Obviously in a course that is being conducted entirely online and that’s focused on the topic of eLearning and digital cultures there is going to be heavy use and discussion of technologies that were designed for (or can be used for) educational purposes…. that much is to be expected – but perhaps not quite expected by me and other participants, naive little things that we are, was the degree to which, and the speed at which, they’d proliferate!
Writing here in the week before Christmas – a good month before the course even begins – we are compiling an ever growing list of tools that we’re all madly trying out for the first time (or picking up and actually using like never before), in order to prepare ourselves for the learning ahead… well this prep time is itself a significant learning curve – imagine how intense things might become once the course takes off!
Or maybe not – maybe all this orientation stuff is the more time consuming part, and we’ll now just sail smoothly through the learning journey…. huh! somehow I think the recommendation that we spend ’3′ hours a week on this course looks like deliberate marketing fraud
Anyways, I’m sure the list will continue to grow as we go, but so far here is the list of ‘essential’ tools that will be in use as we do the course (some for daily communications, maybe others more for comparative and evaluative purposes)…
So far, what’s been new and particularly of interest to me (in relation to the teaching I do) are:
twitter lists (IF I can figure out how to send messages to just one list and not everyone, I can see myself having separate lists for different groups of students, and colleagues, and using twitter for reminders and questions – much more likely to be read quickly than anything that requires them to login to the course website or institutional email)
pinterest (some of these I’ve seen have been interesting to browse, but I haven’t used this tool yet, and so not sure yet whether I’d use it with students – the best application for it I can imagine in my current teaching scenarios might be to share with the class things about academic English in their other classes that I have tasked them to pay attention to and report back about – this noticeboard effect might work well for that, as the posting could then be done on the go and before we meet, and then be looked at in class as the start up for discussion & learning)
scoopit (I’ve certainly seen these, but haven’t made one before this week, and I can see how it could be an appealing and effective way – sometimes – for students to receive new readings of high relevance to something we’re doing that week – as opposed to set readings that I can plan before class begins – would be good for sharing stuff with colleagues too, although most of mine actually prefer reading emails…. ahhh)
storify (have heard of this one in the past couple of years but haven’t yet explored – but as I do like to get students making digital stories of their language learning experience in their first year doing academic work in this language and country, this may be a quick and easy tool for them to use for that purpose? not sure yet)
vimeo (not new to me, but I haven’t been using it for teaching purposes because I am a Mac person and one’s dotmac account – whatever they are calling it this month – has had terrific website and video sharing software as part of the package – but I like Kyle’s movie here and I need to learn more technologies that my students are most likely to know because they are often not mac people and they don’t waste their limited finances on shiny groovy things from apple and I have to speak their language in order to communicate!)
G+ hangouts (have just today had a look at some examples, and the Sara Lipka one that Eric posted in the G+ community for us – it seems sort of like skype on steroids – up to 10 people can video chat live at once, AND this software has a broadcast option, ie you can save your conversation to your YouTube channel… as soon as I started watching these I thought, wow, what a quick, easy, hassle free way to get mid and end of course feedback from students! and then have it all on record…. there is the question of permissions when it comes to reporting as research of course, but just meanwhile, the immediate use potential in teaching is obvious and terrific to me! – so much better than the rigmarole of getting formal evaluations done… this could be much more spontaneous and authentic for the ongoing quality improvement feedback loop)
mindmomo and mindmeister (I actually prefer cmaptools for online concept mapping, and have various other tools for visualising processes – but I really liked the mindmap Mr Chips I think posted for us – though now I can’t find it! – and I might make my students aware of this software too, if it’s quick and simple and free to use. Cmaptools is my favourite because it forces you to compose a sentence that articulates the relationship between elements in the map, rather than just to connect keywords, and for all sorts of reasons that is what I prefer my students to do in planning their writing – but hey, all visualisation tools are cool with me, I like to explore them all!)
google reader (oddly I haven’t been using this on my desktop, though I have used it a bit on my ipad… must explore further whether this is a good adjunct to my web-based Endnote, or Mendeley or whatever I or my students are using – got to think about not only quick and easy, but also integration with projects and other online systems, like databases…)
evernote (haven’t tried this yet, just noting recommendations by other students in this course – will have to check it out, though, I may not need yet another tool, I think I really just need to browse and then select according the criteria that matter most in my current work, then just stick with a very small number of really effective tools and focus…. I agree with that video about how to succeed in a MOOC!)