This post was inspired by a comment to my Real Projects with Real Problems post. aml asked,
What if a hypothetical teacher were considering . . . embarking on some kind of project adventure in a course next fall? . . . .What would be the first steps? And how much do you think this not-entirely-tech-savvy but willing-to-do-some-heavy-lifting teacher could accomplish without having to run to the in-house tech gurus every day?
Here's my current thinking on this great question:
I think without any doubt that anyone willing to roll up her sleeves, as you are, can accomplish a great deal by going down this road. Will it be frustrating at times? Absolutely. Can it be exciting? Without a doubt!
Ideally, you could find a partner (or partners) for this venture The advantage of partners would be shared skills and ideas. and/or just bite off a corner piece of a project you have in place.
Is it possible to bite off a corner piece of a project you have in place? If you think of your project as modular, then you are less likely to feel overwhelmed (As you may recall, I am a big fan of the Tinker Toy Curriculum).
Choose a curriculum area that you are itchy to overhaul, anyway, so that you don't feel that inevitable first-time tech issues aren't messing up something that used to be cool.
Don't put yourself in the position of teaching much of the tech. You'll be hip deep even if you take something very familiar. Speaking of familiar-- prefer it. At our school a critical mass of kids have now experienced Google Sites and Blogger, so they can help each other.
Freeware is all the rage, but as you know first hand with Gabcast, you can have the rug pulled out from under you, so if we're keeping it free, this would be another reason to start with Google. They change the rules too, but they don't instantly drop support for an app, and they will not vanish overnight.
I you know of another teacher who has used the app, talk to him or her about its pitfalls before going blindly ahead (You'll bump your head as I have done).
*As part of your heavy lifting set up a prototype for the students which will be useful for teaching the kids and learning the stuff yourself.
*Consider having the students create something that can be shared with or taught to an audience beyond the class. (highly motivational).
*I urged groups to set a time lime for when different phases should be done. This really helped with accountability. But be forewarned (the project based learning gurus never tell you this), students are as likely to let down their peers as their teacher.
*Share your progress with others. Blog about it, tweet about it, Ning about it. Lots of us want you to succeed and will commiserate with your frustrations.
*License your project with Creative Commons. Web 2.0 is all about mixing, mashing, collaborating, sharing.
Best of luck. I'm hoping that you will tell us about your experience with a guest blog at the Drive-thru.
"Dream Big" Flickr Creative Commons photo by bebop717
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