In all my years as a computer/English teacher I’ve used quite a few technological tools to help me try and teach a little better. This morning someone floored me though with a very simple question, what digital tool have you found most useful? I say floored, because I honestly couldn’t think of one on the spot. I started saying Moodle, becasue it’s what I use everyday as my platform of choice, but then I stopped. Is a platform really a tool? It’s just there to enable everything else you use. It’s more like a work-bench than a tool itself.
OK, well, how about PowerPoint? I do all my lesson plans on PowerPoint because that allows me to share with my students, and have links to resources. It allows students who are absent to find out where we’ve got to, and what comes next. But PowerPoint, the way I use it anyway is a classroom management tool rather than a pedagogical tool per se.
Except of course when I use the Presenter plugin on PowerPoint to create Flash SCORMs as tutorials to post on my Moodle page! But that’s classroom management again, isn’t it? What about Adobe Flash. I love to get my students to create Flash animations and games. But Flash isn’t free, so it can’t really be my top tool …
So … O I got it. Twitter. I use twitter, embedded on my Moodle page as my back channel. Students can use the class hashtag to ask questions, send links and comment on what they have done. I can send links to resources and class announcements too. Everyone can follow on my twoodle, my twitter feed on Moodle. But again – that’s more classroom management, isn’t it? Well, with some pedagogy …
OK, Skype! My wife uses Skype all the time to teach Italian over the Internet. I don’t use it that way, but I use it for students to record video messages as feedback after group-work assignments, for report-backs. I also use VideoPad for the same purpose. These video messages can be saved and uploaded to Moodle as reflection. I can then post them on a reflection page.
So what about Camtasia? Audacity? WordPress? Edmodo? All good stuff, but really about me as a teacher creating or hosting content? What do I get my students to use? PowerPoint, Word, Prezi, WordPress, VoiceThread, yes they use them all at some time or another, but really, what do they use everyday?
Why, Moodle, of course.