by Meenakshi Uberoi
Expert Educator Columnist, India
Windows in the classroom is full of options to make teaching learning processes more effective and meaningful for the students. Teamed with the right device, it allows you to bring the world alive within the confined walls of a classroom for which the teachers, without such technology, till date have had to look to the web to create resources and rely on students’ imagination and understanding to bring it closer to him/her.
OneNote is an amazing tool for collaboration amongst both students and teachers. If used wisely, it can play a vital role in the entire process of curriculum design. Curriculum planners like me can use it for sharing lesson plans with the grade-specific teachers and get their feedback on the same document, contrary to the time-consuming practice of uploading the files, breaking them into smaller chunks if too large, mailing them to all those involved, and then compiling all feedback and sending in the final draft with multiple attachments. Having used this tool recently for collaboration, curriculum planning has been taken to the next level and saved us some very valuable time.
I’m now looking forward to using OneNote for collaborative work with students. Being in an inquiry-led curriculum has opened a window for students to carry on with independent inquires in their own space and pace, and the teacher has access to who is doing what and how much. What is wonderful for students is that they no longer need to keep a record of the websites they accessed to get information and pictures, which they generally find difficult to keep track of. Also, it becomes easier for teachers to guide students during their research assignment as they can suggest websites to refer to and also monitor and channelize students’ research alongside. This helps teachers save time by allowing them to provide timely feedback and give appropriate guidance during the research process as audio clips rather than scribbling on the students’ neatly presented work.
Digital stories have worked wonders for outside classroom learning, as well. We can now send students to various places and when they come back, they can not only share their observations but even provide a 3-d view of the place they visited by creating views using Photo Sync and AutoCollage, especially for themes we focus on like community helpers and visiting animal shelters in the city.
Having taught the solar system theme to grade 4 students, I now feel that I will be able to take their understanding to a very different level while learning about the solar system to know their positions, sizes, distance from Sun and so on. It’s eally amazing to bring learning to life for my students.
Furthermore, Lync can further broaden our spectrum of learning by providing us the platform to collaborate with students around the globe and getting insight into their unique lives, as well as their perspectives on various topics of discussion. For example, a first grade student is able to compare a day in the life of a student in Delhi to that of a student in Minnesota, Melbourne, or even Mumbai or Kerala within India, considering the diversity in cultures and locations.
We often tell our teachers that logistics should not come in way of learning and to make things work for learning to happen. Windows in the classroom has not only removed that obstacle in a big way but given us a world to explore and enhance learning.