The main purpose of this blog is to fill my Educ 504 Teaching with Technology requirement. However, I have been interested in the idea of blogging ever since my Dad told me I should start one about two years ago. This class has finally "jump-started" my blogging career. (Sorry Dad!)

Monday, July 30, 2012

North Quad Tech Squad!

I really enjoyed class this past Friday!  (That is, until I deleted my awesome, amazing, perfectly edited version of me giving a lesson to my focus student from Scarlett... but that's another story for another day!)  I appreciated how the usual classroom management plan was changed to incorporate group teaching this time, especially since we got the opportunity to share our prior knowledge with each other.  I feel that it was very beneficial to have several inputs from each member of the group about their personal experiences with the technology applications we were individually assigned: Skype, Dropbox, Evernote, and Diigo. I believe that everyone/anyone has something they can positively share with other students/teachers on any topic, that can be discussed by the group at large.  This is mainly based on my belief that class/group discussions in a classroom should be utilized more than lecture-based teaching strategies.

Another interesting finding I had was that creating a handout for an online app is hard.  You have to take so many varying factors into consideration regarding your audience/readers, such as prior knowledge, background experiences, possible attitudes towards technology in general, and yes, I even thought about age.  And then there's the process of "getting to know" the application you were assigned!  I was assigned Dropbox.  I had heard of MBox but had yet to explore my umich perks, and there was the Dropbox on the CTools website, but besides that I hadn't a clue what Dropbox was.  After my many attempts of acquiring simply the basics of Dropbox, and bypass the process of actually downloading the application, I came to the realization that maybe it was better to take part in the learning process from "start to finish".  By downloading and actually using Dropbox would allow me to be able to truly know how to navigate through and utilize the various applications of Dropbox.  This would in turn make me more knowledgeable about Dropbox, and the more I knew about the application, the more I could teach or answer (most) questions.  And isn't that what teaching is supposed to be anyway?  A teacher is supposed to be knowledgeable in his/her content area in order to teach aspects of that particular content to other people.  Right?

The entire process, from conceding to the demands of the task, to making the decision to actively take part in my own learning to further the learning of others, took about two hours.  I kid you not.  Then it took another hour just to get comfortable with Dropbox and all of its varying dimensions and applications.  After that all I had to do was write up a step-by-step instructional handout on how to download and use Dropbox.  Easy! (NOT.)  It was very NOT easy.  I had to retrace my steps and rethink my transition from one question to the next, to ensure possible issues and enhance reader comprehension.  Then there was the audience demographics I was catering to, and the overall applications this particular piece of innovative technology had on the implications in the classroom.  In other words, it took me a long time to create my handout!

I guess the take away from this blog posting is that I didn't realize how much thought and care is necessary to take into consideration when creating an instructional handout/guide (and on technology no less)!  It also opened my eyes to how much time (an emerging theme in my blog) a teaching task can take, and how much we as teachers, don't have.  But, I must point out that due to the large amount of time and active effort I put into this assignment, the more information, and overall content about Dropbox, I was able to share with the other members in my small teaching group.

My Dropbox Instructional Guide Handout
(compliments of Dropbox's amazing application - applying URLs to documents in your "folder")


  1. This post just resounds with energy and was really fun to read. Your strategy was a very sound one -- walk through it like a newcomer would. TIME is almost always a teacher's greatest barrier. This is one reason why having a network of folks to work with - like our alum Tom mentioned - can make those kinds of tasks easier. Right now, you have your fellow MACers -- maybe someday, it will be those edubloggers or a Twitter network!

  2. I think it is interesting that you prefer a group/discussion classroom rather than a lecture-based classroom. I think for a lot of us, that traditional, lecture-based classroom is the default. We've talked quite a bit in our classes this summer about inquiry-based instruction and discovery learning. These forms of teaching are a bit new to me, and I'm curious to learn about how they might be used to effectively and efficiently to cover the extensive amount of material required by high school curricula, though they do seem like they would be much more engaging for students than traditional teaching methods. I also appreciate all the effort you put into learning to use Dropbox. It is very true that it takes a long time to develop guides and plan lessons. Perhaps that is why the traditional teaching method is more standard: it requires less effort and less time to implement.

  3. I too struggled to create a robust instructional handout. I fear it was too flashy and contained too little step-by-step instruction. It felt, at the time, that I should create something that would attract my fellow students into trying out the service as most, if not all, I talked to about Diigo were skeptical at the necessity of a cloud-based bookmarking tool. So, I skipped the nitty-gritty of how to sign up for the service and stuck to the main uses of the service. My presentation went through several scenarios on how to use the service as I assumed that the folks in my group could handle signing up on their own.