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Saturday, February 23, 2013

1-to-1, Flipped Learning, and Online Communities

When I was first speaking with schools about 1-to-1 not long after edition 1 of my book (now in its 2nd edition) was published, two big questions were – Is your school/district wireless? Are you providing students with email accounts?  Back then, not every school could respond to both questions in the affirmative.

Now we are seeing more ubiquitous devices including tablets, laptops, smart phones and the complexity that ensues. This previous post went into some of the issues faced by schools when introducing BYOD, the comments provide more depth and ideas as well. Any 1-to-1 or BYOD school is wired now as it would make so sense otherwise.

There’s also the concept of flipped learning – an idea even more feasible when students all possess some type of device that is as mobile as they are and which is used to learn, review and synthesize content away from the classroom followed by more indepth social, hands-on learning when back in the classroom. To me, it’s all about learner centricity – if done right. This is a great thing and what we have always wanted – the learner has the resources at his/her fingertips, learning is continously available – and the user-created artifacts of learning are organized and available to the learner at any time.

However, the piece that is also needed is some type of online learning community. Rather than email, which we all know has become a boondoggle in our lives and which students are moving away from in droves, an online learning community can offer a safe, contained space for teachers and students.  

I’ll be presenting at NCCE on Friday, March 1 at 2:30 a session entitled “A ‘Cloud’ for Flipped Classrooms” which is all about how implementing flipped classrooms, or really most technology integration projects, ought to have the cornerstone of an online learning community. The benefits of a learning community include:

  •   Providing a central space for learning that extends the classroom
  •    Eliminating “Web 2.0 site of the week” syndrome which results in
    •   login fatigue (trying to remember which ID and password to use)
    •   fractured student experiences (having multiple interfaces to know and navigate)
  •      Preventing email clutter
    •   Rather than the teacher maintaining lists of internal or external emails, the community uses its own internal messaging
    •  Messaging can include sending student documents, marking them up, and returning to the student via attachments – trackable and centralized
  •     Threaded discussions
    •   Real discussions can occur and be followed
  •      Promotes collaboration
    • Students can work as a whole class or in smaller groups with teacher oversight
  •    Increased student accountability
    • No lost paper – the Internet is everywhere – even at McDonald’s!
    •   Date and time is stamped with work turned in
  •       Shared resources
    •  Everyone sees the links, the resources, the photos, podcasts, etc.
  •      Assignment posting, turning in
    • The assignments and the work are centralized
  •     Class calendar
    •    A calendar for the class is available

Full disclosure: I manage a great (IMHO!) product that does all this. But this list applies in general as well. 1-to-1 needs an online learning community to unleash its true potential.

Your thoughts and comments are welcome!

-        Pamela Livingston
    (This was also posted at

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