Do any of us claim that technology is the cure-all for the education issues in our country? I don’t think anyone in my PLN does. I strive to learn ways that technology can enhance instruction and possibly increase student engagement. I enjoy sharing these resources with teachers and offering suggestions of how they can be used inside and outside the classroom. I’m passionate about it. I enjoy passing on my knowledge via any medium: face-to-face, e-mail, Twitter, Skype, blogging. This is the real-time web and it’s changing the way we teach and learn. The “digital walls” of our classrooms are confining us less and less.
Many teachers I talk to, and more so the ones that initially were resistant to technology, don’t want to go back to their B.T. (before technology) days of teaching. They say, “I can’t imagine not having (insert instructional technology tool here) now that I’ve invested the time to implement its use. Students are more communicative, collaborative, and creative. All around they are engaged more, which leads to increased achievement. It’s great to see teachers embracing 21st century teaching and learning by gaining a strong knowledge of a variety of tools and their purpose. These are tools that meet one or more of the 3Cs. There is no longer one means to an end for students to demonstrate mastery.
Does this mean these teachers have completely ditched all traditional methods of teaching? I highly doubt it.
Is technology a cure all? No. However, I must ask though, when is technology integration is going to be the new “traditional methods of teaching”?
However, it begs the question: Can one have too many tools in their “web” utility belt? I feel like there’s too many good ones but I want to try them all. Sure, I use some way more than others. There are some that don’t even make it past the initial sign-up process for me. There are 3 things I hope to identify as quickly as possible when I learn about a new tool:
1. A clearly defined purpose – What does it do?
2. Is it user-friendly?
3. Does it show educational use? (see my last post on the 3Cs)
Web-based tools that help me be more productive in my personal and professional life are really appealing. Should we as teachers and lifelong learners try to keep ourselves “in the know” as best we can about these tools? Do you rely on your PLN to try to keep up as best as you can? Do you share these tools with your students?
I welcome your comments as always. Thank you for reading.
I recently came across three document collaboration/publishing tools that I want to share. Both of these tools would be great for students to use inside and outside of the classroom. I think these tools represent what I refer to as the 3C’s of digital literacy: Communicative, Collaborative, and Creative.
EtherPad markets themselves as the “only web-based word processor that allows people to work together in really real-time.” I was introduced to EtherPad by David Jakes (@djakes) at the METC 2010 Conference. What I think is a great feature about EtherPad is that there is no sign-up required by the teacher or students. A public pad is created and students can start a collaborative writing project instantly. The pad has an exclusive link to be shared right away. An EtherPad document is limited to a maximum of 17 users, so if you have more than 17 students you might want to divide students up into groups to work on their documents. What I like it that each user can be easily identified by name and also by a specific text color. Multiple document types can be imported directly into EtherPad and the document can be exported in multiple formats. Be sure and check out the Saved Revisions and the Time Slider to see the evolution of the document and student participation levels.
CrocoDoc is a little different from EtherPad in a couple of ways. First, documents cannot be created directly from within the web app. They have to be imported from the computer or on the web somewhere else on the web. Second, not only can you collaborate and edit PDFs and Word documents, but CrocoDoc will also take PowerPoint presentations. The markup tools used are stickie notes, a highlighter, strikeout text, and add additional text. Specific pages can be shared via an exclusive link. Those you share the link with can not only view but also edit by default. A pro account is required ($36 per year) for added security features and support. Be sure to check out their demo document to get a feel for the interface before signing up.
A great document publishing web app
Issuu is a great document publishing application that gives a classy, professional look to existing documents. It gives your documents a “magazine” style look as you flip through your document’s pages. Your Issuu document is also very easy to share by email or by embedding it into your blog, wiki, or learning management system. A member of my PLN, Kelly Tenkely, used Issuu to publish a great guide to using Pages ’09 for Mac. Be sure to check it out so you can see what an Issuu document looks like.
It is my hope you find at least one of these resources beneficial to you and your students. I welcome your comments.