Lights, Camera, Teach

My students this year are more convinced than ever that I have really gone mad with the technology. Over the last several days I have been producing more video than a B-movie studio lot on a variety of topics such as Edmodo, Edublogs, network navigation, and other quick how-to videos as I go through the process of "flipping" my classroom. A few minutes ago I just wrapped up a video on how and why to make presentations more effective in which I recorded myself giving the Keynote presentation. Even "raising your hand" has had a 21st Century make over as students text me though Edmodo with their questions or to ask me to check their work. Surprisingly, I have found these new changes rather helpful even if some students have found it disconcerting, Am I rapidly going into Education 2.0 or even 3.0?

When I decided to try the Flip-style classroom this year I knew that I would very busy shooting, editing, and publishing videos needed for this teaching style to work. I will shoot a video on a topic, such as creating a blog post, I think the students will need. Later, I find myself doing reshoots when a need to focus more on a specific task such as inserting a link into a blog post comes up. Its okay because this is a learning process for me too and the students are proving to be excellent teachers. The trick is for the students who have spent the last five to six years having instruction delivered to them via lecture, group or individual work, or reading from a book to buy into going to the videos I have created first. Guess it take a while to change the years of conditioning students have gone through of either raising their hands or coming up to the teacher when they have a question. Some have not realized yet the educational power that is at their beck and call. They have a teacher who is always upbeat, never gets cranky when they ask to be shown how to do something for the 10th time, and have a private tutor at their home on nights and weekends. Another thing they may not realize is they actually get more time on the computer because I don't have to do as much whole group instruction. Finally, with an average class load of about 30 students over the eight classes I teach, I need a way to "shrink" the class down to a size where I can actually give more individual attention when it is needed. The videos help because many of the students can watch them and then they are good for whatever task they saw and they may not need my help, just some periodic feedback.

When I thought about the other means of transition my way of teaching I was not quiet sure I would like it and thought it could really drive me insane. I entered my mobile phone # into Edmodo as a means of learning social network management because I would receive a text message on my phone whenever the students sent a message, even the silly ones I try to stop. One thing I asked the students to do is if he or she had a question, even after watching the videos, they should post their question on Edmodo. My goal is for these students to learn how to tap into the power of Personal Learning Community as a means to find the answers they seek. I saw myself as the facilitator as I monitored their posts and be ready to step in if someone was being lead astray. This is actually beginning to work as the students are becoming more confident in using Edmodo to take charge of their own learning. I just hope this will lead to similar attitudes when they go to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or whatever social network is popular in the future. Back to the text messages, They help me prioritize which students had their "hand up" first which allows me to be fair to all. Another hidden benefit is the text messages allow me spot trends quicker than if I was getting emails that could come much later. One warning, don't try the text message option unless you have an unlimited text messaging option because I receive messages at all times.

I am excited about how new technologies are being adapted in my classroom and I will be giving updates on how things progress over the semester. For now I will continue to push, prod, guide, or otherwise teach my students the subtle lesson of taking charge of their own learning so they may be more successful in the future.