I never thought I could be a technology junkie! But over the last week I have spent every spare moment on Twitter and Feedly to research educational apps. I spend hours on my laptop researching…
There is a high that I get!
I want to check out everything that everyone is posting about what apps are being used in virtual school and how to use them. As a learner and new recruit to the world of education and technology, I am learning all the time. The learning curve is steep but exhilarating!
Currently, on my laptop I have 22 tabs open and three of them are tutorials/webinars for Explain Everything, VoiceThread, and Hypothesis: Educational Apps that would be so great to use for the unit on ‘Just War Theory and Wars’ that I planned and taught an 8th grade class.
The immense potential to get students thinking, explaining, collaborating and talking to each other while NOT in a physical classroom is exciting! It is a substance induced high caused by access to educational apps that are now free because of Covid-19 even if they weren’t before. These apps are being tweeted, praised, and pushed forward at this time when schools around the world are closed or closing down.
In addition, the generosity of teachers in sharing all educational apps that they are using and their successes (as well as failures) is astonishing. Though, not surprising because I think that teachers love to share the good work they do, even without recognition. I don’t know any other profession that is quite so generous as teachers.
Tutorials for Educational apps are turning up eg. @HollyClarkEdu
And she is not the only one…. Teachers individually, educational apps (Wakelet, Flipgrid etc.) are pitching in with tutorials and webinars. In addition, Microsoft is jumping in with both feet by sponsoring online learning videos at Online Learning Ideas. In an unsure environment everyone is pitching in to help and share.
In this scenario when educational technology seems to be changing everyday and offering new opportunities how do you decide….
When to Change Apps and Try New Ones
So, I have been using Mindmeister which is now $2.50 per month for educators for unlimited mind mapping. I used the free version that allows 3 free Mindmeister maps. It was great, easy to use but limiting as I knew I would only get 3 maps. However, with Explain Everything I would be able to do almost the same, get students to collaborate and it would be free. So after finding out about Explain Everything I would switch.
I have also been using Flipgrid which I would not switch due to its ease of use. Now it even has screen recording!
I have used Padlet which is a great collaborative and reflective tool for classrooms. I would not exchange it with another.
And let me not start on Wakelet which has allowed me to organize my lessons while inserting all daily instruction in one place. I love it! I believe #RyanPersaud was the first in our @COETAIL11 group to mention it.
In addition, Zoom which #Broughton_io used recently to round up colleagues in #Coetail11. I have not used it but its ease of use is great. Though, the concerns about privacy and security of students as well as teachers is a very legitimate concern.
Educational Apps Beckoning Me….
I know I want to check out Adobe Spark, Seesaw, BookCreator, and Hyperdocs. There are probably more that I am forgetting right now. I will substitute the ones that are harder to use and paid with newer apps that are easier to use and free.
So, as teachers in a virtual environment are we on the constant lookout for new apps for virtual learning or apps that are more efficient? Will we ever stop? Will we get burnt out with all the searching if school closures extend into the next academic year?
Right now… I get really excited that there is so much new information, technology and things to do but then I also get overwhelmed!
Remembering that Pedagogy Comes First and Then Technology
With all the great apps out there to make your lessons creative, collaborative, reflective, exciting we have to make sure that we hold true to the skills and widely the curriculum that we should teach.
We may change our manner of delivery, which has to adjust to our virtual environment and our speed of adaptability to new technology. But in our minds and hearts we should always strive for the skills we want our students to learn:
Problem Solving, Researching, Analyzing (by explaining problem), Evaluating (by looking at others work), Collaborating (working with other students), Communicating (written and orally) and show Empathy and Compassion.
These are vital parts of an education, seconded only by checking on our students’ emotional and physical health. We have to check in with their well being first and foremost.
Therefore, the emphasis on always being on the lookout for the newest technology though it might not fit what and who we teach is definitely less important.
It is important to not get swept away by every new app that we come across. Rather it is more important to hold true to planning and teaching to create problem solvers, critical thinkers, compassionate and collaborative learners. It should not feel like the education process was every interrupted and students can continue joyfully into virtual school.
That comes first, then the technology.