Can you tell us a little bit about yourself (e.g, where you teach, what level(s), how long, etc.) What kinds of tools do you use (or have you used)?
Hello my name is Carla Rapp. I have been working, for the last two years for Penn State University in the Department of Educational Technology Services (ETS), and more specifically, in a group called Media Commons. Media Commons is a service provided at all the Penn State campuses, and is a place for students, faculty, and staff to create multimedia projects.
I support the Media Commons at all the campuses on the eastern side of the state. I support faculty from all different disciplines, with the creation and integration of multimedia projects into their classes.
After a multimedia project has been created for a class, I support the students in the class with training on the software and Scholarly Storytelling. Typically the students are using iMovie (video) and GarageBand (audio) to complete their multimedia projects.
However, for the students, the process goes far beyond learning the editing software. They must collaborate and plan before they can actually film/record or edit. This 21st century skill of collaboration can be and has been done on many different mediums. They can include meeting in person of course, but it can also include discussion boards on Angel, Facebook Groups, Yammer Groups, or VoiceThread.
These platforms allow for collaboration and exploration from any place at any time. These tools can also be helpful when the students have completed their project, and now need to share it with their instructor, or their peers. Again they could use Yammer, Facebook, VoiceThread, YouTube, iTunes U or blogs to share and receive comments on their work.
Can you describe a few situations or lessons in which you found them to work very well?
One example of a project that coordinated these tools was that of a Theater class. The students were responsible for narrating different scripts, using different voices and tones. They were to record this in GarageBand. Before they could get to the point of recording, they used Yammer to connect. They discussed when they would work on their scripts, and collaborated on their actual scripts. Upon completing their project, they submitted it to their class’ iTunes U account.
Here’s another example: My department is conducting a Mobile Media Pilot. This entails distributing iPod Touches to students. These iPod Touches have iMovie and GarageBand apps loaded, along with other apps. The premise is that the students can plan, film, edit, and share all from the iPod Touch. A few semesters ago, I had a biology class use these to flip the classroom. The instructor had different groups of students film several biology labs. They then edited their film, using their devices, and uploaded their videos to a class YouTube channel. Their classmates were required to watch these videos on YouTube, so that they could complete the lab on lab day.
In a similar example, another biology class took their iPods to Costa Rica to explore rainforests there. The students were able to post videos and pictures, describe what they were seeing, and add their thoughts to their blogs. This was great way to for me to keep up with them from afar, and for them to document their learning.
How do you assess their impact or effect on learning? (e.g., informal Q&A with students, cellphone poll, e.g., polleverywhere)
Because I work with many different classes using different tools in different ways, it is hard to pinpoint the best way to assess the impact of technology. Many faculty members I have worked with use evaluations at the end of the semester to gauge the impact of the technology on the students. I have also seen questionnaires distributed to the students, trying to measure the impact of the use of the technology. Personally, I have conducted focus groups with students concerning the Mobile Media Pilot mentioned above. I keep the groups informal to get the most honest feedback on how the students liked using the technology. I make sure to ask how they felt the use of the technology helped them in their subject area.
In your experience or through conversations with other teachers, what do you consider to be the most significant challenges or problems associated with integrating technology in the classroom?
I think the most challenging thing about integrating technology into the classroom is just that. For technology to work well in the classroom it needs to be seamlessly integrated into the curriculum. Many times I think it is very easy to find new tools and be struck by how great they are. Sometimes that leads to hasty measures to make these tools, even force them, to fit with the curriculum. It is crucial to remember not to use technology for technology’s sake. Taking all the appropriate instructional design cues, and making sure that the framework allows, and fosters, the technology is critical.
It is also important to be open to revising the use of technology, and pay attention to new tools that may surpass present tools. With constant change, technology always has new tools or features that can prove helpful.