Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Online Tools for Teachers

I work in the Reference Department at the library in the evenings, but during the day, I'm a teacher who's interested in technology.  In this post, I'm going to talk about some of my favorite online tools for teaching.

Believe it or not, students born in the late 90's and early 2000's are entering their formative years. This batch of kids is unique, as they were born into an era when the at-home personal computer was still a new concept, and the internet was in its early beginnings. They have grown and developed at the same pace as their surrounding technology. As educators it's our duty to appeal to all ranges of learners, and the Y2K babies are no different. Whether those of us in the field like it or not, the world of education is on the brink of a much-needed facelift. This blog features the top 5 tools for teachers looking for that tech-savvy edge. 

I consider this to be among the most important advances in recent educational technology. As the process of saving and backing up work has evolved from the floppy disk to the USB drive, one problematic statement has always persevered: "I forgot/broke/lost my (enter storage medium type here)." The Dropbox service resolves that issue by allowing the user to upload a given file and then access it anywhere (as long as he or she has internet connectivity). This eliminates the need for having a physical storage device, as the file is now stored digitally. No more excuses for a missing paper or project, and no more software compatibility issues.  It's a teacher's dream come true. Cost: FREE

2. Prezi I think it's safe to assume that most everyone in education has used Microsoft Powerpoint in some way, shape, or form. If you haven't used it as much, I can guarantee the students have seen it before. With updated versions come slightly updated features, but for the most part Microsoft has simply updated the traditional slideshow. Prezi takes that innovation a step further. The self-proclaimed "Zooming Presentation Editor" allows the user to create a presentation that can be both informative and visually stimulating. Prezi also works off of the same concept as the aforementioned Dropbox, thus allowing users to access their presentations anywhere (as long as he or she has internet connectivity). Cost: FREE 

3. Diigo Internet browsers give us the feature of "bookmarking" or "favoriting" websites. While helpful, these features have remained relatively unchanged since their inception... until now. Diigo is a service that allows users to collect and organize information from the web, and subsequently share that information. Diigo users can also communicate and share information among one another, based on similar interests. Best of all, anything you save is stored on the Diigo web server, so your information is safe and easy to access no matter where you are. Cost: FREE

4. Quizlet "Quizlet is the largest flash card and study games website with over 9 million free sets of flashcards covering every possible subject. It's the best place to play educational games, memorize vocabulary and study online." Use this digital tool to build study skills amongst students, or collaborate with fellow educators. Cost: FREE

5. Edudemic Starved for more educational technology news? Head on over to Edudemic for top ten lists, tips and tricks, and how-tos. All of which are written, reviewed, and commented on by fellow tech-savvy educators. This site is a goldmine of information. Cost: FREE

-Matt Hise


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