The Long Review

1/11/2012 By:

Last year, Tech & Learning followed the experience of Trenton’s Village Charter school as they tested (and ultimately purchased) Pearson’s Successmaker and Dell’s desktops. This year, two districts will put other products through this same long-term trial: learning.com’s STEM curriculum and Lightspeed’s My Big Campus.

My Big Campus

My Big Campus, from Lightspeed Systems, is an online service that allows schools to create an engaging, collaborative online environment. The standalone version of My Big Campus is free and chock-full of some great features. You can also purchase My Big Campus with a Collaborative Web Filter.

It only took me about two minutes to sign up and get my free account and then I started creating my “classroom.” I’ve been using it since September and am finding it very easy and useful. I have set it up with my resource library of files that I usually post on my class Web site and links that I usually put on my class blog. I also use the calendar feature to input assignment due dates and more. I can easily assign work or tasks to students and manage them, seeing who has completed which assignments. The “Your Stuff” section lets me upload files, photos, and links to Web sites. I like that I can filter by type of resource and can easily search all of my “stuff.”

The MyBigCampus Android App and EduTalk are relatively new features. The Android app allows teachers to access the MBC accounts from any Android device. EduTalk is MBC’s “social network for educators.” it is made up of status updates from educators, not students, and allows educators to share resources, tips, ideas, and more.

My AP Physics students have been using the chat and discussion features to help each other with homework problems and when studying. It’s been so popular, the honors Physics classes want to set up a discussion board for homework and study help and have the AP Physics students involved as tutors and mentors.

My Big Campus is turning out to be a very useful and powerful tool. I’ll be exploring more features each month at techearning.com.

David Andrade is a Physics Teacher and Educational Technology Specialist in Connecticut.

Learning.com

Tech & Learning follows Illinois’s Oak Lawn-Hometown District 123 through the school year as they implement Learning.com’s STEM curriculum in conjunction with the district’s new 1:1 computing initiative.

On the eve of our 1:1 Netbook rollout, i sit compiling the ways to support our teachers as they transition into teaching with a new digital STEM resource from learning.com. This resource will provide all of our fifth grade teachers and students with access to science, math, and technology supplementary curriculum pieces. Here are the ways we plan to create the groundwork for a successful rollout and pilot of this curriculum:

Teacher leader blog showcasing creative teachers.

Professional Learning Community within Google Apps: We created a private site for teachers to share information, documents, and videos.

Instructional screencasts: All of the fifth grade teachers say our tutorials have been the best way to learn.

Internal coaching positions: Each week, I send out my Google appointment calendar and include a list of services I can offer to teach that week.

Timed introductions: Once teachers feel ready, we’ll roll out the curriculum.

I’ll set up each online classroom for the teachers, choose parts of the curriculum, and start making screencasts of how to use the program. I will also be making student videos that can be used to introduce the site to them. Check back time to read more about the rollout.

Peg Keiner is an instructional technology coach for Oak Lawn-Hometown District 123.

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