I’m happy to recommend Ben Curran‘s and Neil Wetherbee‘s (joint web-site here) ‘Learning in the 21st Century: How to Connect, Collaborate, and Create‘.
Learning in the 21st Century is published by GHF Press, the publishing devision of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. Recognising that school does not suit everyone, GHF provides support for the alternative education community. GHF Press publishes highly focused, brief books on areas of interest to the Gifted/Twice-Exceptional and alternative education communities.
When I started reading Learning in the 21st Century I had quick browse through its contents page, and darn it if I hadn’t already started (crowd-scourced) writing something similar myself. I’m part of an email community called cesi-list where members can email questions, offer advice etc. Because many of the questions asked are recurring, it made sense to take the most common ones and put them into a handy reference guide. This would be especially useful for newbies.
Curran and Wetherbee have done this for 21st Century Learning tools and offer tools homeschoolers can use to help children ‘Connect, Collaborate and Create’ (as the secondary title says). But this book will be useful for all teachers, well beyond the homeschooling community.
While I was reading it, I was looking for the advanced stuff. But that’s not the point of this book. It’s point is to offer an ‘easy in’ start to using online tools. In this regard it is brilliant. Everything you need to get you started in 21st Century Learning is there, all in one handy publication. You can read it beginning-to-end or as a desk reference. It may not have the detail of an advanced publication, but it’s got everything you are most likely ever going to need.
Curran and Wetherbee tell you how to get started Google Reader, Twitter, Blogger, Diigo, Drive, Voicethread, Wikispaves, Edmodo, Prezi, Animoto and more. It’s a ready-made introductory course to 21st Century Learning.
Learning in the 21st Century cleverly starts with getting you familiar with Google Reader – something I had much neglected myself until reading the book. Reader is a good place to start for anyone who has ever asked ‘where can I find resources for….’. Subscribe to a few sites via Google Reader and watch the resources flow in.
But where to find those sites in the first place? I hear you ask. It’s covered - Learning in the 21st Century gives you the heads-up on Twitter. Any educator who has spent even a short while looking at Twitter will tell you about the world of resources that tick by on it. Curran and Wetherbee give you the lowdown on using Twitter. If you can peel yourself away from Twitter, you can use the book to get started creating your own content using the guide to Blogger.
Once you have Connected, you can Collaborate using Google Drive or wikispaces or any of the other ideas in the book. Having only dipped my toe previously in wikispaces, the book has prompted me to take a second look.
Once you are done learning how to get started, you’ll need some ideas. The Create section if full of ideas on creating podcasts, posters and presentations. I could tell you everything they’ve done for you in this book but that it’s easier if you just get it and read it yourself.
There is a handy list of websites and Twitter handles related to giftedness at the end of the book. This is certainly plenty to get you started.
The text was clear, easy to read and follow so anyone less comfortable with using computers and Web 2.0 really has no excuse now.
There is 1 downside.
Given the nature and purpose of the book, there are no screen shots. But this will have no impact as the instructions are clear and key details are listed. If you do get stuck, the authors have provided a link to instructional videos at the end of the text.
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