Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Connecting Communities Using Technology

Motivating students, connecting parents to classrooms, and bridging the gap/divide between all partners and stakeholders in a community is a challenge that many public schools now face. How can we use our schools as a platform for students to showcase their own learning experiences? Giving students the opportunity to serve as a teacher or expert in a field can become a motivator.

We are trying to use a community computer lab to serve as a meeting ground for students to showcase their work, present material to a wide range of interested partners, and provide scenarios where students must problem solve to address technical and real world situations. We have only met twice, but our numbers doubled in just two weeks. Senior citizens, immigrants, and older adults lack technical skills, money, and access to learning services.

Students in our technical courses have a choice to either develop a video tutorial, teaching a technical skill, or participate as a teacher/tutor in our community lab. Video tutorials are recorded in English and Spanish. Adult participants in our community labs receive individualized training. Students working in the community lab serve as instructors. The problems and scenarios presented to students in a community setting require student to problem solve and apply a higher skill set.

Activities for teachers to consider in a secondary environment:

1. Have students record an eBook review to post to a classroom blog or tweet group. Ask students to share their recordings and experiences at the community lab and invite parents. Students could expose participants to online reading material. Many of our senior citizens and adults express interest in learning more on how to access Google Books, Overdrive, and iTunes.

2. App Night: Share your favorite app for learning, along with student integration examples.

3. Photography 101: Students take photographs of items related to academic vocabulary, develop flash cards, and showcase their flashcards to parents and community members. Students teach photography skills, introduce academic vocabulary, and give resources to immigrants interested in learning another language or improving their academic vocabulary.

4. Math Night: Many participants are eager to learn how to produce a family budget. Have students teach spreadsheet skills and graphing skills to adults.

5. Social Media for Learning: Students can actively participate in class and at the community lab modeling researching, connecting, and developing a professional learning network for a variety of professions.

6. Research: Students share research skill sets and could even present a classroom research project to the community.

7. Web Design: Students can help adults learn how to create a website or build an eportfolio. Students use their eportfolios as examples.

8. Web 2.0 Tools for Multimedia and Presentation Use: Students develop a How To Presentation and introduce web 2.0 presentation tools: Prezi, Google Presentation, etc. to the community. Students could also share a presentation that they created for class e to share with adults.

9. Surveys, Polling and Forms

10. Technology How To IT Podcasts: Have students develop short presentations/podcasts on an Technology How To Topic in either English or Spanish.

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