Innovating education with technology.
Copyright: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo
Informational workflows are the processes we use to pass information from one person or location to another. They’re a critical part of education. After all, acquiring, processing and sharing information is fundamental to learning. We’ve been using very simple workflows that served our old models of education effectively for centuries. It doesn’t require extensive training to write on a board, distribute printed handouts, or collect paper assignments. Then we hit the digital revolution and suddenly simple workflow tasks became a challenge.
Schools are investing heavily in educational technology, however they’re often lacking a comprehensive plan for workflows that enable fluent movement and sharing of digital information. Further, in the new age of connectivity and social networking, new digital workflows can expand our horizons for how we learn and who we learn with. From simple exchanges of information inside the classroom to collaboration with learners around the globe, the design and implementation of effective digital workflows creates rich learning environments with capacities that extend far beyond the limited scope of their paper-based predecessors.
Any design process begins with a definition of requirements. What’s the information we’ll be sharing, and how and where do we want it distributed? See how your current setup meets the following checklist of objectives.
1. Exchanging information within the classroom.
2. Sharing with the class from any device.
3. Access to information outside the classroom.
4. Sharing with people outside the class environment.
How do you measure up? Hopefully, your school or district has signed up for a system such as Google Apps for Education or one of the more popular learning management systems such as Schoology, Edmodo or Canvas. These can be great pieces in a comprehensive workflow plan however no single system can meet all the needs of a well-designed learning environment. In order to meet their objectives, they require administrative buy-in, installation, setup and extensive training. While the ultimate objective should be a comprehensive workflow design for your entire organization, there are many steps you can take to boost workflow in your classroom right now. You don’t need a large budget and implementation can be relatively simple. Consider the following options.
1. Share content between devices with AirDrop: Sharing resources between devices became far simpler with the development of AirDrop over the last couple of years. AirDrop allows you to wirelessly send photos, videos, websites, files, and more to a nearby iOS device, MacBook or iMac.
a. The recipient sets AirDrop to “Everyone” (left)
b. The iPad appears on the sender’s list of AirDrop target devices (right)
2. Project devices with an Apple TV: Connect your Apple TV to the projector or TV in your room and the magic of AirPlay will allow anyone to wirelessly share their device for all to see. Just connect your iOS device and your AirPlay device to the same Wi-Fi network.
3. Project devices through a computer: Don’t despair if you don’t have the luxury of an Apple TV in your room. You can also mirror devices through a computer (Mac or PC). Install apps such as Airserver, Reflector or Mirroring360 on a computer that’s connected to a projector and devices will be able to mirror to it.
4. Share content with a cloud account: If your school doesn’t yet have Google Apps for Education then start by suggesting they get it. In the meantime, use a simple cloud file sharing service for your class. Open an account such as Dropbox and upload and share files from any device. One word of caution - using a single account means that students have access to all files that have been uploaded. It might be a good time to talk about digital citizenship and responsible sharing.
5. Create digital portfolios: Keeping a portfolio used to mean storing sheets in a folder. Most work these days is usually a mix of paper and digital files. Apps such as Seesaw allow teachers and students to easily file digital work in an online portfolio. They’re easily shared and can be setup to allow feedback and comments. You can also use your device’s camera to snap a photo of any paper based work and add it to the online library.
Insert a variety of content directly from your iPad into a Seesaw portfolio or blog
6. Use a classroom learning management system: Setting assignments with due dates, distributing materials, collecting and grading student work - these have been everyday workflows in classes for generations. There are excellent systems for enterprise management of these digital workflows and I’d certainly recommend using one. If you don’t have access to a school-wide learning management system then you can easily just start using one in your own classroom. Apps such as Showbie and Schoology offer easy (and free) classroom management tools that will simplify your everyday digital exchanges with students.
Manage assignments with a learning management app such as Showbie
The introduction of digital devices into classrooms has the potential to enrich and expand learning opportunities. Creating well planned and implemented workflow solutions is an essential ingredient to their success.