Web 2.0 Tools for Teaching and Learning

As I have signed up for several Coursera MOOCs, I now benefit from getting advance notice of MOOCs being offered in my areas of previously indicated interest. A few weeks back I was made aware of a MOOC being offered by the University of Houston, Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning: Web 2.0 Tools. I’m not in it for certification, so I find MOOCs can be a quick and easy way to review concepts, learn new material, and find out about useful resources.

Screen shot from Coursera MOOC Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning: Web 2.0 Tools with title laid over small images of app logos.Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning: Web 2.0 Tools is in week three of a five week course, but it’s not too late to sign up if you want to avail yourself of some new ideas and resources. I like the weekly format: there are three short (5-6 minute) videos on a topic (so far, communication, collaboration, and creativity; coming up will be utilizing your toolbox and lifelong learning), three 4-5 minute scenarios, and three examples of tools or applications to try out. The range is broad, covering K-Higher Ed, so some of the material may not be relevant to your use.

The key takeaway for me has been in the area of how to decide on which application or tool to use.  This was addressed in one of the introductory videos, So Many Tools… So Little Time. In the video we are told to think of using new teaching and learning tools as acquiring new skills. It’s important to pick the right tool for your task. You should have a reason (need) to use a tool and seek help in finding the best tool for your need. Turn to your colleagues and institutional experts, especially instructional support staff if available. Practice using the tool before unleashing it on your students. Understand that your skill (and your students’) will improve with use. Evaluate how the tool is serving your need.

Another thing to keep in mind is that applications that are web or cloud-based and not licensed by your institution may not have guaranteed sustainability. If you are thinking of adopting a tool for use over a longer period of time, you should research the history of the company to determine likely longevity, updating, and maintenance of your account. Google applications are more likely to be around in a year than an app that a couple of high school students have put together as a fun project. Also make sure that you keep local copies of your content in case the application does disappear. Check to see if there are ways to download or export your content after you or your class have completed the project.

If signing up for the MOOC does not appeal, you can skip straight to the University of Houston’s College of Education website Laboratory for Innovative Technology in Education where tools are listed by type. Scroll down to 21st Century Tools to see the categories.

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Macie Hall, Senior Instructional Designer
Center for Educational Resources

Image Source: Screenshot of https://class.coursera.org/newtechtools-002/wiki/GettingStarted

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