Friday, August 05, 2011

Top Technologies for Teachers Right Now

Technology and education is an extremely hot topic right now. There's no doubt about it. But get a room full of ten different educators, administrators, and policymakers and you will find ten different opinions on the use of technology in the classroom.

Less Hardware and Gadgets, More Networking and Collaboration

Technological teaching aids such as whiteboards are always nice to have around, but would it be better that students have some form of compatible technology that allows sharing and collaboration between classmates and teachers? It's a tough call, but honestly I think more technology should be getting to the hands of students. If students have access to computers or some mobile device (tablet, netbook, laptop) in their classrooms, there are huge amounts of potential for collaboration between students, educators, and even the rest of the world.

So really, when it comes to the topic of best technologies for teachers, there should be less emphasis on teaching/classroom gadgets like whiteboards and more attention paid to the hundreds of online services that allow group communication, brainstorming, and project management. The technologies are already out there; it's up to teachers and administrators to find them and make compelling uses of them that teach our current generation of students how to responsibly and intelligently use the technology at their fingertips every day.

Best Services Available

The value of a private (or public) network in which students and educators can exchange ideas and questions easily is huge. These networks allow teachers to communicate with students outside of the classroom, enabling them to answer quick questions or point students to other resources to help them understand classroom material.

Networks are also great for students working on group projects. Having their group on a visible network that a teacher can see allows them to discuss their roles in the project, help manage the project, and schedule meetings for the project outside of class.

While the go-to network for educators (Ning) has recently moved away from its free services, a great private network you can use alternatively is Yammer. While it is primarily used by business, it also accepts those with .edu email addresses, and many schools have started to use Yammer as their primary private network for communication. Best of all, you can create groups in Yammer for different classes or group projects.

Another alternative is to use Twitter. While this web service is primarily public, there are plenty of third party apps that allow you to communicate privately or publically between select Twitter users. Getting students to understand services like Twitter is incredibly important as students will learn the value and practice of online marketing.

For creative projects or presentations, Voicethread is an amazing service that is incredibly easy to learn and use. In addition to this option, Slideshare is another great service used by educators and professionals. You can also upload your own lessons to these media outlets, making your course material available to your students at all times.


This guest post is contributed by Barbara Jolie, who writes for online classes. She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

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