Ten Educational Technology tools and ideas that I will be focusing on for this coming school year to enhance teaching and learning. Not in any real order but all just good tools and ideas.
Note, this is really my personal list, and while I hope some of the ideas and links inspire to you search for more, I am always happy to get feedback and more ideas.
- Breakout EDU – These are fun and engaging for kids of all ages. They encourage kids to think outside of the box, problem solve and work together. Getting a lock undone instills a sense of accomplishment and pride, while at the same time hitting at the heart of gamification with the always present but not explicit competition vein in all of us. On a personal note, while this are really fun to do, they take quite a bit of work to set up and set all of the locks. I have become quite the locksmith due to this activity.
- Bloxels – What I love about this product is the ability to connect the physical world with the technological world in a way that is accessible to all. This can empower even the most non-technical person to create an engaging and original game using just colored blocks. The new lite-bright on steroids.
- Design Thinking – This is so intriguing to me that I am even making my wife crazy by questioning everything around me. I am truly moving back to the “why, why, why” questions of my early childhood and it is really exciting to see some of the possibilities that are opening up to me. This originally came out of a keynote talk that I heard at Ed-Spaces 2016 in Cincinnati, but has since blossomed with talks and books that I have been reading. A great one is “A more beautiful Question”.
Another area that is really at the forefront of this movement would be the Stanford D-school and notion of more questions.
- Project Based Learning – Commonly referred to as PBL, this idea has been around for quite some time but is now really looking to gain steam as teachers look for ways to engage and empower kids to take charge of their own learning.
- 3-D printing and the Maker movement – So, we are one year into the makerspace project on campus with lulzbot printers, raspberry pi’s and Sphero robots. I am very excited about what we have done so far, but even more excited about the future possibilities as we expand this program. Next on my list is BBC microbits.
- Feedback and more feedback – Yeah, I know most of you are like, um isn’t that a vital part of teaching. Yes, it is. In fact, I just never knew just how much it is and how much that feedback can play a role in education. It has been a very long time since I was on the student end of things but now I really see the benefit of feedback, and more feedback, and yet still more. This is really how learning happens. So, yes, I will be focusing on providing even more feedback to my students than I ever have before.
- Google Apps – This is way things are moving in education. I see it in Google classroom, in Chromebooks in the play store, in android apps coming to Chromebooks and the new syncing and backup functionalities of Google drive. Google is doing some amazing things with their apps and updating them constantly with new tools and new ways of doing things. In addition, I will also be focusing on Google Keep as a new replacement for my old Evernote account. It is not quite there yet, but making strides.
- Engaged Presentations – This is not the same PowerPoint era that grandma grew up in, now with the new live Q and A tools in Google Presentation to the simple ways of Haiku Deck to the new push and pull method of Nearpod and PearDeck, cool things are happening in the world of presentation software. It is time that faculty and students started to realize that reading a PowerPoint slide in a presentation, was never and will never be good for anyone.
- Wireless Technology – This is one that has been close to my heart for years as I have been designing new classroom spaces and always looking for that “one dongle that rules them all”. Seems that Apple has a stranglehold on their walled garden of airplay. Funny thing is that as time moves along, airplay is becoming less relevant in the classroom as all other devices play nice in getting content from A to B. We have standardized on Epson projectors on campus. Now that we have them all networked and have given them IP addresses, using Epson Easy MP and Epson iProjection allows us to get any device besides full iOS up to any projector. This has changed the way many of our teachers teach. While I think this is great, I am always on the search for new ways to collaborate, connect and display wirelessly. I think this is borne out of the AV person inside me and from running literally thousands of feet of cables over the years.
- Minecraft EDU and MakeCode – this can really be combined with all of the new cool coding games and application that are springing up daily. Ones that I currently like are code combat and code monkey. Tynker is always fun and the whole new idea of this puzzle piece color coded programming developed by MIT for scratch is really taking hold. I used this type of coding for designing an android app this summer and now it has found its way into Minecraft.
So, that is my current list of items. Current meaning today as tomorrow may (or actually will) bring new technologies and new distractions, (squirrel!) for me. Let me know your thoughts or your Top Ten list. Anything that enhances the teaching and learning process in a meaningful way I am usually up for. Until next week, thanks for reading.
PS. Wow, that was a bunch of links – hope some of them are helpful to you.