Bringing some new web technology projects to the homestead can be an exciting endeavor. Come walk with me, talk with me, and tell me if I’m a little crazy…
Here we were, swimming along quite happily with no TV other than the DVDs we own and no internet other than the occasional usage when we tether our iPhones for school projects, research and an “I must Google this” moment when suddenly I took a Master’s course class titled “Powerful Technological Applications for the Active Learning Environment.” When one takes a class titled such as this you can pretty much count on a few classmates raising an eyebrow when you describe your “homesteading” lifestyle and homeschool type of environment.
We have had weekly projects and discussions encompassing a ton of different technological tools one could utilize in the “classroom.” Now brace yourself… There’s a bunch that I actually like! I know, me, the lady who has a couple degrees in the technology career field but refuses to utilize them much beyond my blog, Google searches, and Facebook. I blame my husband… he’s so gifted in the technology department he’s allowed me to become completely lazy and disconnected in this aspect of my life.
Seriously, when my husband is teaching our sons coding, game and server design, and networking should I really jump in and try to strut any of my stuff… *sigh*… no, it would be useless and they would gravitate to their dad every time. Don’t get me wrong, I love this… it gives me more time to go out and brush my horses, play with my goats, and play fetch with my dogs.
But guess what… I now have some new tricks up my sleeve. Better yet… these tricks have caught the attention of my sons without me even purposely “deploying “ them (the tricks I mean, I have no plan on deploying my sons anytime soon). I simply do my homework, my sons hear YouTube videos, catchy song clips, and my oohs and aahs as I create my weekly projects and they naturally gravitate to me like bees to honey. They can’t help themselves. The lack of constant streaming internet makes even the nerdiest songs and videos objects of their attention. Here’s an especially good one that they were humming for several days (as was I)… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEIHogpVJ1k and then there’s the Spanish alphabet song with a bit of a militant undertone… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1DyAhNNsqQ .
So what am I getting at? Well, I’ve found a couple things through this class that are actually quite creative, easily understood, and utilize some great technology and learning tools beautifully together.
First, there’s Animoto. Animoto is a cloud-based video creation service that produces video from photos, video clips, and music into video slideshows. Most of the free ones are short and the website and program is quite easy to work with. I have made a couple and my boys are just getting into it. The only issue we have come across is that it takes up quite a bit of our data (when tethering our iPhones at home for internet) so we choose to do this when we are someplace using our laptops and the WiFi (library, coffee shop, etc.). My boys are working on making a “monthly video” each month for family that lives far away and don’t get to visit often. You can build your own Animoto videos/movies here… http://www.animoto.com
Another tool that I have come across in my class is a Glog. No, I didn’t spell Blog wrong… there is such a thing as a Glog. According to their site, a Glog is defined as, “Canvas freedom allows expression to take over: mix text, audio, video, images, graphics and more from your files, our pre-designed graphics, or around the web using the inbuilt Web picker browser, yielding high-impact content with simple elegance” (Glogster, 2014, para.1). It is a lot like a poster about whatever you want to make it about. My boys especially liked playing around with Glogster because they could do it here at home (minimal data usage) and about whatever subject they would like. Guinea pigs… sure. Fence building… yup, why not. Assassin Creed video game series… yup, they did one on that. It’s one of these “They don’t realize they are learning” kind of things. Want to check it out and build your own? Go to http://www.glogster.com .
Last but not least for right now, there’s Webquest. This was a new one to me up until about two weeks ago. I jumped right in for a project and was able to navigate quite easily and it reminded me of putting several Glogs together to form a complete lesson plan with an overview, tasks, assessment, and notes. I fell in love with this tool and think my sons and I could easily create several lessons for our own use and that of others! Want to create your own Webquest? Do it free here… http://zunal.com/ .
The great thing about all of these tools is that you can publish yours if you would like and also view the work others have done. There are some really talented people out there who have a gift of making learning very fun and interesting using technology.
Oh and guess what, this was an assignment J We had to create a blog/website and a blog entry about resources (technology based) we either are using or would like to use in our education environment (in my case our homeschool). Thank you all for reading my homework J