The equivalent to the Google classroom is the Adobe classroom. Later this month, Adobe offers a class ‘called Explanimation.’ An awkward word coined to describe animation to explain, or tell a story.
Too often however, Storytelling is linked to software. From iMovie, to Glogster; from Visme and Animoto to Audacity among many others. Humans told stories around campfires before most technologies were invented. So tools like these should not become a crutch.
Storytelling –be it digital or analog– requires being able to describe something succinctly. Long before firing up the software the ‘story’ needs a structure and focus. There’s the tried and tested Beginning, Middle, and End. Or the Introduction, Conflict, and Denouement, if you will.
Students are natural born storytellers, but they often freeze up when it’s time to sketch things out. The best technology for this? Something invented in the same year that Shakespeare was born – the pencil!
It may be time to box up the microphone and the rocket, the robots and the VR headsets. But truth is, we could do a lot of interesting things related to science and technology during the long summer break.
So here’s what I am asking my students to do in July and August.
- Become a ‘Maker’ – Build something. A tree house? Make a parachute out of a plastic bag, or a scarf, and a large eraser. Drop it from a balcony (or that tree house!) and change the way it lands.
- Create a Rube Goldberg device. Use scrap material, some dominoes, a tennis ball, a discarded cardboard tube, and a flower-pot… Watch this amazing example for inspiration
- Practice Coding. Work on a project at Code.org, or Scratch.Mit.edu
- Create a paper airplane or rocket contest. As we learned at the recent STEAM Night, some of the rockets that flew the furthest cost nothing, and were made of paper!
- Conduct a potato battery experiment! Two potatoes, a few nails, copper wire, and a light bulb from a flashlight. Ask an adult to download the steps here.
- Build a robot. Wrap a shoe box in tin foil. Add wheels and axles using bottle caps and skewers. For accessories like an antenna, and a probe, cut a coat hanger, and bend it into shape.
- Take up photography! Last year I taught a class using point-and-shoot cameras, and (the horror) phones! Figure out how depth-of-field, and back-lighting could enhance your pictures. No (Instagram) filters required.
- Write a short story! Try your hand at science fiction. Write your friends into the plot, and see where the story takes you! Check out these YA sci-fi authors
- Produce a skit. Before there was this thing called the Internet, we kids down the street created our own ‘drama.’ Find a friend who could help you co-write a short play about pollution, or landing on Mars.
- Build a solar oven. Start with a pizza box. Watch this video for inspiration!
I liked the original Google Classroom, for how it simplified how a learners could belong to a ‘class’ even though they may not be in the same building. Or country.
But the latest improvements to Classroom take it further, letting anyone who plans to teach create a lesson and connect with students. I just created a class as an experimentt. It’s a class on Writing and Publishing — the basis for a project this summer.
Lots of potential in how they hand over the tools to engage students, and receive feedback.It’s evident Google is staking its claim on a sector ready for disruption. Especially since Khan Academy has prepared the ground for it.
As the New York Times put it, Google has practically out-maneuvered Apple in the education market. More than half the nation’s primary- and secondary-school students now use Google education apps, it says.
It’s pricey, but it’s here. The answer to having Google Expeditions as a Virtual Reality tool for classrooms.
It’s a long, long shot from the basic Google cardboard headset that could potentially work with a smart phone as Google once promised.
The cardboard headsets were part of the lure because they had such a hand-made feel to it. The new kits, sold by Best Buy (the kit uses a Mattel ViewMasters unit) start at $3,999 for just 10 students, making it an over-priced nice-to-have for many schools. Way beyond the budget of many schools.
Virtual field trips are great, but some of us will have to wait until the a disruptor enters the field .Stereoscopy or the ability to have perceptions of depth and mass is being put to use in many areas outside of education. Let’s just hope Google Classroom continues to give us less branded, low-cost ways to experience Google Expeditions. We have already begun looking into VR for some of our STEM sessions, as I have mentioned before.