have shorter lessons or more examples off the web (or DVDs to watch!). Hopefully for the next time I’d also have a better idea how to challenge students to do more with their cloud-based programs.Posted in: Week 08: Files in the Cloud