The cloud is a tool I have not used effectively.  I have been part of the mobile me network for over 3 years yet I have used it very little.  I love that my calendar and address book is connected on all my apple devices and I can use my work PC to make changes or updates to them.  So it makes me feel connected but then I know there is so much more to the iCloud service that I am not using beyond syncing.  Last fall, I downloaded dropbox and even tried to share some pictures with a colleague but I never heard anything if they were ever used.  Then we used dropbox in a class at UAS.  It  was an easy way hare my assignments with the professor.  Then I realized that it was a great way to bring my work home with me at night.  As I was writing grants or working on a project, I just save everything in my dropbox and I can get it on my iPad, my pc or my macbook.  So after being “forced” to use dropbox in my class, I now use it regularly.  Once I figure out how my professor set up all her students, I can totally see using it in the classroom.  Students can post their work in the drop box and I can add comments to it in the margins using notes in word.  Making dropbox an easy tool to help student improve their work and give them feedback at their pace.  .

Evernote is another tool that would be great to use on student portfolios.  Students can capture their work on in Evernote by taking a picture of the page or scanning it into a computer.  Then the teacher could attach a video comment on the assignment to give them feedback.  While I have personally used Evernote to take notes at meetings and trainings, the tutorial in our module taught me about making notebooks within Evernote to organize my notes.  This past week, I was at a training watching a colleague type into the iPad notes program so I showed him my Evernote and how to use the notebooks then open them on a computer later.  He was sold on the app.  This made me think about using ever note as a study guide notebook where students could create a notebook for each topic covered then they would have a full set of notes to review for finals or help them with assignments.  These can be uploaded for the teacher to review and offer support for each student. 

I have found the use of Penultimate to be a useful tool to correspond with my science students because I can use it with younger students on the iPad.  The students can write using a stylus or their finger and label a diagram they draw.  The students do not spend time pecking away at the keyboard and they can write right into the notebook.  Then I can add comments to their work.  UPad is another similar program I am just exploring, so far I can see using it for responsive reading and teachers being able to see the notes of their students within PDF documents.  There are so many options out there as we explore the cloud. 

I have a few questions about using the cloud.  Living in rural Alaska, I wonder how effective we can be using the cloud when there are so many days there is not a strong signal to upload and download files.  Is this really an effective answer?  I wonder how much in the cloud is accessible by outside entities.  I realize there are password protections but then things still seem to get out of the cloud.  So how can we truly protect our students?  How long are things available in cloud?  When we stop using it where does it go?  I can see each year teachers setting up new systems and accounts for their students so Johnny Smith will have at least 12 different cloud accounts by the time he graduates from high school if not more.  Does all this “paperless” work really reduce our carbon footprint if it takes huge amounts of energy to keep these clouds running? 

It is amazing to me how much is out to the world through the Internet.  While the Internet has enhanced learning in many cases, it has also put many of our students at risk.  As educators, it s up to us to help guide our students in using all these tools and how to post on-line respectfully.  Unfortunately, the more the kids learn the more our student are exposed.  The hardest part as an educator is knowing that everything that is posted is there for and can have implications later in life.  While as a teen they are writing a harmless story as an assignment when it is in the cloud or on-line it is available years later as they are applying for a job or trying to get into the military.  What is innocent chatting is a record that can be followed.  The fact that everything put in the cloud is accessible makes me leery of using it in the classroom.  It makes me wonder how much of my cloud can been seen.

Check out the articles I’ve found on the cloud in education as well as how to use these applications in the classroom.

2/14/2013 08:38:51 am

I loved the blog post here outlining your Internet brand:

The more I think about it lately the more I think children should explore more about social networking in an environment like Edmodo or perhaps something in house, providing a more controlled situation. I think a more global approach is better, as it enables so many first hand accounts of world events. My feeling is that if children don't learn responsible usage of social networking with educators then they will learn irresponsible usage outside of school. I don't have any research to back that up though.

Your thoughts on limited bandwidth are spot on the money. So many cool solutions are predicated on good bandwidth, so it'd be wise to scale new things slowly and have backup plans.


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