5 Starter Tools for the 21st Century Teacher
In today’s technology-rich society, educators need to embrace the new opportunities such advancement offers. Yes, it means change, yes it means spending time trying something new, but YES it means enhanced engagement, motivation and boosted energy within the classroom!
With so many digital opportunities, it is hard to know where to start! Here are 5 starter tools all teachers today should be exploring within their classrooms:
What is a Wiki? Wikis are wonderful for encouraging collaborative learning between pupils and even teachers! A wiki is an online environment whereby information and knowledge can be collectively gathered, shared and edited by a group. There are a variety of methods of using this in the classroom – from small group wikis to single class wikis. Small groups work best online as it is less chaotic to edit and discuss strategy in a forum. A fabulous wiki source for teachers is Wikispaces – allowing creation of free wiki environments for any subject. Wikis can be used in a VLE, (I personally use them in Moodle and Fronter) allowing secure spaces for pupils to log on from home to connect with peers in order to collaborate on an educational topic, easily monitored by the teacher. (Image source: http://www.creativeeducation.co.uk)
Blogs are becoming more popular in the classroom with the increasing emphasis on pupil relection and evaluation of their learning. Why not move traditional evaluation from paper onto the computer? As well as enhancing computer-literacy skills, blogs encourage creativity, analysis and self-expression. They let pupils write, react and share, promoting peer assessment and critique in a new exciting format. Why not try a personal log or reflective learning diary in this way? Blogs will be great for the new UICT requirements which need extensive pupil evidence in the form of a log. A few great educational blogging sites are blogger, edublogs and wordpress. All ranging in ability levels with apps available so blogs can be edited from home on a mobile device. Even Twitter can be used as an educational micro blog! (Image source: http://socialmediamagic.com)
What is a Voki? A Voki is an innovative digital tool that inspires and motivates pupils to submit a variety of work – especially those pupils who are a little timid to present in front of the class. A Voki is an avatar that the pupil can have creative control over in terms of appearance. It allows pupils to either type in a passage, which the avatar will read aloud OR (which I love!) pupils can record their own voice saying the passage and it looks like the avatar is saying it! This can be used in soooo many ways, the versatile nature meaning many teachers are now trying to incorporate this technique somewhere in their courses. I encourage you to take a look at the Voki site, play around with it! The finished Voki link can be posted onto a VLE or emailed to the teacher. (Image source: http://edudemic.com)
A VLE has been mentioned a few times so far, as you can see, it is quite an important tool for the 21st Century Teacher. A Virtual Learning Environment is a secure online space where classes can interact on educational topics in the form of discussions, wikis and voicethread. They can easily access resources, (no more, ‘I lost that sheet so couldn’t do my homework!’) upload work, (no more ‘I had no ink and my printer was broken.’ submit assessments and follow their online grade book. It is a great way for teachers to give quick feedback and closely monitor progress. Have a look at moodle, fronter and edmodo as potential VLEs. (Image source: http://www.skillspace.com)
Wordle is an effective, easy tool for teachers to include in their courses. Every subject has keywords within their topics. Rather than give pupils lists on paper, why not try designing a wordle for the interactive whiteboard? Get pupils to work together to discuss the meanings, in fact, why not get pupils to create their own wordle based on topic keywords? Reinforces the content! Ideas are plentiful! Basic wordles with a less creative layout can be used with particular SEN pupils and help with literacy skills. Have a look at the site, Wordle, and try it out. The link can be embedded into a VLE or emailed to the teacher/pupils. (Image source: http://www.userlogos.org)