Thursday, December 13, 2012

School Versus the "Real World"

Image Source
How many times have you heard someone in a school say something like "When you get into the real world..."  How many times have you said that?  I've been thinking about this statement a lot lately.  I've said it many times over the years and it's a true statement.  School is, in a sense, practice for the world outside of our environment.  It's a place where students are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.  A place where students can gain the base skills they will need in order to survive and thrive throughout the rest of their lives.  So why do we do things in schools that are only relevant at school?

I walked into a classroom the other day and noticed the students had created these beautiful tri-fold presentation board presentations.  For the most part, it was easy to see the main idea of the presentation and to understand what the creator was trying to say.  But why tri-fold presentation boards?  Where else do you see these outside of school?  Why not find more modern and authentic ways for students to demonstrate knowledge, teach each other and express their thoughts?  I thought I would focus this blog post on that very concept.  Below you will find a variety of ideas on how students can express their knowledge and thoughts.  Some ideas are iPad specific and some are not.

  1. Create a video - This idea has been around for years now, and it's a good idea.  There are some very simple ways students can create videos to show or experience knowledge.
    1. Use a web cam to record them selves inside of iMovie or Windows Movie Maker (Mac or PC) (free)
    2. Compile images and create voice overs using iMovie (Mac), Windows Movie Maker (PC), PhotoStory (PC), iMovie app (iPad) (all free)
    3. Use an interactive whiteboard app such as Explain Everything or Doceri in order to record videos and quickly and easily publish them to YouTube. (iPad) (4.99)

  2. Create a visual/textual story - There are a wide variety of software applications and apps that allow teachers and students to create visually and textually appealing stories.  Here are some of them.
    1. Comic life (PC, Mac, iPad) is a great way to allow students to have a lot of fun while learning and teaching using images and text.  (4.99 - iPad, 29.99 mac/pc)
    2. Remarks - A student can use remarks to combine images, drawings and text.  This work can then be shared as a PDF document through email, Google Drive or DropBox. (iPad)(1.99)
    3. MindMeister (Mind mapping) - MindMeiser is an online mind mapping application (and an iPad app) where students can create mind maps and presentations.  Students can also collaborate and peer edit these works.  The free version allows up to three mind maps, and the use of online images. (free and paid versions)
    4. Photostory (PC) - An easy to use windows program that allows students to create an automated slide show that includes images, voice overs and sound tracks.  Each image is timed automatically to the voice over attached to it.(free)

  3. Podcasting - Producing an audio program can be a wonderful way for students to express themselves, teach concepts to other and participate in modern digital communications and discourse.  There are many different services out there, both free and pay, that can be used, but ultimately the only things you need are recording devices, microphones and imagination.  Here are some of the ways I have seen students record themselves.
    1. Audacity - An amazing free program with many robust features.  It's very simple to use (I've used it with second grade students), but have the power of many audio recording programs that can cost up to $100. (Mac, PC) (free)
    2. Audio Memos - An easy to use app on the iPad where students can record themselves and critique their own work. (0.99)
    3. Garage Band - Another wonderful program that kids and adults love to use.  If you want to  have background music playing on your podcast, this is the one to use!  (Mac, iPad) (free)

  4. Power Pointish presentations - Of course there is always Power Point and Keynote, but there are many many more options on how to present information.  Some are strictly lecture based and some allow for more presenter audience interaction.  Here are a few.
    1. Explain Everything - A presenter can create a PowerPoint type presentation with the added twist that things on the screen may be moved manually and the presenter can write directly on the screen during the presentation.  The presentation can also be recorded live and easily sent to youtube afterward. (free)(iPad)
    2. MindMeister - This is wonderful mind mapping software (iPad friendly) that also allows the user to turn the mind map into a presentation similar to a Prezi.  The iPad app is still missing a few of MindMeisters great features, but they are working on it. (free version and pay version)
    3. Prezi - Prezi has changed the standard for presentations.  The creator can make wonderful animated presentations that can stand on their own or be guided by the presenter.  You can now create a Prezi using their app, but not all of the features are available that way....yet. (free version and pay version)

  5. Interactive Whiteboards - There are an enormous amount of interactive whiteboard apps for the iPad and they all have different strengths and weaknesses.  They all will allow you to add images and text to a screen as well as provides the ability to write on top of everything.  The largest differences are in how these apps allow you to share your files from these apps.  Personally, I like to use DropPox or Google Drive, but there are other options.  Here are some of the most popular ones I know of: (all free)(all iPad)
    1. Explain Everything
    2. Screen Chomp
    3. Doceri
    4. Educreations
    5. ShowMe

  6. Mind Maps - Mind maps are a great way to help students organize their thoughts, connect thoughts and share their thoughts with others.  Some mind map programs can also be turned into more interactive presentations.  Some offer the ability to share mind maps with others (besides just using email or iTunes) and some don't.  Some are specific to the iPad and some are not.  Here is a list of mind map apps I have seen and like.
    1. MindMeister (free version and pay version)(iPad and laptop/desktop)
    2. Mindomo (free version and pay version)(iPad and laptop/desktop)
    3. iThoughtsHD (free)
    4. DropMind (free version and pay version)(iPad and laptop/desktop)
What ideas do you have?  What kind of authentic presentation experience does your school provide for students?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  If you would like to see more resources for students and educators, please visit my website.

No comments:

Post a Comment