Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan and Jewish Distance Learning

I doubt that the old Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks movie "You've Got Mail" ever considered the possibilities that could arrive in one's inbox every morning. After all, the move was made in 1998 when email was basically communication between two individuals.

Today we get a little bit of everything in our daily emails that we can mull over with our morning cup of coffee. This includes, I recently discovered, daily tips and crowdsourcing advice for online educational strategies and techniques.

Using the Haiku Learning Management System (LMS) the JETS year-long PD course is now underway as educators check in to learn what new tips are available for their online classes and how their colleagues manage various Internet tools to increase class effectiveness.

Every time a participant posts in the Haiku room the rest of us receive a "You've got Haiku Mail" notification so that we're notified that there's new data which we can investigate and  explore as well as comment on our colleagues' posts.

I took the basic No Teacher Left Behind course last year for an overview of online educational methods. During this course I learned how to manage online blackboards and other learning tools that would motivate the students to look at old material in new ways.

Now I've signed up for the year-long course which is where my morning mail comes from.

A learning management system, such as Haiku, organizes and administers information for an online class as the class progresses through the semester, or through the year. Rather than try to commit all of the past posts, comments, information, documents, homework assignments and other data to memory the Learning Management System tracks and reports this information for us. In the same way that we learned how to manage an online blackboard by actually experimenting with the process during our first PD course, we are now moving on to develop the ability to manage a LMS by activating it during our year-long course.

The course started in early September. It is a combination of a review of information that we had previously learned as well as new ideas and concepts.  We began with a review of the Linoboards, a great interactive online learning tool for students of all ages. The course instructor, Smadar Goldstein, provided links to show some of her own Linoboards that she's used in her own courses as well as some of the linoboards that other students have created.

We have also reviewed how to make an Animoto video and looked at one that Smadar made for a class on Tikkun Olam.  I can hardly believe that it could be so user-friendly, especially for non-techie types (like me) but the instructions seem straight-forward so it's  worth giving it a try.

I particularly appreciated the other teachers who shared their lists of resources and web tools-- I have always promised myself to make such a list but never did so these lists and "how to" tutorials will be very useful.

Next on the agenda is to crowdsource some good lesson plans for my next unit. 

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