As technology advances, so does educational technology tools. Each passing year comes with a multiplicity of web 2.0 tools for education. Given the huge number of tools out there (each being best for a specific purpose), choosing a tool that best meets the needs of the teacher and matches with the subject area and grade level is not simply about knowing the tools. Although technology has many benefits in the classroom, the procedure for selecting and evaluating instructional technology tools is so byzantine that many teachers would rather not incorporate technology in their teaching. In this post, I provide a list of my eight favorite web 2.0 tools that can be useful for teaching in a high school context. The tools are chosen with the consideration of my subject areas: STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
ThingLink is a tool for creating an interactive image (or video) that links other content to it, such as videos, weblinks, documents and other images. It can transform a simple image into an informative engaging fact file. It can be used on both images and videos, and has recently added a feature for Virtual Reality or 360-degree images. This tool can turn any image into an interactive graphic. There are so many ways to use Thinglink in the classroom. In this post, I highlight two of my favorite ways to use it.
The first way I would use the tool in my class is to let students effectively annotate an image as an assessment of what they have learned about a particular topic. This can be particularly useful in science classes. In mathematics, I would upload a photo of a long solution to a problem and let students annotate the various steps in the solution and identify and annotate wrong steps.
Second, I would use Thinglink to plan and implement a collaborative project. This means I would spend time creating links to the different parts of the project. During instructional time, students can then follow the links to complete the project (with my guide, of course).
Draw.io is a completely free online diagramming software that can be used to make flowcharts, process diagrams, organizational charts, and network diagrams. I would use this amazing software in a science (physics) class to produce circuit diagrams. In a mathematics class, it can be used to illustrate different shapes. Students can also be made to play around with the tool to create imaginative diagrams to explain a problem. Thus, the tool can greatly enhance creativity in students.
Padlet is the number one electronic stick notes tool. Notes are created on Padlet walls and the notes can contain texts, images, videos, and links. A Padlet wall can be thought of to the same thing as the physical post-it wall in the classroom. The example above shows a typical way I have been using Padlet in my classes. I create the wall for a particular topic, students join the wall and add notes, connect the notes to other subtopics, give explanations, use photos and create links to online resources so other classmates can learn from them. I would also use Padlet as a brainstorming tool to brainstorm ideas in the classroom and from colleagues in school. Thus, Padlet is great as a collaborative tool.
#5 Adobe Spark
Adobe Spark is one of my favorites. It is a media creation tool that can be used to create three types of media content–videos, webpages, and graphics. The content created in Adobe Spark can be indeed eye-catching as can be seen in the examples above. In the classroom, I would use the tool to create a PBL lesson webpage for students (see example 1). Students can also use the tool to create their own content to explain, say, their understanding of a topic in video format, webpage format, or graphic format. In a maths statistics class, I would let students use the tool to create an infographic containing data from, say, a finished project.
Bamboozle is a platform for creating different types of games. The games can then be played as a whole class or by individual students. I would use Bamboozle just for what it is meant–to gamify my classroom. It is normally difficult to gamify a high school math class but with Bamboozle, this can be done easily–not many tools are out there for gamification that can work with high school mathematics. I would create Bamboozle games like the one in the example above and play as a whole-class review activity.
Prezi is a presentation tool similar to PowerPoint and Keynote. However, Prezi is different in that it makes the presentation come to life in a visually attractive way. Prezi presentations catch the attention of the audience. In addition, Prezis are hosted online, meaning that we do not need to transfer files from one computer to another when presenting on a device different from the one in which the Prezi was made–all you should do is log into your account on the other device and your Prezis are there. I would use Prezi to summarize a topic taught (see example above). Also, I would let students collaboratively create Prezis to summarize topics that have been taught.
Example: https://flipgrid.com/3126ff (Grid Code/Password: Edtech).
FlipGrid is a powerful social-emotional learning tool where collaborators submit ideas in the form of short videos on a topic anywhere in the world. The videos can be viewed by other members in the grid and they can also respond to each other. This can be a great tool to brainstorm ideas in a team of instructors. For instance, the example grid above is a grid for an Instructional Media Master’s program at Wilkes University for students to share their favorite tools. In class, I use FlipGrid at the beginning of the year to get students to introduce themselves to me, to each other, and to say something nice about their mates. This gets them on the track to building better relationships. Sometimes, in the middle of a topic, I would also ask a question and they will submit video responses and respond to each other. In mathematics, they would carefully solve a problem, show their solution in the short video and briefly explain the critical steps in the solution. Classmates would them submit responses and say whether something is wrong in the solution, approve of the solution, or propose alternative simpler solutions. This tool was very useful during the period of the coronavirus outbreak when students had to study from their various homes.
And then we have here the Big Daddy of web 2.0 tools. Any educator who doesn’t yet know about Edublogs has certainly not yet begun incorporating 21st-century skills in their curriculum. Of all the blogging platforms available out there (e.g.: Blogger, WordPress, Kidblogs, Weebly, and Campuspress), Edublogs stands out as the only tool that is designed for education–having an incredibly easy-to-use and collaborative user interface. This means students (and teachers) can collaboratively publish blog posts, post comments and discuss ideas. The video below highlights a few ways Edublogs can be used in the classroom. In addition to the different ways in the video, I would use Edublogs to share students’ work with parents (and with other teachers), create projects for students, and horn students’ writing skills–instead of writing academic articles on word processing software, they could write blog posts. Blog posts will be viewable by all stakeholders (parents, teachers, and the general public). These would look good in their portfolios.
Do you have any tools to add to the list? What are your favorite tools? How can they be used in the classroom? And what subject areas are they best for?
Please share your ideas in the comments section below.
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