Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Using Twitter in Your Classrooms

Using Twitter in Your Classrooms 2013 yields hundreds of ways to enhance a classroom experience and get otherwise weary, unengaged students to willingly dive into the topic at hand. Perhaps the most popular tool recently has been Twitter. 

 The social media tool allows students to create a temporary online forum about anything. From high school to higher ed, tweets are being used to start a discussion and maintain the dialogue and offer insights about learning that go beyond the class rooms. Twitter allows people all over the world to discuss a single topic and allows all interested participants to view the posts by attaching a common hashtag at the end of each post. The network is ideal for distance learning in which students might be in different states or even different countries. The forum allows discussion and sharing long after the class is through, eventually developing a deeper knowledge and perhaps, interest on the subject.
A few guidelines must be remembered when implementing Twitter in the classroom:

  1. The students must be required to participate. The discussion cannot be prompted as an option. Set expectations upfront, whether they must tweet a certain time per discussion or come to some type of conclusion in the process. 
  2. The teacher must also participate. The students need to know that you're monitoring and engaging in the discussion, as well, to pull the best out of them. Clearly define you're hashtags and discuss accessibility for private profiles. Every tweet doesn't need to be read or responded to. The act just gives the students a chance to explore the topic and open up more than they normally would in a comfortable, convenient setting. Create the guidelines, pick a hashtag and tweet away. The search bar will open a whole new side to your students. 
If you want to learn more about how to begin using Twitter, check the CAT Professional website schedule http://lrdudc.wrlc.org/cat/workshops.php

Come Together

What follows is a laundry list of free web tools  that might be useful for phone conferences, web conferencing, screen sharing, help desk, advising, group meetings, sharing a desk-top, sharing documents, etc…

SKYPE -  htttp://www.skype.com/en/features/

Using Skype, you can share screens, documents, chat, call, send files, and video conference.

JOIN.ME -  https://join.me/

Join.me combines instant screen sharing and powerful meeting tools in an app that anyone can use to present, train, demo or concept. join.me is designed to be intuitive and accessible, providing features that you'll use every day for everything from show-and-tell to formal presentations. Features:  • up to 10 meeting participants • screen sharing • internet calling • share control • multi-monitor • chat • send files • viewer: iPad/iPhone or Android.

Mikogo - http://www.mikogo.com/account/en/register.php

Mikogo is an easy-to-use FREE cross-platform desktop sharing tool, ideal for free web conferencing, online meetings or remote support. Features:• Desktop Sharing (for Mac/Windows) Multiple • Meeting Participants(for Mac/Windows) • Switch Presenter(for Mac/Windows) • Remote Keyboard and Mouse Control(for Mac/Windows)  • Meeting Scheduler(for Windows) • Meeting Recording and Playback (for Windows) • Whiteboard (for Windows) •Transfer Files(for Mac/Windows) • Application Selection(for Windows)  • Back Monitor(for Windows) • Pointer(for Mac/Windows) • Copy/Paste/Email Meeting Info(for Mac/Windows) • Pause Transmission(for Mac/Windows)  • Voice Conferencing Service(for Mac/Windows).

GOOGLE Chrome Remote Desktop

Google Chrome has a beta version app that allows users to access other computers or allow another user to access your computer securely over the Internet. Computers can be made available on a short-term basis for scenarios such as ad hoc remote support, or on a more long-term basis for remote access to your applications and files.  All connections are fully secured. Chrome Remote Desktop is fully cross-platform.  Provide remote assistance to Windows, Mac and Linux users, or access your Windows (XP and above) and Mac (OS X 10.6 and above) desktops at any time, all from the Chrome browser on virtually any device, including Chromebooks.

FREE Conferencing - http://www.freeconferencing.com/

Collaborate and conduct your meetings with a free, reservationless conference calling service. This tool is simple to use, requiring only a name and email address to receive an instant account. FreeConferencing.com accounts come with host web-based commands. This tool provides instant conference call functionality to your computer screen. Features include: • recording • muting • conference lock • Q&A. Each of the functionalities are accessible by both regular touch tone and right on your computer with just a click of your mouse.

Free ConferenceCall -   http://www.freeconferencecall.com/

Once you enter your name and e-mail address, you will be instantaneously provided  a dial-in number and access code for immediate phone conferencing. The users  teleconferencing line is available 24/7 and there is no need to schedule or make reservations. Each conference call account accommodates 96 callers on an unlimited number of 6 hour free conference calls.

AnyMeeting - http://www.anymeeting.com/

Simply a audio- video free chat tool that allows users to meet anytime and share screens. Features: • Video • Audio • screen sharing • chat.

OnWebinar - http://www.onwebinar.com/

A free web conferencing service that allows users to organize distance learning, business meetings, online coaching, videoconferences and interactive communication. Features include: • video broadcasting •  private chat • public chat • shared resources area (whiteboard, slide show presentation, desktop sharing, files and links) • polling tools •  videoconferencing.

Yugma - https://www.yugma.com/

Yugma offers free desktop sharing, web conferencing, online meetings, and web collaboration for Mac, Windows, and Linux users. Features: 20 attendees •  host a meeting • Desktop Sharing •Free Teleconferencing •Public and Private Chat •Customizable Widget •Works on Windows, Mac and Linux •Skype Integration.

Adobe ConnectNow - https://www.acrobat.com/main/en/home.html

This Adobe tool uses screen sharing, chat, notes, audio, and video features to facilitate  meetings online that can be as interactive and productive as in-person meetings. Adobe ConnectNow is free web conferencing solution with limited features.

WebHuddle  - https://www.webhuddle.com/

WebHuddle (free web conferencing tool) makes it easy to meet with the people you need to, when you need to — all it takes is a web-enabled PC. Meetings can be conducted either in conjunction with an enterprise’s existing teleconferencing service, or utilizing WebHuddle’s optional voice over IP. WebHuddle also offers recording capabilities — presentations can easily be recorded for playback over any web browser for those who missed the live meeting. WebHuddle is Open Source.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Peer-led Learning and Reading Groups - Theory and Practice

How might we help students gain a better understanding of course material, structure a learning community, seize responsibility for learning, and promote valuable affordances? We might consider peer-led Learning. What is peer-led learning?

Peer-led learning approaches vary significantly and have been used for decades. With the popularity of MOOCs we see many new approaches to peer learning and crowd sourcing that are effective and innovative yet build upon long-held principles. In the face-to-face classroom, we might think about peer learning that involve student cohorts or triads taking responsibility for presenting chapters in the textbook or presenting theoretical frames. We might think of it as flipping a classroom or structuring the learning activities to expound the power of peer-to-peer learning and group process. In essence, when students work together, they build bonds that add to the student’s sense of belonging and invite opportunities to learn from one another. Moreover, when students are provided power and responsibility to direct the learning process, they gain numerous affordances that facilitate the evolution and growth of the person. Utilizing a more concrete example of peer-led learning one might explore the interteaching model (Boyce & Hineline 2002).

The interteaching model is a pedagogical method that shifts student responsibility from passive reception to active engagement, while transferring the instructor’s role to organizing and guidance (Saville 2006). The paradigm can be traced back to behavioral scholarship (Keller 1968),cooperative learning (Halpern 2004), and reciprocal peer tutoring (Griffin and Griffin 1998).

An example of how this method works involves Instructors preparing instructional guides in advance of class sessions which consist of a series of factual and conceptual questions. In the online class, these are posted in the modules. Students work collectively outside of class to grapple with the questions and make sense of the factual information. Students work in groups to discuss and deliberate the topic and questions, while the instructor provides prompts and feedback to support active learning. After student-led discussions have exhausted the topic or issue, students are asked to complete an assessment that provides feedback to the instructor about the student’s level of comprehension. Any misunderstandings or weak points may be addressed by the instructor during the next class period, posting, or video lecture. The theoretical framework that supports the interteaching model is well documented.

For example, David Kolb’s work on adult learning (known as “Kolb’s Cycle”) describes how adult learners traverse experiences and make sense of them. In his 1916 book, Democracy and Education, Dewey wrote, “Education is not an affair of ‘telling’ and being told, but an active and constructive process.” Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky, who developed the concept of the Zone of Proximal Development, was another proponent of “constructivist” learning theory. His 1962 book, Thought and Language, is a seminal work that provides evidence to support collaborative, socially meaningful, problem-solving activities over solo exercises.

In the 1980′s, Edwin Hutchins developed the theory of Distributed Cognition (Dcog). His findings suggest that knowledge lies not only within the individual but is situated in the individual’s social and physical environment. Distributed cognition refers to activities whereby cognitive resources are socially shared, extending individual cognitive resources, and allowing groups to accomplish some things individuals cannot achieve alone. This also fuels affordance theory.

The theory of affordances was introduced in the field of cognitive psychology during the late seventies (Gibson 1977). In short, it refers to measurable and independent benefits that flow from action, association, interaction, and presence.

The interteaching model envelops a behaviorist, cognitive, procedural and constructivist approach. It places the student at the center of learning and the instructor in the role of facilitating. This power shift, allows students to express their opinions, engender mature group dynamics, and creates a sense of independence, autonomy and responsibility.

In addition to learning the core concepts and struggling with conceptual questions, students gain soft-skill affordances. As students communicate with one another, they inevitably assume leadership roles, acquire conflict-managing skills, and as they discuss and clarify concepts they unravel the complexities of human relationships within a given context. In sum, peer-led learning should be incorporated as pedagogy in courses or programs to facilitate intentional integration, an attachment to the learning process, and the facilitation of a sense of belonging in order to best promote deep learning.


Davies, Bill., and Maya Barak. 2013. “Peer-led Reading Groups Boost Engagement and Retention” in Faculty Focus, February 18. < http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/peer-led-reading-groups-boost-engagement-and-retention/>

Boyce, Thomas E., & Hineline, Phillip N., 2002. “Interteaching: A Strategy for Enhancing the User-Friendliness of Behavioral Arrangements in the College Classroom.” The Behavior Analyst, 25:215-226.

Gibson, James. 1977. “The Theory of Affordances.” In Robert Shaw and John Bradford Perceiving, Acting, and Knowing, (Eds.), Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Griffin, M.M., and Griffin, B.W. 1998. “An investigation of the effects of reciprocal peer tutoring on achievement, self-efficacy, and test anxiety.” Contemporary Educational Psychology, 23: 298-311.

Halpern, D.F. 2004. “Creating cooperative learning environments.” In B. Perlman, L.I. McCann, and S.H. McFadden (Eds.), Lessons learned: Practical advice for the teaching of psychology. 2:149-155. Washington DC, American Psychological Society.

Keller, F.S. 1968. “Good-bye teacher…” Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 1:79-89.

Kolbs Learning Cycle http://www.utexas.edu/student/utlc/learning_resources/learning/Kolbs_Learning_Cycle.pdf

Nelson, C. 1999. “Critical Thinking and Collaborative Learning.” Tomorrow’s Professor Msg. #173. Center for Teaching and Learning, Stanford University. http://ctl.stanford.edu/Tomprof/postings/173.html (last accessed: 23 June 2003).

Saville, B.K. 2006. From sage on the stage to guide on the side: An alternative approach to teaching research methods. Paper presented at the Annual Teaching Institute, Association for Psychological Science, New York, NY.