Project Agriculture – Evaluation

agriculture

Last week was intense. As you can read here, I tried to engage the students, using a lot of web 2.0 tools! To be honest, maybe doing all the things I did in a timeframe of 2 lessons of 50′, was pushing it, but I thought it would be fun and interesting to use the time in a computer lab efficiently and use this weeks time to process all the data we gathered.

Facebook, Pinterest, Google Maps, MindMeister and Socrative were used to engage the students and to learn about commercial agriculture. An overview:

  • Facebook was primarily used by me to ask questions and functioned as a place where the students posted their “answers” (i.e. links to a website/tool where they gathered all the necessary info).
  • Pinterest enabled them to create a board to post relevant pictures of various agricultural content.
  • Google Maps, of course, was our way of localizing cities, areas, etc.
  • Mindmeister, a place to create a mind map about the role of the farmer in a commercial environment, being more than “just” someone who works the land.
  • Socrative was my quiz environment to encourage the students to think about abstract data.

As usual not all the tools worked as they were supposed to. Unfortunately the schools network properties were a bit strict. Something you should talk about with your ICT people, when trying this yourself! Pinterest was a disaster. Not that it was a bad tool. I love the way you can use it in class (read here), but technical difficulties made me switch to using a simple Word-file to collect photos and letting the students upload these files (as PDF’s!) onto Facebook (thankfully FB just enabled users to upload files… phew!). MindMeister wasn’t that great either. Again due to technicalities. Not a bad word about the service itself. I managed to use the “try it out”-version to let students create a mind map in groups of about 4. Then I made one myself, using the ideas of the students to create the “correct” version, leaving lots of room for debate.

Google Maps was useful, but I’m still looking for ways to search for maps about some theme. For instance I would love Google to locate all the places in the world where “commercial agriculture” takes place. However, localizing places, especially in satellite view was great!

I loved Socrative. It was a very simple yet useful way of engaging students to think about the harder content. They could work together, but still had to think about the content and create links between nodes of information in order to give the correct answer.

And then there’s Facebook. I thought I’d give it another try to use the extremely popular social medium. I still believe that media like Facebook and Twitter are very useful during class, however, my students (15 year olds) were distracted sometimes, or seduced to check their personal updates or messages. I hoped they were mature enough to know that the classroom isn’t a place or a time to check status-updates, “like” photos, etc. when working on a project. Unfortunately I was wrong. I had to ask them on numerous occasions, to pay attention and focus.

In the end I liked what we’ve accomplished and the experience of the new tools we’ve tried out. Although I have one more piece of advice. I found the class sessions a bit tiresome. I had the feeling I had to push the students a bit to meet all our goals in time. Thinking about this, I came up with this: during my iPad-project we created something from the ground up. Throwing the book out of the window and starting from scratch, so to speak. This time I tried working my way through the texts and exercises in my book, adding the web 2.0 as a twist. It was this that made it actually harder to meet my goals. A friend of mine calls me a DIY-teacher. I do like taking matters into my own hands, but maybe that’s not something for every teacher, to create his or her own content. However, I really got the feeling that this creative process enables me to be more flexible. It makes the assignments work more fluently with the tools I want to use. Oh well, just a thought!

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One thought on “Project Agriculture – Evaluation

  1. A bit naïve to think the 15-year olds would use the opportunity to check their own facebook, don’t you think? 😉
    But apart from that, it sounds like another good test to incorporate technology in the classroom.

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