It is widely recognised that showcasing the work of students, and giving them an online audience, is a brilliant way of empowering students. Pete Jones’ call to arms in his post “Judging a book by its cover: Ideas and thoughts on how learning is displayed in schools“, powerfully makes the case for how he would like work to be shown around his school. Showcasing work helps improve students' confidence, and makes them work harder to refine their work as high-quality as possible, given they are going to have a wider audience. Some fantastic examples of students' work showcased online can be seen at High Tech High, San Diego, CA in this post by @JamiePortman. The way that they showcase their students' work, and the work that is on display, is phenomenal. How can we translate that to the display of work made by students in ICT lessons?
ICT is a subject where it is particularly difficult to put work on the walls without printing it off. This is fine if it is static work, such as a graphical design, a magazine cover, or a piece of writing. However, problems occur when you’re dealing with interactive work - videos, animations, websites, games, etc. How do you showcase these things in a clear and visible light? One way is through the procurement of plasma screens around your department and school - this is a fantastic idea and many schools do this. However, when you regularly want to showcase the work of hundreds of students, schools cannot afford to purchase so many screens to facilitate this. So how do you make it work?
Every day in my K-8 tech classes, I use a variety of cloud-based tools to enhance the learning experience for my students. There are more of these 'Web 2.0' tools than I can keep up with, but when you teach tech or coordinate technology for your school, 'keeping up' is part of your job.
Here's how I determine which of these hundreds (thousands?) of tools are student-ready:
- Before I introduce a tool to my class, I try it myself. Can I get it to work with ease? Is it intuitive or will it require teaching? Does it work as promised? Are there intrusive ads? Will students get distracted as they work through the steps required to complete the assignment?
- Next, I query my social networks to determine the experiences of fellow tech teachers. Have they had much success with this tool? Any problems they ran into? Is it stable? If my e-colleagues find that the glamour of the Web tool is only skin deep, I move on. Of course, sometimes I'm ahead of the curve and my colleagues are unfamiliar with the tool. In truth, that rarely happens. There's always someone somewhere who has experience.