Friday, February 13, 2009

Online Flash Card Sites and Vo-Tech 2.0

I work in a technical and career school-- Vo-Tech 2.0, as I call it because much has been done around my school system to update and improve the old-school Vo-Tech that we are used to. We still have the traditional Vo-Tech style courses, but we also have Dental Assisting and Culinary Arts and Early Childhood Education, amongst others. Many of the students in these courses are college-bound and are looking for a way to enhance their skills and learn more about their desired profession. Through such diverse programs of study, we are able to provide many many different kinds of students a valuable and lifelong skill. Our teachers are equally diverse: we have those who were traditionally educated as teachers-- that is all they have done and know. And we also have those who have transitioned into the education world after they have spent time refining their skills in their area of expertise.

My challenge when I arrived at this school as the Instructional Technology go-to person was three-fold:
  1. Many people didn't believe I was needed here because it is a technical school. They didn't understand how technology would be useful here.

  2. Many of the teachers in the building, the majority, were very, very leery of technology. They had learned what they needed to pass the technology standards test and take attendance, but that was where it ended.

  3. Finally, I wasn't sure what I would be able to do here because I didn't know much about their content. In my previous middle school, I knew enough about the core subjects, that I could converse with the teachers in a planning session and get the wheels moving.

What I have learned is that technology is just as important in Vo-Tech 2.0 world as it is in a traditional high school. The kids here learn theory that is just as rigorous as any Algebra or English class, and they need these tools. I have also learned that the teachers also need these tools in their classrooms, and I can provide those tools even though I may not be an expert in their content. They have the same struggles as any teacher with kids who desire and crave engagement.

So my method has been to ease them in. We spent time learning technical skills involved with programs like Excel and Outlook. I am spending time this year introducing easy options for integrating technology. We have looked at Flip Video Cameras, and most recently, I introduced two online flash card sites. They have generated some interest, and I have already had one teacher try it! I just have to constantly remind myself of baby steps. It will all come together with baby steps!

Tech Tips for today:


In Quizlet, the teacher creates the content and the students then have several ways to review the information through practicing, games, and quizzes. The sets that the teacher creates can be shared with the students through a link. As an extension, the teacher can create a group for the class, and the students create accounts and join the group. Throughout the year, sets that are added to the group are accessible to the students whenever they login. The students also have the ability to add sets to the group as well.


Cramberry works in the same way, but it has one nice extension. Cramberry will remember the topics that were answered incorrectly, and it will focus on those topics as a way to help the learner.

This is a perfect tool for any teacher, but especially for teachers in my school because the students often have to learn vocabulary quickly and correctly in order to perform the task or skill it relates to.

Just a note-- if you know of an ITRT or similar person at the Vo-Tech style school in your area, send them my way. I am on Twitter: @hlvanrip



Chris Fancher (@cfanch) said...

saw your comment on Geekymomma's Blog and came to see your site. Keep it going. My wife just finished her third year of bogging and has a pretty good following - but it takes time. I'll add you to my list of RSS feeds and look forward to new posts. My wife and I are both retired Navy and know VA Beach well.

@MichaelNic said...

The school is lucky to have you! I' ve been following your updates and baby steps on Twitter. Keep it up!

Btw, I have been around your school a few times and I agree with you. You do have amazing programs; a lot more than a typical technical school; A 21st century school or Vo-Tech 2.0 :)