We are looking to support integrated classrooms with 1:1 access with the software which not only supports "shared spaces" to drop and get files but also allows a teacher classroom management tools in order to help students stay on task using Classlink OnTrack and Launchpad. It also helps teachers with their curriculum mapping. Their software product was just upgraded and will share more as I learn. http://www.classlink.com/
Another service we are looking into is Google Apps. There are schools using Google Apps as a lite LMS solution. The ability to "add" other services easily, like productivity software and social software, to Google Apps accounts, make it easy to personalize learning spaces. For example, a child can use the collaborative office software, shared calendars, and Producteev, a project management tool, to help them manage classes and school work. They can integrate Aviary into their Google Apps account and create content online, without having to download software. Customization and flexibilty are key requirements for the teachers and students we serve. Using web-based software like Google Apps allows every child to have their own set of personalized tools. In terms of classroom management, teachers have the ability to customize their software as well. Tech depts. can use the Google File Audit Tool or Aprigo Ninja to manage files / content in their domain. Again, we are experimenting with some schools with Google Apps as a possible solution. We haven't found a one size fits all solution but Google Apps no-cost licensing is something schools are willing to try.
Eventually, I think Apple will make iTunes an educational product, with personalized learning spaces connected to an iTunes account. If student accounts were set up the way our personal accounts are, we could assign content, accessible to every registered device a student owned (iPod, iPad, computer, cell phone, etc.), access past information, and modify current and future content to chart a personalized experience. That would be ideal!
Whatever the software, personally, I feel it needs to be web-based. Cloud solutions are the way of the future. Servers are very costly and take money to maintain. As an educator, I want to be able to get content to my students as quickly as possible, in every mode possible, to ensure the best experience, and I don't want to worry about having access to the software, or whether my district budget allows it, or having to wait until next year until computers are reimaged. Solutions today need to be flexible and they need to be multi-modal. I also need to be able to collect assessments in a timely manner, with results so that I can make changes in the curriculum if I have to.
There are other software companies, like Pearson's NovaNet and CompassLearning's Odyssey. Odyssey, I have used in the past. I don't believe it's changed that much since I implemented the web based version in '06. Their earlier product was similar except it ran on a district server. The web-based version allowed it to be used at home but use was sporadic and at that point, Internet access wasn't what it was today. It was a good product then, but didn't integrate with other products, a must in my opinion for today's learning environments. I have heard good things about their course curriculum and Plato Learning's course offerings as well. My girlfriend does PD for Novanet in the Northeast. She swears by it and I've heard the buzz in my area lately. It is worth looking into.
I hope this is along the lines of what you are looking for. Hope you have a healthy and Happy New Year!
I definitely agree with Blanca on Google Apps. We have schools who are moving forward with the apps because the unblocked tools like docs do not work consistently on a district network. I do have high hopes for iTunes esp with our state considering iTunes U for PD but since they have been talking about it for a couple of years, budget cuts and it is blocked at the state level then I doubt we will see any state support. It is also blocked in my district - the IT guys are good about unblocking but this one is a no go with them.
I have been thinking about this for a while and different schools and districts are using a plethora of products depending on funds and salesmen. I have seen two very cool tools that teachers/districts tried for free and then wanted more with the premiere version. The first one is Voicethread. The beauty of this tool is the direct relationship to RTI. A great example ...the state bought the upgraded version and VT gave us our own personal space to share VTs. We had a Louisiana page with all of the teacher's public VTs on it. It was very powerful because we focused on the MSP (Math Sci Projects) teachers across the state so they had a page to share and learn from each other. These were teacher accounts but the teachers used them with students. Westdale Heights (Intel School of Distinction from this yr) used their account to share a trip at the Grand Canyon with other students back in Louisiana. They were able to communicate on the types of rock etc. by uploading pictures from the trip in real time- VERY COOL! I am no longer working at the state so I am not sure of the progress of this project with MSPs.
The other tool is Glogster. I have seen some INCREDIBLE student projects with this tool at my new school. We have 90 min of tech PD every month at the school so Glogster was shared last month and after the principal saw the student work ...well she is buying the upgraded version for the school.
I love these two tools because they are free but after a teacher/school can see the impact then an education friendly upgraded version (IT guys and district tech coordinator love this) is available for customized learning and projects.
I hope this helps!
We have a school account with Ed.VoiceThread where all our students have their own accounts through our school account. This has really taken off this year where students are choosing this site to share personalize their learning. Glogster, like Susan mentioned, is also a tool many of our teachers use to personalize instruction. Another tool that has been used this year is Prezi which allows you to add pictures, videos, and/or links.
We just has a group of students to present how they use SpicyNodes for projects in their classroom. They demoed the site and then shared examples of how others could use it at their grade level. Talk about building future leaders. These kids did an awesome job. I'm gonna be posting some video clips of this presentation on our school web site soon. I will come back and post to the community.
What I like about being in education at this time is the abundance of tools that individuals can choose for their own personalized learning. There's something for everyone.
Thank you for sharing the information about Voicethread and how your state is using it for RTI. I'm curious to know how since I am working with a school to put together an RTI plan using technology integration. Quantifying the methods is the difficult part. Do you survey teachers on a daily basis? weekly? Or are you documenting project outcomes? We are still not at the point where everyone is integrating technology every day so we are trying to determine the best way.
Glogster and Voicethread are two of my favorite tools too! Web based tools that students can use to create products and demonstrate knowledge are starting to get more use lately than desktop software. Have you tried StoryBird or SkratchTrack yet?
StoryBird is a web based application (still in beta but wonderful) that allows users to create books with art created by artists all over the world. They range from the simple (robots and animals) to the intricate (think Monet). They allow learners to express themselves very creatively. I think the art acts as inspiration. The applications is so intuitive that it allows the creator a wide range of personal expression.
SkratchTrack is a web based application that allows users to make connections to books they read. It's a personalized reading database of books that readers can use to track not only the books they read, but what type of book it is and their understanding of it. It also allows the learner (and the teacher) to see patterns as time goes on.
Looking forward to hearing more about the software being used! Thanks for sharing.
I am no longer the ITA contact and I do not work with the department anymore so I really cannot speak to the progress of the project. This was a project I developed (before I left) with the MSP grants but you will need to contact the Louisiana ITA for information on evaluation. The contacts are Ken Bradford, Alan Childress and Margo Murphy (they are probably in the community or maybe they are following the discussions and will comment). They should be able to assist you with updates. They may have given an update at an ITA meeting or maybe they can (especially since this was a extension of the state ITA trainings).
I have used Story Bird and LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Vanessa J put me on to it in one of her threads in Engage on storytelling. I work with librarians (since I am one now) and this is a must in my toolbox for the elementary folks. I will have to check out SkratchTrack but I our students are so AR crazy they are obsessed with ARbookfind.com. I have used librarything.com with librarians which I am thinking is similar since it connects books and people. Thanks for the site - will investigate!