Twenty-Three Things — Activity 9: Cloud Computing

I’ve challenged some of my colleagues to take the 23 Things challenge to become more invested in online learning this summer. This website includes a 10-week game plan for learning some online learning and presenting methods that are useful for teachers, and that are appropriate activities for the age group we teach.  There are other 23 Things lists out there, I know, but this is the one that we’ve chosen to work with, and that I’ve decided to complete.

The previous entries in this series are here:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Discovery
  3. Setting Up a Blog
  4. Starting with Flickr
  5. Find some Flickr Toys and Tools
  6. Blog about the role of tech in your classroom
  7. Initial experiment with RSS Readers
  8. RSS Readers continued

First, an RSS Update:  I mentioned that I started using Feedly, and I have to say two things about it.  1) I love it, but 2) I keep forgetting to use it. And I keep finding that many of my favorite sites don’t update often enough, or in the right format, for me to use Feedly the way I’d want to.  Also, I live for the stats this blog keeps for me (I don’t really live for them, but I have noticed that my readership is not quite as dedicated as it used to be, and that there’s been a general fall-off since I finished year one of my tai chi cycle.  All the more reason, as a writer, to move on to something else… hmmm.  Interesting side recognition. More on that later).

Activity 10: Cloud Computing

The goal for this week is to sign on to, and use, some sort of cloud computing services like Google Docs.  I’ve actually been experimenting with this a lot, in preparation for the roll-out of a project with some colleagues that I’m very excited about… but that I can’t say very much about yet.  I’ve used Google Docs FORMS as a way of collecting sign-ups for after-school projects, for teaching computational thinking, for generating take-home quizzes, and giving surveys to my students.  I’ve used Google Docs WORD PROCESSING to generate an enormous cloud of shared documents and commentary for a multiple-person performance-art project in the past, and Spreadsheets both to collect data about that project and maintain budgets for that project.  I have to say, I think the Presentation Software is woefully underpowered; but maybe that’s because I haven’t played with it very much yet.

The huge thing for me about Google Docs is the ability to comment on a student’s work and make editorial changes ahead of my formal assessment of it.  My mother, too, was blown away by that idea. She said, “I spent years in school, not knowing why I got an A or a C+ on a given assignment; I didn’t know what my teachers wanted from a writing prompt… the notion that you could read their work ahead of time, and TELL your students exactly what you wanted out of a sentence, or a paragraph, or the whole paper, blows my mind!”

And this is the point where she did the hand gesture that could be interpreted as a stick of dynamite blowing her head off; or interpreted as the crown chakra opening up the larger universe.  So I think that comments and the ability to edit a student’s work ahead of the official assessment grade should really change how we do assessment in schools.  I don’t know of any other power in the cloud computing word that could change the way we do school as completely as this one.

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