Previously I wrote about some of the tech issues we have had this year. A new Internet filter for our district meant that many of the Web 2.0 tools my class is built on simply did not work. At the same time the new filter was adopted the district adopted a new Student Information System and the roll out had a number of bumps. That meant there were not a lot of tech support people to look into my issues. Well, the problems have been resolved and my class is back and running smoothly. Well smoothly for me- you may think it is chaos, but I like it like that.
Because of all of the network issues we had earlier in the year I had to piecemeal together applications for kids to use. What worked on one machine for one student did not work on the next machine for another student. It was a really crazy time, and I have to hand it to the students who stuck to it while we tried to find a way for them to get their work done. At any given time some kids were writing in Docs, some in Word- different versions, and some in Live.com. depending on what worked at the moment. As crazy as that was, in the long run it turned out great. Now I have kids deciding on which application to use for a particular task, and are able to say why they are making that choice. “I am going to do it in Docs because I want to work on it at home.” “I am using PowerPoint because I really like this template.” While I do not want to go through the tech problems we had this year again, the results- kids able to decide on which application to use and why, and kids able to figure out a way to get something done, are really amazing!
The return of Web 2.0 to my classroom came at a time when we were doing research papers. I was able to introduce Easy Bib as a way to build their bibliography (I added it to our Google Apps for Ed domain), and Bookmarks.Google.com as a way to keep track of, and even share, the web sites they are using for their research. I even threw in Books.Google.com so they could find books now that school libraries seem to be a thing of the past. So because of the technology nightmare that was the first semester my students are now really able to move seamlessly between applications, solve problems, and make thoughtful decisions about what they are doing. Put that in the win column.