May 5, 2018
What is a Full-Time Online School?
The structure of a school has changed over time. First, there were one room school houses, where the youngest students sat in the front row, and the oldest sat in the back- and they all had the same teacher. Then, as populations increased, the number of students attending school increased, and the number of school buildings increased. Now there are multiple schools for multiple districts all over the United States, and more importantly, the world. Along with the brick-and-mortar schools that are still standing, there are also Full-Time Online Schools. But, what is a full-time online school?
Full-time online schools are exactly what they sound like: schools where students do all of their learning online, from the comfort of their own home, or wherever they are. With online schools, all instruction and interaction is completely electronic; students are not required to go to a building for 7 hours a day. Many online schools are available for grades K-12, with all the core subjects as well as electives available.
Full-Time Online Schools have grown in popularity in recent years, because they have a lot to offer. Online schools offer all kinds of personalized learning. With online schools, students have the opportunity to take any type of course they want, all the way from honors and advanced placement to remedial and summer school classes. Each program is specifically suited to the individual learner’s needs. Online schools allow students to learn from anywhere. Many times when people hear about online learning, they just picture a student sitting in his house all day on the computer. But, online schools allow students to learn from anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection. This is a great opportunity for parents who travel for work; it allows them to take their children with them, keeping the family together, traveling the world and making sure their children are getting a solid education. The accessibility of online school is limitless.
One main setback with online schools is the social interaction. Social interaction is a key component of a child’s educational experience, especially during the primary years. If younger students are not experiencing those interactions because they are attending an online school, they are missing out on those interactions that help them develop problem-solving and communication skills. Technology has been said to desensitize people’s ability to interact with each other, and the same can be said for online schools. Online Schools also require students to have a lot of time-management skills. With online schools, there is a lot of self-directed work, meaning students have to watch the lectures and complete the assignments on their own time. At any age, strong time-management skills are hard to obtain. It does not matter where you are- whether you are in your house or traveling the world- people can become easily distracted, especially in the comfort of their own home. This distraction and lack of time management can cause procrastination, which can ultimately make more work for a student than if she were attending class every day.
Full time online schools are a nice innovation, that has allowed education to adapt with the times of the world students live in. While there are benefits to online learning, there are also concerns that still need to be address. When considering the future of education in terms of online schools, one also has to consider the role of the educator, because that also changes. Online schools do not just change the environment, but also the types of jobs that are needed to run the school. Like many other areas of technology and education, I believe that online schools should be taken at a case-by-case basis. For some students, online schools are the solution; but that does not mean they are the solution for all students. And truthfully, in 10 years or so, I guarantee that full time online schools will be the, “old school” way of learning and there will be new method that has students, parents and teachers alike taking a hard look at the relationship between education and technology.
May 3, 2018
How Much Screen Time is Too Much?
When working with technology, one tends to use a screen. As a kindergarten teacher, I am constantly battling the use of screens versus hands-on interaction. A constant concern of parents is that their children are spending too much time in front of a screen. So really, how much screen time is too much?
When thinking about technology and the use of a screen, one has to look at it from different angles: time, type, and intake vs. output.
When children work with screens, time is always a big concern. Spending 15-30 minutes a day is a time frame that is thrown around a lot. Another one is that the screen time is not consecutive; break up the 30 minutes with 5 minutes of movement and activity. In terms of time, it is tricky. On the one hand, it is important to limit the time; no human should spend hours in front of a tiny glowing screen. But on the other hand, if the time is spent being productive working on a project or creating and developing, then it is hard to limit the work time. For my students and I, I like to limit the time. I typically only let students work with screens for about 10 minutes. And when working, my students are completely supervised. Whatever they are doing, there is an adult present to guide them to the most productive route. By working with the students, they get a chance to see how productive time is spent. Having this knowledge will hopefully translate in the future, when they are allowed to be using screens for longer periods of time. If they know how to use the screens in a productive manner, then it will not be such a waste of time.
When students and technology are discussed, the term screen time is tossed around, but what does that actually mean? Screen time is very general; there are screens on cell phones, on iPads, televisions, movie screens, computers, etc. So when people are concerned about screens, which ones are they concerned about? In my experience, people who are concerned focus primarily on small individual screens (iPads, tablets cell phones, etc.); the items that children can shove right in their faces. There are studies that show children develop stronger mental capabilities if they are not exposed to any screens during the first two years of their lives. But again, I believe monitored moderation is the key. If the adults in charge are aware of how much children are using screens- and monitor and limit it- the negative side effects are not so strong. It is when the students are unsupervised that the screen time can become unsafe. Also being aware of what type of screen is being used is essential. How students interact with Smartboards is different compared to computers, which is different compared to tablets, which is different compared to cell phones. Each device needs to be taken at a case-by-case basis; create a pro/con list and take a look at how the device can be used.
When looking at the use of screens, for me the last area to consider is the final product; is the end result something that is being consumed by the student, or are the students creating and developing a new product? If the students are solely consuming what the screen is providing, then that is more of a concern. But if students are working and creating a new product, then the screen time can be seen in a more beneficial light. It becomes even more valuable if what the student is creating can only be done so through technology, such as coding.
At the end of the day, screen time is like anything else- it is best in moderation. It is important to take into consider how long and in what ways the screen will be used. But ultimately it is up to the parents and the teachers to teach students the benefits and the dangers of technology and screen time. And the best we can hope for is that students learn and understand and use smart, safe digital citizenship with their screen time.
April 26, 2018
Does constant connectivity create unrealistic expectations on educators?
How old were you when you received your first cell phone? How old were you when you used a computer for the first time? Was it in school? Or was is at home?
I was fortunate enough to grow up during that time where technology was emerging and prominent, but not all consuming. As a kid I stayed out until it got dark, had to memorize all the important phone numbers, and grew up with a landline. Yet, as a teenager, I had a cell phone, a MySpace Page, FaceBook Page, and an iPod. Thinking back about my own childhood makes me realize how drastically different it is for my students today: they have smart watches and watch T.V. And movies from anywhere in the world!
I recently read an article that touches on this same topic titled, “Can There Be Too Much Connectivity Between Parents and Children?” In this article, the author discusses the different ways parents are connected to their child’s every move: They can access student grades and attendance at any point in the school year, contact teachers immediately if they have questions (via email), and track both their child and their child’s devices with GPS tracking systems. Towards the end of the article Julie Davis -the writer- posed a lot of different questions that come up in this age of connectivity. One particular question struck a chord with me: Does constant connectivity create unrealistic expectations on educators in terms of responding to emails and monitoring student behavior on devices?
Initially, I would answer this question yes. My school has a policy that teachers can take up to 24 hours to answer emails during the week and 48 hours during the weekend. Yet, parents still see email at text messages, and if I do not respond right away, they send another email asking why I didn’t respond to the previous email. Email not only heightens the communicational pressures, but also other pressures as well. Anytime there is a form or document that needs to be sent to parents, we are told to put it on our PowerLearning Page. Yet, I still get parents who, “cannot find it,” and ask me to email it to them. The creation of email has put a demand on teachers that did not previously exist.
While emails can add some communication stress, I do also believe they can add some benefit as well. I prefer communicating with parents- and actually anything work related- through email. With email, everything is documents and saved; there is no he said/she said conversations. As teachers, we live in a world where documentation is key. And yes while I can document other conversations in other ways, email makes it the easiest because it automatically documents the conversations for me. This is a life-saver that did not exist 30 years ago.
When it comes to monitoring student behavior with devices, this is a struggle I do not really deal with as a kindergarten teacher. Any exposure my students have with technology is usually guided by an adult; they are not old enough to complete research on their own or bring phones to class. This year, I do have students who wear smartwatches to school, and the minute they start to beep or become a distraction, the watches must be put away. Behavior with devices is a real issue for most teachers today, especially when students are getting phones and iPads at younger and younger ages. Combine that with Bring Your Own Device Programs and it becomes difficult to tell if a student is using her cell phone for a class assignment or to look at a Friend’ s instagram.
The bottom line is yes technology has created unrealistic expectations for teachers; but it has also done the same for parents and students. We expect parents to read all the online documents we send them, and then get frustrated when that ask for a hard copy in paper- but some people still like the hard copy! Students are expected to complete multiple online assignments and presentations, yet not get distracted by the other enticing activities that is social media. The truth is that the connectivity that has become second nature in our culture has put unrealistic expectations on everybody, in every profession. The world we live in is more instant and moving at a rapid pace, because it can.
As I got older, it didn’t matter how late I got home as long as I had my cell phone on me and texted my parents where I was. I stopped remembering people’s phone numbers, and I am pretty sure I have not had a landline in almost 10 years. So I end with one last question: What technology do you think our students will be reminiscing about 20 years from now?
April 21, 2018
How do you teach creators of technology as opposed to consumers?
Long ago, computers were a new gadget that only a few people had in their homes, and you would certainly not find one in a school. Then, as computers became more common- and affordable- schools started to purchase them for classrooms, allowing each classroom to have one, maybe two computers. Next, came computer labs. Nowadays schools have computer labs and iPad/Tablet carts, and some schools can even afford to provide each child with his/her own computer! The way computers have adapted into schools and curriculums has changed throughout the years, but truthfully the way they are used has not. Whether it was just one computer in the back of the class to an iPad cart roaming around the school, technology has consistently been used the same in schools: as a bonus activity where one can play games. Playing games or even watching videos is only one way children can interact with computers. More often than not, students are consumers of technology. So how do you teach creators of technology as opposed to consumers?
As a Kindergarten teacher, I will admit that I am guilty of teaching consumers. I have always found it difficult to allow my students to explore and create; they are so young and do not understand how valuable and fragile iPads and computers are. They can barely recognize letters and write, let alone type on a keyboard. But just because they do not understand how computers and iPads work, it does not mean they are still not able to work and tinker with them. There is a TED Talk by Linda Liukas where she discusses how to teach kids about computers.
In her talk, Linda explain that instead of seeing computers as magical and mysterious, children should see them as items to explore and tinker with. We educate students on how the body functions, why would we not do the same for computers? In order to allow student to become creators, we have to give them a chance to understand how computers and programming work. When students ask, “How does it do that?” Do not respond with, “It’s magic.” In as simple as terms as possible, explain. If you are not able to explain, find a resource that can. There are all types of books and computers that can explain in a kid-friendly way how a computer knows what to do when you press the play button. She continues by talking about activities she does with kids; in one instance, she shows the kids 4 different items and asks them, “Which one is a computer?” Through a discussion, the kids learn that all items are computers because they each contain some type of technology or program. In order to teach creators and not consumers, we have to help students realize that they can be creators. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but one day they can create some type of technology that will change the world. Planting the seed of belief is what will help them grow into creators.
Now, that is easier said than done. Everyday teachers get older, and everyday they become more and more unfamiliar with technology. So how are they suppose to help their students become comfortable and confident, if they themselves are not? There are options; providing students with the right resources is a good start. If you are not the expert on parts of a computer, find someone or something who is. The other option is being honest with students about not knowing. Kids need to learn that there is not always a right answer, or that there is not always one answer. By understanding this, they are developing the mind of a creator. Creators try and try again not because they know their is a correct answer, but because they believe they can find/create one. Sometimes, belief is stronger than knowledge.
Watch the full video of Linda Liukas’s TED Talk below:
April 11, 2018
What are the advantages to Online Portfolios?
In school, especially in Elementary school, it is common for teachers to keep student work and the progress they make throughout the year in a portfolio. Typically, this portfolio can be in any shape or form that the teacher desires- folder, binder, box, etc.- and is usually given to the parents or the student at the end of the year. Currently at my school, we are having the, “Paper Portfolio vs. Online Portfolio Debate.” Each grade level from K1 through 5th Grade has to keep a portfolio. Most grade levels do a hard copy of a portfolio, keeping all student work in a binder or folder. Only one grade- third grade- requires all teachers to keep an online portfolio. But another issue that has been arising at my school is vertical alignment and information on students from year-to-year as they progress through school. This conversation has a sparked a question for me: What Are the Advantages to Online Portfolios?
There are a lot of viable options for online portfolios (e-portfolios). At my school, the two most commonly used are Google Sites and SeeSaw. But there are many others including: WeLearnedIt, Weebly, Kidblog, and Edublogs. A benefit to most e-portfolios is that with the correct login information, the e-portfolio can be accessed by all (students, parents, and teachers). This makes all parties more accountable in regards to the work that is being done in school. Instead of wasting time through communication, parents can go straight to the source to see the work. Allowing parents and students to be able to access the online portfolio gives them a chance to ask specific question, creating a more productive meeting time. Another advantage of online portfolios is that they can be easily transferred. As a teacher at an international school, I have many students who join or leave during the middle of the year. If those students would come with an e-portfolio with all their previous school information, it would make the transition that much easier. Online portfolios allow for an easier transition between different school as well as between different grade levels. At my school, we have an issue of transferring information vertically. Everything is in hard copy and needs to be transferred through binders and heavy boxes. This transfer usually does not happen until after the new school year has started, and that information is not needed any more. By keeping all information electronically, the transfer is a lot “lighter” and can be done in less time and even before the school year starts!
There are many benefits to creating an e-portfolio, but there are also many disadvantages. One setback is cost. For apps and sights such as SeeSaw and Weebly, you only receive limited access with the free version. For example, with SeeSaw, you only receive one year with the free subscription, and after that year is up, all the data is gone. The information cannot be saved or transferred without a paid subscription. In weebly, you do not have access to all of the edits and features with the free subscription, you can only access those under premium- which cost money. Paid subscriptions are not cheap; sometimes it is cheaper to by 22 binders for each student portfolio as opposed to buying an online subscription. And many times, subscriptions have to be paid yearly, and if not all progressed can be lost! A second disadvantage is accessibility. Easy transfer of an online portfolio was presented as an advantage, but it can also be a disadvantage. For most e-portfolios, WiFi access is required. If there is no WiFi access, no one can view the portfolio. Nine times out of ten, WiFi access is easily accessible, but there are still those occasions when it is not. What happens then? Should you carry a hard copy of the portfolio just in case? Then what is the point of having an e-portfolio is you have to carry around a hard copy as well? Accessibility is not only hindered by WiFi, but also compatibility. If you carry around a portfolio on a flash drive, you have to hope that whatever device you connect to will be able to read your portfolio, or that it has the appropriate software to read your portfolio. Basically, an e-portfolio relies on a lot of other factors that will either make or break it’s accessibility.
Online portfolios are the way of the future. They are better for the environment, can hold more information in a slimmer fashion, and just look cooler than hard copy portfolios. Currently, we are in a transition period. There are still those who believe the hard copy portfolios are the best choice, because the are reliable and known. While there are still some glitches to be worked out with e-portfolios, they are a great tool to have. The truth is, e-portfolios are just one technological tool that are the way of the future. But currently, not all students are able to live in that future. And while e-portfolios offer a lot of benefits, until all students have easy access to this electronic tool, it should not be the sole carrier of portfolios.
April 2, 2018
Journal Entry #7- Will Virtual Reality Provide Deeper Learning?
There is a recent article I found where the author discusses Virtual Reality in relation to meaningful learning. Virtual Reality (VR) is a new type of technology that allows students to experience another place without having to leave the classroom. VR simulations are offering students a new experience, that before technology they might not have been able to do. It allows them to see places from all over the world, or view things people could only dream about. But with all of its great advancements and interest, will virtual reality provide deeper learning?
In the article written by Holly Korby, she Immediately comments on concerns with using VR learning in school. One concern is that VR is just a replacement. It is a translational tool that is not actually adding any value to the learning. VR is constantly changing, but as of right now it is being used to show students experiences, in the same way educational movies do. VR simulations are being used to transport students to a new place without having to leave the classroom. This type of learning is replacing field trips and other hands-on learning experiences that can offer students deeper learning. Another concern is cost. In order to work with VR, there are typically many pieces: there are headsets and gloves that can cost hundreds of dollars. Korby (2017) states, “while cheaper versions exist—such as the $15 Google Cardboard, which attaches to a smartphone—these versions often don’t provide the same quality of experience.” Now grant it, this equipment is still more cost effective than transporting a whole class of students across the globe, and it comes with less concerns from parents and administration. But if the equipment is so expensive, how are students in lower-income school suppose get this experience. With the price tag, students who can afford to travel anyways are probably the ones who can afford the VR equipment.
But even with some cons, VR learning does provide students with a deeper understanding in new and meaningful ways. Virtual Reality learning is sparking a conversation and inquiries in students that videos and films do not. These inquiries are what drives inventors to change the way VR learning is being used in schools. In the article, Korby discusses different ways this type of learning is being used.
VR technology is being used in schools both for academic and social purposes. In science classes, students are working with 3D models of organs and cells that are actually functioning. Students are able to see human hearts and what they look like when they are pumping blood to the rest of the body. In other areas, students are able to take virtual college campus tours without leaving their bed. Websites such as CampusTours and YouVisit allow students to take full college tours right from their homes. This is a more cost and time effective ways that also helps students realize how many options they truly have when applying to colleges. Through other VR experiences, students are able to see what life is like for people in other situations. Global Nomads and Embodied Labs are two programs that allow people to experience what life is like for children living in other countries or for adults as they get older and are aging with certain diseases. Both of these experiences gives people perspectives and understandings that they would not otherwise get unless they were experiencing themselves.
Virtual Reality Learning, like other technologies, uses a screen. But just because it is access through a screen, does not mean it should be treated as just a screen. With the right experiences and programs, VR learning can provide experiences that cannot be taught through textbooks. Can VR learning completely replace hands-on learning experiences? I do not think so. But if hands-on experiences are not available as the first option, VR learning is an excellent 2nd option. Virtual Reality Learning needs to be given time to be explored and to grow so that is can continue provide deeper learning to students.
Korby, H. (2017, July 4). Will Virtual Reality Drive Deeper Learning? Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/virtual-reality-drive-deeper-learning-holly-korbey
March 24, 2018
Should We Fear Screens?
In a TED Talk from April 2017, Sara Dewitt discusses the worrisome perceptions parents- and adults in general- have about small children using screens. With a degree in Children’s Literature and a current employee of PBS Kids, Dewitt talks about three main points of concern with children using screens.
The first fear Dewitt addresses is, “Screens are passive. They are going to keep our kids from getting up and moving.” To counteract this argument, Sara gives an example of a time when the hosts of Wild Kratts on PBS wanted to incorporate technology and all the different cameras around the studio. With cameras and screens, they brought kids in and had them act out the motion of different animals, like bats. The motion they did was picked up by the screen, and then done by the bat on the screen. There are many more screen applications and websites, where students are constantly moving. For instance, the website www.gonoodle.com is an interactive website that’s goal is to get kids up and moving while they are learning. From dances to exercises to mindfulness videos, this website has a multiple videos and channels to help students move in a variety of ways.
The second concern Sara Dewitt comments on is, “Playing games on this screen is just a waste of time. It is going to distract children from their education.” She then goes on to a tell a story of a Curious George game that was used with a group of students to work on math skills. The students then took a standardized test. But programmers wanted to focus on data analysis and student test scores. So they trained the computer to interpret the data and predict the test scores students would get. The computers were almost 100% spot on with the test results from the actual standardized test given to students. Games today are not only educational, but they are also able to collect data and track student progress. The programs Reading Eggs and Math Seeds are two different types of applications that have students pass different levels in order to move on through the game, making sure the students accomplish the necessary reading and math skills. This progress is then saved and shared with both the teacher and the parents. Screens are not just distraction time. Today, technology is advancing in ways that make screens beneficial for both student and teacher; they are fun and educational but are also able to collect and track data more efficiently than say a standardized test.
The third and final fear Dewitt brought up was, “That these screens are isolating me from my child.” She talked about a scenario where after a parent gave a tablet to her child to play a game, she received a notification with a basic sentence starter about what her child did and what to ask her about. Most education applications and websites have a whole section devoted to parents, giving them tips and advice on how to use the technology. But when it comes down to it, parents need to communicate with their child about technology in the same way they would a book or a movie. Ask the child about the game, “What do you remember? Did you have a problem? How did you solve it? Would you solve it any differently?” Technology is only isolating if it is not discussed. By talking about the game, parents are showing an interest in their child’s interest, and that gets the child excited and willing to share.
There are developmental issues and concerns about screens that were not discussed in this video. But like anything else, technology can have negative side effects if not used in moderation. But going from one extreme of not using it at all is just as bad as using it all the time. Using screens with children is all about finding a balance; the same balance was needed with all the inventions we use today. Technology is all around our children’s lives, and will continue to be. Fearing it is not going to help our children be prepared to use it in their everyday lives. Students need technology exposure when they are younger so they are able to work with and handle it when they are older and on their own.
Here is the Ted Talk Video by Sara DeWitt:
March 18, 2018
Is remote collaboration better than face-to-face collaboration?
I recently read this article that talked about 5 areas to focus on when using tech tools with students. These 5 areas were: collaborating, questioning, connecting, creating and wondering. The article made good points about ways in which students can develop theses skills, but they were solely beneficiary. No side effects or negatives were mentioned, and there can be some negatives in these areas, specifically with collaborating.
Under collaborating, the article talked about how students can collaborate on an assignment or document remotely. While I do find this to be a benefit, it does beg the question, Is remote collaboration better than face-to-face collaboration?
Personally, I see collaboration as working with someone else in real-time. The issue with remote collaboration is that each party does not have to be working on the file at the same time. With time differences and busy schedules, this is a benefit; but it can also be a negative.
When collaborating in real time- even on FaceTime or skype- there is a spontaneous conversation that can spark new ideas. You cannot get that same kind of spontaneity if one person works on the document and then a few hours later the other person works on the document. Another setback is clarification. When working with a group in person, you are able to explain your thought process for others to fully understand your idea. But if collaborating remotely, you may not be able to explain yourself so clearly. Yes you can leave comments or notes for others to read, but written explanation is not the same as verbal explanation. It falls in line with the thought process that people interpret emails and text messages differently than the way the sender intended. Combine this miscommunication with the fact that the collaborators could be working at different times, and it actually makes the collaboration more difficult than productive, which can waste time instead of saving time.
Remote collaboration is beneficial for those who are not able to meet face-to-face. But If there is an option to meet face-to-face, I personally believe that is how people should collaborate. Social Interaction is extremely important, especially nowadays with the increased presence of technology. And while technology connects people all over the world, it can also disconnect people locally. Remote collaboration should be an option, but I do not think it should be the only option for collaboration.
Here is the link to the article:
March 11, 2018
Are Interactive Textbooks more beneficial than traditional textbooks?
Nowadays, everything can be accessed online or through a smartphone. It only makes sense that textbooks have also become digitized resources. There is now a new phase of online textbooks, that are called Interactive Textbooks.
Interactive Textbooks are online books that students cannot only read digitally, but also answer questions and work with digitally. Interactive textbooks, “Contain quizzes, allowing a secret key, the correct password or code after successfully answering all questions.” (Solcova, 2016, p. 111) They are somewhat like choose-your-own adventure books, just more academic. In order to use these interactive textbooks, student have to have a Interactive Response System (IRS) pen, that allows them to record information with the pen and in the pen. The IRS pen also allows students to have the book become verbal and speak to students, instead of having to just read the text. Interactive Textbooks have a lot of advancements that differentiate to different learner needs, but are they better than the traditional textbook in the traditional classroom setting?
A benefit of interactive textbooks is that is accessible to everyone, even if you cannot read. The book’s text can be enlarged as well as be spoken instead of having to use your eyes to read the words on the page. This allows younger students to read, “on their own,” even if they do not know how. The quizzes found in interactive notebooks allows teachers and parents to track student progress, and see where they are in relation to the content in the book. Another benefit of an interactive notebook is its style and content. Interactive notebooks have, “substantially less text than a traditional textbook [and] numerous animations and built-in tools.” (Solcova, 2016, p. 111 ) The material inside of an interactive notebook is more attractive and entertaining, which keeps the students attention for longer periods of time.
Even with all their advancements and universality, interactive notebooks do have some drawbacks. For one, in order to access all the benefits of an interactive notebook, you need to have the special IRS pen. This pen is a separate tool from the notebooks, which means it is probably bought separately. This is an extra cost that can cause a catch 22 when using interactive notebook; do not use the pen and lose out on the full scope of an interactive notebook, or by the pen which will cost money and be another technological tool that you have to take care of, keep track of and charge. Another setback with interactive notebooks is that it is not a tool used for learning new content, but rather a tool used for testing and curriculum review. So even if a student has an interactive notebook, she would still need to provided with a traditional textbook or any other materials required to learn the content.
Interactive notebooks have a lot of benefits that cannot be provided with a traditional textbook. But with that being said, interactive textbooks do not have the capability to completely replace traditional text. Like many other tools in technology, interactive textbooks have offered a lot of improvements in education and how students learn. But they are not up-to-date enough and adaptable enough to completely replace traditional textbooks. But one day, maybe with enough improvements, interactive textbooks could be the standard tool that is provided in every classroom!
Solcova, L. (July 2016). Interactive Textbook - A New Tool in Off-Line and On-Line Education. TOJET: The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 15, 111- 125. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1106413.pdf
March 3, 2018
Can Osmo Be More than a Drill and Practice Tool?
In my current school at the Kinder division, we use a tool called OSMO. OSMO is a tool that connects with the iPad through an app. With the iPads, OSMOS allow students to work in an app, but still use chips and pieces to make it hands-on.
With the OSMOS, the iPads’ cameras are covered with a reflective mirror over the camera. Students use letter or number chips and move them directly in front of the iPad. Whatever chip is used is then reflected using the mirror and recognized in the app. The OSMOS have many different Apps, each with its own set of pieces. The Apps my school currently uses are: Osmo Words, Osmo Numbers, Osmo Tangram, Osmo Masterpiece, Osmo Monster, Osmo Newton, Osmo Coding, and Osmo Pizza Company. Through all these different apps students practice skills in Literacy, Numbers, Coding, spatial skills as well as creative skills. In a few of the applications, students create, but for the most part students are asked questions and then use their pieces to answer; it is a drill response process.
I have been using Osmos with my students for the past year, and after seeing the students work with them and how they work in the classroom I started to wonder, can Osmos be more than a drill and practice tool?
As I previously mentioned, a few of the apps allow students more freedom to create, but for the most part the students are answering questions or repeating back patterns. Even in the Osmo Masterpiece app, which is an artistic app that allows students to draw, the app provides the students a picture and they are suppose to trace it. Even with all the different apps, there is still a possibility for some more freedom.
Each student is able to have his/her own account in OSMO. I as the teacher am allowed to have one as well. Also, as the teacher, I am able to create different activities in certain apps, share my creations with other educators and even search for activities. I am not sure however, if students have the same opportunities. If so, this would calm my concerns about the use of OSMOS in school.
Right now, I believe that OSMOS cannot be used for more than a drill and practice tool. From what I have seen, OSMOS do not allow students to go higher through the SAMR model hierarchy and dig into deeper learning. Now, if students are able to create their own games and activities, that would be different. But at this point and from what I have seen I am not sure.
I really enjoy using OSMOS, and my students get a lot out of using them. I just hope that like many other tools, OSMOS will develop and adapt to allow students to create more as opposed to just repeatedly answering questions.