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I'm an Associate Professor of English Education. My time is spent preparing to teach, teaching, reading, writing, working with pre-service and practicing teachers, serving on various committees, and trying to keep my office from over flowing into the hallway.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Top 10 Teaching and Learning Tech Tools (so far) for 2011

I am contributing to the Top 100 Tools for Learning with my own Top 10 Tech Tools for Learning.
Below are tools (some I've found in the last year) that I have a hard time teaching without any more.

1. Google Sites
I use these for class sites, even though my university offers a Moodle-based course management system. My students use these for their own eportfolios, thought they aren't as pretty. I use them for professional development storage sites. Excellent!

2. Livebinders

This is one of my favorite concepts. You can use this site like you would a three-ring binder. Have a topic (The Westward Expansion, Ipads, Plagarism) put all the sites you find (and more) in this nifty space and let others share.

3. Delicious Social Bookmarking

I don't use the social part of it very much. I've tried to get people on board, but they don't seem to like the idea. There are people I know professionally with whom I share bookmarks, and that has proved fruitful. What I really love about Delicious is that I can tag and search easily, and that it is embedded in many different "share" options. I must be able to access my bookmarks from anywhere, and I've found that Google bookmarks is not as friendly. I've followed the rumors that Delicious is being sold by Yahoo--wish they'd never have bought it in the first place. I just hope someone hangs on to it and upgrades it well because it's a great bookmarking concept!

4. YouTube

I, like everyone else, love YouTube for educational purposes. I've now discovered that you can upload and edit video fairly easily. I created a 6 minute vlog with my cell phone and the YouTube video editor, just to show my students that it could be done. It even has caption and note options.
I also really appreciate the ability to build playlists and subscribe to channels.

5. Wix.com

I do not have an active Wix page, but if Wix were not available to my students for their eportfolios, I'm not sure what would happen! Wix allows my college students to blend content and style, while experimenting with web design. I can't take credit for finding it; one of my students, bemoaning the spartan templates offered by Google, found Wix and asked if she could construct her portfolio in that platform. What a wonderful example she set!

6. Audacity

Whenever my students start playing around with Audacity, they begin to realize how much they are missing out on in the world of audio. It is such a simple tool, but it allows you to do so much. So glad it exists.

7. Windows Movie Maker

Call me a dinosaur, but I still tip my hat to Windows Movie Maker. I know those of you who are Mac have your IMovie, and your products are often superior just because of your editing capabilities. But for what Movie Maker is, and the fact that it comes on every MS operating system dating back to 1993 makes it a great tool to introduce the basic concepts of digital storytelling. I'm not a hater.

8. Edmodo

I've already mentioned that my university runs a Moodle-based course management system. I really like being able to have my students turn things in online. Edmodo is such a program for public school teachers. Thanks to a wonderful teacher I met in a professional development workshop this summer, I learned about Edmodo and have told others. Those who have implemented this tool in their classroom have been amazed at the reduction of paper and the ease of ability in posting primary documents of all types. One teacher even told me he was able to keep his students from getting behind on snow days!

9. Twitter

I don't use Twitter in the classroom (yet;-), but I do use Twitter to stay informed of the latest information. At the beginning of the summer of 2010 I formed my PLN (Professional Learning Network) on Twitter and have continued to add to it throughout the academic year. Though I have had an account since 2007, I was never an active user; since starting to engage with specific issues, I myself tweet and use the links and information I glean from others in my teaching and research.

10. YoLink

My last tech tool is a new search engine that I've found to be very helpful, powered by Yahoo of all companies, though not so well-designed. YoLink highlights the term you are searching for in the results. It's also very focused for academic researchers. The design problem is that you have to scroll back to the top of the page when you're done with the results and want to move forward, and you have to specify whether you want to search the site or the web.