School starts for me in a week from today.
Over the next month, I’m going to see all sorts of tech configurations show up in my classroom. I still have some of the original Asus eee pc netbooks running a form of Linux, I have a cart of Dell netbooks, I have a Macbook Pro and an ipad. I spent some of my prize money from winning this CDW sponsored contest on four Lenovo IdeaPad A1 tablets. As well as all of these things, kids are welcome to bring their own laptops and devices from home to use in the classroom.
It’s a crazy patchwork quilt of operating systems, name brands, tech troubles and connections.
Using this kind of a system (if you can even call it that) in a classroom means that we have a difficult time talking about software and hardware. Kids start something at school on a school computer and need to finish it at home. They begin working on a project at night and need access to their files and information during the day. Google docs has solved many of those issues when it comes to text. Their model is simple and easy to use. Any device, anywhere, anytime. It simply works.
Lately I’ve been trying to find a way to support a similar model with video and audio. How can kids shoot a video, or interview someone, and have access to it later in another place, on another device?
A simple example:
I plan on having students do some reflecting using video and / or audio. I would also like to see the students in my classroom do more interviews with people in the school and in the community. Given all of these devices, there are any number of scenarios that might outline how this might happen. Basically, student A has a device and they go somewhere to record something. First of all, the hardware needs to actually have a mic or a camera. It needs to be portable. Once they have recorded their audio, they need to be able to export what they have recorded from that device either to the web or to another device and piece of software for further editing. If they are exporting to the web, the software needs to produce a file that others can access and that is embeddable in a space like a blog. If the file is to be exported to another device, it needs to be in a standard file format that can be worked with by other software.
In the end, I really don’t care about the hardware, as long as it satisfies a few basic needs. The same can be said of the software. As we jump from device to device, and from school to home and back, cloud based software makes our lives much easier, but I’m not about to be tied in to anything.
What I need as an educator working in this type of hybrid, multi location, multi operating system and device environment is the ability to move my data around between accounts and applications. I need to be able to share it, to embed it, to edit and remix it. We need a few basics from companies that will be cornerstones of what we do. WordPress, Youtube, Google docs, Sound Cloud, Dropbox all help us to do what we do.
Do you have others? Do you work with specific software or companies that empower you to move data and information around in all of its forms? Do you work in an environment like this? What helps you to do what you do?