On a typical day I receive around fifteen emails which are auto blog postings, feeds, listservs or other assorted information on technology and education. And over the last year I’ve been reading them all and finding about four a day which were worthy of posting on our campus Yammer. In fact, as part of my annual review last year I noted that I’d posted just over 800 links. Well I’ve been negligent for a little over a month, and my “forums” section of my inbox is nearing 300 of these emails. So I am a bit dazed looking at all of them. So as I’m playing catch up my blog posts will probably be less chronological and more topical. So the first reading which I found interesting was on “re-imagining the modern classroom“. It’s not really an article per se, more quotes from experts from various areas on what modern or future oriented classrooms should “be”. I found several of the quotes to be interesting as they focus more on windows or open, airy, multi-purpose rooms or rooms open to whatever the teacher wants to do. This related to why I’ve been negligent in reading my emails, as we’ve just completed two rooms, which we call “innovative learning labs”. In fact we recently had some news coverage about them, or at least one of the rooms. And one of the faculty members who helped design the room, who is in the news story, also blogged about it on her blog. We had five faculty on our design team, and I think as a whole we considered many of these issues. We wanted the rooms to be flexible for various disciplines. We wanted them to be comfortable and warm. And we wanted to be somewhat forward thinking about technology. And the rooms now have accent walls with comfortable, wheeled, color coordinated furniture. There are height adjustable tables and chairs, and multiple screens to allow sharing of screens by faculty or students. We’ll be conducting some early student surveys soon, and so hopefully I can share some of those results. I can say anecdotally that the excitement from faculty has been notable, and so far we’ve had questions about getting wheels on furniture for traditional classrooms, and a few inquiries about paint.
Another thing I’ve found interesting in my “catching up” is an article about an app for foreign language instructors on easing language learning anxiety. The software is called extempore. It sounds interesting in that teachers can assign a reading or questions and give students a specific amount of time to record a response and send it to the instructor. It seems to fill that need for an impromptu response and hearing pronunciation. It wold be interesting to test it out in a few on campus classrooms or perhaps even an online course.
And speaking of, or closing on, online classes I came across an article on a Facebook LMS? It does not sound like, nor look like an LMS overlaid on Facebook, it does appear to think about a years worth of work and flexibility of assignments. I’m sure this was covered in some of my other emails, but since I was picking emails semi-randomly, this was the first time I came across it. Google has been in education for several years, and Amazon recently entered the OER realm, so they’re in familiar company. I’ve used seven or eight LMSs over the years and all of them had something good and bad about them (some more bad than good). We use brightspace at Parkland, and I will admit that I’d love a like button for many discussion boards, or the discussion boards to feel more like FB. Perhaps the Zuckerberg-Chans will fill a niche in K-12? Perhaps they will expand into higher ed? Perhaps all LMS companies can learn a few things from some competition.