Ask the Experts: Technology for Reflection Discussions

My students get to go on great field trips to see performances, screenings and panels. I’d like to make more of an effort to include reflection, post–field trip. Any technology suggestions?

Too often, we run out of time in the classroom, and the first thing to go is reflection. A great educator taught me that reflection is where the learning happens, and it feels like a crime when I sacrifice it.

Much of the technology I have written about in this column can be used to facilitate a reflection discussion beyond the classroom. Posting on a blog and allowing comments is one quick way. If your school uses a learning management system, it’s very likely you have blogging capability or some way to create a forum. Google Groups is another way to have out-of-classroom discussions. Edmodo, the private, Facebook-like site, is a format for written discussion students will find familiar. 

Videos are a quick way to get thoughts out and are especially good for those who find writing difficult. I recently read about a teacher who sets up a camera in a private area for reality-show-like “confessionals,” but just having students interview each other would work well, too.

VoiceThread is new cloud-based software (so nothing to install) that could also work. With it, you create an online location for group discussions. One person starts the conversation—which could be uploading anything from pictures to documents to a PowerPoint presentation—and then others add comments in the form of text, voice or webcam.

Barry Blumenfeld teaches at the Friends Seminary in New York City. He is an adjunct professor at New York University and on faculty at the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y.

Photo courtesy of Barry Blumenfeld

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