A Visit to @ecmackenzie’s classroom

One of the highlights of this week was my visit to @ecmackenzie ‘s classroom. Students in Ms. MacKenzie’s class has been working on producing book trailer videos over the last few weeks. The new twist in this year’s project is that students are sharing their video via a Facebook group. With the group structure, students can enjoy and peer comment and receive teacher feedback.

The Facebook group was created by Ms. MacKenzie. She sent a group invite to herself to establish the first member of the group. Once this was done, students were invited to search for the group and request access. Using this methodology, suitable professional boundaries are maintained with regard to the teacher/student online environment.

As an honourary member of their Facebook group, I have enjoyed watching the videos as the students completed their projects and posted their work. I was impressed by a number of aspects of this project.

  • Dialogue and comments within the group showed a solid level of respect among the participants
  • It was clear that there had been discussions about Digital Citizenship
  • Based on viewing the movie trailers, students had received excellent instruction regarding use of copyright free images and source siting
  • I was very impressed by the level of creativity demonstrated in the student projects
  • There is potential to share work to parents using this model

I really enjoyed meeting the students face to face after watching their work. Following the video viewing session, I talked to the students about some of our key ITS initiatives to support learning – our dual boot Macintosh environment, wireless hotspots with bring your own device options, and social media and collaboration tools available.

I appreciated the student feedback regarding our progress on these initiatives. Their comments included:

  • Facebook access was very valuable for sharing and collaborating (class project, homework, receiving school information)
  • From their view, Facebook provides a one stop shopping approach to obtaining school related information
  • Access to web based resources & internet searching is a critical part of researching – wifi access allows more effective use of class time
  • Facebook is a familiar tool. Using it eliminates the need to use (and learn) extra tools that may not be required
  • Bring your own device wifi takes advantage of personal technology that contain one’s collection of information and frees up school computing resources for others to use
  • Expansion of wireless access for greater classroom coverage would be a significant advantage

The students also raised the issue to electronic textbooks. Clearly, they see a shift to e-books as a good thing. Key discussion ideas identified were:

  • easy portability (many books on a single device)
  • makes it easy to have all your resources with you (ebooks, internet access, bookmarks etc.)
  • no need for ebook to be more expense, business models should make this an affordable transition

Summary: an excellent teacher + motivated and respectful class + innovative project = first rate educational experience

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in your project and visit your classroom.

~ Mark