Technology today moves at the speed of light. What was cutting edge yesterday (can you say Betamax) may not necessarily stand the test of time. Add to that the countless technology options teachers have to use in the classroom and it can become dizzying. What is clear is that social networking sites are being used more and more for leisure and fun by the youth of today and that fact does look to stand the test of time (da Silva & Restivo, 2008). So what new ways can we use technology in the classroom? What ways that won’t require reinvention, relearning massive amounts of information, or reimagining all the wonderful lesson we have planned for next year? Here are two simple tech tools to add to your arsenal that will revamp the tired and reenergize the restless.
Socrative is a great way to assess in the classroom. Many teachers who work in BYOD or 1:1 settings are looking for ways to gauge understanding while students are working in many differentiated ways. Formatting your class around opening questions as pre-assessments or exit tickets as a quick learning check may help to keep students engaged. Let’s face it… they would rather be interacting with you online than in person. Capitalize on that and try a different response mode! Moreover, this format really allows you to tailor you lesson to the ability and speed of your students. Who doesn’t want that?
Screencasting is a new term, but the tool itself is an old one. We all have added video to the classroom. We love the engagement a well-made video can trigger and the connection students seem to make with that medium. Now add the social networking piece and you have Screencasting! A site like Screer allows you to create videos and post them online or add it to your YouTube page (which is a whole other way to interact and engage). Students can search for them as a way to review, relearn, or even just repeat to help them with retention.
Start by making a quick Screenr video explaining a procedural part of your day as you gear up for fall (you know you are starting to think about next year already). Then think of a way to incorporate it into your opening week. Once you see how easy it is I know you will be clamoring for more! If you decide to make a dedicated YouTube page and load your videos there, you can ask your students to comment on videos as part of an assignment which pulls in that social media aspect. Remember, students today are actually more accustomed to Web 2.0 applications than with television (da Silva & Restivo, 2008).
Take these tools and try adding a little bling to the classroom. Both Screenr and Socrative have user-friendly how-to videos on their sites as well as a bevy of tutorials on YouTube. Neither one requires program installation, just registration. I know once you try it you’ll be hooked- So get social and start creating!
da Silva, J. F., & Restivo, F. J. (2009). An Intelligent Mashup Learning Environment with Social Interaction. Proceedings of the European Conference on e-Learning, 759.
Images courtesy of Microsoft