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, July 31, 2011

Graphic Organizers

Incorporating technology in the classroom effectively, teachers must use those strategies that are directly aligned to practices that engage students in higher levels of direct learning. Teachers must be cognizant of academic learning time as they deliver a lesson, because large differences in the amount of academic learning time built up by different students generally result in wide variation in student achievement. This means that some students may choose not to engage in teacher assigned task and become complacent in learning, especially when not monitored by the teacher. For example, during the set, effective teachers focus the students’ attention on the learning outcome and prepare them to learn. Often in their zeal to get to the meat of the lesson, some teachers neglect to include the set in their teaching. One easy and quick way to get the students involved is to ask them review questions, but an excellent set technique is to begin the lesson with an activity that illustrates to the students how they will be able to use the learning in the future.

Teachers can use an assortment of technology related tools to increase academic learning time to stimulate visually appealing organizers as a mental set to a lesson. These technology tools can then be designed as cues, questions, and advanced organizers that focus on the enhancement of the students ability to retrieve, use and organize information about a related topic or standard. To summarize some of the tools available would include online resources like mind maps, videos, rubrics, and timeline generators. Each of these tools have potential to cue students on what they are about to learn during the onset of a lesson in terms of advanced organizers. The idea is for the teacher to trigger student interest in high engaging content at the onset of the lesson to allow students to access prior knowledge as they apply it to new concepts. For more information on how to apply Web 2.0 Graphic Organizers in the classroom got to Digital Sandbox Visual Learning.

Creative Commons

Today’s technology makes it easy to remix and share on a grand scale. With the availability of open source shareware remix software like Audacity, MovieMaker, imovie, photostory3, ANIMINTO, and GarageBand educators can engage in the act of remixing content. These new technology tools allows an individual to remix digital content and share with millions of other educators through Web 2.0 collaboration projects like Teacher Tube, edublogs, and pbworks. This remixing of media has created a whole new challenge to redefining district level copyright fair use policies.  Currently anything that is published on the web has immediate ownership by the creator.

Since the invention of the printing press, there has been an ongoing debate on how copyright laws should protect individuals who produce, and wish to protect, their original work. Now, with emerging technology and the information highway, policy developers are finding it again necessary to reshape these laws to fit the copyright needs of today and, ideally, the future. In education alone, policy developers are facing challenges regarding copyright that did not exist 20 years ago, such as distance learning and software sharing remixing digital media and mashups. In these and other areas, policy developers must strike a balance between protecting the creators of original work and allowing the public to use the works in an appropriate and legal manner. 

Educators should be involved in the development of copyright policies. School administrators, with assistance from the school’s legal advisors, must protect the school’s right to use selected copyrighted materials for educational purposes. Additionally, school administrators must serve as advocates for copyright laws that protect the school from liability when a student or staff member is using computer resources inappropriately on school property.  To learn more about Creative Commons go to Digital Sandbox Creative Commons.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Digital Storytelling on Audio Files

One way to create audio digital stories is to use free storage from This works similar to uploading files to a Podcast and will work as an audio player. Digital Storyteller who want to create podcast of their story creations can now take advantage of an the online storage that allows for audio files to be displayed in a virtual box and access them from anywhere, even from your mobile device. The Individual free plan with 10 GB of storage space and the ability to upload files that are up to 1 GB in size. As a part of the free service you can embed your player online for others to enjoy your digital story audio cast. To demonstrate how this works I have posted a few stories that I created that are Old West Tales from Kansas to Oklahoma. For more information on how to create digital stories visit Digital Storytelling at the Digital Sandbox.

You can also reference other resource created by Mike King entitled "A Quick Guide to Digital Storytelling" on Scribd or see an interactive presentation at AuthorStream on Digital Storytelling.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The ePub Generation: "The New Alexandrian Libraries of the Future"

The Rise of the Ditto Master
Most classrooms of today have remained unchanged since they were constructed during the industrial age. These were the classrooms constructed around rigid schedules, inflexible facilities, and fixed boundaries between grades, disciplines, and classrooms. Desks were arranged in neat rows facing a chalkboard at the front of the room, students took notes on paper, and read from printed textbooks. In these traditional classrooms of yester year, teacher-centered practices were embedded in rote learning and memorization which was at the center of task-based approaches to learning. Handouts were created in blue ink ditto masters, with fill in the blank textbook searches that required find the missing word in the sentence approach to learning. Engagement was limited since classroom management was viewed upon as quite places to learn.

The Proclaimed Projector
In the late 1900's classrooms began to get new focal points in delivering content through media devices called LCD projectors. Through these lenses came the long full hour video that reflected a spring day of students daydreaming about summer time. It was much like the 35 millimeter real, as it flickered off the silence of the room that brought the teachers attention back into focus. Teachers in most cases were slow to adopt this new technology as brains were faded into imagination.

The Rise of Mobile Engagement
But is today any different? Video projectors, with interactive whiteboards and computers that sit in the back of the room waiting to be occupied as students text from their cell phones social events that are occurring in real time. It is these events, that of texting and mobile trends that educators must find ways to harness. This is the connect energy of the classrooms of today. A classroom where the latest in mobile devices are harnessed and used for carrying knowledge in collaborative work environments that promote continual access to media rich content.

The e-book Slam
So what will this media rich content look and feel like in tomorrow's classrooms? Will the new trend bring about a casualty in the next technological revolution to replace a functionality in a new format? Already rumors are beginning to surface that teachers will become publishers. Creating a new generation of text materials that is supported by a ePub format. Yet arguments are still abound, "that text on paper will hold its supremacy over the monitor." Now hold that thought. Borders says it's closing about 200 of its remaining 488 superstores while stating, "Your e-book library is perfectly safe. The Borders e-book experience is powered by Kobo, an entirely separate company from Borders. Kobo is financially secure and will continue to maintain an e-book library no matter what happens." So what did happen? Borders wasn't prepared for the newest publishing innovation: e-books for digital readers led by Amazon's Kindle and followed by Barnes & Noble's Nook.

Knock, Knock Who is There?
Now let's again revisit the thought of ePub? What is it and how will this new publishing format effect education in the near future? Wikipedia the fastest growing encyclopedia of our generation defines EPUB as reflowable content. Reflowable content? "This means that the text display can be optimized for the particular display device used by the reader of the EPUB-formatted book. The format is meant to function as a single format that publishers and conversion houses can use in-house, as well as for distribution and sale."

The My Book Publishing Idea
Now if this is true does that mean that anyone can publish text in a digital format that can be read on a mobile device? The answer is yes. It is a simple as a Google on the topic of "How can I create ePub files from My Books?" Notice the emphasize on "MY Books." In a series of future articles I will be addressing this idea. The idea of becoming a self publisher of creating the "New Alexandrian Libraries of the Future." Textbooks and resource material created by teachers for mobile learning in the 21st Century. (For more information on the classrooms of the future checkout my website "The Digital Sandbox")

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Flipped Classroom

The Flipped Classroom has its roots in creating personal learning environments for students. In these classrooms technology tools and points of information referencing become a viable foundation in supporting student learning. The PLE (Personal Learning Environment) distinguishes the role of the individual as a self motivated learner who is capable in organizing his or her own learning through facilitation and instructional guidance. The creation of a PLE is based on the idea that learning can and will take place in co-collaborative learning environments and will not be provided by a single "one shoe fits all" learning provider.

To expand this thought of learning and how personal learning can be a motivating factor in human development would be to explore Lakhani and Wolf's work in intrinsic motivation. Lakhani and Wolf discovered, out of 684 surveys, "that enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation is the strongest and most pervasive drive for learning." In fact, most classrooms in America remain routine, unchallenging as they are directed by frontal delivery models set in motion in the early 1900's. What seems to be most reconciling is that most schools are still harnessing the algorithmic pathways to learning even after implementing Common Core standards within the curriculums delivery system. (Read more on the Flipped Classroom)

Charlie Meade Interview Take 2 (Ipod Video).mov

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Flipping Your Classroom

“Flipping” a classroom refers a new approach to teaching in which the students are allowed to participate in a mobile learning environment. To create a flipped classroom the teacher will need to create a plethora of videos, podcasts or vodcasts that substitute for classroom lectures. These mobile learning media rich lessons are posted to a blog, or wiki, allowing students to have on demand access to learning and the review of learning at all times. These resources of vodcast, podcast, or video streams from the internet are the skill sets represented within the standards.  (To learn more about Flipping Your Classroom go to: Flipped Classroom)

Stepping Out on the Digital Limb

Today even though we have had the courage to step out on that digital limb, we still have yet to cross that tra-digital divide; the tra-digital divide that separates digital tools in isolation of best instructional practices. In reality the tra-digital divide is not hard to cross over. These are the classrooms that take the best of both worlds. They are the classrooms that merge effective instructional practices with the selection of digital tools that directly apply to the type of engagement needed to meet the rigors of everyday learning. These are the tra-digital classrooms where mashups of effective teaching practices coincide seamlessly with the net generation's tools for learning. For more information on digital media and the inflection points of education go to the Digitalsandbox Website.