Cyberspace sounds so much cooler than the Internet doesn't it? It's more mysterious this way, though still the same web. But no matter what word you use to refer to it (just for the love of all things sacred do not use The Net!!!), it has changed learning for the better. Forever.
But, here's the kicker....
So, before you're handed another copy/pasted definition of NOT WHAT IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE, teach them. You must. Their future depends on it.
Thus, my teacher brethren, this post is precisely about how to turn your students into successful Cyber Heroes capable of Cyberspace Inquiry. Your spaceship's arrived and you've been upgraded to first class. Hop in.
Deal With The Real
Let's be real. Researching stuff on the web will not be much fun for students if they're dealing with a lot of theoretical stuff that's hard to connect to. As you still might have to do that at times, it is important to be creative in lesson design and allow students to be creative by giving them choices. But, as my friend Denis Sheeran says: If You Can, Make It Real Homie!
A few ideas...
Chemistry is often abstract, so when life relevant topics come up, I jump at the chance to have students investigate the geeky side of things. The current unit is on solutions, mixtures, and concepts associated with those two things. So, I dug in my mind and the cyberspace for topics related to the unit concepts. Here's the list.
Then, I asked students to pair up and pick their topic.
Thought Organizer Meets Project Directions
I actually showed and talked about the project before letting students pick, but what's below is really the second step in of the project design.
I have a confession to make. I talk too damn much. I know however, that too much teacher speak is overwhelming, impossible to remember, and leads to more, not less confusion. So I came up with this:
I used the table to (1) explain the assignment and (2) as a thought organizer for each team to fill out prior to writing their video script.
Doing Their Thing
To make sure they did not record some random cybergarbage, I required student teams to show me their filled out thought organizer, so I could give them the go ahead or further directions for obtaining the correct info.
Once the information was correct and all of the requirements fulfilled, students used their phones or Chromebooks to record their 1-minute max videos.
Making Assessment Snappy
I limited videos to 1 minute or less, but you can make other products quick to view by constraining presentations to 3 slides or limiting words on infographics or other digital posters students create.
I also decided to use Padlet (which is a free app) to collect the videos. All I had to do is create a different padlet for each class and tell students do upload their finished videos to it. This way, all of the videos are in one place and I don't have to click on separate links or open multiple emails to be able to access and assess them.
Bringing It All Home
For successful Cyberspace Inquiry Projects...
- Come up with relevant topics students can connect to and give plenty of choices.
- Make directions visual, easy to follow, and provide a device for gathering information.
- Have a procedure in place to check the accuracy of gathered information.
- Make assessment quick and easy by using constraints and technology.
You have the power to change the world. Use it often.