This week I’m evaluating 3 sites to use in the classroom: Facebook (social), Voicethread (creative), and EduClipper (curation). Below are my thoughts on each tool.
I strongly believe in the power of social learning and I was excited to dive deep with Facebook to see how educators are using it to enhance student learning. I have been using Facebook for years but mostly for personal use. It’s only been within the past year that I have started connecting with educators on Facebook to share and ask work related questions. Facebook is incredibly easy to use and easy to connect with others. I think the status updates are incredibly easy to digest as they are short and sweet. Within the last year I have seen many of my educator friends post helpful websites, blogs, resources, etc. Facebook has become a great place for these educators to go for their own professional growth. If someone has a question about how to use a Web 2.0 tool, they have 15-20 replies within a few hours. Over the past few months I have found myself checking Facebook to learn from my PLN more than I check Twitter.
For the purpose of this blog post I wanted to find out more about how educators are using Facebook with their students. One way that I found many educators are doing is to create a classroom page on Facebook that their students can “like”. Instead of being “friends” with their students, teachers are creating these classroom pages to post homework information, assignments, post discussion questions, and share class work. I think this is a great way to meet the kids where they are, especially middle school and high school students who are always on Facebook to begin with. This allows the teachers and students to connect with one another outside the walls of the classroom, making the learning more meaningful and engaging.
Another way teachers are using Facebook is by creating closed class groups where students have to request to join. This can be a great space for the class to share their thoughts, questions, concerns or work.
I think there are many reasons why Facebook can be a helpful tool for educators and students. In researching how it is used, I came across this blog post that shares 50 reasons to use Facebook. One of my favorite reasons is “Facebook provides an opportunity for collaborative learning”. This is an important skill all students need to master to be successful in the working world.
Prior to this post, I had only used Voicethread a few times for another Wilkes course. I have heard educators talk a lot about this resource, so I wanted to spend some time evaluating it as an instructional tool and find out how educators are using it with students. The site itself is fairly easy to navigate, however I noticed it isn’t as user friendly as a site like Facebook, Pinterest or Padlet. It takes some time to figure out how to post images and add your voice to those images.
What I really like about this tool is that it gives students the power to share what they are learning in their own words. They have to think critically about what they want to say, how they will say it, and what images they will use to enhance their message. I also really like the fact that other students can view and comment on their peer’s Voicethreads. This is a great way to provide feedback on student work not only from the teacher but also from their classmates and even family members.
In researching how teachers are using this, I found this blog post on Richard Byrne’s webiste that shares 100 ways to use Voicethread in education. One example that a teacher shares is using it to help students practice pronunciation for ESL students. The teacher can record them saying the words or sentences correctly, and then the students can add their voice saying it. Many educators also said they use Voicethread as a professional development tool to introduce new Web 2.0 tools to other educators.
I had heard about this website but have never spent any time with it. Within a few seconds I had created an account and began searching for content. I am very familiar with Diigo, Delicious and Symbaloo so I am familiar with the how and why of curation tools. What I really like about EduClipper is the fact that it is designed specifically for the k-12 space, so finding content is easier because you are not just looking on Google, you are looking through content that other educators have “clipped”. As an educator, you can create student accounts that allow you to monitor and moderate their content. I love the idea of having students use the content that they have saved to create their own digital portfolio. This is a great way to authentically assess students and highlight their work over time. In Untangling the Web, they highlight one of the ways educators can use this site with students is to create “eduExperts”. Students would pick a topic or subject and then clip resources on that topic to serve as a resource or reference for the class on that topic.
After spending some time with this site I’m very excited to introduce it to educators in my professional development and community building sessions. Trying to find quality information can often times feel like you are trying to drink from a fire hose. There is so much information out there, and tools that help you find high quality content and curate the information by tags helps to organize information.