So many choices! How does one decide? You just get used to one tool and then a new, shiny tool flits into view. You begin to chase it down and soon you are mesmerized by all the bells and whistles it has to offer. The next thing you know you have spent hours figuring out how it works. But is the tool even useful? Will it help you meet your learning objectives? What should you know about a tool before you make that commitment?
As part of the first major assignment in OLTD 507, I spent some time figuring out what criteria might be important in helping decide the applicability of a cloud tool. I found it challenging to put into words what I felt I intuitively knew, and struggled with making a list of questions that would produce the final summary I was looking for. The following screencast introduces you to my tool (created using Microsoft Excel) and walks you through one example to see how it works. The screencast was created using ActivePresenter, one of my Top 3 Tools for Teachers!
Excel spreadsheet (template and seven tool evaluations): Tool Evaluation Form seven tools
Screencast: OLTD 507 Cloud Tool Assessment Form
Top 3 Cloud Tools for Teachers and Students
Many cloud tools are great for both teachers and students. Even though I have yet to incorporate TEDEd into my courses, I can see that it is a useful instructional tool, and students would benefit from the variety of ways they can interact with the content. I look forward to exploring this tool further. I have used Quizlet with my students; they really enjoyed having an online study tool, especially for challenging biology vocabulary. Students can also share their flashcard stacks. As an instructor, I like that you can create word lists or math questions that students can practice in preparation for a quiz or test.
Mindmaps are a powerful and somewhat underutilized tool. If I had to choose one mindmapping tool for students, I would lean towards Bubbl.us. In addition to a variety of color choices and an intuitive interface, Bubbl.us puts the text in boxes (or other shapes) which I find helpful if you want to create an empty mind map skeleton. As a blended learning instructor, creating screencasts is becoming a larger part of my class prep. ActivePresenter is my favourite screen capture tool. It has many features similar to software such as Camtasia but it is free!
The infographic below summarizes my Top Choices. It was created using Piktochart. I know that as I continue to explore new cloud tools, this list will keep changing, but my goal is to keep my learning objectives in mind. (OK, so maybe some tools are just for fun!)