…Or are you looking for a way to collaborate with colleagues?

Over the last week, I’ve been using crocodoc.com with my IB examining colleagues in order to discuss samples of students work. I can certainly see many benefits for us in the High School.

Crocodoc is a very easy way to annotate and mark student’s work that is in PDF, word document for or even images. You create an account and upload files which you can then share with students and colleagues. Anyone you share with can add comments, highlight areas and make annotations.

And a note about the upcoming mock exams…

Now that we are coming to the examination season, our Grade 12 IB ITGS Diploma students are required to ‘hand-write’ their papers which means that there is one hard copy of the student’s work. That’s fine as you can physically mark and comment on the paper and give feedback to the individual student. However, why not consider scanning, uploading and annotating electronically one or two high-scoring papers to Crocodoc to share with your students to provide and discuss the marking and allow all students the benefit of the feedback as well as providing good model answers? An added benefit is that you have an online record of the annotated work that you may want to share with other students or colleagues for moderation purposes in the future.

To get started and try out Crocodocs, go here.

Example of editing student work

Crocodocs is FREE and currently available here in China….so get started and see how you go!

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The Great Debate – lessons learned Part 1

On January 17, 2011, in Madeleine Brookes, Strand 3, by Madeleine Brookes

We are in the final stages of the Great Debate where approximately 40 students from 4 classes in 4 schools (Beijing x 2, Antwerp and Vienna) took part in an online debate:

To what extent has the introduction of freely available online facilities and tools for publication (including desktop publishing and Web 2.0 forms of social media) been a positive step for society?

Full details can be found here. Here is a brief breakdown of the stages:

Using Voicethread for asynchronous debating

Stage 1: Students researched Web 2.0 tools and terminology

Stage 2: Using a scenario, students were put into 9 teams of 4, one from each of the four participating schools and asked to (a) produce a position paper with 3 or 4 arguments based on their role and (b) summarise the position paper into a Voicethread

Stage 3: An asynchronous debate with each student, in their role, accessing each Voicethread and particpating in the debate.

All of this lead to the culminating assessment: an individual essay based on the research and findings from the position papers and using arguments in the Voicethread debate and a test on Web 2.0 tools.

Lessons Learned – Part 1

  • KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!

Instructions for both students and teachers have to be explicit, simple and clear. Bear in mind that many students are second language learners. Ambiguity is always going to play a part – what you envisage is not always how you write it!

Solutions: Keep it simple, break down instructions as much as possible. If using a wiki, encourage the use of the discussion tab for questions, compile a list of FAQs (if this is required, the perhaps the task is too complex); create customised screen casts to produce videos of how to use the tools using contextual examples.

  • Teachers need to be on board:

Solutions: online meetings using tools such as Eliminate to have regular meetings, using google groups for email communication and googledocs as the basis for planning documents. If possible, Skype meetings into classrooms – if the time zones allow, have another teacher Skype into the classroom to respond to student questions and to also explain some of the issues going on their classroom. Also negotiate timelines and guidelines – establish who is doing what, the time and work commitments so that everyone know what is expect of them.

  • Time Zones

Time zones and asynchronous is problematic especially when trying to conduct a debate. Having a live debate in the classroom can encourage passive, quieter students to get more involved – the enthusiasm of others can be infectious. How does that translate into an online asynchronous debate?  With difficulty! So maybe have to set ‘participation’ targets for students – for example, they must comment on three arguments for homework.

Part II coming soon…

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