A classroom teacher advocate discovers a powerful new learning tool for teachers.
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Highlighting what’s best for students. In his school district in Wisconsin and beyond, Mike Jaber has searched for the very best student engagement solutions for his fellow educators, and has sought to communicate his findings far and wide.
MIKE JABER IS Coordinator of Instructional Technology for the Sheboygan Area School District, the largest district in rural Sheboygan County between Milwaukee and Green Bay on the shores of Lake Michigan, serving approximately 10,300 students in 26 schools. Mike, a Google- certified Innovator and Trainer, is a veteran educator, having been a social studies teacher for 18 years.
Mike, who has trained multiple school districts around the world on how to approach 1-to-1 initiatives, has witnessed too many school district leaders holding back their districts because of their own personal philosophies. “My mission is to talk with these leaders and help shift their mindset,” he says.
Along the way, as a leader Mike has remained open to learning, never neglecting to discover a potentially helpful—even transformative tool for teachers. A couple years back, that is precisely what he found in a new,
“The biggest thing for me was making sure that the platform was easy to navigate for teachers, as well as having a plethora of credible video resources for them to choose from.” —Mike Jaber, Coordinator of Instructional Technology, Sheboygan Area School District, WI
video-based learning platform called Boclips (named after the sacred Bo, or Bodhi Tree under which Buddha’s enlightenment was said to have occurred, and symbolic as a tree of knowledge).
Sharing the Knowledge
Mike Jaber first heard about Boclips back in June of 2017 when it came across one of his educational feeds. “I read about it and then decided to reach out to [founder] David Bainbridge via email to see if I could gain access to the platform,” he says. David responded and set him up with an account.
After looking at the platform, and knowing that they were still building what it was going to look like for educators, Mike provided some feedback to the Boclips team “from an educator’s perspective,” he says.
Their relationship over the past year has only grown, says Mike, and he continues to assist them reviewing content from partners that they might be interested in featuring on their platform. “It’s been a great experience to watch how much they have grown in two years since I first reached out to them,” he adds.
Issues, Challenges—And Getting Real Help
As for issues and challenges Mike faced when considering such a platform, “The biggest thing for me was making sure that the platform was easy to navigate for teachers, as well as having a plethora of credible video resources for them to choose from,” he points out. “Since I first was introduced to them, their video library has expanded exponentially and the user interface has improved to make it easier to obtain more granularity in your searches,” he says.
“Video can be such a powerful resource in a teacher’s instruction and having vetted Boclips content that you have control over, is invaluable in the classroom. The content partners that have teamed up with Boclips are well respected and provide so many options to choose from that reach all content areas,” says Mike.
But as for the real highlights from Mike’s experiences with working with Boclips over the past two years? “The amazing team they have assembled—as well as the changes they have made to their platform,” he offers. “The product gets better through iteration and it has become even more teacher/student friendly,” he says. “When I show teachers this resource, they are ‘wowed’ by all of the high quality content that is available to them,” he notes.
“Making sure that students are career- and college-ready is one of the goals in education—and incorporating technology into their learning experience helps us reach this goal.” —Mike Jaber, Coordinator of Instructional Technology, Sheboygan Area School District, WI
Technology’s Role in Education Today
“Technology plays a huge role in education today! If used properly, technology can streamline processes for teachers and students and it can also enhance accessibility to resources that teachers and students didn’t have access to before,” Mike says. “The use of technology can also empower students because they can take ownership of their own learning and become more independent explorers of learning.”
From Mike’s observation, the days of a teacher being the “sage- on-the-stage” are now being replaced with what he likes to call, teachers acting as a “mentor-in-the- center.” Use of streaming video, online resources, A.I., and simulations “have exposed students to learning on a whole new level,” he says.
“The use of technology in education—or anywhere for that matter—is not going away. We would be doing a disservice to students if we didn’t expose them to the educational resources that are available because that is the world they are growing up in. Making sure that students are career- and college-ready is one of the goals in education—and incorporating technology into their learning experience helps us reach this goal.”
Changing Students Lives— and their Learning
For students, the power of such a platform is in providing them with “a resource that is ad-free, and specific to the topic that they are learning about,” Mike observes. “Students would rather not watch a long video clip on a specific topic —and this is where the power of Boclips has made it easy for students to search for something through their vast portal of videos and choose a clip that suits their needs,” he says.
And as for teachers, “[They] have the ability to create video collections that can be shared with their students which allows a teacher to control what videos they want the students to be exposed to,” Mike says. “Having the ability to do
“The vetted resources that are built for easy classroom integration and the ease of use makes [Boclips] even more attractive to teachers.” —Mike Jaber, Coordinator of Instructional Technology, Sheboygan Area School District, WI
this gives the teacher the power to customize their instruction to make it more relevant and engaging. They can then share their collection through a link.”
Words of Wisdom
Does Mike have any mindset-shifting suggestions he’d like to share with educators and school leaders considering vital enhancements to boost their own districts’ student engagement and teacher satisfaction?
“I would say that Boclips is ever-evolving and, as an early adopter, I have found that ‘patience’ is key when working with a new product.” Mike describes how he has been a part of several conversations with the Boclips staff and given them suggestions of how they can tweak their existing product to make it even more valuable to educators.
“As someone who likes to move things along fast, I have found that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that has to be in place before changes can happen. I applaud Boclips for not wanting to roll out their product before it’s fully ready—but for selfish reasons, I want to have it all ready to go—now,” he laughs.
For Mike and the hundreds of teachers and thousands of students at Sheboygan Area School District in Wisconsin, Boclips “will be a game changer in education because of the way it is set up,” says Mike. “The vetted resources that are built for easy classroom integration and the ease of use makes it even more attractive to teachers.”
And finally, says Mike, “The fact that the Boclips team has built this platform with the help of educators and listens to the feedback it receives, makes this a product built for educators, by educators!” CLICK HERE FOR PDF DOWNLOAD OF THIS ARTICLE
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