Saturday I attended EDesign Lab
's Showcase of learning tools -- new digital products created by educators, technologists, and designers to enhance student engagement. The products presented were social learning tools designed around the idea of metacognition, or recognizing our own cognitive processes. Although the three products are in different stages of development, I think they have valuable potential because they create student-centered activities that encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning.
Because is a graphing and picture tool built on the Google Drive API that allows multiple users to examine a graph and discuss cause and effect relationships. With this tool, a social studies teacher could input data about US military troop levels in the 20th century and share the graph with his students, asking guided questions like, “Identify peak troop deployment in the 60s and 70s and discuss causes.” Students then drop markers onto the graph and forms discussions around the data. Extremely simple to use and understand, this seems like an effective way of analyzing data points and relationships in groups.
Robin Review is a program that facilitates targeted peer feedback for writing activities in real time. In a classroom of students writing essays, students would use it to copy their introduction paragraphs into the program and send them to other students who are asked to a “highlight the thesis statement.” Or they evaluate text based on rubrics or confirmation questions, always quickly receiving many responses with little bias or teacher monitoring.
This iPad app records the stages of problem solving and enables students to reflect on the stages of their learning process. It provides a space for students to solve a math or science problem while recording every stroke, including what they erased and changed. Students then watch it played back and label each section of their learning process: identifying, planning, doing, changing, and verifying. This is so valuable because it shifts the emphasis of learning from getting a problem right to determining how they arrived at their conclusion, and encourages students to share their story with peers, parents, and teachers -- thus reinforcing their learning.
It's encouraging to see the thoughtful and practical products that emerge when educators and technologists collaborate together; these tools fulfill educational needs and leverage technology to allow students to accomplish outcomes that they couldn't before without it.