Knowing and Recommending Edtech Tools (even when you might not use them)

Perhaps your institution has a teaching with technology event. Mine does. Once a year. One of the presentationss on the program that always gets a good turnout is our faculty colleague who shares her top 20 tech tools in 40 minutes.

In addition to being a fun way to learn some new technology applications, most of the attendees use it as a check on their own “up-to-dateness” with edtech. You’ll hear folks saying things like “Yep, know that one” or “Heard about it – haven’t had a chance to try it yet”. Our colleague is always hoping to find a few that take us all by surprise. The campus tech symposium is just one way we can find out about new edtech, teaching apps and more.

Here are few of the ones that caught my attention during the session:

Kahoot!: I first experienced Kahoot! during an online session offered by the Teaching Learning and Technology Group. It looked easy to use for creating a simple learning game, and I played a quiz game online with a group. It had me considering the possibility of setting up a quiz in advance of a class in order to get students exposed to some of the basic content before they came for the formal instruction. Librarian-educators would need to think through how to use the gamification possibilities. If you want to get students engaged and you’ve had some success with polling you might consider trying the quiz approach. There are other web-based quiz games to explore. Quizlet is a popular option.

Zaption: More instructors are making use of video for learning. Zaption allows them to add text, images or questions to an existing video in order to enhance the learning experience. I could see myself using this to take a video I make – such as a screen capture of a search or research example – and then adding some questions to make it more of an interactive learning experience rather than just having a student watch another tutorial video. This could definitely fit with a flipped approach where I want the students to do some work before they get to the classroom. It looks like a good way to enhance videos for greater interaction.

Inklewriter: This is a collaborative writing tool for those who are a bit more adventurous. It is designed to leverage your students’ creativity, but the writer can also share their stories with others and invite them to participate in the writing process. I checked out Inklewriter but didn’t start using it. It looked like it might take a bit more practice and experimentation. This could offer a rather different approach to research skill building where students might write out their search stories – where do they go to start a search, what is their thought process – and what do they think of their results. It could be a group project. Definitely not the usual approach.

Pablo: This is a quick study and may offer some fun, but it’s geared to social media users. It’s pretty basic. Pablo gives you access to a library of 50,000 royalty free images. You can search and locate an image and then incorporate it into your facebook or twitter message. In addition, there are options for adding your text on to that image – and you see more folks doing that on social media. I could see students using this as a way to share messages about a project, but perhaps just adding a more creative twist – and anyone can upload their own photo in addition to using what’s already in Pablo.

Admittedly, some of these edtech apps – and others you will discover – are not always applicable to what librarian-educators may want to do or would have the time or opportunity to do. You can see what the possibilities are for an instructor teaching a regular  course with weekly meetings. That’s still fine for me because I want to get familiar with different edtech tools and what they might be good for when it comes to learning. That way, I may find myself in a conversation with an instructor who is less familiar with edtech, and I might have an opportunity to point them in the direction of an app that would help them in the classroom. So my thinking is that it is still worthwhile to be knowledgeable about the tools even if I don’t have a great application for them right now.

All of these edtech apps are free (and may be limited unless you move to a fee-based option), but you will want to check into their privacy policies to see what data they keep and what they do with it, if that is a concern of yours.

Have you come across a new edtech tool lately that is worth sharing. If so, use the comments to tell us more and point us to it.

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