Reposted with permission from my school’s monthly magazine, the Imprint.

How is Stratford Hall Using Technology?

We are in the middle of an exciting transformation this year. During the past month alone, I noticed teachers and students using video cameras, podcasting radio plays, working collaboratively via Google Docs, blogging, tweeting, and using some of the most useful educational technology out there. The use of technology in the classroom has exploded in the past few months.

Podcasting, video creation, Google Docs, blogging, and Twitter change the writing process. They are becoming literature in their own right, but fundamentally they are about communication. Of all of the things our students will learn at school, communication is among the most important.

When students create an audio podcast, or edit a video in post-production, they are learning the most crucial skill of writing, which, of course, is editing. As they learn how to shuffle and extend their digital work, they are also learning the basic framework of text editing. Students who would otherwise struggle to put 100 words together on a piece of paper can create a three-minute radio play and learn many of the same skills.

The process of planning the podcast or video is important too. In writing, we call this the outline; in the podcast it is called the script. Learning how to look ahead, organize your ideas, and search for supporting resources are all vital to the writing process. In podcasting students have to both choose the script they follow, and the other digital resources they use to complement their writing.

Google Docs is an online word processor that lets students collaborate real-time in the process of writing. Instead of passing paper back and forth and taking turns editing their work, they can work together simultaneously on the same document. One of the most important parts of learning anything is the feedback you receive. Google Docs lets students receive nearly instantaneous feedback on their work.

Through blogging, our students learn that writing has an audience, that it is for someone else. We never write for only ourselves; even a diary is for a future, transformed you. Our students are learning how to make their writing interesting and engaging, and how to deal with the criticism of a public audience. Do you rewrite your thoughts according to the thoughts of others, or act independently and stand up for yourself?

Tweeting is making the writing process mobile. Our students — those who have cellphones — have some of the most flexible and powerful mobile computing devices ever built. More than any other technology our school uses, the mobile device has the power to be a game changer for learning. Now, 24/7, use-it-whenever-you-need-it, access-it-anywhere learning is ubiquitous.

We still have a ways to go in order to learn more productive use of educational technology as a school. During the next months, teachers will be experimenting with technology and learning how to use it. The journey has its challenges but our world has changed, and so must we.

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