Web 2.0 Tools to enhance student learning
To kick off the start of the term I was asked to present at a neighbouring school on "Online tools to enhance student learning". Whilst this at first appears to be a very ambiguous topic, it was aimed at teachers who are looking to add a couple more things to their arsenal and get fired up with a few trends in educational technology.
What do you want your students to do?
The first thing I asked the staff (and myself) was "What do you want your students to do?". This may seem like a simple premise, but often we get caught up in utilising a tool for the sake of it and not thinking about why it should be used, or what we want our students to achieve.
There is a fantastic website setup to help you identify apps and websites which will work on your devices; be it an iPad or (god forbid) a Chromebook - http://edtechteacher.org/apps/#Begin
Considerations when selecting tools
I also highlighted other considerations which should throw red flags or add some gold stars when you are selecting a tool.
- No Flash - Adobe Flash is making a very slow death, but what we can be certain of is that the future of online simulations is not Adobe Flash. Even Adobe has admitted this and is backing HTML 5 as a new technology. Whilst these resource may work now they probably are at least 5 years old and the developer will not be updating them. Ensure your resources are device agnostic and are future proof by checking they don't use Flash.
- Authentication - students are teachers are overwhelmed with account usernames and passwords. You should consider the online services you currently subscribe to and utilise tools which support them. For example if your school uses Office 365 or Google Apps for Education (GAFE) you will be able to get students to sign-up or login to third party sites using their school username and password. This will make life easier.
- Paid vs. Free - whilst it is easier to use free tools for budgeting, sometimes it is worth considering a site which offers a paid service. This will allow you more control over your student data and often give you some very valuable features which may make integration easier.
- Export Features - often we are using these tools for students to demonstrate their understanding which means that you would like them to submit their work. You should consider how students will do this with a given tools and what records your district requires of you as an educator.
- Companion Apps - I recommend looking for software which has companion app. This means that the develop is invested in their product and are serious about education. You don't want to learn a system which will be gone in a short while.
From a young age we teach students about grouping and categorising things, our Web 2.0 tools are no different. I remixed a graphical organiser which was originally developed by Sean Junkins and was later remixed by Mark Anderson. I recognise that the category naming could be improved and there are various other tools, however, its a start and an easy reference for teachers getting started.
In the remainder to the presentation I highlighted some of the newer and stronger tools which some of the teachers may not have heard of. I have included all of the slides from my presentation in the slideshow below if you are interested in exploring.
Please leave comments below if you have some other tools you think are missing or if you have suggestions on how you think this model or presentation could be improved