Monday, May 17, 2010

NetGen2010 Project Update - Student Summit

Wow!  It's been a while since I last posted an update on the NetGen project.  The NetGen blogs began with NetGen2010 Project for Speech class and Speech Students Blazing Along.  A lot has happened since I have last blogged.

While the students were hesitant to jump on board at first and were, quite honestly, whiny, their final summations in the PPHS Student Summit on May 12, 2010 were impressive (recording link).  As part one of the project consisted of collaborative NetGen wiki pages analyzing the synthesis of the trends of the 2010 Horizon Report and Don Tapscott's norms of the Net Generation, students were tentative to make posts and/or edit posts.  After the students made their first posts, they tended to get more comfortable with the wiki pages.  Not all students completed their wiki assignments - most, in fact, hesitated until the last minute, missing out on daily homework points and the full experience of collaborating on a wiki.

Part two of the project brought the Video Challenge, and a rebirth of energy from the students.  Most of the students completed, uploaded, and embedded videos for the project, and all students were involved in either acting in a PPHS Speech student video or in creating and uploading an outsourced video for a student from another school.

The NetGen project culminated in the PPHS Student Summit.  The Summit was an online web conference using Elluminate.  The Summit was treated as a formal business web conference.  Among those who attended the Summit were Honor Moorman and her class from San Antonio, Texas; Josh Piper and his class from Farmington, Illinois; Kim Caise, a NetGen veteran who stood by to assist if necessary; and Maureen Talbert, superintendent of Pleasant Plains School District.  Each student prepared for the Summit by creating a slide that was displayed while he/she identified himself/herself, specified with which NetGen group he/she worked, and explained what he/she got out of the NetGen experience.  After all students had given their presentations, the Summit was opened for questions from the audience.

My worry throughout was that I would not see the "light bulb" moment.  However, the Summit provided that moment!  The students and I were all excited and nervous on the day of our Student Summit.  To add to the nervous excitement, we learned on the day of the Summit that a reporter from the State Journal-Register, Amanda Reavey, would be with us in the classroom.  As I set up the laptops, I tried desperately to provide each student with a functional microphone for the Summit.  I was able to get most of the 20 students set up with a system - the students who did not have a functioning microphone used the mic of a student sitting next to him/her.  The students were in panic mode for the entire setup time - I had to calm them down and remind them again of the process of the Summit and of what they were going to discuss.  However, after we got started with the Summit, students began to relax.  I am proud of the manner in which the students spoke and text chatted in a professional manner.  Not only did "light bulb" moments shine through during their individual presentations, but they also demonstrated proficiency in the concepts of the project during the question and answer segment of the Summit.  Students fielded questions from the online audience by volunteering their answers either over the microphone or in the text chat area.

On Sunday, May 16, 2010, I was excited to see the article in the State Journal-Register titled "Speech Students in Program Study Benefits of Technology" written by Amanda Reavey.  The students got much more news coverage for their project than I had anticipated.

In reflection, I am excited to see that the "light bulb" moment happened for almost all of the students.  That made the process all worthwhile to them.  I knew that they would eventually have the moment (sometimes the moment doesn't happen until well after the class is over), but I had hoped I would be able to be there when they connected, and I was rewarded with a surplus of "light bulbs."

I have been speaking to Josh Piper of Farmington High School about the project and am excited that he will be joining the NetGen project next school year.  I have also been asked if I would present a workshop at Auburn High School and hope to start the spark in their school as well.

I am planning on participating in the NetGen project next year and, if possible, work a Flat Classroom project into another class I teach.  With the experiences of this year, I will be more prepared for the project and will be able to lead students into the project with mini-lessons throughout the year on the tools that will be utilized in the project.  I think that even though the students felt like guinea pigs this year, they ultimately felt like they had a productive experience and left with the understanding that the business world for them is going to be a lot different from the existing business world, and they are prepared for the first steps.

My objectives for the project were exactly that: students should have an understanding and be proficient in collaborating and communicating on a global basis.  2010 PPHS Speech students are there!