On March 14, the Google Apps Hive hosted another swarm of teachers from five school districts around the Twin Cities. When Hopkins co-creators, Ben Friesen and Todd Roudabush, launched the first Apps Hive late last October, it was incredibly received throughout the teaching community, undoubtedly calling for an encore.
Once again funded by the Hopkins Education Foundation, the Apps Hive was awarded the grant because of the program's innovative approach to staff development. The recent Apps Hive was very similar to the first in that the focus was less on the how-to of using Google Apps and more about how the applications can be used to facilitate learning in the classroom.
Interestingly enough, some attendees of the October Apps Hive returned to spread their knowledge and classroom experience as presenters in the newest Hive. The Hive relies on this kind of expansion and advancement in order to stay on the cutting edge of technology and perfect its application in the classroom.
"The purpose of the Hive is to connect pockets of innovation in different districts and share what good things are happening in classrooms all over the region," said Ben Friesen, tech integration specialist at West Junior High.
One of the hot topics this year is flipping the classroom. John Unruh-Friesen, Hopkins High social studies teacher, presented at the recent Apps Hive on his experience and techniques on flipping the classroom. "You hear it everywhere. Talking with other AP teachers from other districts, they always want to know, ‘How can I flip this?'" said Unruh-Friesen.
One could even draw a parallel between a flipped classroom and the Apps Hive. Teachers are expected to have some knowledge about Google Apps, which allows for more discussion about how this technology can be used to facilitate student learning.
With the buzz becoming a swarm, Friesen and Roudabush's Hive seems to have a bright future. Friesen and Roudabush foresee a larger-scale version of the Hive while still maintaining the character and energy of the original Hive.
Currently, the Hive only extends to teachers in the Hopkins, Bloomington, Edina, White Bear Lake and Blake school districts. "It is my goal to further expand the Hive to include more schools next year and increase the cross collaboration to other topics like Flipped Learning, iPads and other tech related initiatives," said Friesen.