Reflections on digital tools

As of Saturday afternoon, there were less than twenty tools on the list. I am thankful the list is still short; I feel I have a lot of exploration ahead.

This list seems to have a balance of digital tools that would support direct instruction as well as engage student demonstration of knowledge. Tools such as TeacherTube and Khan academy appear to focus on videos for direct instruction. I am planning to explore TeacherTube as I continue building the resources for my unit. I will be creating a movie for one of my resources, and TeacherTube has potential to assist me in developing that instructional video. (I would have to sign up for another account. My username and password list is growing and growing…). Camtasia is another instructional video creation resource that I am interested in exploring. Kim mentioned this as a resource during our Peer Review. I haven’t had the chance to look into it further, until now. The RF clickers were used in the school where I student taught, and they seemed to be effective and efficient methods of assessing students. I didn’t have a chance to use them, but there seems to be quite a few options for polling and assessment as a web based resource. I signed up to explore Socrative because I’m looking for assessment options for activities in my unit. My daughter’s preschool has just begun using Remind to send notifications when school is canceled. Communication is key component in education, and this resource has a lot of promise as a modern communication tool.

Some tools on the list have potential for content creation. Prezi, Toontastic and Bubble.Us are all tools where students can produce a product. When reviewing Project Based Learning, one component that jumped out at me was that storytelling enhances learning. Direction instruction and resources that allow students to convey understanding through storytelling promote higher level thinking skills. I had the chance to use Toontastic quite a bit in a Classroom Research course last semester. My daughter and I used the story spine outline provided by the app to develop her new stories. Then she was able to draw or select characters, create scenes, animate characters, and add music to make a final product that was pretty polished looking for a 4-year old. That experience was pretty powerful. She likes creating stories, but gets easily frustrated with writing text or coloring for very long. The active learning aspects of Toontastic kept her highly engaged for longer than working with marker and paper.

Storytelling isn’t the only social aspect of learning. Communication and voice are essential.
Learners need to be able to ask questions, discuss answers and opinions, and draw conclusions (in online or face to face classes). Discussion forums can be an effective way to bring students together when they are not physically present. I am under the impression that both Moodle and iTunes U are virtual classrooms where teachers and students can create discussions.

On my initial overview of the list, it seemed like several of the tools used for teacher presentation could also be utilized by students in a final project demonstrating knowledge they’ve acquired. Likely, this would be in the upper middle to high school level. It was tough choosing resources to explore for next week. Right now, I have decided on two, Camtasia and Socrative. I think they could be potential tools that will fit nicely with my unit of instruction.

2 thoughts on “Reflections on digital tools

  1. I can see the headline now, “4 Year Old Uses Internet II Tools to Express Understanding”…

    I work with higher education faculty nearly daily. For many, using basic internet skills and basic technology remains challenging. To hear the story of you and your daughter using Toontastic… Great stuff.

    Glad you’re picking up Socrative. A lot of potential there.

    Most importantly, I’m glad you picked up on the potential for student creation within tools designed for teacher presentation. As you said, these “could also be utilized by students in a final project demonstrating knowledge.” This goes along with the adage that there’s no better way to learn something than to teach it.

    I look forward to your investigations.


  2. Interesting first notes Craig – I look forward to reading your real reviews shortly. I don’t often think of those high level creation tools, like Camtasia, being used by students. I’m not sure why – but I feel as though I often conceptualize these tools as being either teacher tools or student tools, not both. I look forward to seeing how everyone’s reviews identifies these tools. Will they be on a spectrum or will they flip flop as being one side or the other? I believe I did the latter, but maybe I should not have.

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