Adam Bellow Talks with Connect Learning Today
Connect Learning Today caught up with Adam Bellow of eduClipper to get a better picture of his education site and app. Discover why eduClipper is much more than a Pinterest-like education solution, and might be something for your classroom and school.
Adam Bellow has certainly been thinking student learning and teaching change for some time. He has been active in a great many education think tanks, as well as an outstanding presenter at national education conferences. Adam Bellow, @AdamBellow on Twitter, has 20K followers. He is an education and social media “good guy”.
Connect Learning Today: Adam, for those who don’t know you, give us some background as to who you are.
Adam Bellow: Well, I’m Adam Bellow (short laugh), live in New York, and spent the first six years of my career as a classroom teacher. I then became a technology-training specialist for a school district on Long Island. After that I moved onto become the director of technology for the College Board Schools, which is 18 schools across the northeast. As that was going on, in my parallel life, I started something called EduTecher in 2007—sharing out the best resources to teachers. In 2012 I decided that I wanted to do something different—more collaborative, and that’s eduClipper.
CLT: Adam, what is eduClipper?
AB: It’s an education platform for educators and students to share valuable education resources, and build portfolios for student work. eduClipper allows teachers to curate the best resources online and share them. And the natural progression for me was to bring students into the equation. Students, not only get resources from teachers, but also are able to curate and get their own resources. The next step was to build out the idea of teachers giving assignments—and with those assignments teachers could take content from any of this rich library of educational resources that we have—and include them as part of the assignment.
CLT: It’s great that educators and students can curate resources and build lessons together.
AB: Yes, but the best part is that students can create work, share it back to the site, and get feedback. For me, a great part of the eduClipper site is really doing and looking at qualitative assessment. We really want to make sure that the feedback students get on those projects make the most sense. A grade isn’t completely sufficient anymore; the feedback should be dynamic and actionable. So, we allow feedback that fits any style of learner. That said, we do allow grades and badges, but we also have audio and video that teachers and peers can record for students.
CLT: That audio and video aspect of assessment is something that is very possible today. Isn’t it?
AB: Yes, but the next pieces of that, though, is having students take their projects, acknowledge their comments, rework it, and then independently post it on our social feed. There are hundreds of thousands of teacher and student users that can give them positive feedback, likes, shares, etc.
CLT: That’s really clever adding a social media piece. How do you handle that as a safety issue?
AB: Well, we looked at social in the classroom, and we saw some limitations. For safety concerns, we knew that would be an issue, and also knew that in many cases school districts weren’t going to allow Facebook for example. But, as you know from being involved in social media, we learn from others. So, if you build a digital wall around the same 30 kids and one teacher, you’re not really benefiting in that way.
CLT: Right, so how did you handle that?
AB: First of all, we wanted to build a platform that kept everyone safe and secure. And as a K-12 platform we needed to give everyone the ability to make things as tight as they wanted, but at the same time we want teachers and students to be able to grow and learn from one another in their creating and sharing.
CLT: So, you’ve kept it safe, but left in the social media parts that add to the learning experience?
AB: Yes, the part we cut out from the social equation is direct messaging, because transparency leads to safety. Teachers and students can follow each other, but there’s no private direct messaging between them.
CLT: Is this all online, or are parts of it on local servers?
AB: It’s all online and web-based through our website, and with our eduClipper iPad app, which is really the crown jewel of our interactive vision, and works well with the tools already associated with the iPad. Students can draw upon our resources, snap an image, and then annotate interactively in moments—and that becomes a student artifact.
CLT: What are you hearing from educators?
AB: They love it. The beauty is that we’ve tested with educators every step of the way, as well as letting kids just play with it. There’s a great community out there. Daily, we’re amazed at the new ways they’re using the app and site.
CLT: Has this created a teaching learning community?
AB: There is a social aspect to it, so yes; we have about 230,000 users at this point. It’s exciting. The biggest thrill, for me, is going through the content to see what is being curated and developed.
CLT: Adam, any final eduClipper thoughts?
AB: I think that eduClipper is a good way for teachers to connect and share content and differentiate instruction. For students, they get to have a record of work they’ve created, and keep an ongoing record of what they’ve been doing in class—and the feedback is actionable. Students can also begin build learning portfolios for use for everything from student led parent conferences to college and career applications. eduClipper is meant to be part of a school culture, and not a standalone widget.
CLT: Adam thanks for your time. It’s always a pleasure catching up. Good luck with the site and app.
AB: I appreciate your help in sharing.