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Educators Use Cloud-Based Solutions to Take Learning to the Next Level

by Kelly Walsh on September 14, 2011

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Guest Post by Chuck Dietrich, CEO, SlideRocket

The iconic symbols of education – hard cover textbooks, chalkboards and wooden desks – may soon become mere historical representations of the way we once taught our children. Technology is now an essential part of our daily world and educators are creatively using it in the classroom and beyond. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills advocates for readying students to compete in a global economy by teaching the four C’s—critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation. There is now a proliferation of technology used both in schools by instructors and with students doing homework that employs focused collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking.

SlideRocket, The 4 C's, and Cloud Computing

By the middle of last decade, virtually every school with access to computers had Internet access (99% of them, compared to only 35% of schools in 1994, as per this US Gov’t report). The rise in technology use in schools coincides with the dramatic increase of children’s use of cloud-based technology tools and computers outside the classroom. Cursive handwriting has been replaced by typing and library visits supplanted by Google and Google Apps. In fact, one survey found that 71% of online teens said they relied mostly on Internet sources for the last big project they did for school. The U.S. Bureau of the Census (2003) found that 57% of all children in school ages 7-17 use a home computer to complete school assignments. These digital natives also wholly embrace cloud-based communication and social collaboration tools.

Educators like Sarah Weston, curriculum director for the Open High School of Utah (OHSU), have traded blackboards and slide projectors for online technologies that expand students’ learning sphere and foster engagement and collaboration. The Open High School is a fully online charter school that relies solely on collaborative, cloud-based solutions. Mirroring the evolution in the real world workforce, students and teachers connect and collaborate through the cloud regardless of physical location.

Weston is responsible for selecting and managing tools school wide and considers it essential that tools are cloud-based and collaborative. One of the school’s most widely used tools is SlideRocket. Teachers and students utilize the online presentation platform to create nearly 200 presentations over the course of the entire school year. SlideRocket is integrated into Google Apps, saving students and teachers time with a single sign-on access. Teachers are able to bring learning to life with dynamic, interactive presentations that include narration for each slide, visual storytelling elements and video. Presentations are embedded in online courses, where teachers can track statistics and assess how the lesson was received.

With SlideRocket, students can work in teams, collect shared data in Google Docs, and organize their data in a presentation – regardless of their physical location. Students are not only learning valuable skills for the 21st century workplace but through collaborating and presenting are able to clarify research, learning and emulate the benefits of a classroom experience.

OHSU and other high schools are inventively using real world technologies to engage students and prepare them for a future where the four C’s will be a critical success factor and charting a new dynamic way to educate that aligns with the way we think, share, learn and collaborate outside of the classroom.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
8 Great Free Digital Presentation Tools For Teachers To Try …
The Changing Dynamic of Online Education
8 TED Talks About The Future Of Education And Teaching

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Class Workshop in a Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ove Christensen September 15, 2011 at 2:22 am

I really enjoined reading this post. Thanks!
I do agree heart-fully and I try to convey the same ideas as you in my presentations to educational institutions. Teachers and administrators seem to be scarred of the development thinking they are loosing their power base or comfort zone. I think we have a big job telling them wat is to be expected from them in a set up where more loose structures rule. Where students take charge of their learning paths.
Good teachers will be needed in this process cause students need guidance to develop the four Cs competences.

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