Note: this was authored by Jackie Barrow and originally posted on the old School in the Cloud website on 8th June 2015. Jackie is a ‘veteran’ Granny and also a member of the Core Team. She has been with the Granny Cloud since it began in 2009.
Some minor editing has been done to make it current. Suneeta
Jackie got interested in Linoit some time back but didn’t have too much success. She returned to the idea a few months ago… and this time the exploration is taking the children on quite an adventure. Our FB group is busy with several other grannies showing interest in the idea. Specially since one of the challenges we regularly face is involving all the children and creating some continuity in the activity, specially when the exploration has just begun… Just the right time to post Jackie’s blog on Linoit!
Over to Jackie:
I came across Linoit a couple of years ago, http://en.linoit.com/ probably thanks to one of the more tech savvy Grannies in our team. It’s basically an online pinboard or ‘canvas’ to which the creator of the canvas and others can attach post-its or ‘stickies’. You can post text, pictures and links to videos or websites. I tried it out with a couple of the groups I was Skyping with at the time with varying levels of success. None of these groups had access to other computers, nor use of a computer in between sessions.
However, some of the challenges we faced in the then new TED prize labs, particularly Korakati, Chandrakona and Gocharan, made me look at it again and consider its potential uses. [Note: Since then it has been used by many other Grannies in many other locations] Three of the main challenges seem to be
- how to take feedback from the children when they copy large chunks of text and read it out in difficult to understand accents
- how to develop any sort of continuity from one session to the next when the group changes
- how to ensure that the session is not completely dominated by one or two more fluent, more able or simply more confident children
I tried out Linoit at two sessions with Chandrakona. I read the children the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and then used a Linoit canvas that I had created before the session which had pictures from the book of various foods eaten by the caterpillar. I screen shared the canvas and used it to generate discussion around the food items and our likes and dislike. I showed them how I could write on the stickies, add emoticons and drag them to where I wanted to place them on the canvas.
http://linoit.com/users/jaxbarrow/canvases/Food [See picture at top of the post]
The following week I shared the canvas with them again and we used it to recap on the story. Then I posted them the link and suggested that they add more stickies to the canvas, which they mastered very quickly and seemed to enjoy. I am planning to follow this up with another canvas I have created about butterflies. At present I have posted a couple of pictures, a link to a video on the life cycle of the butterfly and a couple of questions. Let’s see how it goes!
What I am hoping is that
- as the canvas can be visited as many times as you wish, it can be used to review what was done in earlier sessions and as a record of what was learnt
- as the children can post their own stickies with questions, answers, links etc with no time constraint, the slower, less confident children will be able to participate
- the children can be encouraged to reduce the feedback from their searches to a short phrases or sentences and therefore be encouraged to identify the key points in what they have read
- reviewing the canvas and the answers that the children have posted will provide opportunities to take the discussion further
- the same canvas could be shared with different groups and so widen out the discussion
- a canvas could be used for children’s interactions with children in other locations
- that if the children are asked to put names and dates on their stickies this could provide very useful evidence for those collating data for research
- that if we know who contributed to the canvas, it helps us to offer praise and draw children more easily into the discussion
- that if the children have the canvas up on the screen as they are searching, they can go back and refer to it at any time
- explanations of vocabulary related to the topic could be posted on the canvas – by the Granny or by the children
- Another advantage of Linoit is that it is collaborative in that several people can work on it simultaneously (so long as they have the link) – useful if there are several Internet-connected stations.
- You can also “freeze” it by taking away the kids’ edit-access – might be useful it doing a timed activity, and necessary to prevent it being “modified” after the event.
- that for many of the above reasons it will facilitate the exploration of ‘big questions’!
The success of self-organised learning and minimally invasive education is well documented and gathering huge momentum globally. However, I think that the Granny Cloud, working remotely with groups of children over Skype, encounters challenges not faced by teachers on the ground running their own SOLEs. If we are to genuinely attempt to test the methodology then we need to find ways in which to overcome some of these challenges.
A suggestion posted on Facebook in response to my trials with Linoit was that perhaps the children could teach the Grannies how to use it – a great idea!
By the way, I have no vested interest in promoting Linoit as opposed to other similar pinboard type applications. Padlet is another I have come across which others may like to investigate further.