Strategic Design Of Technology Supports

My favorite annual technology integration activity each year is to sit down with Raleigh to plan the culminating Globalization class research presentation format. Raleigh is one teacher who takes to heart my greatest wish for tech integration: that teachers approach me before they decided how to use technology to support a class activity. Wiping the slate clean of predetermined solutions makes it possible to step back and strategize the best possible technology format for the goals and objectives of the project.

For the past two years, Raleigh’s students have researched different environmental issues around the world and compiled them into one web resource that we have posted on our public web site. Since the students have written the articles themselves and included only copyright-permitted images, we have been able to post these two sites in our public web space. This is in contrast to most other web projects at our school, for which educational fair-use law has required us to restrict the display of these sites to within our educational community.

The format for these two projects has been a static web site composed in Dreamweaver. Students have worked in pairs to write the articles, and each pair has had another specialization. For example, one pair has created the graphic design and another assembled the site on a template. Here are the two previous sites.

2004: Global Environmental Issues

2005: Changing the Environment

The second year, we improved the process for document collection by organizing content in Plone. This allowed groups to easily review and collect each others’ work when needed. However, we experienced odd errors when pasting content from Word into Plone, so the use of this tool was not a total success.

This year, Raleigh and I decided that the process of creating these static web sites was more valuable than the end product. We wanted a presentation format that restores the correct emphasis to the process while still producing a public document for the world to (potentially) see. Raleigh is going to come up with a hypothetical international development scenario for the students to consider in groups, and then we will have the students co-author a development strategy in a wiki (probably within Moodle). At one point in our discussion, we were going to choose blogs, but we then realized that we wanted a technology that required the students to work more closely together than a blog.

This decision underscores the importance of sitting down to strategize a technology support from scratch for a class project. Wiki more accurately captures the collaborative intentions of this teacher than a static web site or even a class blog. Then the result can be published in static form on the web and opened to the public for comment. This project will run over the next three weeks, and the final development statement will be published before we leave for winter break.

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