Typically I avoid focusing on learning technology tools. It’s almost always a better idea to consider what you want to do in a course than to focus on a specific tool to use. The tool is just that--the way you use it gives it value.
That said, I’m behind on my blog post for this month, and we have recently added some tools to the learning technologies toolbox. As we enter the last weeks of the semester, it’s also a great time to begin thinking about tweaking the course for the upcoming semester (which should be arriving in AsULearn soon). Here are five tools to consider using this spring. They are in no particular order and include my unsolicited evaluation of the pros and cons of each.
FlipGrid provides a space for interactive video conversations. Create a grid and allow students to post and reply inside it.
It’s very easy to use. Press record and start talking.
There are FlipGrid apps that support both IOS and Android devices as well as traditional laptop/desktop browser environments.
It might be a refreshing alternative to the traditional text-heavy discussion boards in the course.
No integration into the LMS (yet) makes grading and posting grades take some time--maybe longer than grading traditional text-based discussions.
Screencast-o-matic records your screen, your webcam feed or both to create short screencasts for your course.
It’s integrated into AsULearn, though inside the external tool menu.
After the first install, it’s a pretty simple screencasting tool with some basic editing features. Download the recording to your computer or upload to YouTube or Screencast-o-matic.
Accounts are created with your AppState login.
Hosted videos on Screencast-o-matic are limited to 15 minutes. On second thought that is not really a “con.”
Honestly, the con might be that it’s one more tool. Sometimes that can feel a little overwhelming as well.
VoiceThread allows online, interactive, asynchronous discussions inside of AsULearn.
VoiceThread is integrated into AsULearn and the gradebook. You can create different types of assignments for students where students can respond with text, audio or video.
VoiceThread creators can upload images, files and videos for students to discuss and annotate. Instructors can also create assignment for students to create VoiceThreads.
This is not “fall off the boat” easy to use and setup.
VoiceThread also doesn’t manage groups as well as I’d like. This one might be worth contacting your friendly-neighborhood ITC for a little help getting going.
Zoom provides web-conferencing and video meetings.
It’s the best web-conferencing tool I’ve used. I like it so much we held our summer conference in it.
Seriously, it’s something you can setup inside or outside the LMS, and it provides a great way to connect in real-time with your students and colleagues. All faculty, staff and students at AppState have accounts.
Zoom has built-in chat and easy to use screen-sharing.
With winter right around the corner (sigh) it should be in your toolbox.
There is not much I don’t like about Zoom.
AsULearn Workshop can be utilized for peer reviews.
Most courses only make use of a few tools in AsULearn, but it can offer more than just creating assignments, posting files, setting up discussions and links. If you have an activity with peer review that would fit well in your course, then the workshop tool might be worth looking at.
With the workshop tool, students can evaluate the work of their peers and provide feedback that the instructor can access and review.
Honestly, it’s design could use some work. It’s not the most intuitive tool in AsULearn and takes a little time to set up. However, after running it a few semesters now, I can’t imagine not using it in my course.
So there’s my list of the tools I’d recommend instructors take a look at as they begin designing courses for January.
One disclaimer: a few of the above are in “pilots” so their longevity on campus depends on budgets and their use. If you like them, use it and let us know.