Active or Passive?

Active or Passive?

This post to serve as Weekly Writing #10 (Unit 6 Week 1) 

This week’s weekly writing challenge is just like trying out for Top Chef: daunting. “How many of the proposed tools are contextualized primarily for teacher presentation (passive learning)? Which have potential for active learning or afford students opportunity to display a product of their learning? Which of the tools have potential for developing or enhancing the community of learners? Which features most actively support learner engagement in a community? Post your preliminary conclusions in your weekly writing.”

The list of emerging tools brainstormed by the spring 2014 cohort included the following tools:

  1. Camtasia
  2. Skitch
  3. Prezi
  4. TeacherTube **
  5. Moodle **
  6. Quia
  7. Mango Languages
  8. GoAnimate
  9. Biteslide
  10. Khan Academy
  11. Powtoon
  12. Screencast-o-matic
  13. National Library of Virtual Manipulatives **
  14. Google Apps/Google Drive
  15. Geogebra
  16. Quizlet
  17. Aviary **
  18. Layar
  19. Teaching channel **

I initially skipped the product ResponseWare, but they do have an app and most students have smart-phones (not all) and therefore this product could also be used to engage the learner in the classroom.  On their website they say, “ResponseWare allows users to respond to multiple styles of questions using QWERTY keyboard input. Question types include multiple-choice, alphanumeric, multiple response and short answer questions. ResponseWare also displays the question and answer choices on the device during polling. ” Looks good. 

I feel each of the following have the potential for developing (or enhancing) the community of learners: I’d argue almost all of them IF the student is being asked to create items. If not I don’t think some of the products help create a community. A QR code in and of itself does not invite a person to belong. The materials that are at the space the QR code goes to and the method in which people are involved in conversation or participating in building the space is what makes a community.

In that same way I know from experience that some Moodle courses are very open providing content and a space in which people interact while others are password protected or on a private server. So that would depend upon how you deploy it.

I love Jing (which is like Screencast-O-Matic) and if a teacher stores her items online and makes them visible, great. But she could choose to tuck her creations into Blackboard where only the students may see them. But ask a student to make a screencast of how to do something and BANG! You’re in business. Active learning achieved. Student participation and involvement ratchets up. Consider yourself no longer a red-shirt.

Active or passive? In short, it depends.

Without looking into each tool I cannot know the features that most actively support learner engagement in a community. However, I can say that my Spidey senses went off for each of the items I marked ‘**’ because I have taught since 2003 and I know that FOR MYSELF it has been a big challenge to move into the arena where I’m engaging the student and asking them to drive the boat. So each of the items that are primarily tools I might use to make something to deliver content to my student, those are the ones I’d say are most easily categorized as passive. However, if you link out to or create a screencast to show the student how to use the tool, several of the tools would fall into the active category. It might take pushing and pulling and crazy glue. You can do it.

Author’s Note: I know YouTube allows for followers and commentary that could easily build a user community therefore TeacherTube may also.