Sue Waters from Edublogs got me thinking today, when I read this post and completed the survey “What tools do you like to use your students that can be embedded into blogs and other websites like wikis?”. The problem was I had to narrow it down to three tools. So I thought I would write this post, to include the most valuable tools I have used in 2010. Now lists of tools can get pretty boring, but I have linked to student examples of each of the products, to show you what students are capable of when using these tools.
1. Bubbl.us is a free, online mind-mapping tool that does not require student registration, although if you do register with an email address, you can save the work online. Although you cannot embed the mindmap, you can take a screenshot and add it as an image. Rachel, a year 8 student, created a fantastic example about Simple Machines here.
2. Voicethread is always on these lists of tools, because it is easy to use and suitable for students from prep to year 12. It can be used to good effect in global projects, such as the International Energy Challenge, due to the ability for students from different time zones to add to conversations asynchronously. In the IEC, we had 150 students from three countries and five different schools create twelve Voicethreads about different energy sources, that we embedded on each page of the wiki. We did have a few issues with access (privacy settings) but these were mostly resolved by including teachers as editors of each Voicethread.
3. My Studiyo is a free, online quiz-making site, that allows students to create multiple-choice quizzes and add images. It is great for sharing between students for revision. Rachel, my wonderful Year 8 student, created this MyStudiyo quiz about different rock types.
4. Slideshare is a great way to convert PowerPoint presentations into slideshows that can be embedded into blogs and wikis. My year 11 Biology students worked in groups to create these slideshows about Biogeochemical cycles.
5. Wordle allows students to create colourful word clouds individually or with others. Tagxedo is another word cloud creator, with the added advantage of being able to shape the creation. It also seems to have more options for fonts and colour themes. I plan to use Tagxedo more in 2011. Rachel created a wordle about Electricity here.
6. Create-a-Graph is a free, online site that students can add data and choose a graph type to create, which can be customised with different fonts and colours.
7. Wallwisher is a fun online tool that allows students to easily answer questions and make comments using sticky notes posted to a wall. It can be embedded on blogs to give students an idea of everyone’s input.
8. YouTube for quick access to short videos – great for breaking up a science or maths lesson and demonstrating concepts. Unfortunaetly, most school servers block YouTube content.
9. Flashcardsdb has been used by my VCE students to good effect, for remembering definitions and as revision for exams. Creating the cards and sharing them with the rest of the class can be achieved by embedding into a class blog.
10. Maybe the best of all, Google forms has also been a fabulous tool for collecting data from students, easily accessible from a class blog. I posted a Student Perceptions Survey on the class blog to get feedback about my year’s work and to improve my teaching in the future. It imports all the data to a spreadsheet for easy analysis. I also plan to use Google forms next year to find out more about my new students and collect their email addresses, interests and preferences.
The following slideshow has more Digital Tools for 21st Century Learners: