A learning tool is defined as any software of online tool or service that you use either for your own personal or professional learning, for teaching or training or for creating e-learning. With that definition I was surprised to find that Twitter was the number one Learning Tool, and has been for the past five years. I didn't even know Twitter had been around that long!!! I am shocked; I thought Twitter was perhaps two years old!!! I was surprised that social network only occupies 3 out of the top 10 spots, and that there are two file storage tools in the top ten. Another surprising thing is I have actually heard of half of the top 20 learning tools listed in the article. That is amazing to me. Sadly, however, I haven't heard of much more than that. A few here and there as the list went on, a couple from being in this class, but most of them were not even remotely familiar to me! The fact that shocked me the most is the fact that You Tube was number 3 overall. I go to You Tube to learn about anything and everything. My five children use You Tube for much more than I do when it comes to the "How To" department. So I am most shocked that You Tube was not the number one Learning Tool on this list! It just goes to show that I have a lot to learn when it comes to learning tools on the web!
There are a lot of neat 2.0 Tools available on the web. I found two that I really liked. Pandanian is so simple and it is free! It is a tool that allows you to create an e-book. You can easily copy and paste images as you create the book page by page. With five children and a ton of photos, I can easily create books for each of my children. Slide.ly is another favorite of mine from the list. It allows you to search for photos online or use your own and combine them with music to create musical video-like slideshows. Again, this is something that appeals to me for my personal life, but it is very cool and something that I would like to try. One of the 2.0 Tools that I found that will be more of a benefit to students is one called, "In Focus" It allows you to highlight a section of any webpage and then provides you with a unique URL address that links to what you've highlighted on the page. Introducing this to my students could be beneficial to them in research they do or in studying for different subject matters.
How the internet is revolutionizing education (infographic) URL was a most interesting read. It is amazing to think that therea re currently 3 million online-only students in the U.S. and that is more than the total number of college students in France. To me that is mind boggling! To see what the Khan Academy, University of Phoenix, and the Open University in the UK have accomplished is mind boggling as well! In 1989 the University of Phoenix had only 12 students and now it is the largest university in the U.S. with more than 500,000 students! The internet is definitely changing the way we learn. Higher education can be attained by all as anyone with an internet connection can educate themselves.
There are so many Online Productivity Tools available to users today. I was most surprised with the number of to do list sites available! Nineteen total! I found the to do list "Remember The Milk" the most user friendly out of the ones I perused. I was interested in the personal organizers because it sounded like something useful for me with all of the calendars it provides as well as the to do lists I was interested in and the added bonus of a time management software app. Backpack was the one I went with, but Backpack is no longer taking new customers. It did give me a link to Basecamp which "does most of what Backpack does and more". I didn't find it to really be a personal organizer as it was more business oriented. That was a bummer because I was very interested in what it could do for me! eyeOS allows you to access a modern desktop from any device (PC, tablet, phone). You can create groups, projects, sharing files, and calendars. It also allows you to synchronize files between your private cloud and your computer. You can work online or offline and eyeSync will keep everything updated. The Online Productivity Tools were interesting to look at and something I will consider for use in the near future.
I have learned so much about technology in such a short time. I am not technologically inclined to say the least. I got behind in this class in the first week because I failed to scroll down.....that's when you know your skills are lacking! I have already learned a number of things that I can and will use moving forward in my career. The Facebook Fan page allowed me to create a page I can direct my students to. I have not directed them there yet, but I will be updating it for use beginning in September of this year. They say you have to go where the people are and having just created my own Facebook for the first time I was amazed at the number of friend requests I received in a matter of minutes! It is obvious Facebook is where the people are, especially our students. My personal web page will allow me to track my achievements and accomplishments as I go forward in my career. I see it as a virtual means of promoting myself should the need arise for new employment or perhaps a part-time teaching or coaching position in addition to my current one. I also see podcasting as way of communicating with students. I am looking into ways of implementing them into my curriculum. I also envision it being used with a substitute. I could record a message to my students that might include reminders on behavior or perhaps even a prompt for a written entry in their portfolio. This will be explored and most definitely implemented in the future. Finally, PLN allowed me to create a site where I can get updates from my most frequently visited sites all in one location. It has drastically reduced the amount of time I am surfing the web! I am so excited about all that I have learned in such a short period of time!
Using podcasts in education is an opportunity to reach the auditory learners who thrive through listening. For the auditory learners written information usually has little meaning to them until they hear it spoken. Podcasting is being adopted by more and more universities. This is evidenced in the article (Doug Hoagland/The Fresno Bee) about Fresno State instructors who are recording lectures so students can listen to them later on computers and iPods. Some instructors see this as a way to enable students to miss class, but others see it as a fair and reasonable means for conducting class and maximizing the learning opportunities of all students. The realization that students are more wired than ever before has to be recognized by all instructors. The more we permeate into the comfort zones of our students, the more we are going to reach them. Allowing students to access learning material at their leisure provides them with a more active role in the learning process. Students should be allowed the opportunity to use the devices that are innate to them; that they are comfortable with. We as educators must cater to our students, and if that means becoming more familiar and comfortable with technology then that is what we must do!
The use of social networking in undergraduate learning can be beneficial to supporting social learning and student centered learning. It is definitely a tool to help keep students engaged in the lessons so long as they don't become distracted by all that is available to them with their personal networking. Social networking is a definite means to enriching current classroom instruction and existing curriculum. Social networking can help build a sense of community within a learning environment. I am feeling this in just the two weeks of being a part of this cohort. I don't personally know any of the people in my cohort, yet I feel a sense of community. I am reading about them and their thoughts and experiences through social networking and I feel a sense of belonging. Students entering college and even graduate school are technology natives and for them it would probably be foreign no to have social networking a part of their classes. My students are used to checking the class website in order to plan for instruction, testing, and their current grade. I don't necessarily use social media, but they do email me and I do post on the class website daily.