I recently came across a really cool idea through a fellow Ontario eLC, Katie Maenpaa. A teacher in her board came up with a way to bring more of her real-world classroom into her online one with a miniscule amount of extra work. Jen Kruse, a grade 7 teacher at Holy Saviour School in Marathon, takes pictures of her classroom anchor charts with Instagram on her smartphone. After embedding the Instagram feed into her D2L course homepage, the pictures now appear instantly in her course right after taking them, without any additional work. What a great idea! This idea beautifully pulls live classroom activities into the online classroom creating a true “blended” experience.
As we know, the point of anchor charts is to anchor or lock a learner’s memory on something visual that will remain around them for sometime to remind them of that learning. Extending this to the online classroom merely reinforces the same basic anchor philosophy. They will see the charts when they login for other online activities and be reminded of their prior learning. It creates connections in their brains between their real classroom and their online one, both as places of learning.
Also, this level of transparency for parents is usually hard to achieve. Parents can see examples of what is going on in the classroom and what students are learning, either by using an auditor role, or just following the teacher on Instagram.
I think one of the coolest parts is how easy it is. I’m a strong supporter of technology that helps teachers without being an additional workload burden. In the past, taking a picture with a digital camera, then saving it to a computer, then uploading it to a website or LMS and then linking it to where students can view it, would all take quite a bit of time. I don’t think it could get any easier than this Instagram idea. Right after creating an anchor chart with her class, the teacher can pull out her smartphone, take a picture with Instagram, and it’s instantly online and distributed to interested parents and posted to the front page of her online course. #brilliant
If you’re going to try it out, you’ll see the embed option in your Instagram account on the web. There’s various display options to play around with. There’s a picture of one below. You’ll need to create a custom widget for your feed. I’ll try to get an instructional video up about it on coursehelp.ca sometime soon.
Of course the Instagram feed can be used in many other ways as well. Projects, field trips, art, or even good ol’ fashion chalk notes. Anything that the students are proud of, or you want them to remember, it’s all very easily shared through Instagram and your D2L course.
* (Technical note: In order to embed an Instagram feed into D2L, you must manually add an “s” to the “http” in the embed code, making it “https”. Then it will work).