Welcome to 2015. We are coming to the end of the long summer break here in Australia, which is why I have been quiet.
This year Don College are implementing a BYOT policy across the school. In that context I was asked by my principal to outline current best practice in educational technology. As part of that I wrote a scenario, or dream. Something for us to aspire to as students walk into that first class and open up their laptops on their desk. The software examples I will use reflect my preferences, but you can substitute your own.
A few minutes before the lesson Audrey is collecting her thoughts. She has set a 5 minute video to watch and some questions for homework (using Edpuzzle) covering the content for this lesson. Earlier in the day she spent 10 minutes looking at the students responses and most seem to have a satisfactory understanding, but 6 look as if they need more help.
Audrey arrives at the classroom and begins to get her laptop connected to the IWB. (There is quiet music playing to set the tone. Audrey likes Bach, and she finds students tend to settle more quickly and not run around as they come in when it is playing.) Students are trickling in and Audrey chats to them about their weekend and asks them to log into Fronter (the VLE) while they wait.
As the lesson starts Audrey has the learning objective for this lesson and the activities on the IWB. The activities are ready in Fronter and most of the class have covered the theory so they are able to settle straight down to work. (They use Office365 for their work.) Audrey then spends time with the 6 students needing help.
20 minutes into the lesson all students are working on the assignments and Audrey takes a few minutes to do the attendance (on her laptop). She finds that 2 students are absent and checking, she sees one of them (Jack) is currently online. She opens up a Lync (video) call to jack and it turns out that he only has a cold and is able to do some work at home. Audrey explains what the class are doing and Jack logs into Fronter at home and starts the class assignments. Jack opens up a call with his friends at his usual work table and they chat and discuss the problems in the same way they would if they were physically together in class.
Audrey also has a distance education student in the class (Mandy), and Audrey takes a few minutes to check on her via a Lync call. Mandy needs some guidance but is then able to work on by herself.
Now Audrey is free to move around the room as usual assisting students. She has found that with the work online she spends much more time working with students individually and in small groups.
With 10 minutes to go Audrey brings the class together and refers them to the learning objective. She has a short questionaire prepared in Fronter for the students to answer. Based on that she will know which students might need extra help. Those students will receive some extra work in their inbox later in the day. She also talks about the next lesson and what they need to do to prepare for that. When the students have completed the exit questions and uploaded the work from today’s lesson to the class cloud share, they are given permission to leave the room.
So that is how I envisage a 21st Century classroom. Yes it is a dream and there will be students arriving late disrupting the start to the lesson, there will be disruptive students, there will be students off task etc. But I think the dream still gives me a direction to work towards.