Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This week in GTC, we found ourselves getting a crash course in education-specific technologies. Just as many of us learned word processing, powerpoint, and other “innovative” software platforms at the high school level, students today are becoming familiar with dozens of new programs that can have practical applications in a college setting. By learning what kinds of programs our students are already familiar with, we can vastly accelerate the creation of learning environments that advance our educational and pedagogical objectives.

This workshop offered a general overview of the kinds of teaching technologies that correspond to different levels of the educational experience - those for use by teachers, by students, and by both. After discussing the interesting questions raised by a recent ARS Technica article on the subject with Susan, Sarah guided us through an introduction to instructional technology called 7 Wonders of the Web 2.0 World created by Jennifer Brinson, a high school history teacher and instructional coach for Discovery Education. Covering programs such as Prezzie, Voicethread, Jeopardy Labs, Animoto, Quizlet, lino.it, Collaborize Classroom, and Livebinders, the presentation also included links to even more technological resources, including 20 or so programs described in Web 2.0 Tools to Inspire.

After exploring two of these educational programs with Susan - Piazza virtual classroom and Leafsnap, a plant biology app for smartphones, we split up into groups and explored some of the technologies mentioned above. Going around the room, we briefly discussed what we’d learned about each program and gave our thoughts on if and how such programs might be used in a higher education classroom. By the end, more than a few heads were spinning from all the programs we’d be introduced to in such a short period of time - but as Susan and Sarah demonstrated, having a database of potential programs available for us to access at any time should make it easier for us to explore what intrigues us and, in doing so, open up endless new possibilities for future “tech-savvy” teaching!

Many thanks to Susan Bush and Sarah Messbauer for facilitating, and to Sarah Perrault for her insights during the planning process. Thanks as well go to Jennifer Brinson and RJ Stangherlin for sharing their wealth of knowledge about the many digital resources available for instructional use!

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