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Monday, March 18, 2013

Thinking Through the Engineering Design Process


I recently spent time with the staff at Middle Creek High School delving into the engineering design process and looking at how technology provides opportunities for students to work in new ways impossible without the technology. We looked at how VoiceThread can be used for developing solutions to problems, getting expert and peer input about possible solutions, and communicating solutions. VoiceThread allows anyone to comment, so ideas can be presented and feedback collected all in one place. That can be very helpful in many ways: the loudest opinion is not the only one heard, everyone gets an opportunity to comment, feedback can be verbal or non-verbal, and the recipient of the feedback can access it multiple times. It allows for a cycle of continuous feedback and improvement for students and teachers. It also allows new avenues of communication between students and experts that can be asynchronous, but have the look and feel of live communication. Teachers discovered application in many curriculum areas: The Arts PLT talked about peer review and personal reflection of choreography as well as visual art (using an iPad to input video into VoiceThread); Social Studies teachers accessed primary source documents courtesy of the New York Public Library right from within the media sources in VoiceThread; World Language teachers discussed the myriad of ways students could refine listening and speaking skills creating original threads and responding to classmates in a target language.  VoiceThread is a simple, but powerful tool that provides students a different way to reach out with ideas and evaluate solutions to issues which is at the very heart of the engineering design process.

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