Monday, January 19, 2015

eLearning and Kindergarten

eLearning has been a heavy focus of mine lately. There is quite a bit of training and planning to put into place to get my teachers and students to the point where they can fluently prepare for and accomplish an eLearning day due to severe weather circumstances.

One goal to improve upon is the quality of instruction that is being given during an eLearning day. One thing we want to avoid is just providing busy work for the students to complete. If severe weather comes along, we need to provide actual instruction during this day. (Hence the need for my post about Snagit and Google Drive.)

This week I'm working with Kindergarten students at Wayne Center to help prepare them for eLearning. Accomplishing this task required a lot of prep:
  1. Sign each student into their Google Drive account. (Kindergarten students accurately typing an email address would be quite the challenge.)
  2. Create a document with all the students' email addresses with comma's and spaces separating them so that I can quickly share folders and documents with them in the future. 
  3. Create a shared folder and set it to "view only" (View Google Drive Basics here.) 
  4. Create a video using Snagit from Techsmith giving them instructions.
  5. Share the video directly to the Google Drive folder that is shared with the Kindergarten class. 


I, by no means, am claiming that the video above is quality instruction. However, the purpose was to give Kindergarten students the experience of accessing an instructional video on Google Drive, setting the video for offline use, watching it again if necessary, and following the directions given on the video. I will be practicing this with students for the next weeks so that if an eLearning day is necessary, the teachers can successfully prepare their students for the experience. (Next week, I promise to have a better quality video.)

Based upon the sample below, some of the students got it. However, I had one student that made his entire background black and claim he was finished making a picture of something that started with the letter B. He found his work to be quite amusing:


Many teachers are uncomfortable with the experience of creating videos. Especially with the amount of time it takes to make a screencast as the teacher will often have to restart a video whenever a mistake is made. That purely depends upon the software/app used as Snagit permits trimming after the video is made. One suggestion I had for teachers in this boat is to have a few students record a lesson being taught. Here are some tips to go along with that thought:
  • Have students record a lesson that will need frequent revisiting. 
  • Have a couple students record so that you can select the best quality video.
  • If you are good with video editing, you can combine bits and pieces from both videos.
  • If students use their iPads, they can easily create a folder in Google Drive and share the video with you for easy downloading.
A final suggestion I have that may work better than screen-casting is to use a document camera and record everything on paper. Pull up your presenter software and record the box using Snagit. This may provide an outlet for teachers that are more comfortable with a traditional approach as it combines both physical materials and technology. This was a method I used frequently several years ago before the iPad was launched. It provided a great way to create homework help videos to post on my teacher website. This was long before the simplicity of using Snag-It to send directly to a Google Drive account. (I believe Google Drive was blocked on our network back in those days.)