Recently, I have done a lot of thinking about teachers, school districts, and technology as I work on my graduate courses for my Ed Tech degree. I have come up with a term to describe a goal for teachers: teacher technology independence. Many districts around the country will be cutting budgets again this year. And if technology does not go out with the budget, support for technology most likely will. Schools and teachers want great tech tools for their students, but districts cannot always deliver on those tools or the necessary training for effective implementation. Even when the money is there, decision makers at the district level do not always know what tools will be best for your classroom. Teachers can benefit from being independent of all that, by learning what free tools are out there, and understanding how technology works and how student learning is affected. Teachers know what is best for their own classroom and what will work for their students. We cannot always rely on our districts for technology support. In the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, here is part 4 of my series of Tips for Teacher Technology Independence:
As school districts cut costs, they may cut support for certain technology tools. This could come in different forms. Instructional technology specialists may be let go or never hired in the first place. Course management and digital media tools may be abandoned to save money. District technology trainings may become less frequent. If you find yourself in a similar situation, and you want to learn about using technology, take a look at the following suggestions.
What Teachers Can Do
Photo License: Some rights reserved by Joe Thorn
Try free apps that will extend the reach of your technology use.
If you have a smart phone or tablet, apps like Remote Mouse and Splashtop give you the ability to control your computer while circulating the classroom.
Evernote is one of the most popular notetaking and information management services available. And it is completely free. Students (and teachers) can use any device to take notes, save webpages, scan images and text, or draw visual notes, and organize them with virtual notebooks and tags. This is one of the most powerful tools on the internet and is just beginning to be used in schools.
Voicethread has a unique approach to online discussion that has become very popular in education. Create or import presentation slides into Voicethread and students will be able to comment at any point in the presentation through video, voice, text and drawing.
Padlet allows you to create a virtual wall where students can post notes, videos, images, or sounds using any device. This tool is free and simple to use. This can be used to display any type of work that students are doing.
Thinglink is similar to Padlet, but lets you take an image and insert pop up links to any other content on the web. This can be used by the teacher to create interactive images to explore, or for students to create projects display their research and understanding.
SoundCloud will allow students to record and post audio from a computer or mobile device. Then other students can enter comments throughout the recording. This can be used for podcasts or theatrical performances.
WeVideo is one of the best online video editors. Students can upload video from a camera or phone and edit in the cloud through a web browser. It does not require any installation on a computer and is simple to use.
Previous Posts in the Series
Tips for Teacher Technology Independence Part 1
Tips for Teacher Technology Independence Part 2
Tips for Teacher Technology Independence Part 3