Integrating Technology: My ongoing discussion on Edueto Magazine

?Integrating Technology: Taking another step with Blendspace

It takes time, there is no doubt, but we must persist when we take on any new venture. Sometimes it can take longer than we like, because we run into difficulties and roadblocks.  You have to expect new questions to appear while seeking the solution to the prior questions. That’s the nature of the game. But this ongoing cycle also promotes goal setting and makes us more driven as educators.

So if you have been gradually working toward integrating more technology into your classroom, in a way similar to how I started, I hope that you are seeing some results at this point. Maybe you started with a Messaging App.  If so, do you see improvement in the way you can communicate with your students and they can collaborate with one another? Or did you start using an LMS?  Have some of the frustrations which came about because of lost papers, forgotten assignments, or students who missed learning opportunities due to class absences, started to disappear? I hope so. Because if they have, then that means that the steps you are now taking are having a positive effect on your classroom and are enabling you and your students to experience a more efficient and beneficial learning environment.

It takes time, there is no doubt, but we must persist when we take on any new venture. Sometimes it can take longer than we like, because we run into difficulties and roadblocks.  You have to expect new questions to appear while seeking the solution to the prior questions. That’s the nature of the game. But this ongoing cycle also promotes goal setting and makes us more driven as educators.
The next step

In my last post, I was talking about the uses of Blendspace as a means to curate resources and flip your classroom. It does not matter what you ultimately decide to use, but having one place to keep your resources is a really great idea. We can all become overwhelmed by the many new technology tools that are brought to our attention every day. There are so many out there and choosing one can be quite difficult. So how do you make that decision? Looking at sites such as Graphite or EdShelf can help.  Seeing the feedback of other educators that have used some of these technologies in their classroom is definitely a good way to learn more about a tool, its functionality and applicability in your classroom. For example, using something like EdShelf, you can get a summary of the uses of a web tool, see what age group it is recommended for, which areas of instruction it would apply to, and read some stories about user experiences. If you have not checked EdShelf out yet, I recommend taking a look.

Back to Blendspace: Many possibilities

So going back to Blendspace, I like to talk about it because it really does provide a variety of benefits to me both personally and professionally.  It enables me to flip the classroom and to save that vital classroom time when we’re all together, for student interactions, engaging activities, or even for students to work independently while I facilitate their activities, rather than talk the whole class period. I can create a lesson and share it with them through their account on Blendspace or through the URL link and post it on Edmodo. Regardless of how the lesson is shared, they have access to many resources and can learn asynchronously outside of the classroom, on their own schedule, using whatever device they choose.

Learning can take place anywhere at any time. Students can work on a lesson in the car on the way to a game or late at night when they decide to stay up and work on something. It does not matter because the choice is theirs and that’s the great thing about technology and the usefulness of tools like Blendspace which enable flipping the classroom and storing so many resources in one place. I have also used it as a great way to store some of the various assessment tools, presentation software, or examples of projects that I have created. It makes it easier to share ideas with colleagues and at conferences and it’s a great way for me to be able to review the work I have done, to make suggestions to others, and to also see my own growth and reflect on my progress on the learning continuum.

When students create projects for my class, they don’t have to worry about fumbling with a flash drive and I don’t have to worry about losing valuable class time opening emails and attachments.  There is no concern for privacy with any grades or other information being shown. I can compile all of their projects into one lesson, give it a title, and open up one lesson which contains all of their work and display them one after another for the class to enjoy. If the students want to see each other’s work they can access it, it is stored permanently and so we can always go back and obtain the link and see what tools they have already used in class.
Building a Lesson with Blendspace

Building a lesson for any level or discipline is quite easy as well. You can take any topic and using the tools provided such as Google Search, Educreations, Google Drive, Dropbox, selecting a file to upload from your computer, and several others to search for relevant information. All it takes is finding the resource and dragging it into place in your lesson. You can add boxes, move items around, but no matter what you do it is done quickly and enables you to provide a lot of additional learning opportunities and resources for the students. And it can also be used by the students to create a project for your class, if they want to include text or a quiz or a variety of media resources, they have many options.

So these are just some of the reasons why I am really happy that I found Blendspace and how its use has benefitted my classroom. My initial reasons for using it have evolved over the past 3 years and I continue to find new ways to integrate it into my classroom. I hope that you will check it out and create a lesson and see if it works for you. It might be another area which can provide great benefits in your classroom, or it might just lead you to explore other tools. Either way you will be integrating additional technology into your classroom and you and your students will be positively affected.

I hope you are enjoying the information and I look forward to sharing more with you next time, on different ways technology can be used to assess students. Thanks for reading. I would be happy to share ideas with you, feel free to contact me.

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