Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Web-based tools for teaching

Here are a few free applications that might be of interest.

Padlet (http://padlet.com/): This provides users with a blank “wall” to which anyone logged in at the same time can post comments – “digital post-its”. It’s good for collaborative brainstorming and the like.

Voicethread (http://voicethread.com): This is a fantastic tool, but it isn’t free. The company sells Single Instructor, Department, and Site Licences. It allows users to upload, share, and discuss documents, presentations, images, audio files, and videos. Comments can be made (recorded and shared) using a microphone, a webcam, in a text file, by phone, or as an audio-file upload.

mQlicker (http://www.mqlicker): This is a web-based audience response application that provides “clicker” functionality in the classroom. Rather than using hand-held audience response devices, participants use their mobile devices (phones, tablets, laptops). Participants do need to be able to log on to the Web in the teaching space for the system to work.

Poll Everywhere (http://www.polleverywhere.com/): This is another audience survey tool. The lecturer asks students a question using the Poll Everywhere app, students answer in real time using their phones, Twitter, or web browsers, and the responses are reported graphically on the web or in a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation.

Infographics: The web loves infographics. Sources for good infographics are becoming easier to find: one such source is http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/23/teaching-with-infographics-places-to-start/. Tools to create infographics abound (e.g. any graphic design program). Here are a couple of other useful tools to create simple infographics: Tagxedo (http://www.tagxedo.com) is a tool that allows you to create word cloud in a certain shape and SimpleDiagrams (http://www.simplediagrams.com) is a tool that helps the user create … well, simple diagrams. It’s nice.

Edmodo (https://www.edmodo.com/): This is a secure micro-blogging tool.

Presentation tools: I’ve mentioned Prezi (an alternative to PowerPoint and Keynote, found at http://prezi.com/) in a previous post. I’ve come across two others since then: Glogster (http://www.glogster.com/), LiveBinders (http://www.livebinders.com/), and SimpleBooklet (http://simplebooklet.com/) all useful sites/tools.

Of course, these tools are only as useful as you make them ... and that takes imagination.