Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's in a Tool?

Tonight's the first night of a ten week course I'm teaching on social tech and education at Johns Hopkins.

Here's a question directed to the folks out there using social tech in the classroom on a regular if not daily basis: if you were teaching the course, what are a few Web tools you'd insist that every new teacher learn about in grad school?

And the classic part two: Why? What is it about these tools that makes understanding them so essential to teaching in the digital age?

Comment away, I'm looking forward to reading your ideas, sharing them, and debating them with my students.


  1. I believe that the first tools to learn are those which will enable them, as educators, to find information and to build their diverse world views. So they need to truly learn to use Google - not just putting a word in, but understanding how changing order and tense changes searches, and they need to know Google Scholar, and the news and blog searches.

    Then they need to understand Twitter and other instant communication tools. Really use it - how to build their own global network.

    And then they must learn to communicate. To be comfortable communicating on blogs, Twitter, news sites. Communicating confidently, creatively, courageously, and standing behind their own public words.

    Of course after that I need them to learn accessibility stuff, so they can bring all students in, but first they need to know how to engage their world.

    Ira Socol

  2. Twitter for professional/personal learning network, RSS feed aggregators (Google, NetVibes, etc.) for managing info and learning, then for classroom use with kids - blogs (edublogs!), and wikis (wikispaces), because it gives them spaces to learn to collaborate, to publish authentic products and writing, and learn to communicate with others...

  3. i tell my math students that they now get to pick their groups and their text book. (typically the 2 things they struggle with)

    their group - prof learning network formed via their own passion from people all over the world

    their text - created/edited daily via - twitter (search engine) and diigo (bookmarking on steriods - w. richardson)

    the web offers differentiation that is vastly needed and never before existed in the classroom.


  4. I would say that they need to understand how to use the technologies that they know now in a classroom. New teachers use these technologies in their lives and now they need to know how to apply it to a school situation.

    They should know how to find more information about these technologies, like this blog, and others.

    They should at least know about Google's apps for education (my favorite apps).

    Teach them how to learn about new technologies and how to find ideas on how to use them in class. Show them 10-15 top technologies so that they have a starting point, and then let them try things out.

  5. They need to know how to keep all of the info organized. Give them the tools to collect, organize and distribute information. The details will fall into place from there.

  6. Diigo!! Then I think they need to explore Twitter, Nings, FB, LinkedIn. They should be active socially, but realize that not every tool suits every person.

    And truly realize that they are constantly building an online persona that will follow them for a long time to come.


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