On the Friday before break our team watched a documentary on the Crusades to help cohort colleague, Anne Low wrap up her Crusades unit. Students were required to complete a series of writing prompts at specific breaks during the film, but fellow team member Steve Olivo shared an experimental idea with me to continue the conversation throughout the movie using Edmodo as a “back-channel” much like twitter users back-channel seminars and tutorials at education conferences using hashtags. I requested to join in using the other set of laptops and have my classroom take part as well to which Steve happily agreed. Together we set up a group for students to join and presented the following prompt for students to follow:
Some students were quick to pick up the tool though and use Edmodo to get their questions answered. Some questions centered around clarification of particular points or graphics shared in the film while others required a bit more higher level thinking and analysis…
But then came the realization to many students that while their attention had been focused on Edmodo run by Mr. Olivo and I, the writing prompt from Ms. Low was about to be distributed!
This comment along with a few others along the lines of “I’m confused” and “What’s going on?” showed the frustrations of a number of participating students with the multi-tasking asked of them. After the first session and prompting, Steve posted a suggestion for students to “watch the movie for 5 to 10 minutes and then check Edmodo for 1 or 2 minutes during a break or lull in the action. After that recommendation I personally saw a number of students begin to physically half-close some of their laptops, watch the film, and then open it up from time to time to ask questions and share comments. From there on out there was much less of the “confused” commenting.
Afterward Steve and I shared a conversation around many of these discussions and the value of the experience. We both noted that students verbalizing their frustration with multi-tasking could make for a great conversation about the loss of focus and attention when using less invasive technology like text messaging (or pencil and paper notes!) in the classroom. The remaining dialog was smattered with both clarifying questions and some strong connections between past and present during times that students would otherwise watch or take notes in silence. I remain undecided as to whether or not this experience enhanced the video review, citing a mixed bag of both successful dialog and student confusion. What do you think PLN?