When we talk about great ideas like having students collaborate and publish rich content in blogs, wikis, etc, educators are often understandably concerned about security – do we really want students’ stuff available out there? In some case the answer is YES – that’s the whole point, so they can get feedback from people in the community, such as professionals in a particular field. However, often we need a system that provides the power of Web 2.0 tools, but within a secure, closed system. Google, who seems to have an answer for everything these days, offers a special service for education institutions that includes GoogleApps, calendar and email, websites, and other tools. Here’s the URL: http://www.google.com/a/help/intl/en/edu/collaboration.html
Earlier this semester I created a ning professional network site for music educators – I get to work with K-12 music teachers in our grad program at LVC, and one of the things I try to encourage for them is thinking outside the box. Why does it always have to be based around trombones and oboes? Why does it mostly revolve around “serious” music? Music education should be culturally relevant – most kids I know love music, but often there’s not much in our music ed programs that they can initially relate to. Let them explore new ways of creating music (iPhones, Guitar Hero, Garageband), let them experience different styles of music, let them publish their own music through websites, CDs, and iTunes, and yes, gasp, let them perform in an iPhone band during the spring concert. Do we still use trombones and oboes? Of course – it’s all good. Just broaden our horizons and stop wondering why student enrollment in music programs has dropped.
One of the most powerful features of Twitter and the “What are you doing now?” function on Facebook is the concept of real-time updates. Knowing what your friend’s cat just ate for dinner is a complete waste of time…but in class, having people post questions, comments, links to relevant material, etc can foster a really dynamic, interactive environment. The goal is to reduce the one-way stream from instructor to student. What you do is set up a separate overhead screen that shows the Twitter stream so everybody can see updates…and then respond or bring it up in class. Very interesting.
Since I had several people decide to follow me on Twitter, I figured I should do something to entertain you. I’ve set this up so I can post entries on my personal WordPress website which then gets fed to my Twitter account using twitterfeed.com. I won’t post a great deal, but every so often I’ll send a nugget your way. Send me comments and enjoy the discussion.