You’d think with the radio silence around here lately that I would have been reading up a storm. Not so much. The stack of library books here mocking me is certainly testament to that. Oh, how I miss the days of my youth, when I would sit and read for hours on end. Le sigh. Nevertheless, I managed to get one book read in the last several weeks, and it was a good one.
The newest title by Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Press (the awesome publisher that put out If This is a Gift) is Learning in the 21st Century: How to Connect, Collaborate, and Create. This is a quick and easy read; I whipped through it while overseeing classes at our homeschool co-op. It’s three main sections are on connecting with others (using Google Reader may it rest in peace, Twitter, blogging, that sort of thing), collaborating with others (using Google Drive may it never disappear or our homeschooling is screwed, wikis, that sort of thing), and creating (Prezi, Xtranormal which we love and I really need to use more, podcasting, digital portfolios).
I have to be honest and confess that this book is most likely for homeschoolers who are unfamiliar with online options. I breezed through the “Connect” section so quickly because I knew and used most of it. Someone entirely new to the cool stuff available online would find it helpful and useful. I read the “Collaborate” section a little more slowly so as to become more familiar with the programs there. We use Google Drive a lot, but I’m not as familiar with Edmodo and I’ve never made a wiki in my life (though that is about to change; I see amazing possibilities there). The “Create” section is where I slowed down to a more reasonable reading pace (still danged fast, according to some), because boy howdy, there are some gems in here.
Part one of “Create” is creation tools. Frankly, I need to learn these just to keep ahead of A. I’m sick of him showing me up, tech-wise, followed by the troll face and the troll song (click through at your peril; this is my life). I’ve used Xtranormal and have seen Prezi in action; there’s great stuff out there. Part two of this section is ready-made projects. Ohhh,the possibilities here! A is a multi-media child, and output is an issue. Writing, while better, is still a monumental challenge (I try not to panic about this). Testing…sigh…not pretty. The opportunity to present a topic in an alternate manner, one that he is comfortable with, is an educational necessity. This is the kind of scaffolding the schools were unable to provide; I’m still insisting he learn to write and keep his wits about him during tests, but I refuse to have those be the only way he demonstrates knowledge. Projects and digital portfolios are the best method for him at this time. This section gave me so many ideas and I can’t wait to start implementing them.
I don’t think I was necessarily the target audience for this book, but I did get some good information from it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. I do hope it is somehow updated as new programs are released and older ones either fade away or are updated with awesome new features. I certainly recommend following the authors on Twitter, Facebook, or on their blog Engaging Educators.
July 3, 2013 update: Google Reader is no more. This is a pain in the butt for many reasons, but thankfully there are other options. At least Google gave enough notice this spring that other companies were able to provide similar services. I’ve moved to Feedly, which is working great for me. It has almost a Pinterest-like interface, so ooh! pretty pictures. I love the iPad app, which relies heavily on gestures and makes it super fast to delete posts I don’t want to read. There are many, many RSS feed grabber programs out there, this is just the one I have found works best for me.