Edcanvas [renamed Blendspace August, 2013] is by far my top selection for tech tool of the year. I think every teacher needs to have this in their quiver. You can use it to make engaging presentations for your classes or ask students to create their own using its simple interface. Let me stop there and have this YouTube from a teacher explain how it works.
- Practice using Edcanvas before you have the class work with it. You might want to first use it on a whole different topic and try out its many features.
- Using a projector, work with the class and create a model Edcanvas together of what you are looking for your learners to create. Remember to make the focus on good research and organization of one’s knowledge and not so much on how cool the tool is. Start with a simple model and create a title page called, ”What is a natural disaster”? Help guide the class with gathering and organizing the presentation of information. Ask questions such as, “Where can we find the definition to put on this page?” “Should we list all the natural disasters we know here or on another page? How about photos or videos?”
- Before they begin to create their own canvas, ask students to come up with a hypothesis about which disaster they think is most destructive. Tap their prior knowledge and learners’ experience with or knowledge of any natural disasters they are familiar with. Depending on your goals for the class, you might want students to work in pairs or small groups.
- Have students sign in and then review with them the steps to making a simple page or two. I always find it worthwhile to have students go step by step, each student making the first page as you do then waiting until others are finished to go to the next step.
- After students seem comfortable, let them experiment and create their own canvas. Make sure you walk around and help learners with the process of gathering (and hopefully evaluating) resources and organizing the information into a presentation that is not only engaging but flows.
- After completion, (you may want to help them make revisions before they make these public,) have the class share canvases with each other and get feedback. Again, depending on your learning objectives for this lesson you might have each give a presentation to the whole class or a small group. Or they can create a series of links that all can visit. Or simply have a partner or small group read and report back.
- If there are multiple presentations of the same topic, engage students by asking them how the presentations on the same topic were different. Did video or images make the information more interesting? How was the information organized? Can you identify information that was different on each presentation?
- Don’t miss the opportunity for you or the class to use the comment features in Edcanvas.
- For those who use Edmodo, you can integrate Edcanvas easily. See http://www.edmodo.com/publisher/blendspace
- Did you know that Google Docs has similar capabilities when you use the “Research tool”?
Share any comments, your experience using this activity or any suggested variations you have (particularly using other technologies).