One of my favorite podcasts, Mac Power Users, has a host (Katie Floyd) who is going back to school. They asked students about what educational technology they are embracing and received plenty of input.
Now they are reaching out to educators to find out what we are using.
To Katie and David,
Here's my top ten list of educational technology tools, along with some explanations of why they top my list.
A student has a question. I fire up Tapes and record my voice, as I show them how to accomplish whatever task they were asking about. I also use it to give them feedback on papers, presentations, and other assignments.
The big drawback to Tapes is that there's a monthly limit to how many minutes you can use of their service. There is no mention of this when you go to purchase the app and it is buried in their website so far that I only found it well after buying the app and experiencing discontent.
The developers were receptive to feedback about how to make their service better (the easy fix would seem to be to have a paid plan for those users who require more minutes than what their pricing model supports), but they have yet to make any changes that I'm aware of on either their up-front messaging, or their addition of other alternatives for acquiring more minutes.
This is a freemium references manager and citation tool. You use their iTunes-like interface to store all of your various sources. When you're viewing a book, article, or other source on the internet, most of them can be added with just one click on your browser address bar.
Then, when you're in Microsoft Word, you can easily cite all the sources as you write. Finally, the most impressive part of Zotero is when with one click of your mouse, it auto-creates a list of references for you. If you change your mind later about what style you want to write in (APA format, versus Chicago, for example), with a couple of clicks you can switch everything over to a different format.
8. Ellen Degeneres' HeadsUp App
Most people probably know HeadsUp game as a fun trivia game with various decks of cards that have you guess what word is being displayed above your head, using clues given to you by the other people playing the game. It is quite fun.
Even more fun is paying .99 for a custom deck of cards and building it into a review of key terms and concepts from a class. My students enjoy competing with each other to see who can guess the most words and the result is often quite hysterical.
For those particularly memorable moments, the app films the audience while they are trying to help the person guess the word. These videos can be saved to your device, or shared on social networks.
The PollEverywhere service brings quizzing and other interactions into the classroom via text messages or smart phones. The professor puts a question up on the projector and students can respond to the either multiple choice or open-ended questions.
The free service allows for classes of up to 40 people to respond to polls. The paid service (which can be paid for either by the students, or by the institution) offers a host of other features, such as the ability to identify respondents, take attendance, and divide the class up into teams.
I'm only skimming the surface. PollEverywhere is essential in any higher ed classroom.
Anyone in the teaching profession is going to relate well to all the possible ways that we might be hit with incoming items. David Allen has a fabulous graphic where he shows all the possible ways that things come at us, in today's age.
Where we used to have one physical in box and one mail box at the end of our drive-way at home, we now have electronic files coming at us via email, our campus' LMS, not to mention students who Tweet, Facebook, and even instagram us.
After a class, I can have a hard time packing up all my stuff to get to my next class, while simultaneously attending to students' needs. Drafts helps me quickly capture ideas, student requests and other things that come to mind during the day.
Then, I can process drafts at the end of the day and get the various things into their proper place (whether that be a task manager, email, class planning software, or calendar).
This is what I use to schedule appointments with students. I let TimeTrade know what blocks of time to have listed as available to students. Then, if a student schedules something with me, or if I schedule an appointment on my calendar at that time, it no longer shows it as available to students.
I have had some issues with TimeTrade during the course of time that I've used it. My husband and I allow each other to view each other's calendars on iCal/Calendar. That makes TimeTrade not allow us to schedule appointments with each other. Well, actually, we can schedule them, but then they don't show up on the other person's calendar.
Lately, it has also been randomly canceling appointments on students, but only after we have met.
Overall, I recommend TimeTrade. But, if I ever found a less buggy alternative with the same features, I would be there in a heartbeat.
I've written previously about this app. Takes attendance. Lets me randomly call on students. Helps me learn students' names. Import options from Dropbox (including student photos). All around terrific app to have as a professor…
School teachers often use a paper class planning book. Now, K-12 and higher ed educators have the option of going digital with our class plans using PlanBook. I have all my lessons in PlanBook, which also has a free option to create a web-based version of my class plans, so students can see what we did, if they had to miss a day or want to revisit the resources I used.
When a new semester rolls around, creating a new schedules is as easy as telling it when the new semester starts, what days are holidays, and moving the occasional lesson plan around.
The iAnnotate app lets me “write on” students' papers, add text, and add voice comments to give students the rich feedback they deserve on their assignments.
Used in conjunction with my JotPro stylus, iAnnotate lets me feel like I get to take advantage of the analog and digital worlds all in one app. It integrates with DropBox, too, so getting assignment feedback returned to students is incredibly easy.
1. LiveScribe 3 smart pen
We are discovering more and more just how important it is to have visual thinking competencies as educators. The LiveScribe 3 pen lets me give mini lectures to my students, which are accompanied by me drawing simple illustrations that help the students remember the concepts.
When I say simple, I mean simple. I draw like a six year-old. It doesn't matter, either. The students still tell me that what helps them succeed more than any other technique I use in my classes are the pencasts that they are assigned.
I require them to draw along with me, as they watch the pencasts, making it that much more likely that they'll retain the information.
It was hard to stop once I got to ten.
Here are some others that could easily have made the cut: