My purpose here is to review three types of web sites, a social site, a creative site and a curation site. The first is the social site called Edmodo.
To give you an overview of the Edmodo site I would describe it as a place for teachers and students to go to that can help them organize their school work and to communicate with each other. Students and teachers can post questions and comments to one another. Teachers can connect with other teachers, exchanging ideas in different content areas. A digital content list is available with user comments and descriptions. It also features a planner, set up in calendar format. Users add content to the days or weeks and share it with other users to appear on their planner. It has a “Library” feature for teachers and a “Backpack” feature for students that are places to store documents and save links. They allow users to access their work from any device via the cloud. It has a quiz builder, an assignment maker, and an award system of badges.
Edmodo is a site that can enhance student learning in a few ways Teachers can easily create quizzes and assignments for students to use and it is all organized in one place for student and teacher use. It also connects to Google Docs so student projects can all be put into the student “Backpacks” or teacher “Library”. Students can collaborate with each other by sharing their work. The planner allows students to see their schedule to always know what is coming up to do.
Looking over the site further, I found that teachers use this site personally and with students. Reading through the blog and the comments it was evident they they use it to organize their work and any projects they have, to find resources they need for teaching content, and to create assignments and communicate with their students. Some specific comments referred to their being able to go paperless by using Edmodo, to stay in touch with students outside of class by receiving and answering student questions after school, saving time by creating and saving quizzes and by using it to co-teach by sharing all content online.
In a short time I was able to create a group for my second graders and add three of them to the group. I shared events on their planner for every day of the week and I awarded each of them a badge. In school, I will have the rest of the students join the group and we will play with this site more. I think they may come up with more useful ways for us to use this site to enhance our classroom learning experiences.
The next site I evaluated was the creative site called Voice Thread. This site allows users to create presentations that can embed video, images, documents and text with the additional feature of collaboration. The collaboration happens when the viewers comment on items in the presentation by typing text, using voice with webcams, audio files or recorded audio. This is a very useful presentation site to share reactions to the viewers and the creator. It is also used to conduct online courses in higher education.
Voice Thread enhances student learning because of its collaborative nature. The creator and presenter get feedback from the audience and can answer questions and elaborate their thoughts to the viewers. The interactive nature of this presentation tool allows higher level thinking and a richer learning experience for all involved. It enhances learning for online students because they can participate using voice to explain their thoughts and ask questions. A newer feature is video commenting that was added to include comments by sign language users.
Teachers use Voice Thread with their students to create digital stories, and to participate in presentations with members who are in different locations. One example of this was when three classes (kindergarten, second grade and fifth grade), in three different states, created a presentation together where one class wrote poems, another drew pictures to illustrate the poems and the third recorded music they played. Teachers also use this site with students to make book reviews to share with students who are trying to find new books to read. The site gives examples of new features for higher education such as, closed captions added to video files for hearing impaired users, instant notifications of comments being made and as a discussion board. Personally it is used to write, illustrate and share any ideas with others; to turn photos into shared slideshows, and to share video with others. It is used by many just to share and discuss topics when you can not be with someone live. One teacher explained that she was making a presentation out of state and she had her first grade students help her with the presentation via Voice Thread. There are many other examples on the site of how to use it. In fact there are several webinars and examples of it in use. It is for all grade levels and it is a valuable creation tool for in and out of the classroom.
The last site evaluated was a curation site called Scoop It. This site is an enhanced bookmarking site and reader. When you put in a topic of your choice, you are given a list of images, articles, or video on that topic to look at. If you choose to, you can “Scoop” any of them by dragging them onto a page to display, edit, share and use again. It is similar to creating a web page of your favorite resources on a given topic. It is a useful tool. It is easy to create a page. I created two. One of personal interest, wake boarding and one on a topic we are studying in school, North America. Now I have two separate pages created with a list of media to look at.. One word of caution was when I opened up a few of the articles and images, there were advertisements inappropriate for classroom viewing. Therefore, I would suggest using it to collect resources and to share with other teachers, or adults. I would not have elementary students use it to bookmark materials on.
There was a nice description included on the site of how to set up a page so it is appealing to the people you share it with. The writer offers help to people to create pages that would be the most useful to the creator and the viewers of it. She cautioned against using pictures from advertisements and from putting content on that was not truly of interest to you. Other users I found were using it to collect materials of all types of content area to use with their students.
This site would enhance student learning because it will help the classroom learning time be more valuable. If a teacher has created a page on Scoop It!, the material has been previewed and carefully chosen to be shared with the students. It also is at the teacher’s fingertips to share so precious teaching and learning time is spared from searching through bookmarks or doing web searches to find material. With older students it would be useful to give them practice looking through materials and finding ones that are particular to their agenda. It is also helpful for them to keep their resources organized when doing research projects.
Most educators are using this site to collect resources on topics that they are teaching their students, either to share with them or to present the materials to them. Educators are also using them to create their own libraries of materials organized by topics to share with other educators. In the same way it is used for personal use, to collect various web materials on personal topics of interest, to share with others, or to develop themselves professionally.
These are three very different, but very useful sites for teachers.