Every day, I learn something new about communication and the various ways you can connect with people. Technology has definitely influenced the way we communicate with others and although it can enhance communication, we also need to be mindful that we are also shaped by the tools we choose to use. The trick is to leverage technology rather than be driven by the technology which shapes our messages – to be helped by it, rather than manipulated. As an example, I want to talk about a new (or new to me at least!) form of sharing and posting people’s ideas on an online bulletin board that allows people to link their thoughts with those of others: the Padlet.
The interesting thing about using a Padlet is that it provides a non-threatening space for the collection and curation of thoughts and ideas. The collaborative nature of the work allows people the opportunity to contribute and learn from one another, build upon each other’s musings, see the connections from one idea to the next, and introduce varying perspectives – all with the power to create a unique and authentic representation of group learning.
When we create opportunities for engagement based on collaboration, peer learning, and self-assessment, we provide a forum for active participation. Many educators would define success in the classroom by the quality of student engagement that includes asking questions, participating in discussions and activities, offering opinions and using visible thinking skills to tell us what they have learned. The core tenets of learner engagement are:
• Sharing insights
• Asking open-ended questions that don’t just confirm what you know but rather extend your thinking
• Providing evidence of active and contextual thinking
• Examining personal beliefs and expressing them to others for review and/or critique
• Finding and using personal voice to engage others to respond
To demonstrate the power of this tool, the SMS staff contributed to its own Padlet, sharing their “Aha” thoughts, new learnings and insights, and memorable moments at the FISA conference in Vancouver. I hope you enjoy what they brought back which is already affecting the way we teach and learn at SMS.