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.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Creating Digital Worlds with Digital Tools

Posted on January 24, 2009 by digitalsandbox |
His eyes bulging with wondrous curiosity, Michael Marino was able to explore his creative side when he developed an integrated project about New York City using audio, video, satellite images, and other digital technologies.

“I got to see things and do things I didn’t even know about,” said Marino, a seventh grader at Dodge City Middle School. “Using all this technology on the computer was pretty interesting.”

 Marino was just one of 17 seventh graders who took part in an all-day workshop on Jan. 16 called “Creating Digital Worlds with Digital Tools.” It’s part of an effort to use the latest in 21st Century technologies woven into integrated learning projects.

It’s essentially taking storytelling to a whole new form—the digital story. A digital story combines a written narrative with digital voiceovers narrated by the student along with pictures, musical soundtrack and video. These multi-media tools and others, such as a virtual tour using Google Earth, give story telling a whole new meaning, said DCMS Principal Michael King.

Called The Halliburton Project, the initial phase of this program is named after Richard Halliburton, an author and adventurist who traveled around the world in the 1920s, visiting places most people can only dream about. He profiled 30 of these locations in his books such as The Glorious Adventure and New Worlds to Conquer.

A new generation of students expects a learning environment that integrates today’s digital tools, accommodates a mobile lifestyle, adapts to individual learning styles and encourages collaboration and teamwork,” King said. “The Halliburton Project is designed to explore the latest technology tools and solutions available to help schools build 21st Century learning environments that motivate and engage today’s students.”

The recent workshop enabled students to choose a location that Halliburton visited, write a script, narrate it using an audio-editing program called Audacity, download pictures, and import all of that into Windows Movie Maker. Students also incorporated Google Earth into their project so that viewers can see actual satellite images of the location.

“I learned how to make a small movie with narration, background music and pictures to go with my script on my historical place,” said Nallely Rios, another seventh grader who attended the workshop. Rios conducted her project on ancient PompeiiItaly.

King and co-presenter Jesse West, a technology teacher at DCMS, presented this workshop to seventh graders in gifted education first as a pilot program. The plan is to then offer it to eighth graders in the gifted program. Eventually, King’s hope is to take it school-wide.

Also invited to the workshop were teachers from throughout Dodge City Public Schools who were partnered with the seventh graders. Sitting side by side with a computer in front of them, they shared in the learning process. The idea is for these teachers to introduce these technologies back at their own schools.

At several points during the workshop, King and West paused to administer quizzes to students. But these were no ordinary quizzes. They were high-tech quizzes in which students were issued electronic responders. Given the opportunity to read questions on a Smart board, an interactive screen at the front of the room, students registered their responses by pointing at the screen and simply clicking. After all, receiving immediate feedback on their answers helps to improve the learning process, King said.

Some students said they could have done without the testing if they had it their way, but Samantha Reyes, another student who attended, said the “clickers” as she called them “made it entertaining and fun. I wish I could do this project again if I could.”

It appears that Reyes will get her chance, for DCMS gifted education teacher Bill O’Brien will expect his students to fine-tune their existing projects and then develop more in-depth projects in the near future.

“It would be really great if we could have this technology in other classes,” said Jesus Bautista, another student at the workshop who conducted his project on the Iguazu Falls located on the border of Brazil Argentina.

That’s the goal, said King, who wants to integrate a whole new generation of multi-media technologies into the classrooms. These technologies also feature podcasting, blogs, vodcasting, Web 2.0, and wiki’s—a mini collaborative web site of sorts that allows the originator to grant editing privileges to multiple parties.