“For me, despite my love of cool new gadgets, I always try to start from a place of what do I want my students to learn and what do I want them able to do. If the cool-to-play-with Google Glass or Apple Watch or other gadget isn’t the most efficient way to answer those questions then I don’t bring it into the class. I can’t promise I won’t get one for myself though.”
The IT History Society http://www.ithistory.org/ is an international group of over 700 members working together to document, preserve, catalog, and research the history of Information Technology (IT). One of their most useful things for students and teachers on their site is an International Database of Historical and Archival Sites, where you can look up and research everything from pre-Apple history to ZZT-oop (an early in-game scripting programming language). The databases are listed alphabetically, and can be sorted by institution or country.
There is a wonderful multi-part series on Slate’s Schooled section called “The Big Shortcut” on the advantages and disadvantages of using software for credit recovery. The first story is here. In a nutshell, there are real pros and cons to consider if your district is going to use software:
easy to implement for administrators
easy for students to use
flexible use of time and space is great for students with other obligations
students can learn basic facts and skills
allows focus on content rather than socializing
boring and isolating
easy for students to game and/or Google
easy for students to “pretest” out quickly
difficult for students who are not self-motivated or who need structure
shallow content emphasizing breadth instead of depth
shallow assessment (as in multiple choice assessments vs. essays, presentations, or products)
linear presentation of material does not allow exploration
The most successful curricula heavily involve teachers and the class looks more like a blended class than computer lab. Students get the actual teaching that they need while proceeding in an environment that is an alternative to traditional classes.
Therefore, the questions to keep in mind about using software for credit recovery (and credit acceleration!) include the following:
do you have subject-area teachers available to monitor, assess, and give assistance and feedback?
in social studies, is the software consistently updated? (For example, WorldView programs were the social studies component of Edmentum’s Plato Courseware for many years, but their version is no longer updated by us.)
is there a discussion component (either virtual or IRL)?
does the software’s content comprehensively cover your state’s standards? Look for software that has made it through your state’s textbook adoption process, which is a higher standard.
are there options for different types of assessment (not just multiple choice questions)? WorldView programs have different levels of multiple choice questions (factual, conceptual, chronological, and image), guided and un-guided essays, short answer questions, and projects.
how much repetition/randomization do the multiple choice questions employ? How often can students retake the test? WorldView programs even have multiple testing options for multiple choice questions: Study Questions are Socratic, allowing students two tries and give a mini-lesson explanation for the answer. Practice Tests allow the student one try. And coming soon are Mastery Questions that contain different question stems, answers, and distractors.
how secure is your IT system? how much of the internet can students access from within the program? do they have access to their own devices?
And so on! Are you a teacher, administrator, or home-schooler using software for credit recovery or acceleration? Let us know what issues you’ve discovered in the comments.
Use the answers to the “Questions for Thought” in the overview as a note-taking guided exercise.
The National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) is a library of online course content for students and faculty in higher education, high school and Advanced Placement. It’s a non-profit project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education, an education think tank that is well-funded by competency-based education advocates like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It also receives funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation and from NROC member institutions.
Hippocampus.org has video presentations and interactive activities called simulations available in history, government, sociology, and economics. These are openly available, and the content collections come from Chattanooga State University, National Geographic, Dallas Learning Solutions, the Virginia Historical Society, and Tom Christian and Thorp School District.
The Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) is basically a social network of archives. It’s a bit like one-stop shopping: it exists to help historians and other researchers make connections among the people they are studying by mapping the ways in which they can be connected through archival materials.
From the blog post introducing SNAC to the public:
Let’s look at an example of Shirley Chisholm in SNAC. In just the National Archives Catalog, Chisholm has an authority record and is connected to just five descriptions. There are a pictures of her, an interview, and more… But the Archives is not the only repository to collect Chisholm’s work: 51 collections in SNAC either list her as the creator or have a referenced to her. For example, Chisholm’s letters are located in the New York Public Library.
Not only can you find a single person in multiple archives using SNAC, but you can also find records for people and organizations associated with them — so for Chisholm, some associated names are “major historical figures like Presidents Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson; Shirley Bernard, a professor and an active member of the National Organization of Women; and Constance Baker Motley, an important African American judge and social reformer.” (The featured image is of the network of names associated with Chisholm’s, which also shows if the names were connected apart from their connection through Chisholm.)
This makes SNAC a tremendous tool not only for doing historical research, but for situating research in context.
Looking for a hornpipe, polka, or gavotte? http://archive.folx.org/ is an online database of traditional and folk music. Find recordings, videos, sheet music, and lots of other information on ethno music from (mostly) Europe.
Note: I personally have terrible memories of being forced to square dance in gym class. But looking back, I think that what bothered me most was that it was contextless: lining up in the gym and dancing for no reason at all was just stupid and made everyone self-conscious. Furthermore, if you managed to achieve any kind of facility with the steps, the bell was sure to ring! However, I’ve also been to events where there were live musicians and folk dances that were a tremendous amount of fun for everyone. So I think the context matters a great deal for your average student.
If you’re teaching American history, for example, why not have students watch a musical movie such as “Oklahoma” in preparation, discuss what people then needed to do to prepare for a dance, and then plan your own? Let them dress up or play instruments, and then let the jam session continue from there!
We are very pleased to announce that WorldView Software has been fully integrated with Canvas® from Instructure, Inc.! Canvas® is an easy-to-use, cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that connects all the digital tools and resources teachers use into one simple place.
Use your Canvas® account to access our award-winning apps:
You can now find us through the EduAppCenter, which is maintained by Canvas®. We are also accessible from within Canvas® as an external app. A consumer key and sharedsecret (password) are required for access.
Canvas® is the fastest-growing open online learning management system (LMS) in K-12 — it’s even been selected by North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction as a tool teachers throughout the state can use to collaborate. If you’re in NC, our programs World History A & B, American History I & II, and U.S. Government with Economics are fully correlated to state standards and have been approved for use as both textbooks and supplements.
Canvas® LMS + WorldView content = learning!
Art images are a great way to introduce units: use them to generate questions on all sorts of topics!