Powerful tools for teaching & learning: Web 2.0 tools | Week 1

One of my goals this year is to introduce people I collaborate with to edtech without overwhelming them. It’s what motivated me to take up this MOOC from the University of Houston on Coursera. And it would be added bonus if I get acquainted with some new tools along the way. BTW, all of the tools that are discussed in this MOOC are FREE.

The course is pitched at school teachers. The videos are simple but somewhat endearing and the instructional uses described in week 1 are fairly basic. What grabbed my attention was the analogy of hardware/home improvement tools which can be as intimidating as edtech tools and how we build our home improvement tool kit over time become familiar with a wrench before graduating to its more complex cousin. An analogy that works well for the edtech tool kit as well.

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The course facilitators shared six guiding principles to select and overcome apprehensions about using edtech tools:

Before choosing a tool to fix a problem, it’s critical to understand the problem itself i.e., the instructional nature of the need. The key question to consider is is what types of instructional issues do you have and what sort of instructional tasks do you want to accomplish? The course recommends analysing the need through the lens of a categorization which divides Web 2.0 tools into 8 types based on the 21st century skills framework:

Communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking & problem solving, productivity, social networking, presentation, reflection & feedback

This week’s activities focused on communication issues and suggested a continuum that comprises three ways to communicate.

1. One way: involves one way communication. Information is provided by the creator and there is no specific feedback.

2. Two ways: allows for feedback

3. Multiple ways: interaction between multiple parties, synchronous or asynchronous.

Some of the other tools were shared for eliciting multi-modal feedback from Ss included Voice thread (for audio & text commenting), Padlet (for commenting on pics, videos and presentations) and Penzu (an online journal that looks and feels like a diary). Remind101 is an interesting tool that lets teachers send text messages to Ss and parents of Ss without having to collect or distribute numbers – it works with a system of codes without sharing any phone numbers

The tools for exploration this week include:

I have used Jing and Disqus. I know of Kahoot although I’ve never used it. I’ve come across Vialogues on maybe Nik Peachey’s blog. The others are all new to me. Oovoo seems quite interesting but I don’t think it allows for screen-sharing so you wouldn’t be able to use it for coaching or virtual classes without some other application that has a whiteboard and screen-sharing functionality.

This week’s reading (the second and the third link are to papers/articles that fairly ancient by Web 2.0 standards but the facilitators suggest that they are still very relevant):

Attribution: Flickr |  Toolkit by Neil Turner | CC BY-SA 2.0

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