Add This

Bookmark and Share

Friday, 27 May 2011

Blackberries and School-Good things Come to Those Who Wait!

A year ago I tried to get my then 8th grade students to use mobile phones to record video for their trailers. It never took off for various reasons and I chalked it up as a failed initiative. A few months back I tried to bring BlackBerry Smartphones into my teaching and learning again, by creating little quizzes and surveys online and posting QR codes on my sites and within my online lessons. It worked but it was a bit time consuming and when I weighed the impact against the effort, while factoring in the number of students with access to data plans, I desisted and decided it would need further thought. It was a bit cowardly to put it off rather than persevere and rethink it at the time, but the race to the end of the school year had begun and I was being swept away in the current by more pressing matters.

About a month ago I suggested the use of BlackBerries again to one of the English staff members and a few of the kids in the 9th grade began using them for some video work...but where was that tidal wave of excitement that should have come with permission to whip out one's phone in lessons and use it with the teacher's permission?

Needless to say it can be advantageous to place things on the back burner. Good things can come to those who wait (whatever the motivation). This past week I have been overwhelmed by students wanting to download voice-notes, pictures and video that they have taken on their blackberries for class assignments. At first it didn't hit me, the excitement I should have felt wasn't there. I was in the midst of preparing for our Digital Oscars and every second counted...but the kids come first and we managed to find a few ways of getting their content onto a computer.

Those with data plans simply emailed them, others downloaded to my Mac's Blackberry desktop, while later in the week we found we were able to open the BlackBerry files directly from the disk icon on the desktop....and then it hit me! This is exactly what I had been trying to do and it was happening, change had occurred and kids were using the tool, which 95% of them now have, for all sorts of multimedia tasks in lessons. Not only that, these were the little ones, the 6th graders, with whom I had never attempted to use mobile phones with in lessons. They had seen the potential for themselves, the value of those amazing little devices which seem to be an extra appendage permanently attached to the hands of most preteens and teens, okay let's face it most adults too.

It was a Eureka moment (once I stopped long enough to take it all in). The waves of change are certainly rising it was the students who triggered them in the end!

ABC Digital Oscars

We held our very first ABC Digital Oscars Award Show this week. A great deal of extra effort and hard work went into this on the part of students and staff, organising and producing and rendering videos, and it paid off. Ticket supplies were exhausted hours before the event, and the Performing Arts Centre looked spectacularly glamourous, bearing little resemblance to the exam room it had been just hours before. Parents and students began arriving quite early to vie for one of the special candlelit tables, while excitement and anticipation swelled.

During the event student work from 5th to 12th grade was spotlighted and rewarded, to screams of delight and hardy applause, while superb artistic interludes took place between categories.

It was a great evening which we hope to build on for school year 2011/12, a year for which we have new and exciting plans for further student digital video work.

I have included a video of our nominee interviews, the Best Movie of the Year award and the grand finale.