There’s nothing particularly earth shattering about a 4-minute video on using Google spreadsheets to create graphs and charts. The prevalence of this kind of information on the internet should prompt all educators to reflect on the value they add to the classroom in a changed world. Recently, we have had some discussions at the board level around providing a teacher at the middle level to teach just these kinds of computer skills. Is it really the best use of scarce resources to have a teacher devoted to teaching basic computing skills when so much of the information needed for learning can be found, for free, on the internet. And shouldn’t students be learning these skills on a just-in-time basis? For example, if students are studying temperature in science and could best represent the data using graphs and charts, they should then take the four minutes in class to learn how to use graph/chart feature in Google Apps. Learning the skill in an isolated context, away from any practical use, does not promote “sticky” learning. We know that for sure. The students might learn the skill for the computer class, but would likely forget about it in short time due to lack of application to real world work. Now that content is so easily accessible on the internet, how must we rethink the added-value of teachers in the classroom?
If you use Gmail, you can take advantage of one of the most recent additions to Gmail Labs, the place where Google trials experimental new features. The addition is an “undo” option on sent emails. Click on the above link to learn how to set it up on your account. Once set up, the default is a 10 second window to undo the send. The article outlines a few steps you can take to increase that window to 30 seconds. At school we use Google Apps for Education, and I think this will be a nice feature to share with the staff and students.
I think it is important for teachers and students to share what and how they are learning. Sharing provides an opportunity for others to learn from successes and failures, but it also provides learners with opportunities to connect with and learn from a larger audience. This webinar features students and the lead administrator at the Inquiry Hub (a school in Canada) sharing how the school works and the kinds of inquiries they involve themselves in on a daily basis. The school is particularly interesting to me because I believe student inquiry (where students are encouraged to explore their own questions) is one of the keys to a successful school, especially as education moves more and more to a technology-rich learning environment. I enjoyed hearing from the students about the different kinds of inquiries they are working on. You can learn more about the Inquiry Hub model on the web and on Twitter.