Digital Sandbox

This Blog is designed to provide the reader with information on how to adopt technology into the classroom by relooking at traditional classroom tools and transitioning into new ways of teaching and learning. The Digital Sandbox explores the future of learning through the recreation of 21st Century learning environments.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

dotEpub and Equitable Mobile Learning Opportunities

When introducing ideas on mobile learning  can be  frustrating to some educators; especially when they know what the future of classroom learning should look like and have limited resources to provide a working classroom model. Realizing now that it is not the idea of mobile learning that they are trying to replicate. It is the ideas on how to provide those tools or resources to make it equitable for all students to have the same opportunities.

Over the past year, I have conducted several workshops on mobile learning in the 21st Century. On every occasion during these sessions teachers have expressed an equitable frustration about students who do not have internet at home. Usually these ideas of reality awareness are expressed within the last ten minutes of my presentations on mobile learning opportunities, those knowledge opportunities that are extended beyond the classroom walls. Inevitably during these closing moments one educator will state openly, usually with emotion, "What about those students who do not have internet access at home?"

It is at this point that the reality for my knowledge of equitable opportunities for technology resources needs to expand. To help teachers find solutions for extended learning opportunities that are derived through technology but are unavailable at home for some families. One solution that is currently on the horizon is to give every student an iPad, or a mobile learning device as a substitute for a textbook.

To take it a step further research on the idea of creating teacher generated text materials through a new conversion format called ePub has come to the forefront of equability. The idea is to help teachers with the process of creating and generating their own text material in ePub format and push the teacher generated assignments out to student mobile devices. In my workshops I have called this idea the "New Alexandrian Libraries." To expand this thought further, on both fronts of equitable access within the mobile learning environment, and the conversion of teacher/student generated text to ePub format, a new open source solution has arrived, dotEpub.

"dotEPUB is free software that allows any webpage to be converted into an e-book. This works on any epub-compatible device including e-readers, tablets, smartphones, netbooks, and desktop computers. This applet gives you the ability to save a webpage now and read later when you don’t have Internet access or to just save those long articles you didn’t have time to read while browsing."

Now students and teachers can convert a webpage into an ebook on an iPad, store the generated eBook in their reader and have the materials needed, to take home for extended learning opportunities. To learn more about how to convert a webpage using dotEpub into an eBook or how to create eBooks select any of the resource post listed below:            

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Homework as Reflective Learning

"Research referenced in Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock's book indicated students need to practice a skill 24 times to reach 80% competency, with the first four practices yielding the greatest effect."1

Traditionally homework and practice has been connected by the context when students are learning on their own and by applying new knowledge they expand a deeper understanding through repetition. The research supported the idea that homework should be approached not as an afterthought to the school day, but as a focused strategy for increasing understanding. It should be noted that both reinforcement of learning through practice and repetition is viable to procedural memory but may not support semantic, declarative or implicit memory when consolidation of ideas are needed in making conceptual ties. In essence when students are provided an extended time to repeat the learning experience rote knowledge will increase but may not be recognizable when applied to new learning situations.
  • Students use a discussion protocol to analyze homework solutions, share ideas, build vocabulary, and refine strategies by learning from each other.
  • Ask students clarifying questions to evaluate the cognitive direction of their ideas and understanding of the unit project.
  • Monitor students as they debate ideas, clarify thinking, and make adjustments to their work.

Homework as Rote Rehearsal
"This rote practices of learning in the traditional senses has made its mark by having students engage in hours, if not years of rote rehearsal."2 These exercises of rote rehearsal to a viable curriculum is more likely to fall into semantic memory where rote practices do not allow for performance assessments to measure the application of learning. Viability means articulated content and skills that are taught and measured within the continuum of essential learning goals as they are applied to timeframes available during the academic year. The rote practice is generally associated with a repeated definitions, or recalling an event in history and rarely enhances semantic, declarative or implicit memory. If consistent practice is one component linked to gains in student achievement, and it has been noted that homework provides such practice, then the practices should not be built in rote replication but on a more solid practice of elaborative learning. To better facilitate the learning process where associations are made between knowledge and application a truer form of elaborative rehearsal must occur.

Homework as Elaborative Rehearsal
Elaborative rehearsal encompasses a variety of strategies that provides the learner an opportunity to intricate their learning. Through elaboration the learner can express ideas more openly using multiple skill sets to compare new concepts with known concepts that hooks the unfamiliar with something familiar. This is usually accomplished by using similes, and analogies. For example, to build a solid set of mathematical skills and habits requires reflection in order to create understanding. These reflections do not have to occurred in isolation and could be more effective in collaboration, as long as the process for elaborative learning has structure. Reflecting on homework in small groups is one avenue to reinforce elaboration skills on the meaningful concepts. Providing time for students to review homework in small groups allows the practitioner to listen to and understand students thinking in a more efficient and fluid manner. The reflective practices of homework allows for a formative assessment process to take place as the practitioner synthesis the exactness of knowledge and address misunderstandings in real time.

Elaborative Rehearsal as Formative Assessment
Given the opportunity to provide feedback in real time is the second factor associated with elaborative learning, as it applies to practice. If providing feedback is directly associated in making a significant difference in student learning, then two elements of practice must be consistently factored, linkage between teacher comment to student answer and time associated to the reinforcement of confirmed learning. If learning occurs in isolation then reflections of learning is also on hold until engagement can occur. Homework or practice in the sense of the provision of feedback should take the form of a new protocol as it relates to the formative reflective assessment process. This process in practice can be articulated by the practitioner in the following way.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Creating an eBook on iPad

Learn how you can join the ePub generation by creating a text featured multimedia integrated mobile learning environment. In this presentation by Mike King, participants will learn different technology integration tools, like Google Docs, dropbox, Calibre, and Creative Book Builder to convert and store interactive curriculum materials for student learning. These new converted resources can be easily distributed over a network through scanning QR codes on mobile learning devices such as iPod, iPads, cell phones and tablets. The presentation will introduce the pedagogy associated with flipped classrooms while providing the tools necessary to create and store dynamic digitally formatted lessons. 


Part two of the workshop will provide illustrated information on how to embed within the text of a digital book, recordings, movies and illustrations to publish in iBooks or other mobile reading devices.  (PowerPoint Presentation on Creative Book Builder

A Rising Power to New Mediums of Web-Found Learning
Throughout the history of American education, classrooms have been self contained entities. Innovations in technology are giving rise to powerful new models of collaboration. Perhaps in the not quite distant future these classrooms will merge on a new venture. A venture while making profound changes in the way education is delivered to students.Students in Junior High, High School and college are now finding means to communicate through the use of social networking tools, such as blogs, wikis and chat rooms. Although these types of collaborations may not be school related they have become Americas youth pastime. While at the same time a majority of schools have yet to be exposed to future capabilities of these new technology tools.  

The reason being is that education has not recognized the full potentials of Web Found Learning.  This is not to say that new graduates in the field of education have not identify the capabilities, thus establishing a sizable gap for new understanding of the potentials of harnessing mobile learning opportunities. Secondly, more advance schools will begin to encourage Web Found online communities of knowledge gathering, while the less advanced thinking schools will take a back seat, wait and see attitude.  This new world of mobile begins now with a different school of thought. A thought that is embedded in the idea that text will soon be created on mobile learning devices that are generated by the teacher and selected by the student for extended learning opportunities.