Episode 85: Chris is Right!! For the First Time Ever!!!

English: iPhone using the Wikitude application...
English: iPhone using the Wikitude application, demonstrating an example of Augmented Reality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welcome back to another week of adventure, fun, and laughs with the cool teachers. During this week’s episode, Chris and Barbara talk about:

  • How Chris is Changing the Way Barbara Teaches
  • Augmented Reality Games
  • Tech Leaks and Other Interesting Stuff
  • Apps Gone Free

How Chris is Changing the Way Barbara Teaches

Chris, you’ve really made me think a lot about how I set up and teach after viewing your Blowing Up the Gradebook video. For those of you who have not viewed this excellent video, just go to YouTube and do a search for “blowing up the gradebook.” You will easily find Chris’s video.

Here is what I’m doing differently this semester:

1. Providing more variety in collaborative assignments and communication:
Use tools such as VoiceThread instead of discussion forums to encourage participation and more social spaces for discussion and collaboration.

2. Eliminating competition and GRADING–encourage self-assessment and respectful participation:
Instead of grading everything–and for this course, nothing is graded, students are able to view other student work to help them self-assess. Students and myself will provide feedback and suggestions for improvement, but the work will not be associated with a specific grade. The assignment will be either complete or not, so students can move on.

The course is set up so that students can receive a C if they complete the entire course and all of the requirements at a satisfactory level–that is, each assignment is complete. To receive an A, students need to complete two additional artifacts for their learning log. To receive a B, they need to complete one additional artifact. These artifacts need to be approved by the instructor, so they are substantive and appropriate. This is kind of like creating levels, as in game-based learning. In the future, I’d like to implement digital badges and am hoping that Moodle will offer this as an option.

3. Student Work is self-paced:
Students can move forward as quickly (or as slowly) as they wish. The Moodle course used completion tracking, so students can move ahead at their own pace.

4. Students set own learning goals:
After reading the course syllabus and taking a look at the course, students begin the course by writing their own learning goals–what they would like to achieve in the course. This will not only help the instructor see where the student is RIGHT NOW, but can offer the student increased options–perhaps the course is too difficult for the student. Maybe the course is too easy, and the student would like to extend a certain assignment or make it more authentic. The instructor can be more flexible and use this opportunity to individualize the learning experience.

5. Students demonstrate and justify learning:
At the end of the course, students will create a narrated screencast of their learning log with all of their assignments, discussing what they learned and how well they believe their final products are. They will also justify the final grade they believe they should receive in the course. After all, who knows better about how much a student learned that the student herself? The instructor will look at the culmination of work, read the student’s justifications, and make the final decision on the final score, since the university still requires letter scores. And that’s it?

What are potential problems? Well, for one, students just love to get those grades on each assignment and know what their scores are–where they stand. I understand this, but this is a result of our infatuation with the gradebook and THE WAY THINGS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DONE. Going out on a limb like this and trying to revolutionize the teaching and learning process will always be a challenge, but anyone who knows me, knows I’m up to the challenge. Now, if I could just use this determination to exercise more . . .

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

Here are some potential uses of augmented reality in education today.

The Getty Museum
Fetch! Lunch Rush!
Spacecraft 3D
Star & Planet Finder

Tech Rumors & Other Interesting Stuff

Google Pixel Chromebook? Is there one in the future? Check out this YouTube video:

Algebra beats Angry Birds!

How about a mobile app that teaches basic algebra concepts to very young children? And how about a game that is really a game, that goes beyond flash-card type learning and allows users to create a dragon! Read more about this fascinating algebra game tool here?


Apps Gone Free

Browsing or searching the App Store for free apps can be a time-consuming process. Apps Gone Free can save you time in your quest for free iPad and iPhone apps. This is a free iPad app that serves up a new list of free apps everyday. The apps featured on Apps Gone Free are apps that normally require a purchase but have been made available for free download for a limited time.

Thanks for listening.  Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes through the iTunes store or through our coolteachers.org website. Keep the love coming!

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