Friday, August 31, 2012

Making Learning Authentic Through Social and Rich Media—Reenergizing Your Classroom

photo by K.Rees
At the 14th Annual UW-La Crosse Conference on Teaching and Learning, one of the core topics focused on how we can engage students into the curriculum by making learning more authentic. The premise here is to find how social and rich media can be used as tools to accomplish this engagement, and in the process- reenergize the classroom.

Information technologies and social media are intertwined in the fabric of our daily lives. In teaching students, we look for strategies to keep them engaged in the learning process.  Perhaps we can integrate our technology tools into the teaching and learning process to make learning more authentic and relevant.  In this presentation faculty learned innovative strategies to incorporate social and rich media into virtually any discipline.  This interactive session opened new vistas to reenergize faculty, their students, and the classroom experience.

During the session, CNN iReports were utilized as one tool to immerse faculty into relevant stories, and both faculty and students were encouraged to write photojournalistic stories that could be shared worldwide.  I demonstrated the power of social media and citizen reporting by showcasing political topics, human interest stories, and on the U.S. Drought of 2012.  A CNN series of stories on the drought illustrated the power of personalizing the social media message. The key to the story's success was to focus more than on the drought, but how it affects people and their lives. Another example of iReporting featured a story of how faculty and students at Illinois College wrote their first iReport, and how they learned to "Bring the World into Focus."
As part of the session, a Twitter hashtag #UWLTLC12 was used.  Bob Hoar, a UW-L faculty member was tweeting during the session.  In addition, other attending faculty and staff also tweeted to create a "community of collaboration."  I pointed out that using software like Tweetdeck, allows you to follow multiple topical streams of tweets, but also provides you links to information at a moment's notice. 

Other tools that were discussed included web streaming with Mediasite, utilizing Facebook, and YouTube. The session concluded with reminding the audience that social media can: motivate and engage "the base", accelerate the speed of dissemination, disseminate fact or fiction, affect the attribution of the author, reinforce, influence and change opinion, and most importantly make learning more relevant and authentic.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Creating Engaging Curriculum with Technology

Creating curriculum with appropriate and effective technology can help make lectures more engaging for students.  In Part 2 of a session at UW-Platteville's Technology Academy, faculty learned more about using YouTube, Twitter, CNN iReporting, and PowerPoint to create materials that help re-energize curriculum and lectures. A variety of videos were utilized to explain how a segment can encourage discussion during a class, and to also to acknowledge the technology challenges for faculty, staff, and students.

After explaining the strategies and methods relating to social media and instructional technology, each workshop participant was challenged to create an engaging PowerPoint with supplied still images and video about the drought of 2012.  Faculty members were challenged to use best practices in developing their PowerPoint, which also included a YouTube link.  Attendees were from a wide variety of disciplines including: Agriculture, Math, Biology, English, and Art. At the conclusion of the session, several faculty were asked to present their PowerPoint to the group.

In the end, faculty learned how to select appropriate technology tools, how to utilize social media, and how to create a PowerPoint in a short period of time in regardless of what discipline is being taught. The Technology Academy is a good way to engage faculty, and to present strategies to promote the  "what ifs" of technology use in making teaching and learning relevant, authentic, and engaging.

Technology Academy Brings Faculty Closer to Technology

As part of a two-day institute, faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville are learning strategies and methodologies to effectively integrate technology into their curriculum. My morning session was entitled, "Engaging Faculty and Students with Technology:Making Learning Authentic."  In this segment I showcased how social media can be effectively utilized in engaging both faculty and students in the process of creating original content and stories.  Through the use of CNN iReporting, faculty learned how social media can be "history in real time."

By capturing real life in personalized stories, attendees learned how social media can bring information and messages to a global audience.  We think of social media as moving very quickly.  In reality, it moves quicker than many of us think, or know.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Engaging Learning Through Social Media

In July, during a two-day institute in , funded through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, faculty at Illinois College in Jacksonville, IL learned how social media can be seen as “history in real time.” I spoke to the faculty on how they can use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and CNN iReports to help to engage students, and to make their curriculum more authentic and relevant.

During one of the sessions, faculty (and student assistants) learned how to create CNN iReports and upload their stories.  Within a hour, one faculty member already uploaded his story. That evening, faculty members were filling reports as late as 2:00am in the morning. The next day, 4 faculty members and one student had their iReports "vetted" by CNN iReport producers in Atlanta.  

In the end, faculty learned first hand how social media can be used to engage students into the teaching and learning process.  You can link to the CNN iReport on this experience by clicking here. 

The workshop was held in an innovative learning space in the library which provided rear screen projection, coupled with an innovative windowed design that doubled as a writing surface.  The motif of the classroom blends the old historical architecture from the campus beginnings in 1828, with the technology of today's "flipped classroom" philosophy.