Teaching with Technology: A New Toolset

I have been thinking about a toolset that targets the forgotten world of k-12 education … the higher education and corporate training markets are flooded with LMS/CMS tools that allow faculty, students, and learners to engage in online activity and tracking. K-12 just seems left out of the mix. I can see a toolset that gives teachers ease of use, from their desktops, handhelds, or even cell phones to work, post, and communicate with students, teachers, and administrators … something like that would go a long way in bridging the gap between what happens in the class and what should be going on outside it.

What I want is a toolset that gives me the one-click, live updating of something like WordPress combined with the ulimited section creation capabilities I am uncovering at squarespace. If I could move these features into a k-12 toolset — one where both teachers and students could publish their thoughts, assignments, classroom activities, schedules, photos, audio blog posts, syllabi, and all the other stuff that goes on with the combination of features and simplicity of these tools, I think I’d have a winner.

Seeing how this system allows multiple pages gives me several new ideas for making it all happen. I think the wordpress engine is a great starting point to building a next generation classroom management and publishing system — it is also open source. It has to be flexible enough to meet the needs of different teaching styles and it has to be simple so everyone can use it. Students should all have accounts as well — and those accounts should be easily bound to their teachers set of pages. If I could post blog posts to my own page as a student and instantly cross post it to a class site I’d be a step closer to tracking my own intellectual development and submitting to my teachers.

So what does it have to have? Here’s a real short list:

  • Multiple templates for look & feel
  • Multiple “frameworks” for different types of pages — this can’t simply be a blog engine … it has to have frameworks for syllabi, blog pages, articles, file uploads, file downloads, audio posts, grade posting, discussion lists, resources and links, and multiple content displays to name a few (D3 style).
  • Secure areas that registered users can get to only — with multiple user authentication levels (teachers, students, parents, administrators, etc).
  • Very simple setup wizard.
  • Open accessibility standards for students/teachers with disabillities.

There’s a lot more, but that’s a start. In the coming weeks, I will be exploring htis in much more detail. If you have ideas, please feel free to comment.

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