Monday, January 19, 2015

Some of My Favorite Tech Tools for Course Integration

As another semester comes to an end and I reflect on the tech tools I used this semester, some are ones I have used in the past, and some I tried for the first time. I was teaching Educational Research this semester, which requires another whole toolkit than when I teach educational technology courses.

1) I made greater use of Google Forms to create surveys. Whereas I have used this tool in the past to collect input from students, I used it almost every other week this semester. Again, I embedded the surveys on my Google Site, but the increased frequency of use helped me on a more ongoing basis to assess student needs and what needed more emphasis in the course. I will definitely follow this pattern in the future of frequent use of the surveys. I also like the updates Google made to the Form templates, which allows for customizing the look and feel of surveys. Here is one example of a survey I created using the new look options.

2) In the past, I closed each course with a quick Animoto recap of students' research proposal topics. I did this again this semester. Right before the last night of one of the courses, I saw a post on Richard Byrne's blog about using YouTube's Slide Show creator in lieu of Animoto. I decided to try it out, using some of the same images I used in the Animoto version. The hardest part about using the Slide Show option as a first-timer was getting the timing right for adding captions. Here are the two final versions, one done with Animoto, and the other with the YouTube Slide Show feature. Neither is precisely how I would like finished product to look, but under the pressure of needing to prepare the presentations in time for the last class meeting, I compromised time for quality.

Animoto Version

YouTube Slide Show Option

3) Once again, I used Google Sites for uploading all course materials. Given I taught two sections of the course, one in a 15-week format and the other in an 8-week format, I needed two separate sites. Because Google Sites enables creation of many sites for free and the frequency with which I need to create sites, this tool serves my purposes well.

Quick screen capture of part of one of web pages on the site

4) Google Docs was a dream for giving feedback to students on an ongoing basis, especially in a writing intensive course, with different parts of the written project due on different weeks. Students also made use of Google Docs for us to share ideas. Further, we experimented with using Padlet for students to brainstorm topics for research study proposals.

This worked well, especially because students did not need an account to share their topics using Padlet. Here is our Padlet. Once we moved into more detail with our proposals, however, Google Doc worked better for sharing ideas.

Well, that is just a few of the ways I used tech tools in the course. Not a tech-based course, it was intriguing to see how seamlessly tech is integrated into a traditional of courses. I found using thee multiple tools much easier than Blackboard for a course management option. Students in the course also used tech in new ways for their presentations. One person used Kahoot to engage all of us, as well pulled out our phones to interact with a set of questions. Another demonstrated Class Dojo, as a behavior management tool, given her proposal was on the use of technology to minimize classroom behavior challenges. It was good to see that students on their own in a non-tech course opted to use specific tech applications for their presentations.

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