Scouting Paper

Posted on October 23, 2009

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I found this new tech tool in the book, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson. The tech tool I am most interested in is quiet new and not all school know about it yet. It is called live streaming which means a video is not done but you are watching it as it streams. A very widely know streaming site on the web is Ustream.tv which offers free streams as long as you have an email address your stream is fairly easy to set up. What you need is a fairly stable internet connection, a computer and a video camera. You create an account and you push “start recording” and well, it’s that simple. You can also change the settings on your page and make your streaming channel unique to you. What makes streaming so great is that the audience can twitter or comment ideas or questions to the person streaming. So unlike a broadcast where you call in and ask a question; live streaming puts your question on the show immediately. Other neat features are the ability to take a poll from the audience, show a Utube video or post questions you want the audience to answer.

When I read about live streaming in the book I started to think how it could be useful to an English teacher. How could a teacher incorporate their own TV channel into the classroom? I came up with some great ideas. One teachers could broadcast every class period, if a student missed a class they could easily watch it later. What about administration watching a class? No more they could watch any class they wanted from the classes that were broadcasted. How about students posting broadcasts to students across the sea or broadcasting to the troops in Iraq-what we did in class that day or what did they do? A whole world of collaborative learning could open up with these student broadcasts letting students see how there is a huge world out there. One typical student Richardson describes already has his own broadcast.

…who should I find conducting a careful analysis of the voting while talking live via Skype (another type of streaming) with people around the world and interacting with fifteen viewers in the show’s chat room but Arthus Erea, that fourteen year-old blogger I mentioned a couple of chapters back. That was a “sit up and take notice” moment for me no doubt (Richardson, 125).

Students have already started using live streaming to broadcasts ideas to other students typically in their area but many students find other students picking up on the stream and commenting as well. A larger picture develops by using live streaming in the classroom where the four walls are no longer there and students start to see a larger picture arising. Now I know many of you reading this may think sure, kids are commenting on other kids, but are they really cyber predators? Well to set anyone’s mind at ease who is worried about this, live streaming also lets the broadcaster ban or invite only certain people so it is up to the broadcaster to use discretion.

What better way to get students to start researching, analyzing and using higher processing skills then discussing topics with their peers while writing at the same time? The live streaming causes an organic environment of collaborative learning that can only be glimpsed at as of now since it is so new. Soon many teachers will use live streaming to encourage student writing and active participation in topics covered in class. Many teachers ponder, “How can I motivate a student to be an active participant in class”? If students begin to create their own broadcasts that hook up with say a class in Japan and they discuss school rules, even a topic as simple as that will lead to an interesting discussion. Students want to participate in something valuable, something that makes changes in their everyday lives. By branching out and having discussions with students halfway around the world not only do they learn from us but teachers broaden their student’s perspectives by using such a simple tool.

Yes this new literacy may not be written down in a journal and discussed in class only, but a log of many voices writing on the topic and weaving ideas in and out of each other gives students a more diverse learning experience plus teaches them to live in a broader world. No longer will students respond only to the teacher or to classmates but to the world at large. Students want to use the collaborative tools they use outside of class-like their cell phone or their laptop in the class environment as well. With live streaming students are allowed to become engaged in class by multitasking in an online world they have grown up to understand and be comfortable with, now teachers need to accept the broader landscape and grow as much as their students have. Live streaming blends Tube, Twitter, Face book and MySpace together, since it streams out to all these tools it makes the device very easy to use and accessible to many types of users.

If teachers do not take the time to value and appreciate how broad the new tech tools are expanding teaching then they will miss out on the wave of new learners dying for acceptance. I call these new learners as “dying for acceptance” because students look to teachers to guide and instruct towards what is valuable and authentic in our society, too long have these new wavers been seen as “nerdy’ or a “gamer”. Teachers need to validate these students as having innate gifts that can help and recondition a declining classroom. The classroom is becoming old and out of use because it refuses to change with the times. Instead of ignoring the new wave educators need to embrace the new and start being a leader again.

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