“Due to the fact that I work as an IT Coordinator and Tech Integrator, I’m perpetually saturated with the fusion of technology and education at all times. Much of this course content will be covering tools and methods I’m already using and have trained others to use, so the true learning will occur through developing relationships and engaging in conversations with those perhaps newer to technology.
The most vital benefit for my own experience and education will be in gaining further insight into how my fellow coworkers approach and utilize the content and tools covered. I welcome the chance to work with inspiring teachers across all age ranges and subject areas, to view technology through the lenses of their world, and to discover fresh perspectives from their experiences with technology.”
That initial post remains true. I was previously familiar with each tool and program we used in class, so in my case the majority of learning took place in terms of gaining insight into how other teachers approach the use of these technologies. Furthermore, it was beneficial to view how teachers from a variety of subject areas interact and collaborate using the aforementioned tools.
In my opinion this course is a brief introduction to a few tools for integrating technology in the classroom, but for teachers wishing to effectively apply these tools within their teaching, it’s necessary to do further investigation beyond the scope of this course and compare and contrast other options as well.
Some reflections are listed below:
Techniques such as the pecha kucha can be viewed as a wonderful way to provide students with the chance to keep their presentations concise and to the point, or conversely, it may feel rushed and difficult for some students to embrace – especially if English is not their native language. I would suggest that teachers wishing to utilize this technique also spend time discussing presentation design and effective visual communication.
Diigo is an excellent method for online bookmarking and taking snippets of webpage content. However there are other tools such as Delicious and Evernote that offer additional functionality and should be considered. (Evernote is great!)
Netvibes is an excellent RSS reader, but there are additional alternatives such as Google Reader, etc to check out. There are also a plethora of smartphone apps that will sync with tools like Google Reader so you can continue accessing content no matter where you are, or whether you’re working on a computer or a smartphone.
Podcasting is an interesting method of engaging students with audio and perhaps visual content, but requires adequate planning and training when using this in class. Often it’s best to encourage students to bring material to class before the project begins so that in class you can assemble and edit material with teacher feedback instead of simply spending valuable class time gathering content.
Wikis have been around for quite some time now. However with tools like multi-user blogs, Google Docs, etc, the lines begin to blur with which tool to choose. If the purpose is to allow students to contribute and edit in real-time, Google Docs often trumps a wiki. Likewise, a blog generally provides more structure and may be more aesthetically pleasing in terms of design and navigation than a wiki. A drawback to tools such as Wetpaint are the distracting ads that may be less appropriate for younger students. With flashing ads and a variety of links and text, a Wetpaint site may feel distracting and confusing for some students. A wiki has a very specific purpose and many newer web 2.0 tools have challenged the effectiveness of wikis, but at this point they still have a place in the technology integration toolkit. Within a few years that may change.
Ultimately, this course has provided a taste of what tools are available for teachers wishing to integrate technology into their teaching, but as with anything, we should strive to ensure technology integration is conducted to improve student learning and expand the possibilities for students to collaborate, contribute and grow as effective members and leaders of the 21st century in a world which is evolving faster than any other point in human history.