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Here’s How to Manage the Full Lifecycle of Your Digital Lessons
The following trends in K-12 are driving dramatic changes in the "what" and "how" is taught and learned:
- Textbooks — decreasing: Paper-based books, the mainstay of K-12 of education, are going the way of the dinosaur. But textbooks, and their accompanying guides, have provided teachers with scope-and-sequenced, standards-aligned, curriculum… forever! What is replacing this cornerstone of the classroom?
- Digital curricula — increasing: There are literally millions of OER — open education resources — freely available on a multitude of OER marketplaces. Curriki.org, the oldest OER website, is one of our favorites. Of course, finding that one video or that one article can be a challenge.
- 1-to-1 is the New Normal — More than half of America’s classrooms already are 1-to-1 – every child has a computing device. By 2022 virtually 100% of America’s classroom will be 1-to-1.
The implication of these three trends is clear: The days of "teacher lecturing at the front of the classroom, assigning readings from a paper-based textbook" are numbered.
To support the transition to digital curricula, the digital cobblers at the Intergalactic Mobile Learning Center (IMLC) have developed — and are making freely available — the Collabrify Roadmap Platform (CoRP), an integrated suite of device-independent tools. Just go to http://roadmap.center — and sign in using a Google account. CoRP runs inside a browser: Chrome, Safari, Firefox. (Currently, CoRP does not run inside Microsoft browsers.) Since those browsers run on virtually all computing devices — tablets, laptops, Chromebooks, smartphones, etc. — CoRP is "device independent."
At http://roadmap.center a teacher, for example, can create a deeply-digital, highly-interactive lesson — which we call a Roadmap — by stitching together 3-7 OER digital objects, e.g., a video, a reading from a website, a PDF, a simulation, along with constructive activities such as writing, concept mapping, drawing, etc. Those constructive activities can be solo — each student does her/his own writing, concept mapping, etc. or — consistent with the movement to increase student collaboration — those constructive activities can be done collaboratively. CoRP supports the use of the tools in the G-Suite as well as the Collabrify Productivity Tools — G-Suite-like "collabrified" apps, but apps with interfaces that we designed expressly for the younger crowd (grades 1-5).
Most importantly, the Collabrify Roadmap Platform goes beyond simply supporting lesson building and supports educators and students in manipulating a Roadmap — a deeply-digital, highly-interactive lesson — during the various stages of the lesson’s life-cycle. As a reminder: all the following functionality is available at one URL: http://roadmap.center:
- Create a new Roadmap: Start from scratch and use virtually any URL on the internet — or any OER — as an element of a digital lesson. The lesson-building tool in CoRP is absolutely open. Complement those reading, watching, exploring learning activities with constructive activities, e.g., answering questions, developing a concept map. Ask the students to take a quiz created in Google Forms – and have the quiz graded automatically!
- Modify an existing Roadmap: Access the Roadmap Repository — a growing database of Roadmaps created by teachers. Find a Roadmap that you can use as-is tomorrow in your classroom — or find one that just needs a bit of tweaking , e.g., add/delete/modify a digital resource or two.
- Distribute the Roadmap: After creating a "class" — much like one would do to create a class in Google Classroom — a teacher can distribute a Roadmap to students in that class. Students find their Roadmaps at http://start.roadmap.center. They just login with their Google account and bingo bongo, there are the Roadmaps sent to them by their teacher ready for enactment! Now, a teacher can specify that each student get her/his own Roadmap. Alternatively, the teacher can create collaborative groups (students X, Y, Z in one group; students A and B in a second group, etc.) and CoRP knows how to properly duplicate the Roadmaps to permit students X, Y, and Z to work synchronously on a concept map assignment, for example.
- Monitor the enactment of a Roadmap: Like LanSchool, CoRP enables teachers to monitor their students’ online activities in real-time. For example, join students A and B as they, collaboratively, are creating a concept map. If the teacher’s computer is connected to a big screen in the classroom, the teacher can stop the class and have whole class engage in a discussion about what Students A and B are doing — or not doing.
- Post-enactment, access each student’s files: As the constructive applications supported by CoRP are Google Drive-backed, all of a student’s files are stored in one place: the student’s Google Drive. While we are not being critical, CoRP does put a friendlier face on the Google Drive to make it that much easier to access students’ files.
- Share a Roadmap: Completing the cycle, a teacher can share a Roadmap by posting it into the Roadmap Repository, thereby supporting a community of Roadmap creators and users.
PHEW! That is a great deal of functionality! However, we have tried to design CoRP to be accessible. Please — and we say this most sincerely — tell us how to make it better, how to make CoRP easier to learn, easier to use.
And, while the Collabrify Roadmap Platform is absolutely usable today — as teachers literally all over the world are already doing — we will be enhancing CoRP over the coming months. For example, we will be adding:
- eHallway: To facilitate text chatting (e.g., teachers with teachers in the Roadmap Repository, teachers with students as the teacher is monitoring her/his students) we will be putting in a chat facility. "eHallway" sounds like an appropriate channel for that functionality.
- Learning Analytics: Teachers always ask us: "as they are working collaboratively, who is really doing the work – Student A or Student B?" CoRP has those data and we will be exposing those data to teachers and students shortly.
Deeply-digital, highly interactive curricula are fast becoming the new normal — such materials are needed in order to take advantage of those newly minted 1-to-1 classrooms. The Collabrify Roadmap Platform at http://roadmap.center is a free resource designed to take the burden out of creating and using this new generation of curricula.
Finally, we gratefully acknowledge the support from Lucas Education Research for constructing the Collabrify Roadmap Platform. CoRP is part of a larger effort, the Multiple Literacies in Project Based Learning Project, based at the CREATE for STEM Institute, housed at Michigan State University, and directed by our good friend and colleague, Dr. Joe Krajick.
Cathie Norris is a Regents Professor and Chair in the Department of Learning Technologies, School of Information at the University of North Texas. Visit her site at www.imlc.io.
Elliot Soloway is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of CSE, College of Engineering, at the University of Michigan. Visit his site at www.imlc.io.
Find more from Elliot Soloway and Cathie Norris at their Reinventing Curriculum blog at thejournal.com/rc.