Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Watching Web 2.0 Deepen Learning

Every now and then as a principal I have the chance to get out and teach a unit here and there. For the past couple of years I've really enjoyed teaching an economics unit on futures trading and the role futures markets play in price discovery. We spend five days on the topic and the project culminates with the creation of a mock futures exchange with students wearing trading jackets screaming and yelling bids and offers back as they respond to market conditions being periodically broadcast. At this point we have a firm grasp on the role of hedgers and speculators in the modern market place.

It is a fun project but certainly not unique. What helps add to the depth of the learning is the integration of web 2.0 tools into the project. To create a true market experience we invite friends from all over the country to participate by watching our trading through ustream. These customers then call in orders direct to our student brokers via their cell phone or yahoo instant messenger. These clerks take the orders and hand them into our floor brokers who execute the orders on their customers behalf. It's a good time for all and proves to be a very valuable and memorable experience for our seniors.

What surprises me is how these tools can catch fire with other instructors. Our talented art teacher has begun using ustream and skype to work with Doug Lenuig of Purpose Driven Art on an upcoming project advocating for the importance of clean water. These tools are bringing our art students into contact daily with a world class artist. It is certainly exciting to watch and see our students so engaged in their learning. It is especially edifying to see after all of our efforts to bring macbooks to our staff, blazing fast bandwidth to our halls, and a liberal attitude towards implementing these technologies. It is paying off and our students are reaping the benefits. Now we can set our sties on a 1:1 within two years.

Below are some short vids of the projects in action. Apologies for the audio quality on the second one we forgot to plug in our better mic.