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Basic Tips for Getting Started
Used wisely, technology empowers students to take responsibility for their own learning. In Leonardo’s Laptop, Ben Shneiderman provides teachers with a powerful framework, Collect-Relate-Create-Donate (CRCD), for designing student-centered learning opportunities using computers. In particular, Shneiderman’s CRCD framework emphasizes the importance of the social aspects of learning in generating creative work. In CRCD projects, students research information, work collaboratively to create a meaningful product that demonstrates their learning, and contribute that project to a larger learning community. Shneiderman designed the Collect-Relate-Create-Donate framework as a vehicle for preparing young people for a 21st century world where innovation, creativity, and collaboration will be more highly prized than retention and repetition. The tips below will help you to get started with your curriculum development using new technologies.
1. Get Some Training.
You don't have to become a computer expert, but you need to have some basic understanding of how computers operate and what to do when they do not operate properly. You should also become familiar with a web browser such as Firefox or Internet Explorer and websites that provide tech-integration resources and tutorials. Your school or college likely has an instructional technology specialist to help you in this regard.
2. Don't Re-invent the Wheel.
There are plenty of credible and experienced educational technology organizations, administrators and teachers out there who can lead you to quality materials, lesson plans and activities for use in your classroom. You don't have to spend hours using search engines to locate appropriate sites and materials. Some of the best educational Web sites for integrating technology in the classroom are:
- Center for History and New Media
- Classroom 2.0
- Discovery Education: Kathy Schrock "Guide for Educators"
- PBS Teachers: Media Infusion
3. Establish a Partnership with Your Students.
Many of your students will be excited about computer use, but you and they may be apprehensive about how technology will change your learning environment. Tell your students that computer use in your classroom is new and exciting for you as well, and that you are all part of an experiment whose ultimate success will largely depend on your combined efforts and cooperation. Stress how special this educational opportunity is and how much you need their input. Remember, it's about the students, not you. Your students will probably appreciate you asking for their help, and it may spur them to take ownership of the program. It also may soften some frustrations when technical problems occur.
4. Have a Plan B Ready.
You are going to run into some technical difficulties in class and how you handle them will go a long way in determining how successful and enjoyable your technology experience is. You can minimize unwanted surprises by getting some training from an instructional technology specialist and by minimizing your reliance on live web connections. However, you will invariably run into technical problems during class that you are not able to solve immediately. In such instances, if you appear overly perturbed and frustrated you will send a signal to your students that they too can moan about technical problems and perhaps use them as excuses to forego completing computer-based work. Even worse, you may inadvertently cause them to question the ultimate merit of computer-based learning. Instead, try to make a smooth transition to a backup lesson plan, thereby sending a signal that technical glitches are just part of your educational adventure.
Collect - Relate - Create - Donate Framework
In Leonardo’s Laptop, Professor Ben Schneiderman lays out a simple but powerful framework for designing user-centered, student-centered technology- integration projects.
The framework consists of four parts: Collect, Relate, Create, and Donate.
- In Schneiderman’s framework, projects begin with a chance to Collect knowledge, and students research the factual building blocks of their learning project.
- From there students Relate with one another - since collaboration and cross-cultural communication skills play essential roles in our economic and civic spheres.
- Based on the collection of building blocks and relating their knowledge to one another, students the Create some kind of tangible demonstration of their understanding.
- The final part of an activity is to find a forum to Donate the student work so that students can enjoy the opportunity to publish their work and be of service to others.
We’ve found this approach helpful in designing and evaluating Social Studies activities that take advantage of emerging technologies. The best technology integration projects use computers to empower students to take responsibility for their own learning and give them the tools to succeed in that endeavor. The Collect-Relate-Create-Donate (CRCD)framework is a great way to get started in creating these kinds of student-centered learning experiences.