In the painting builders are building. This year we have been trying to build on the things that were done last year and to rebuild a few things that did not work entirely as was wished. There were problems with Edmodo and its iPad app last year so I placed the exercises into Blackboard's COURSEsites platform. There is no app to use with this, so we access it through the web browser (as we did with Edmodo last year). In this way it works much the same way as Edmodo but it is easier to differentiate between the different books we work with without the space becoming too clutterered. Edmodo is, I think, easier to set up and as long as student's use the web browser is as easy to use. I have had some trouble getting COURSEsites set up to work the way I want it to, but I think it is now working as desired. We have also had to abandon the Posterous blog site (it might be more accurate to say Posterous abandoned us as the platform, upon being acquired by Twitter, has been shut down). We have moved the class blog to Google's Blogger platform. The students now attach their blog sites (some hitchhike on my site) to Apologia Pro iPad Sua, the site I set up to replace the Posterus site. It seems to be working pretty well. For other things not much has changed.
The rest is about "sowing seeds" so to speak, that is, getting some students to feel comfortable with the technology. Some students embrace it easily and others are a bit frightened by it. Familiarity, it is hoped, will breed some comfort. It has, almost from the beginning, offered a useful alternative to the computer lab, which is often over booked or made unavailable due to testing and the like. There are some things the computer lab, or the desktop computers in the lab, does better than the iPad, especially for doing some of the initial formatting on wikispaces projects. But this is a good thing as an important lesson in this project is to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each technological tool in relationship to the other technological tools. Knowing when to use "this" instead of "that" is a useful piece of knowledge to have. The fear of some students persists through the year, but most are becoming adept at using the iPad and the other tools. The apps and online platforms we are using have worked well in enabling students to continue working on projects after class ends and I get a steady stream of completed assignments drifting in in the course of the day and night, revealing that students are carrying on after the bell has rung ending class.
A Girl Who Demanded School
In this TED Talk a young woman, Kakenya Ntaiya, speaks about her quest for an education and the work to which she put that education. This speaks to the power of education to change not only ourselves but our communities and our world. Often today when education is spoken of it is spoken of in terms of its power to change individuals, to open up opportunities for employment and a comfortable income. This is of course true, but if we are truly and fully changed by our education we do not focus solely on ourselves, we do not become more selfish or more self centered. We also are made aware of the potential our education has to help us change our communities, to work towards building the better world we want, or ought to want, to leave for our children. An education that is truly transformational does not just change our own lives for the better, but opens our eyes to our responsibility to work towards building better communities and a better world for all and not just for ourselves.