Extending the Class Beyond the 4 Walls and 45 Minutes

ideas

Too often our classrooms feel restricted, restricted by the space we have, restricted by the supplies we have and restricted by the time we have with our students.  Through the use of technology we can easily extend beyond these restrictions.  Learning is not something that only happens in a certain period of time each day in a certain location, learning can take place at any time and we can find ways to assist and encourage this learning.

 

Not every classroom has only 4 walls, but many feel the restraining nature of those walls.  Even though your classroom is located in one place, doesn’t mean you can’t study and explore other locations.  Just because your students have only one teacher (usually) in the class at that time, doesn’t mean that you can’t have experts from various fields discussing and helping your students to learn. Just because you have a set class size, doesn’t mean you can’t be connecting and learning with students from across the school, state, country, world.

 

  • Twitter

    • Using Twitter you can connect with other teachers and students across the country.  You can even have your students ask questions of experts, many who are on Twitter will converse with students and their questions.  Reed Timmer, storm chaser and meteorologist, has had discussions with me and some of my students.

  • Google Earth

    • Google Earth has a treasure trove of information for your students.  Students can explore exotic locales including the Moon, Oceans and Mars.  Instead of just reading about a certain place, students can even take a virtual walking tour of it.

  • Google Hangouts/Skype

    • You can have your class discussing topics and learning with other students and classes anywhere in the world.  You can have experts video chatting with your students about topics they are interested in.  You can even create a video chat session to review topics outside of the school day, which can easily be uploaded to Youtube for other students to see.

  • Google Drive

    • The simple collaboration tools in Google Drive can have a very profound impact on student learning.  Students can work with other students in a different class period or even a different school.   Collaboration is not just something that happens when people are together, it can also happen at any time thanks to tools like Google Drive.  Students can even collaborate with a teacher when the teacher is out of the classroom or the student is out of school.

  • Moodle

    • Like any other CMS, course management system, you create a digital classroom.  Using Moodle you can have forums, moderated and controlled by the teacher is the main option, where students discuss and pose questions of each other.  This allows for a lot of teacher control but also gives students the opportunity to interact in a safe environment.

These are just some ways that we can extend the classroom beyond our 4 walls.  There are so many different tools and techniques out there, the best thing to do is to think about what you want to accomplish and what your students need/want.  Do not be afraid to try something and do not think that the learning ends when your class ends.  Do not be afraid to connect with students on Twitter or through a forum that you create.  We want to show our students what it is like to be lifelong learners and how we can assist this.

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