It is always a challenge to discover new and unique ways to inspire learning for any age of student. AND it is always unnerving to use new applications and tools to engage the learner, as often enough there are going to be questions that can’t be answered immediately.
As a teacher, I am willing (and have the support) to step outside the box and try new tools for learning and collaboration (such as KidBlog or Glogster) and even go further by allowing students to provide suggestions on how they would like to showcase their learning.
This year already, I have had many 9-11 year olds asking if they BYOD to utilize for reading and other purposeful learning activities in the classroom. I generally am not one to say no to these requests, as long as the student understands what the device is going to be used for. When the student is coming forward asking to use the device, it is demonstrating initiative for their learning and recognizing that these tools or devices have an educational purpose. With our board making a shift (slow and steady) to the usage of Google Education tools, this will further continue the path for more online collaboration with the learners and also allow parents to become more involved digitally with their child’s learning from home (we have already begun to notice this with Kidblog last year). For now, still waiting for the thumbs up for Google Education.
In the digital world, Kidblog has been one of the more rewarding interactive tools that we have used with our students. Our parent group has also been supportive with the tool and the students use. Within the Kidblog platform, students have the luxury of creating their own posts, responding to others, and even connecting with the larger global community with activities such as the Edublogs Challenge. A blogging tool used at school and at home, students of all calibers and learning needs can take part and join the larger community and not feel ostracized because of a limiting factor. Student posts can be assessed in a variety of ways and feedback doesn’t just come from the teachers but the students as well. Overall, blogging has been a huge success and that success is continuing in our classrooms and also spilling over into other grade groups.
However in the meantime, the search is still out there for Web 2.0 tools to be tested and tried in the classroom. One such tool that I have briefly toyed with this summer and now have had a more reason to use is the Augmented Reality story book creator ZooBurst. Although I haven’t used this tool in the classroom as of yet, I can already foresee the huge potential for it.
The task that I was presented with in a graduate course was to create and complete a digital story. We were introduced to Allan Levine’s wiki COGDOGROO: 50 Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story. Objective: explore the 50 tools and choose one to create our own digital story. Hence the rediscovery of ZooBurst.
Although I could have selected any of the Web 2.0 tools, Augmented Reality has been making waves in education and I wanted to explore this tool. When I think “story”, my brain shifts and leans towards a book. Although I know stories can be told in many mediums. I liked the idea of recreating my story in a book like manner. The presentation of Zooburst is displayed like an open book, and has pop ups of images that the reader can click/touch to provide the text or audio feature.
Looking forward in the classroom education, we are often wanting to incorporate technologies and web 2.0 tools to provide a learner-centered experience. Many Web 2.0 tools and platforms provide this. The use of wikis and Google Docs as many of us have used in our own personal experiences during my current masters program to collaborate writing and share ideas.
ZooBurst has the potential to be a collaborative or solo tool. Depending on how the teacher would want their learners to use it, but I think it would be a positive experience either way. The platform also has the capability of supplying learners access to a variety and wide range of images, sounds and audio tools to represent their knowledge and understanding in story form. Users can also upload their own images to incorporate. Although there is a free component to ZooBurst, to access many of the extra perks you must ante up and pay for the premium package. Which doesn’t seem to be too much to spend for a pretty slick service.
When it comes to sharing ones final masterpiece, ZooBurst allows users to share their creations either by embedding the story into a webpage or simply sharing the link. If you go for the premium service, you have the opportunity to download and print a QR code type image which in turn allows the user to experience the story in augmented reality using an iPad (and the free ZooBurst app). With the ability to create these stories online, students can easily share with friends and family.
I foresee ZooBurst having great potential on student learning in a virtual or regular classroom. I was pretty motivated and engaged to create and share my digital story and I have a good feeling my students will be even more motivated and engaged using this Web 2.0 tool.