Monday, October 21, 2019

Skipper Student Tech Tips Advance Use of Technology for Learning

SkipperTech Tips started last spring when I decided to start posting some technology tips to all of the students in our grades 4-12 1:1 iPad program. I started this in an effort to increase students’ efficiencies and skills using technology for learning. I began periodically posting a weekly tech tip using Schoology, our learning management system. I included all of our teachers and staff, too, so the tips have the potential to be seen by about 8,000 people.  

For about the past 15 years we have been sending our adult staff periodic tech tips by email, usually on a monthly basis. This was the first time we brought the tips directly to the students districtwide. One of the reasons behind this was my desire to give the opportunity for all students to be informed of valuable tips rather than hope one of their teachers relay something to them--I haven’t seen this “trickle down” tech tips philosophy be very effective in the past. Posting a quick tip that everyone sees is a much more effective way to get the message out to as many people as possible. The pilot of this process last spring was very positive and I’ve resumed it this school year.

I also decided to have some fun with it and used my dog as the avatar for the poster. I took a photo of my dog wearing a Minnetonka hat and used that as the avatar for “SkipperTech”. My kids have helped with photo shoots with our dog and an iPad for each tip, and we've added some fun "Easter Eggs" for the observant--such as dog-related websites, tabs, and topics such as the presentation pictured above on squirrels. You get the idea.

I've used the SkipperTech account to post a request for students to submit their own ideas for future tips using a Google Form. I've received tips related to iPads, Notability, Google, iMove, Siri, other apps, and more. Last spring I had already received over 200 suggestions, so I have plenty of material for future posts. I included a place on the form to ask the students whether or not they wanted to remain anonymous or receive credit for their tip. 

I've also used the SkipperTech account to provide students with direct links to instructions apps such as Animatic and Stop Motion. A third use of the account has been to collect student work to showcase and share their ideas with one another. For example, last spring SkipperTech asked students to submit creative examples of animated GIFs they had made with the Animatic app. Almost 140 students submitted work. In a previous post, I shared over 20 examples of what Minnetonka students had made. Hopefully SkipperTech will inspire our students to not only use tech better but open their eyes to even more possible ways to use it to enhance and showcase learning.

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