Welcome to the future and another great 21st century educational resource. In fact, this might be just the tool you have been looking for if you wish to provide students a safe place to engage, collaborate, and communicate on the internet. In this post you will discover a place that allows students to use those important Web 2.0 type tools while their actions are monitored. Be sure to check out the videos and documents I have supplied to help you learn even more. Before reading and watching, please take a moment to subscribe to this 21centuryedtech Blog by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter at mjgormans. I promise you will find some great information coming your way in 2012…So Sign Up Now! As always… thanks and have a great week. – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)
Special Announcement: Join me at EdTech Leaders OnLine for a free webinar entitled Online Adventures on The Project Based Learning Highway. Connecting Technology with PBL.
Strap your seatbelt and join me for a fast paced exploration of Project Based Learning. Discover essentials of PBL and see how technology can supercharge your PBL efforts. Pre-registration is not required. If you wish to attend just go to http://econference.edc.org/ before the starting time below. Once you are in just type your name in the field in the upper right corner, and click “Log in as a Participant.” See you there!
Date: Wednesday, January 25
Time: 4:00-5:00 PM ET
Safe Student Collaboration and Communication: An Educational Community with Filtering, Monitoring, Engagement (Please take a moment to Retweet… Thanks!)
Have you been searching for a safe place that allows students to collaborate and communicate over classroom topics while still allowing administration the opportunity to monitor student activity? How about a spot that allows students to upload, download, store, and even submit assignments for feedback and grading. Does providing a virtual room that facilitates student discussion of school related curriculum using you tube video, websites, documents, and a rich library of resources compel you to keep reading? Better yet, students collaboratively writing a document though the sharing of that document with an entire group might be something that would fit into your 21st century classroom. Of course all of these features allowing facilitation of these great learning opportunity inside a closed community would interest any teacher… wouldn’t it? How about opening up parts of this closed community to parents, other classrooms, experts, or the entire web whenever you as the teacher wish? Would you like to give your students the ability to blog, write a wiki, and maintain a learning wall? Did I mention having a portal for entire course content complete with SMS and email feeds to make announcements, a resource area for all of the course content, a calendar that stores all the important course dates, and that merges with a student owned calendar containing all of their courses? Most important… did I mention this was free? Oh… I almost forgot something better than free! How about a place that has filtering, monitoring, and reporting of student activity as a built-in feature? Introducing My Big Campus, a learning community that is free, filtered, monitored, and truly student centered. Yes, it really does exist! It is brought to you by the people at Lightspeed Systems… a school web filtering company that is known for taking student web safety… seriously.
As I do in all of my posts, let’s take a look at some features and then I will cover how you can be part of the My Big Campus Community. First… how about an overview? I know once you view this informational video about My Big Campus you will want to continue to explore and consider ways to implement it in your school. My Big Campus really has a social networking (Facebook) type look with the needs of education and the classroom under the hood. Students and teachers can Stay Updated on Latest Activity using activity feeds and notifications. Teachers always know what’s going on, thanks to instant notification when group members write on a wall, share an announcement, post a discussion, and so much more. Teachers can also Create, Assign, and Grade Assignments and teachers and students can easily manage their class assignments and tasks. The students know immediately what they need to work on using a variety of devices and feeds, and teachers can see who has yet to complete a task. Teachers and students can easily Collaborate with Peers. In fact, collaboration is a key part of this unique student-centered community. My Big Campus makes it easy to collaborate with peers using features like real-time chat, messaging, group discussions, wallposts, and much more. Finally, this community allows a safe avenue to allow student messaging, wikis, and blogs. Most recently, My Big Campus has even incorporated the feature of shared documents. Both teachers and students can Access Files and Resources It is easy to upload, access, and share files on My Big Campus. Students will no longer need flash drives and can get to their work anytime and anywhere. Tens of thousands of educationally-relevant YouTube videos, documents, blogs, websites and other resources that may have been blocked can now be accessed through a resource library. If the video or web site is not already there… then the teacher can add it. Possibly the best feature for educators is the ability to Manage and Monitor Content. My Big Campus enables teachers and administrators to easily monitor and control school content and users’ activity, messages, and file uploads. My Big Campus can generate reports of all activity, possible suspicious activity, and even activity that has been deleted! This can go a long way towards helping today’s digital natives understand digital citizenship. Teachers and administrators decide what access students will have, and have the ability to turn off any or all activity with the push of a button. Learn more about resources and filtering at this video designed to help educators better understand the power behind My Big Campus and its ability to facilitate on-line learning. The screen capture and description below below will give you a better idea of some of the features.
In My Big Campus all users have the ability to check on the Activity of the groups they belong to and the individuals they follow. This area is a great collaborative tool and can also be turned on and off for specific users and groups. Edutalk is a twitter like feature that is available to teachers. It allows educators to network with other professionals in their building, district, and beyond. There is even the ability to integrate it with a Twitter account. Conversations acts like email and can be tailored to meet classroom needs. Conversations can be kept within the school or district campus and it may be set up for teacher to teacher, student to teacher, teacher to student, or could allow students to contact both teachers and students. The portion of My Big Campus dedicated to School Work allows teachers to create, store, and assign classwork. There is even the ability to grade assignments and facilitate a variety of quizzes. Your Stuff is like a locker or file cabinet where teachers and students can upload, store resources, and download from any place at any time using almost any device. The newest addition, MBC Documents, allows teachers and students to collaboratively work together on shared documents. MBC Documents gives all users the features of a word processor, with storage in the “cloud.” Teachers and students are able to create and edit documents anywhere, without having to upload files or use thumb drives. And, because the documents are part of My Big Campus, they are scanned automatically for profanity and other suspicious activity. MBC Documents are fully shareable. You can attach them to assignments, conversations, wall posts, and group discussions. The Calendar feature allows all users to create calendars and have those calendars populated by groups/classes they belong to. Teacher assignments automatically go to the calendars of the subscribers to their groups, classes, or extra-curriculars. There is also an area that can be use for teachers and students to Blog and set up their own Profile.
Teachers can also set up Groups to manage their classes, extra-curricular activities, and projects. The graphic below provides a quick look… followed by an explanation of how Groups are used in My Big Campus.
As you can see above, a group can contain a Home Page that might provide a project overview, a class syllabus, or a extracurricular statement. There is an area for Announcements that can be pushed out to group members’ individual calendars. My favorite, Discussions, is a great area to allow students to discuss and reflect with each other. This area can include videos, web pages, and readings to facilitate learning both during and after school hours. The Chat area can be turned on and off at teacher discretion, but could provide a unique opportunity for meeting and collaboration. Perhaps one of the most powerful areas is Pages. Subpages can even be created off of the main page and can be assigned to groups and students to encourage a group project, web site, wiki, or blog. In the Resources area teachers can place items from their main library or the main library of My Big Campus. These resources can be any type of file, web site, or multimedia. There is also a group Calendar and a complete listing of all Members of the group.
I really could go on and on. My suggestion is for you to take a closer look. You will discover that not only are there great resources, such as access to the entire video collection of the Khan Academy, but also an excellent class management system based on safe and monitored student collaboration and communication. You will discover that there are two types of free accounts available to educators. The standalone version (Freemium) of My Big Campus is perfect for single teachers, project-based learning activities, professional networks, or group projects.The integrated version of My Big Campus is a district-wide solution that provides access to the Educational Resource Library content without risk of over-blocking, as well as cross-district sharing and collaboration, and additional management and reporting features. The integrated version is available to all of Lightspeed’s filter customers. Freemium users do not have to be Lightspeed customers and can do almost everything regular users can do (filtering and reports may be more limited). For a matrix comparing the two versions of My Big Campus, please visit http://www.mybigcampus.com/get-started. Now, take a moment and spend a little time on My Big Campus.
Some Great Resource Videos and Documents to Become Acquainted with My Big Campus
Video: Big Campus Overview – Lightspeed Systems CEO Joel Heinrichs discusses what My Big Campus is, and how it can be used.
Video: My Big Campus Integration with YouTube Videos - is a great resource for educators. Here’s how to share quality YouTube videos with your students, without the distraction of ads and comments.
Video: My Big Campus Reports on Student Activity – Learn about the amazing reports ability and demonstrates to teachers how to review users’ activity on My Big Campus.
Video: Report from ISTE on My Big Campus – Libby Lawrie shares her experience with My Big Campus and how her district is using it to flip their classrooms. She is also seeing students use My Big Campus for tutoring each other, global education, digital responsibility and much more!
Video: Students” Reflections on My Big Campus – Students from San Saba High School present the key functions of My Big Campus and share how they use it to communicate, collaborate and learn.
Video: Virtual Field Trips Using My Big Campus – Kim Herron, a 6th grade teacher at USD 448 in Kansas, shares the benefits of virtual field trips to places a class could never dream to go in real life.
Video: MBC Podcast – An excellent nine minute video that covers the needs of today’s digital natives and how My Big Campus can help facilitate that need. Great for educator awareness and reflection.
PDF File: My Big Campus Manual – Gives you a chance to see all the things you can do with My Big Campus. Also great for learning how to use it.
PDF File: My Big Campus Teacher Tips – Two page handout highlighting what My Big Campus can do for teachers in the classroom.
PDF File: My Big Campus IT Administrator Tips – Two page handout giving IT administrators some great information on capabilities, set up, and best practices.
PDF File: My Big Campus Student Tips – Two page handout explaining to students the reason to use My Big Campus and how to get started.
PDF File: Network Solution for Safe On-line Learning – Outstanding document demonstrating how My Big Campus accomplishes a mission of a safe learning environment for students.
Thanks for joining me and for learning about this 21st century learning tool. Join me in future weeks as together we continue to explore several more posts devoted to 21st century education including such topics as Flipped Classrooms, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, technology integration, web resources, and digital literacy. I enjoy learning from all of you. Also, remember to subscribe to this 21centuryedtech Blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets. Keep up the amazing work, have a great week, and hope to see you somewhere on My Big Campus! – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)