Blog type environment where all media is used four ways (not in order of importance):
1. to teach : A lesson be it English or physics can be taught and demonstrated online to meet academic standards using movies, text and other media. Links on teacher pages to outside texts and media would enhance it of course. Simple but powerful given the right teachers. Teachers could visit their students and comment on the work and thoughts as well as start dialogues (threaded comments would help there). That is huge accountability. Tracking techniques could work well here to make sure students visit where they need to. Interdisciplinary work would find a very comfy home here if not at first then eventually. Teachers would read each other's pages to see how to make their own lessons more significant to the whole. And hey, one project could encompass several subjects with different teacher accountable for different parts. Universal themes.
2. to learn : students blogs could serve the dual purpose of showing lesson mastery as well as journaling the learning experience (also meeting standards and also using multi self chosen media). Additionally if it were required that they interact with peers (ORG has favorites, a class could be one of those, places like Xanga have blogrings and a class roster could easily work there). This is also huge accountability for the student. (Kids are already doing this informally and love it.) They would get substantive and individual feedback for each project and some journals and that is a heck of a lot more than they get now. The distance of the ether would make it easier for every child to have voice.
3. to grow : To ensure safety an environment should be closed like the ORG is. Private messages transmission should not be permitted among students within the school environment. Transparency will be very important and cyber bullying is serious business and liability. Admin types could read comments both teacher, student and guest ones. Admin should be able to send private messages to students and teachers that can be monitored by others. Their also making substantive comments would increase community feel and make them more accountable and engaged as well. Static page appearances are also a good safety measure and keep the focus on the learning/growth.
4. to change the world: Guests with expertise in certain fields could either be invited to speak or post and kids might flock to them and some might be required to visit. Constructive and critical input from experts in different fields could elevate student projects to level heretofore unseen for most. Who knows where a budding biologist can take an idea with the right guidance? I do not have exclusive thoughts as to what makes and expert.
Links: Those big baddies needed for college, ACT SAT SATII and others can be linked and practiced as games. Standardized tests for school accrediting can also be done this way. Most text book companies have online counterparts and those could be linked (subscriptions may be necessary but it can be limited as much of the academic standards of a 7-12 school can be achieved using public domain sources).
Main Pages: This is where a parent and real time communities can come to see what is up. It is also a place for transparency of curriculum if that is desired. Curricula can be posted or not (most schools now do not make theirs public and consider it property). A schedule of events can also be posted. If a forum discussion is to be had at a specific time or location this would be a great place to find it. Teacher pages could be accessed there too. A place to submit suggestions and problems should be found here as well and should offer anonymity if desired.
Like the places to find a good cup of cocoa in the maps at the ORG, places to find free wifi could posted in a school giving local companies or other interested parties like parent organizations incentive to help out and get involved.
There's more obviously, I have not even touched on content, but a place will be needed. Content, shoot, that will be the draw and crucial. Looking through the participants I have read what seems to be a creative and eclectic knowledge base. If given academic standards to communicate and a means to assess learning I have little doubt serious coolness will arise.
The above is only a skeleton of ideas hopefully to prompt other ideas.
To my mind the major work is the IT stuff in the place because I do not know how to create that. But the content, that's my game usually. I am ready and willing to create and demonstrate a lesson that meets academic standards and gives means of evaluation and further inquiry.
Dividing the work would make it a very doable venture. I might be able to supply some students for practice too.
Now I have to read the other ideas. Sorry. I didn' do that first. Won't happen again.
If there is a decision on WHO is going to be the student and what is going to be taught, academic standards can be found. US federal ones are public. State ones are harder to get but also public and most align with federal ones.
Content development would not necessarily have to limited to these standards obviously there are a whole new and more relevant set now that are not being addressed. However, the old ones are still important and unless anyone is apt to come up with all new ones, the old ones are a good place to start when constructing lessons. There is no law prohibiting the addition of standards unless those standards prohibit a student a student from participation due to disability. And even then it is only if said student does not make progress.
Just had to add that because content creation is facilitated when desired outcomes are evident. Standards do that.
That being said, the only limitation to content is creativity(and some laws).
Oh yeah, standards for the new learning goals would need to be decided upon and written. Not in stone of course. But that will be the way to surpass current tradition and usher in a new framework of understanding.
It would also guide and or define how the net, online communities and computers in general can be used to best learning effect.
A lot of schools have implemented this, to varying degrees and varying successes already. The school I work for has the supposed capabilities to do these things through the school blogs and class pages and online grade systems that operate in real time. There are two inherent problems with this, though. The first is educators who don't understand how to use these tools, either because of lack of technical skill or because of a lack understanding of how these things can be applied to the classroom. The second problem is the frequent apathy on the part of the parents and students toward actually using these tools. If a project like this were to go off, there would have to be some focus on educating educators to operate and apply this technology as well as consideration on how to motivate students and parents to use the tool.
Yes, I wasn't thinking current educators as they exist now. I was thinking us.
And I know about what has come in schools already (to dubious success all over). I am talking about a whole and completely digital environment that has a new focus for the new age.
But I agree wholly that the educators will need to be educated from both sides of the digital divide.
I think it is not only possible but that it will happen. More and more though, I do not think this grant, though enough money to start space and demonstrate efficacy, is not enough to put the idea into full practice unless some very special people donate expertise and time. More time than is available to get everyone on the same page.
The deadline is October 15 of this year. If I were writing a grant for it, I would need that time just for that process.
I appreciate that you read it though!
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