Instructional Design is defined as: The process by which instruction is improved through the analysis of learning needs and systematic development of learning materials. Students across the United States want to know each day at school, “When will we ever use this?” and “Why do we have to know this?” They’re both age-old questions, to say the least, and I think it is about time that we empower students to have more flexibility when it comes to their own learning.
With that said, in order to show students how to do so, I charge teachers to model digital competencies that span beyond the confines of the my documents folder on their respective devices. Those of us who understand this concept have begun to approach instructional design from a broader perspective. Global awareness is trending in education, and we must prepare our kids for success on many levels. Learning is taking place at very rapid rates for some. Those learners do not wait for the knowledge to come to them; they go get it. Do you want to foster future readiness in your classroom? Here are 3 keys to global instructional design.
Develop a PLN and PLE
I. Feel. Redundant. Still, I will carry on with my crusade until the majority of the teachers I serve find that this key is as vital to success as I do. Today, educators can ill afford to neglect their personal learning. There is so much information out there, that teachers must not rely solely on their district personnel to deliver all of the rich professional development that they receive. I once wrote about Personal Learning Networks (and Environments) where there’s a graphic about all of the different resources, apps and tools available for professional growth. Suggested tools include Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, and more! You can find a simple step-by-step guide to learn all about Twitter for Educators here.
Become a Blogger (for Teachers and Students)
Think about the SAMR model (fan or not) for measuring levels of student-engagement, and note the importance of varying the activities you plan for using technology in the classroom. Although it’s virtually impossible to operate in the Redefinition level all of the time, it is important to give students a global voice from time to time. Our kids are great writers, videographers, artists, and creators. Blog writing provides an opportunity for them (and you) to share their views and talents with the world. Please note however, that it is necessary for teachers to give feedback (such as through Google Classroom or Google Docs) to students and check for authenticity and content before posting. Here are a few websites I suggest to get started.
Blogger.com connects with Google+ and can be easily shared with all of your communities. If you are in a Google Apps for Education district, I suggest using this service simply because of the ease-of-use and Google compatibility. It also tracks traffic so you can easily see how far your posts reach. The user interface is much like Google Docs. The editor’s look and feel is very similar, and if you’re already familiar with Docs, learning to navigate Blogger will be a breeze.
Sometimes “simple” isn’t enough. This is my personal favorite. Why? Because the themes are BOSS! I really like the user interface and the stats area lets me know which posts are getting hits and from where. I highly recommend it for educators who are serious about blogging. I will caution you that if you are considering using WP for students, there are a few problems: The learning curve is a bit steep compared to most other sites. So, if you are a teacher-blogger who likes a challenge, (and the ability to sell products and control most of your site’s functions) then WordPress.com or WordPress.org is for you. Your student’s might find the interface at WordPress.com a bit overwhelming, so be prepared to have a tech day (or THREE) exclusively for WP. Here’s a comparison of the two WordPress sites, which may have you running back to “simple.” The self hosted site requires the purchase of a domain and a web host, and should probably be avoided for beginners and hobbyists.
Weebly.com is the best of both worlds: Website and blog in one. The templates and layouts are all very similar, but are aesthetically pleasing. In design mode, adding pages is fairly simple. As with Blogger and WordPress, you may add a standard page or an external link, but with Weebly, your class website can double as a class blog by adding a “blog page”. As a starter, pro, or business member, you can add several pages to your site, add your own custom domain, or upload various multimedia. There is a cap on how many pages you can add using the free version. How much you can do with Weebly depends on whether you’re willing to make a small financial investment in your site, or not.
If you want total control of what your students post, without the hassle of vetting through the exchange of Google Docs or email, then Edublogs will give you switchboard-like capabilities! Again, the more you are willing to pay for services, the more powerful the hosting service will be. The options are limitless. Take time to choose the service that is right for you and your students.
Have a Social Media Presence
So you’ve used Web 2.0 to find several tools and resources to sharpen your saw. You’ve followed the best of the best ed tech bloggers like:
Richard Byrne: Freetech4teachers.com
Jamie Forshey: Edutech4teachers.edublogs.org
and a host of others (as listed in Education Week!)
Let’s consider how the power of social media can amplify your learning to the max! For example, If I need answers to questions that my colleagues cannot answer, then I can tweet to one of the many experts in my PLN. When I find useful information, I can share it with my friends and followers, and they can share it further. There are times that I stumble upon wonderful posts that deserve to be shared and shared again, and I do. Explore the possibilities that extend far beyond Facebook and Twitter.
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