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")