This past weekend my school, Trinity Valley, gave me the opportunity to teach a one day Saturday enrichment course for students that focused on using technology to help them stay organized, manage their materials, and take their work on the go. The course was entirely voluntary and students could attend portions of the day. I organized it into three sections:
11-1 Study Skills & Tools
1-3 Mobile Tools, taking it on the go!
I was pleasantly surprised about the interest. I had 19 students sign up for the class and ultimately 16 attended. Additionally, there was a sports conflict. I had numerous students message me asking for a second offering as they could not attend. Interest was high (especially as there was no extra credit or mandatory attendance).
I built a Google Site (that you can see here) for the course, telling students the programs that I would be using and requesting that they sign up for accounts and download applications in advance.
Many of the programs had some overlap for organization and study. Largely, I wanted students to get familiar with a variety of powerful tools and then choose one or two that they could then focus on and, hopefully, implement in their own studies and daily life.
Applications I Highlighted
DropBox - It is an excellent cloud storage program that you can use to sync content across devices and platforms. If you would like more information on DropBox, see:
- My post for PLP Voices, “DropBox – a Superb Classroom Tool“
- A DropBox Tour by DropBox themselves
- The DropBox Blog, for great news releases and How-To’s
Evernote - Evernote is a program that will allow you to ‘remember everything,’ – you can input notes by hand, pictures, voice notes, to do lists, clips from websites, and more. Evernote syncs across platforms and devices. For more information on Evernote, see:
Google Calendar - A free calendar resources that allows you to sync across platforms, collaborative calendar, set reminders (that will even pop up on your cell phones), and more. For help on how to get started on Google Calendar, see:
Google Drive - Incorporating Google Docs as well as 5GB of free Cloud storage, create and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and more. To learn more about using Google Drive, see:
MindMeister - MindMeister is a collaborative, online mind mapping tool that has recently been merged with Google Drive! It is one of my favorite classroom tools. To learn more about MindMeister, see:
In addition to these specific tools, I discussed other mobile options for students to use on their Smart Phones or Tablets such as Electronic Student Planners and Smart Phone Document Scanners as well as Flash Card makers. All of these tools can help to further empower your Smart Phone as a truly comprehensive and malleable computing device.
The Scavenger Hunt
To help students learn about each of these programs, I devised an interactive scavenger hunt. The winner of which would get a prize (iTunes card, Evernote Premium Subscription, etc). If you are interested in looking at those further, I will post them below.
What I Will Change Going Forward (aka – What Did I Learn?)
The first thing that I learned is that six straight hours of work shop teaching is way too much! I think that if I offer the course again, I will limit it to four hours. The mobile element can really be incorporated into the rest of the lessons and doesn’t need its own unit.
Also, it is important to remember that software doesn’t operate in the same way on all of the same platforms. Some of the instructions I gave were not applicable on an iPad or accessible at all on a Microsoft Surface. While it likely is not feasible to be able to prepare a separate lesson for each device, it’s important to realize that a student will not be able to use all of the features on every device.
All in all, I think that the program was a success and I would love to offer it again applying what I learned the first time around.