Friday, January 15, 2010

Collaborative Board Presentation

Students and I put together this Gpres with video links (waiting to be able to embed your own videos directly into presentation, hint, hint Google.com)to show parents and board members what kind of technology Eureka Students have been up to this year. Student who spoke to the board did an outstanding job. I wish I had recorded their presentations to add to this. Next time.

Thanks kiddos for taking the time to share your work and thoughts on integrating technology into your school work. Let's shift our schools into the 21st century together.



This past year of my Lesley education I have been able to put many of the ideas, learning and resources gained through a variety of classes into direct practice. And now, partly afforded by this continued education and partly due to a commitment from my district and myself, I have moved from being a single classroom teacher to being an instructional technologist for our entire school district. This is a position I have coveted for several years, and am thankful for the professional growth I have gained which has made it a reality.
For the last twenty-two months, while in the Master of Educational Technology program we have been exploring a wide variety of emerging technologies, and now, as a final project for the class with the same name, I would like to present a project that could not be more relevant to my personal productivity. At the request of the school superintendent, the students and I have collaboratively created a presentation of technology uses across our district. Mind you we have only been at this integration of technology for six months now, and still the accomplishments, achieved by the students who have benefitted from it all, are impressive. On the night of the presentation we left several board members with their jaws hanging open as a fourth grade student described in detail the complicated process of acquiring digital images from a donated cell phone for use in the creation of a class book project as if it were second nature. Not to mention the second graders who talked about translating their emails into any language they needed prior to sending them.
The Google presentation along with links to videoed interviews and examples of student work can be accessed from this link, but for this paper I’d like to discuss in more detail the process of creating this presentation, along with some of the challenges and solutions.
Student Technology Presentation
The Process
The initial challenge was how to allow students from ages 5-17 the ability to participate in this presentation. For one, a 7:30pm school board meeting is past the bed-time of some first graders. Not to mention the fact that, put on stage, they would likely freeze up and not be able to share at all. The simplest solution to this was to pre-record student interviews to be played as part of the presentation. This worked great, as it allowed the younger students to share what they have done and gave them a venue that was comfortable and unintimidating. I think this come through clearly in the sincere and open comments captured on video.
Using a Sony Camcorder, I captured the students’ responses to the question “how have you been using technology in your classroom?” Using Windows Movie Maker I then edited this down to a 2-3 minute collection of responses in three categories: Blogging Buddies, RAZ Kids and Special Projects. The challenge here was not the actual editing, but trying to get the message across without having a three hour presentation.
As mentioned, this was intended to be a collaborative project by me and several middle school students who expressed an interest to show off their technology work. The simplest solution to providing such a collaborative platform was to use a Google Apps presentation that allowed for all participants to create and add their own content at any time, as well as see the content of others. As the 7th& 8th grade students had already become familiar with this tool through classroom projects, it was a natural choice. I simply started a presentation and then invited those students to collaborate. I showed them briefly what I would be adding from the earlier grade levels and asked them to add their own ideas and examples and links within the slide presentation.
As many of the students wanted to include examples of their multimedia projects, the main challenge presented by using Google presentation was the inability to insert or embed video using the URL address of specific videos we had uploaded. While it does have the ability to insert a video from YouTube, it would only allow you to search videos from a more general selection and I was unable to find and insert our specific videos even once uploaded to YouTube. I would anticipate that this feature will soon be remedied by Google.
For our presentation this was overcome by making the final presentation using the old stand-by: Power Point. This solution not only allowed for the insertion of student videos, but also guaranteed that there would be no problems with connecting to the internet for presenting to the board. That would be the last thing you want -- a technical glitch when you’re on stage to make a technology presentation. Fortunately, Google Apps made this very simple as you can easily download the collaborative presentation as a Power Point. All that was left to do was insert the videos directly into the slides and we were ready to go.
In the end, the presentation was a huge success. It definitely accomplished the superintendent’s goal of showcasing technology to the school board to gain future support. For me it was a chance to give students a voice in sharing what they have enjoyed in using technology, and to promote the successes and need for further development of an integrated technology model. Putting the effort into this project as a culminating activity for this class has also given me a presentation that can be used to showcase examples of student work to inspire future students in their efforts to use technology tools in their learning.

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