Friday, January 22, 2010

Are you a Tech-Savvy Teacher?

Have you ever been asked if you are a tech-savvy teacher? Probably not. Have you ever wondered to yourself if you are a tech-savvy teacher? If you answered 'yes' then this link I am providing below was meant for you. In November 2009, Staff at Rasmussen College in the United States have compiled what they believe are the Top 100 Apps (50 for the Web and 50 for the iPhone) for Tech-Savvy Teachers. After looking it over, I must say it is a pretty good list.

I consider myself a Tech-Savvy Teacher and I have used some of the applications on this list. My top four favourites from this top 100 list are:Tech-Savvy Teacher in Action!
  1. Flickr: I've used it as a graphics repository for classes. I also routinely use it to obtain Creative Commons licenced graphics for use on this blog and in my powerpoint slides.

  2. TeacherTube: Not all the great educational videos are found on YouTube. Always check TeacherTube out as well.

  3. Wikipedia: I can't say enough about it. If you are a Wikipedia-lover then you know where I am coming from. If you are a Wikipedia-hater then I give the following challenge to you: if you find an article on Wikipedia on a topic related to your subject matter expertise and you feel the article is innacurate then PLEASE take the time to fix it. YES! *YOU* can fix Wikipedia. Stop hating Wikipedia and start fixing it instead. Your children will thank you for this when they grow up.

  4. Facebook. If you are a teacher and you are not on Facebook then you are out of the loop. Get into Facebook if you want to be Tech-Savvy and you want to learn how your students use digital communication. Let your students contact you on Facebook mail or chat with you using instant messages on Facebook chat. You'll be amazed at how many quick questions can can answer for them in an evening. This definitely promotes their learning!

Every Tech-Savvy Teacher will have applications that they love that are not on this Top 100 List. So my Top 4 favourites that are NOT on this Top 100 list are:
  1. Blogger: I've been writing this blog, eLearning Acupuncture, using Blogger since 2004. It's a great blogging tool that's easy to use and stable.

  2. Twitter: I have learned so much by watching other people's Twitter post on the subject of Educational Technology. If you want to be Tech-Savvy get into Twitter.

  3. Delicious: It organizes all your Internet bookmarks (you can check mine out here) and it serves as a sharing tool for information on the web. I love looking at what web pages people in the field of Educational Technology are bookmarking. I have found some hidden gems this way.

  4. PollEverywhere: If you are doing presentations and you want to engage the crowd with a 'clicker question' then get them to use their personal cell phones or laptops to participate on the fly. Fantastic tool that has wow-factor every time.

I could go on and on but I promissed myself I would stop at my Top 4 (*smile*)

Are you a Tech Savvy Teacher? What are some of your favourite apps? Leave your ideas in a comment below.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do *more* with clickers to engage students

It’s the beginning of term and I am planning against to use an audience response system in my class (i.e. clickers). If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I like to use the student’s own cellphones as their clickers (see here). They love it!

My twitter feed has brought me a few good tips and tricks about best practices for writing clicker questions, most of them from Derek Buff. He’s the author of Teaching with Classroom Response Systems: Creating Active Learning Environments. He recently wrote two good blog posts on the subject. The first is a collection of resources from others and the second is a synthesis of Derek’s own 9 best practices for writing clicker questions.

I’ve got another ‘potential’ best practice that I am trying out this term. I am offering bonus marks to my students to formulate a clicker question for me. What I ask them to do is to formulate a potential clicker question for me when they are doing their readings for the week and then to post their suggested question to a public discussion forum on the class website. I explicitly ask them not to divulge the answer in their posting. Every student who submits a question will earn 0.2 bonus marks that week. I will then select one (or more) of the student submissions and use it in class. If I use a student’s question in class, they will get triple the bonus marks for that week!!! I will run this bonus mark program for 12 weeks so each student has a potential of 2.4% bonus (or more if any of their questions are selected for use in class).

I feel this activity gives students a lot of incentives to promote their learning in a positive environment:
  1. It gives students yet another incentive to do their readings before they come to class.

  2. It builds a question bank of multiple choice questions on the class website which could serve as a useful study-tool for test preparation.

  3. It engages the student. It gives them a feeling that they are contributing to the classroom learning community.

  4. It shows students that the instructor values their contribution to the class - especially when student authored questions are formally used in class.
What do you think about my ‘potential’ best practice in using clickers in class? Do you have one of your own? Please leave a comment below.