With the advent of course management systems and shared on-line spaces for teachers and students, I’d been eager to jump on the posting notes on-line bandwagon. I grappled with the enabling aspect of it (i.e. do we allow students to not take notes by posting them on-line?) but in the end concluded that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. The question became, however, how to do this efficiently.
I”ve been using interactive white boards regularly for around four or five years now; I got my first Promethean Board in January of maybe ’07 or ’08, and started using it regularly, by the time I got used to it and how it worked, the following school year. At that point, the posting notes impetus was the least of my concerns, as I explored the vast functionality of the Promethean Board and its ActivVote, soon to be upgraded to ActivExpression, system; much of my investigatory energy went into this, and ActivVote and Expression changed the way I teach.
In the fall, I received a copy of Doceri, an iPad app that lets you control and annotate your computer from the iPad. This was a revolution in my teaching; I didn’t use the Promethean Board again once I got Doceri. But its sharing capabilities weren’t great. And it didn’t help that my school is using It’sLearning, a course management system that I find a bit clunky, especially if I wanted to upload multiple files per day per class (i.e. each board of notes would be a graphics file to be uploaded).
This past January, we moved into a brand new school building, and all of the classrooms are equipped with Eno boards. This seemed to have potential; a math teacher was saving his classnotes from the Eno board, and sharing them with his students via Dropbox (thanks, MH, for the idea). But the Eno board and I weren’t getting along. I didn’t want to take the time to navigate the inevitable glitches that occurred with the move to the new building and the introduction of all of this new technology.
A month ago or so I received Splashtop for the iPad, an app very similar to Doceri. One big difference between the two, however, is how easy Splashtop allows you to save your annotations. Splashtop installs a folder on your desktop where, when you click the camera button, your notes files are saved individuall as .jpgs. This feature facilitated ease of creation, and now I needed ease of sharing.
That’s where Dropbox comes in. I’d been using Dropbox for a while now and had experimented with a shared folder for my English class that has the iPads as a way to distribute and collect classwork. But, especially with the example of the math teacher (MH), last week I organized shared folders for my other classes expressly to share / make available class notes.
I invited the students to come to my computer to enter their email address, thus saving me from having to collect them, and shared the folder with them. Inside the folder is a notes folder that then either has a folder for each day (for multiple image files) or just the one image from that day, to which they have access.
I just began the system last week, but I’m excited to use it more. Most important, it’s a daily task that I don’t mind doing because it’s so efficient: open Splashtop folder, open Dropbox, drag and drop from one to the other. Much easier than the log in, go to course, go to folder, add, and upload that It’sLearning would require.
I’ve included some images here of what both the organization and the notes themselves look like (the __Classical folder isn’t shared yet because I’ve not yet seen them since implementing the system).