Archive | November 2013

OLTD 507 – Cloud Computing

The post below is in response to the prompt:

Please identify how you could use cloud tools to address the following with examples of cloud tools and thoughts on how you could integrate them into an online course to:

  1. Instruct/engage/inspire
  2. Collaborate
  3. Organize
  4. Assess
  5. Inquire

Would using tools in this way improve the online learning experience for your students? What would some of the drawbacks be?  advantages?

 

I think that there are many ways in which teachers can incorporate cloud tools into their lessons to inspire, organize and assess their students.   There are also many more ways in which students can share and deepen their learning in collaboration with both their teachers and their classmates.

The ease with which one can access all manner of inspiring and engaging videos, articles, lessons, and various creative works leaves teachers with many options to hook students into their lessons.   Being a substitute teacher, the ability to take my online discoveries with me from class to class and school to school has been a lifesaver!  I find myself using delicious quite a bit whenever I am browsing the web, and if I ever stumble upon something that piques my interest I bookmark and tag it, filing it away for some future time.  I started this task as an experiment last year, and I have been amazed at the amount of times I have been subbing in a classroom, and remembered that I had the perfect video, image, or lesson that would complement what students were doing in the classroom.  One of the last times that I used delicious in the classroom was to show this video about a 30 year ongoing mapping project  that a man named Jerry Gretzinger has undertaken.  I had a number of different websites that I was able to show students, including the subject’s own personal blog, and a bunch of additional photographs that documented his creation, and gave a better idea of the scope of his project.  Student reaction to the video was amazing, and it turned into a great discussion on creativity and pursuing one’s passion in life.  As an educator, it was so powerful to be able supplement the discussion with additional resources that were only a couple mouse clicks away.

The ability to organize and store information is helpful for both teachers and students.  My wife turned me on to pinterest a while ago, and I have found myself using it to plan trips, store recipes, and keep a list of interesting lessons that I am waiting to try out.  Being able to browse other people’s pinterest boards and create different categories on your own boards means that students have a lot of freedom to investigate and compile their own resource lists on whatever topics interests them.  Being able to share this information back and forth with classmates, as well as build off of what each student contributes can be very powerful for students, and provides a way to save and organize information in a meaningful way.

Another powerful feature that cloud computing offers students is the ability to collaborate with one another in real time.  Google Apps allows students to create shared documents that can be edited by multiple people at the same time.  Each revision is saved, and the most current version of the document is always available when members log in to access it.  Students can work together on a document within the same computer lab, or across the world from any computer with access to the internet.  This can be a powerful tool for teachers as well, as we are able to check in with student projects at anytime, and make our own edits, comments and corrections.

I think overall that cloud computing tools greatly enhance student learning.  They offer a variety of new ways in which students can collaborate and share their work.  The one glaring drawback that I can see is the issue of internet access.  The ability to access your work anywhere is an important feature of cloud programs, but without internet access at home this feature is redundant.  Additionally, many computers currently used in schools are outdated, and while access may be available, the speed at which it is provided may not be optimal.  Because of this, we need to be focusing on providing the infrastructure that will allow cloud computing to be utilized both inside and outside of the school environment.  As Matt Britland says in his Guardian article “Student and teacher buy in, is so important. If the network is slow and things are not working properly students and teachers will not want to use the devices.”  If the groundwork is done, and systems are in place to support cloud computing, I see no reason why this movement will not continue to gain ground in our educational systems.