Posts Tagged ‘Online Collaboration’

From my research on Twitter, I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone on the internet has been using Wallwisher except me. After using it this week, I can see why…. it will definitely become a major part of my Web 2.0 tools.

The technology: Wallwisher

My impression:

Wallwisher is an absolutely fantastic tool, and I can’t believe that I haven’t used it before now. There are so many possibilities for the classroom, and its usefulness to teachers is made even more strong based on the fact that posts can be locked so that they are only viewable once approved. At the same time, posts can be either anonymous or not, making it easy to have students’ input on issues that would normally be too difficult. Wallwisher makes it easy to post links, pictures, or audio. The only limit is that posts have to be under 160 characters, which isn’t always a bad thing.
Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

There are so many possibilities for using Wallwisher in the classroom, but instead of me telling you, you should read this (31 ways to use Wallwisher in the classroom).

I used Wallwisher as a final wrap up for my students before their exams next week. Since this was my first time teaching the course, I asked them to post their likes and dislikes about the course, in the hopes that I could better my teaching for the next time around. I got some great suggestions, all anonymous (as per my request) that I’m not sure I would have received under another format.

Pictures:


Where can I learn more?

www.wallwisher.com

Rating:

5 stars

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Oh, exam time. The time of year for cramming, reviews, and study groups. In an effort to help my students get the most of their studying, I’ve been introducing them to websites that they can use to better their test scores. Last week, headmagnet, this week: StudyBlue.

The technology: StudyBlue

My impression:

This website is handy because it keeps students notes available to them wherever they are. There’s also a handy linkup to Facebook and Twitter (for students to share their notes and let others know what they’re studying).

One great strength of this program is its portability. The majority of my students are constantly on the go, and this program allows them to study anywhere they have access to their phone. While it doesn’t guide you though your studying like Headmagnet does, StudyBlue does allow for a much greater amount of collaboration between students.

StudyBlue is a good website for students looking to review notes, but its greatness lies in the fact that it allows for students to collaborate with others who are the same class or who are taking the course in a different city. Students can share notes, flashcards, study guides, and past quizzes. For students who are as social as mine, this adds a new facet to studying that makes it more enjoyable and should (hopefully) encourage them to do so more often.

A problem that I can think of is that students who don’t use computers for their notes may have a hard time using the program. They can, however, create flashcards and use them to study, or transcribe their notes as they are preparing to study for quizzes, tests, or exams.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

StudyBlue allows students to study their materials whereever they are. While I wouldn’t use it directly in a lesson, I do think it is a valuable website to introduce to students to help them with their studies.

Pictures:


Where can I learn more?

StudyBlue Mobilizes Notes

www.studyblue.com

Rating:

4 stars

My students are starting to study for their exams, so I took the opportunity to introduce HeadMagnet to them. The students who have tried it have told me over and over how helpful the program has been to their studies and to preparing them for the exam.

The technology: Headmagnet

My impression:

Headmagnet is a fantastic web app that helps you study. Essentially, headmagnet creates virtual flashcards that you can review online while you’re studying. Not only that, but the app remembers which of the cards you’ve had trouble with, and helps you review the facts that you know. This kind of studying helps learners to recall the information that they’ve learned in the long term, rather than just cramming for a test.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

Obviously, this website is extremely useful for students preparing for tests, exams, or quizzes. It’s also useful as a tool for reviewing information as it’s learned. Students can create their own study lists, or the teacher can create a list and share it with the students (this would be especially useful for younger grades). I teach high school students, who are capable of creating their own study guides, but I did point out the sharing feature to them in case they wanted to use it in study groups (which some have).

Pictures:

Where can I learn more?

http://headmagnet.com

Rating:

4 stars

While I was away on the holidays, I got an email update from livebinders detailing a new feature that they’ve added which allows for collaboration. If you’re not familiar with livebinders, check out my review here.

Since I’ve been on a bit of an online collaboration kick lately, I decided to check it out. The addition basically allows you to add other livebinders users to your binders, so that they can add websites and information.

Click here to view the livebinder with all the relevant information.

Though this feature is certainly helpful for students working on group projects, it does have limitations. Firstly, all collaborators have to have a livebinders account. A seemingly small detail, but as a teacher who is trying to use online collaboration as much as possible with my students, I am weary of them all having to have an individual account. Not a huge deal, but worth mentioning. There are also some limitations to what collaborators can do on the same binder: the text editing has some bugs when two people are working on the binder at the same time, making it possible to loose your work if you’re not careful.

This new feature has a variety of uses for teachers. Personally I have been using it with a colleague in a different city to plan a lesson we are going to teach together (online), it would also be useful for districts, schools, or grade level partners to share information. Students could use it for group work or to work on a binder with their teacher.

I don’t use livebinders extensively, but I do plan on having my students use them in a research unit we’re going to be doing this term (stay tuned for a post on how that one turns out), and I think that this feature will come in handy. Thanks livebinders for another great addition!

If you read my post on Monday, you know that one of my goals is to have my class collaborate with another class online. I decided to research some online collaboration tools that could be useful for that purpose. These sites are all free, and most of them don’t require registration from your students to use. I hope that some of them are useful for you!

GoogleDocs– Collaborate with other Google users on spreadsheets, documents, powerpoint presentations. drawings, and forms.

Titanpad– Collaborate on word documents. You can read my review of Titanpad here.

Scribblar- Online virtual whiteboard, great for brainstorming. You can read my review of Scribblar here

Cacoo– Create diagrams with real time collaboration.

Wallwisher– (Thanks to Nicole for reminding me about this one!)- An online notice board, excellent for brainstorming or taking notes.

Filedropper– Upload a file to share with anyone

AuthorStream (Live Present)- Share powerpoint presentations online. Everyone attending can discuss the presentation and everyone stays on the same slide.

Twiddla– Browse online with others, mark up websites.

I haven’t used all of these websites with my students (I posted reviews of the ones that I have). I have used them all in some way or another, and I can vouch for the fact that they all work, and that I think that they could be used effectively in the classroom. If you’re looking for even more options, there’s an extremely through Mindmap here that shows pretty much every online collaborative tool I’ve ever heard of (and then some).

As I mentioned in my introductory post, I have issued myself a challenge for the upcoming new year: to use a minimum of one new technology per week and write a review about the new sites I use. To date, I’ve reviewed websites that I’ve been using, and if you’ve been following along you know how limited that is… because as of my last post I’m out of technology that I currently use in the classroom. Good thing it’s December.

I’ve decided it’s time to come up with a plan. I teach in a high school, and next semester doesn’t start until January 31st, and the month of January will mostly be spent on review. I have quite a few ideas for various tools that I can use for review:

  • I intend on introducing Headmagnet to my students. Headmagnet creates virtual flash cards for your students that will help them to predict what they will forget. I haven’t used them yet, so I can’t provide a full review…. but if it works the way it’s supposed to the implications for students could be amazing.
  • I’m also currently brainstorming ways that I can use Google Docs as a tool for review.
  • Once the exams are marked I will be using Markbook (for the first time, though it is far from a new program) to compile my students marks. Other teachers at my school seem to either love or hate this program, so I’m curious to see how easily it works.

Once my new classes begin at the end of January, I have a lot of ideas of new ways to integrate web 2.0 into my classroom.

  • I will be setting up and using Edmodo for each of my classes. I think Edmodo has exciting implications for students and teachers and I know that my students will enjoy using it.
  • One of my upcoming courses is very conversation-based. To that end I plan on using kidblog to have them post blog entries and discuss each other’s thoughts and ideas. I’m still thinking about how exactly this will work, if anyone has any thoughts on how to introduce blogs to my students I’m excited to hear them.
  • I will be having my senior students create e-portfolios using powerpoint. Again, I’m currently working on the logistics of this and researching articles and blogs on how to do it effectively. My thoughts right now are that I might use this as a culminating task at the end of the year.
  • I’m working on finding another teacher who is willing to collaborate with my class on group projects using Titanpad, Scribblar, or Google Docs.

That’s where my ideas stand for now. None of them are brand new or revolutionary, but they are all new to me and I’m excited to see the results of this challenge.

I’m looking for suggestions of new tools to use with my class, feel free to leave me a comment! I will be reviewing all sites that I use with my class and updating this blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Google Docs is one of the many resources that I intend to use starting in January. I’ve been collecting a series of resources to help me along, and I’ve decided to share all of those resources with you. Should you be looking to use Googledocs in your classroom, here’s the place to start.

1. First off we have a video specifically for teachers which serves as an introduction to GoogleDocs. If you’ve never used GoogleDocs before, this is a great place to start.

2. This page from Google provides an overview for educators, tutorials, and a video showing how to use GoogleDocs.

3. Next, here’s a video from Google that details some ways that GoogleDocs can be useful to teachers. It moves quickly and doesn’t really tell you how to do all these things, but it’s a good way to get some ideas.

4. A presentation on 31 interesting ways to use GoogleDocs in the classroom.

I hope these resources are useful to you, GoogleDocs is an amazing program that has limitless potential in the classroom.

The technology: Dropbox

My impression:

Dropbox is a website that I wish I had known about before my computer crashed. The service isn’t specific to teachers, but it has been hugely helpful to me at home and at work over the past few weeks I have been using it.

It is extremely simple to use. Simply install dropbox on any computer that you want to sync files from, and place any files that you want to be able to access in your dropbox folder, and it will automatically back up those files online….and now you can access them from any computer that has dropbox installed. Yay!

There are so many great things about this service. It has mobile apps for iPhone and Android (neither of which I’ve used, so I can’t speak to how great they are), and is compatible with Windows, Mac, or Linux, so you can sync from one to another. You can also allow public access to some of your files if you’re seeking an easy way to be able to share files online.

You can purchase a membership, or you can use the free 2GB to try it out on a limited number of files. Saves you from carrying around a USB stick or emailing files to yourself!

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

When my computer went on the fritz, I was unable to access a variety of documents that I needed for work. Since then I have used Dropbox specifically for my work documents. Now I’m able to access anything I’m working on at home on my computer in the classroom (without any hassle), and I don’t have to worry about any of my files getting lost if my computer dies again.

Pictures:


Where can I learn more?

http://www.dropbox.com

Rating: 5 stars

Following my review of Scribblar I’ve decided to chime in on TitanPad, since the two compliment each other so nicely. Like Scribblar, TitanPad is a collaborative online tool, but unlike its whiteboard brother, it allows users to collaborate on word documents. It is a fantastic tool for teachers and one that I have used often.  It’s fantastic for teachers and students, and is free and requires no sign up (does it get any better?).

The technology: TitanPad

My impression: TitanPad is a simple online program that is exceptionally easy to use. Importing documents is easy (you can import from text file, HTML, Word, or RTF). If your document isn’t saved in one of those formats, you can copy and paste directly onto the website. As you go you can save your revisions, and you can go back and watch an accelerated video of your progress using timeslider.

TitanPad is awesome for teachers because it allows you to see each students contributions individually by highlighting their writing in their own color. You can also have students export their finished document as an OpenDocument so you can watch their timeslider to see their writing process.

TitanPad would benefit from built in voice chat, and it is limited to word documents only (no images can be added). However, it’s very efficient in its simplicity and I’ve enjoyed using it with my students.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

TitanPad is great for having students collaborate with other classes in different cities, or with students in different classes in the same school. My favorite application so far has been having each of my students log onto the website in the computer lab, projecting my screen, and having a class collaboration with all of us right there in the same room. We wrote a great class story this way and the students thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Pictures:


Where can I learn more?

www.titanpad.com

Rating: 5 stars

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Scribblar has been getting quite a bit of attention from bloggers and twitter users lately. This is all for a good reason, it’s a great program! I started using Scribblar at the beginning of this school year, and I don’t think I’ve even tapped the surface of the possibilities in the classroom.

The technology: Scribblar

My impression:

Scribblar is a great program because it’s relatively easy to use if you’re familiar with programs like paint (and really, who isn’t familiar with paint these days?). It has a lot of uses, especially to teachers and students.  It didn’t take me very long to learn how to use the program, and my students picked it up easily.The students enjoyed being able to collaborate online, and thought it was really neat that they could use chat or speak to other participants directly. Students can easily save their whiteboard sessions, as well as a transcript of their chat sessions, which is very helpful when grading. As an added bonus, students don’t have to register an account to use the program (but you have to register to be the administrator of one).

That being said the program is lacking several features that would be very helpful. The biggest issue that I have is that the program doesn’t have an eraser feature (though it does have an undo button and you can delete entire shapes as well). It would also be helpful if there was some kind of user guide or video tutorial available on the site. It would also be really nice if you were able to record the entire session and play it back (so I could see what the students were up to and their process). Finally, it would be awesome to be able to import word documents to edit them collaboratively, rather than only be able to import pictures. This ability is available through other sites such as titanpad, however it would be beneficial to have it built into this program as well.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

This website is fantastic for e-learning and for having your students collaborating in groups.

It would also be very effective for homework help, tutoring, or having a student help with a group project while they are absent from school.

My most successful moment with this website has been a group project that my students participated in with students from 3 other schools in different cities. The students were able to brainstorm topic ideas, determine which members of the group participated had what responsibilities, and how they would complete their task. The students had a meeting with their group on Scribblar once a week, and I was able to grade their participation easily by reading their chat transcript and viewing their snapshots. The students loved using the site and it made a mundane project very exciting for them.

Pictures:

An empty whiteboard room

An example of a collaboration

Where can I learn more?

www.scribblar.com

This blog post from Instructional Design Fusions

The education technology blog

Educational technology guy’s blog

Rating: 3 stars