Learning Tech

This week in my Emerging Tech course, I was tasked with writing about new technologies I’m learning about. This is really neat — I am gaining exposure to so many things and have even more opportunities to ‘nerd out’ if you can believe it. On Monday, I started to look into a series of tech suggestions, whereby I latched on to a few different learning technology tools.

  1. Padlet — This was really neat; you can take a picture and then give a little caption about it. A classmate mentioned using this for book recommendations, which I think is a great idea. I also could see using it as a character highlight when discussing ELA readings or to highlight a specific country, language, or culture for a social studies class. Further, it would be a great visual supporter for word problems in math or even a way to introduce lab items for science. Uploading these to a SMART/Mimio board or to the library/teacher sites would allow students access. I just had so many ideas about how to be able to utilize such a tool in the library classroom, be it through collaboration with teaching staff or to enhance the library experience.
  2. RSS Feeds — I’ll be honest: it never dawned on me to use this tool for educational purposes. I’ve used RSS feeds many times in my personal life and have received many notifications for step-parenting, infertility, IVF, and adoption. I think because I was so entrenched in my personal stories that the thought never occurred to me to use this for anything more. I could see having tabs available on a library site (or just bookmarked on the librarian’s computer) that relate to topics being researched, current events, famous authors, inventors, technology, college applications (because librarians can absolutely lend a helping hand to the school guidance staff) and so much more.
  3. Tumblr — I used to follow a food blog on Tumblr (years ago) but got frustrated by the lack of words. I think that this is a great site to use for blogging for students though. I appreciate lengthy reads; I’m a lover of words, what can I say?! I know many students, however, may prefer to tell a story through images or music or any other artistic means. I love that this is a site that would more easily encourage students to use it in that capacity and I think that integrating this in a classroom or library setting could be a lot of fun. Clearly, in a library setting, students could all post to the library’s page where they highlight current events or review recent books or give tips on how-to use different technologies. There really are endless possibilities and unlike some of the other technologies, Tumblr could easily be used by specials/electives or even outside clubs/organizations with ease.
  4. LiveBinder — HOLY MOLY! The organizational nut in me has died and gone to heaven! I spent hours clicking around this site and thought, “why has nobody told me about this before?!” Honestly, on a personal/professional level, I could catalog all of the consulting I do for grant writing and charter school development. In terms of education or library cataloging — there’s just so much! I could see having students use this to organize and present senior projects or any other type of portfolio (Hello, art teachers!). I can’t wait to start using this tool, myself. If you’ve not heard of it, I advise you check it out immediately (but only if you have a few hours to spare).
  5. Pinterest — This was another suggestion per my professor. There’s both so much and so little to say about Pinterest. I use it for basically everything. When we learned I’m allergic to yeast and had to reframe our entire family diet, Pinterest was my go-to; when we wanted to give 13 a perfect tween escape, I pinned and bought (and was basically banned from ever shopping at Pottery Barn Kids ever again) and had my husband set up every detail of the tween dream; when I wanted to take a cute Halloween treat to 3’s daycare last year, I pinned, failed, and sent a half-empty bag of Oreos with an open bag of pretzels and was reminded why I hate all things crafty and cute… You get it — Pinterest is basically my right hand man. I’ve used it for teaching ideas in the past and for classroom setup. It’s an easy go-to that I can always rely on. (Link to my personal Pinterest (education) site above)
  6. Diigo — I was really psyched to find this tool; online annotation, count me in! Instantly, I my brain was filled with ways to make annotation lessons engaging and fun for students who appreciate the use of technology over the traditional book. I constantly hammer the benefits of annotation and think that an online tool can help students who prefer reading this way. My big thought here, though, centers on how compatible this might be with assistive tech, like Dragon Speak, for students who may not easily be able to find what they’d want to highlight or comment on. This is something I need to dig deeper on. I tried to Google it but only found articles about Diigo with advertisements for Dragon Speak, so I tabled this search for the time being.
  7. Google Classroom — Last night, I had 13 walk me through her Google Classroom. I know the kids talk about using it and in my head, I had pictured a UI similar to Blackboard or Moodle. Her teachers use it to post readings, assignments, and test reminders — don’t get me wrong, this is all great. It allows us to see everything that goes on in the class and allows access to students who miss a day. I was just hoping for more engagement (sure, you can comment to class or teacher, but I don’t really think of a comment box to be engaging). One benefit though, as is Google’s way — it’s super user-friendly and most likely intuitive for students/parents. I just was expecting… more…

These are some of the education tools that I’ve spent time looking at this week. I appreciate the time and space to investigate and learn about these tools. I am starting to realize that it’s not that I’m bad at technology or even that I have a lack of interest; it’s that I haven’t had exposure to various classroom technologies. I think that largely this is because I’ve been out of the traditional classroom for the last seven years, focusing on curriculum development, grant writing, charter applications, and teaching at the college level on the side. I’m excited to continue to gain exposure to these types of tools and eventually implement them in the library classroom!

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