Since the beginning of this school year I have been using my class website to post weekly assignments to be done outside of school in preparation for in-class learning. A few of the items I have included each week are links to content-specific videos intended to support textbook readings and minimize the amount of lecturing that I need to do during class, which frees up time for more engaging student-centered activities. This strategy is the hallmark of the flipped classroom concept. Unfortunately, there has been no way for me to know if and when students are actually accessing and watching these videos, or how much they are learning from them. Furthermore, for those who do watch them on a regular basis, they are merely passively taking in the content rather than actively participating.
Enter eduCanon – a free site that allows teachers to take any video from YouTube, TeacherTube, or Vimeo and build “lessons” which include questions at set points throughout the video. Up to eight unique classes can then be created, and the lessons assigned to each individual class. Students can then create free accounts, add the class that their teacher has created specifically for them, and then complete lessons as they are assigned. Once a student starts a lesson, they are not able to skip ahead in the video, they must watch the entire thing and only get credit for the lesson when they have completed viewing and have answered all the questions. Students results are available for teachers to view upon completion. For a modest yearly subscription fee ($48 right now), teachers are able to search through the public library of lessons which they can then assign as is or edit as necessary, download .csv files of student results, and access a wider range of question types to include in lessons.
Using eduCanon I will be able to assign videos and monitor my student’s progress as they complete the lessons. The interface is sleek and user-friendly, making accounts and adding classes is simple and intuitive, and best of all the creation of the lessons does not take that much longer than it does to actually watch the video. I intend to pilot this application in two of my classes during the second semester of this school year, and am excited about the possibilities it opens up for myself and my students. More to come…
Not sure what to make of eduCanon? Give it a try from the student point of view: make a free student account, click “Add Class”, search “Mr. Vigliotti”, join the “Test Class”, complete the “DNA Replication” lesson.
It was all set. School was running an exam schedule, so we were getting out at 12:25. A group of students had arranged to meet with me around 1:00 to review a bit for their exam the following morning – we had it planned for over two weeks. Then, a snowstorm dropped in seemingly out of nowhere. The district dismissed early, all students had to leave the school building by 12:50 effectively ending our review session before it could even get started. A few frantic students caught me on the way out asking if I was going to be able to stay, which of course none of us would be able to do. I told them I would try to think of something, to email me any questions later that evening if they had them, and made my way home as the snow was beginning to fall.
On the way I thought of something that a professor had shown us in a technology class I had taken this past summer – a site called TodaysMeet which enables you to create a temporary online chat room which expires in a preset length of time (as short as a few hours up to one year). I’d never used it before with students, but figured I’d give it a go. I created a room, set it to expire in one week, and copied the unique URL to share with my students. Fortunately, as I mentioned once before, many of my students are signed up for online texting through Remind101.com, so I was able to send out a quick text letting them know the web address of the room I had created and asking them to join me for a chat. A few minutes later I had about eight students asking me questions, and over the course of an hour we actually covered quite a bit of material. I was able to answer all their questions, share some links to items that provided more depth for review, and basically accomplish everything that we would have had we actually been able to meet in person. One of the great features of TodaysMeet is the option for all users to access a transcript of the entire chat, which meant that students were able to take the information we discussed with them once the chat was finished.
One of the great advantages that technology provides is the ability to easily move learning opportunities beyond the traditional classroom setting. Being able to communicate and share information with one another is one of the most important skills that students need to develop throughout their schooling. Online applications like Remind101 and TodaysMeet are excellent ways to facilitate this development. In this particular case, a weather situation that traditionally would have been a barrier to communication was easily overcome.
Since us educators are always pressed for time, it is useful to have a way to store all the great content we come across when browsing the internet, Twitter, or over 300 other apps, for when we have more time (yeah right). Pocket is an application that allows you to save web content to a list that is accessible through an app on your phone or tablet, or on the web. One of the best things about Pocket is that once content is saved, you don’t need an internet connection to look at it later. Once items are in Pocket, you can easily share them via Twitter, Facebook, and email. You can also tag and favorite items for further organizational purposes. Pocket extensions are also available for your web browser which enables you to save items and then have easy access to them later on your mobile device. Overall, Pocket is extremely user-friendly and is sure to boost your efficiency while making more efficient use of your online teaching resources and personal learning network.