Permission + Encouragement = Cool Stuff

We are three months into the school year, and for a while I’ve felt┬áthat it’s time to shift my students from consumers and users of technology to producers and creators. Last year I followed the same pattern, spurred on by a confluence of factors, including a workshop by Jason Ohler, the implementation of google apps at my school, attendance at a gafe summit, and of course, the start of Coetail.

Despite my own commitment to embrace messiness, I feel like I’ve held back a little too long. Fueling my procrastination was the prospect of reserving hardware, dealing with software issues, helping students remember their passwords, teaching new digital tools, and supporting a class full of 9 year olds.

I recently realized, however, that sometimes you don’t need all of the above. Sometimes you can simply give permission and encouragement to students, let them sort out the details, and wait for cool stuff to show up. Even with third graders.

For example, my students were recently introduced to their google apps for education accounts. This was their first time to use email and google drive, and one girl in my class asked me if she could type up instructions on how to use email. Instead, I introduced the idea of screen casting to her, showed her how to use the software Jing, and wished her good luck. Here is what she came back with after the weekend:


This is leaps better than what I would have created. I also learned, from the opinion of my student, that Quicktime is far superior to Jing for screen casting (I didn’t even know Quicktime performed this function).

This method wouldn’t work for all learners, but if you’re reluctant to get started with big tech-creation projects, try to support your students’ ideas, offer suggestions, and see what they can come up with on their own. Hopefully they will surprise you with what they create.

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2 Responses to Permission + Encouragement = Cool Stuff

  1. Hi Jeff,

    I agree! Your student created a pretty awesome instructional video. Nowadays students are so creative and versatile. When given the permission, encouragement and opportunity, they will come up ideas that most often surprises me.
    Thanks also for the idea of using Quicktime and Jing for screen casting. I will look into these when we start our course 5 projects.

    • Jeff Lewis says:

      Thanks for the comment, David. On my student’s recommendation, I tried Quicktime to record a screencast. The one thing that gives it an advantage over the free version of Jing is that you can post it directly to youtube. With Jing, you have to post to (which I’ve had troubles linking to).

      The thing I didn’t like about Quicktime is that you can’t pause the recording, which takes some getting used to. You have to plow straight through, or make a bunch of shorter clips and splice them together in iMovie.

      I’m sure there’s a better solution beyond these two, but I haven’t had time to explore yet.

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