27

Mar

by jwomack

I have heard of Second Life before, but I never knew that it could be used for more than just a fantasy world.  My initial impression from the limited information I had was that it was a place for people to be what they wanted to be in a Sim City like environment.  They could then play around all day acting out things that they would never be able to do in real life.  It was very interesting to see an educational use for this environment and I believe that this sort of thing could actually be very beneficial for certain learners.  Students who are shyer and fear being called in class could be the ones to flourish in this online environment.  Students could create their own avatars and find their voice through the online environment.  I also see the benefit of using Second Life as another tool to meet with other teachers to collaborate.  If I was looking for ways to branch my class out to other areas of the world this would be an easy way to do that.  My class could connect with another class from another part of the country, or maybe even the other side of the world.  The TED presentation with the smart technology was impressive.  Hopefully there is a way to mass produce this idea because it is something that will open a lot of doors for teachers and students.  Giving the teachers this device allows them to be more mobile and interactive.  Instead of students staring at the board all day the teacher can move around the room and project the information on any surface.  This allows a creative element for the teacher and gives the students the opportunity to move around as they follow the teacher’s lesson.  If the students were able to have these even more interaction could take place.  Student groups could go out to collect data and bring it in immediately and present it to the class.  Utilizing cell phones is also great.  Students have them already so why not use them for educational purposes.  I know of programs where students can do question responses by texting in.  This would be a great tool to get everyone participating because it is anonymous.

All of these online tools give us teachers a fertile ground to stand on and engage our students in thinking and learning.  We still have to monitor this thinking through assessments.  Assessing where our students are is essential to make sure the way we are teaching them is getting through to them.  The key is making sure we incorporate assessments throughout the units we are teaching (Coffman p. 142, 2013).  As teachers I think sometimes we do not think of the smaller things we do like small group work or sharing strategies as a way of assessing our students.  We are working to get our students to think outside of the box.  It is imperative that we continuously check to make sure students our on the right track.  If we are able to see through the sharing of strategies that some students are missing the concepts being taught then we are able to adjust the teaching to better fit our students.  I believe sometimes as teachers we have created a lesson plan for a unit and we do not deviate from this plan.  You may take things slower, but we do not think creatively as in “I need to adjust the way I am presenting information”.

Students need to think to learn and we need to monitor this thinking.  If it is not happening or concepts are not being retained then we must move to adjust our teaching to accommodate our students.

Coffman, T. (2013). Using inquiry in the classroom: developing creative thinkers and information literate students. (2nd ed.). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

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