Posts Tagged ‘classroom’

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I have made numerous presentations on the free technology tools for teachers in the past MECA conferences and have always received very positive comments from the audience. Because of the great success I had in the past, I gave another presentation this year which was somewhat similar with what I presented in previous years. However, my presentation this year focuses on 10 selective essential online tools that I believe are powerful as well as valuable to teachers and students. Below is the presentation I recently delivered at the 2011 MECA Conference on February 8, 2001 in Jackson, Mississippi. Please feel free to make comments or recommend your free online tools. Thanks.



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Diigo is a social bookmarking tool that allows teachers and students to save websites into a public or private library, share them with others in your network, highlight any part of a webpage and attach sticky notes to specific highlights or to a whole page. The annotations can be kept private, shared with a group within Diigo or a special link forwarded to others.

Diigo provides rich tagging capability as well as folders for better information organization, and group annotation for better collaboration. Diigo allows students to search the full-text of a teacher’s collections, or just within a teacher’s highlights. Also, Diigo allows teachers to highlight critical features within text and images and write comments directly on the web pages, to collect and organize series of web pages and web sites into coherent and thematic sets, and to facilitate online conversations within the context of the materials themselves.  Furthermore, teachers can create a free teacher account through which they can create student accounts.  Diigo’s student accounts require no email address, can be kept private, and can also be grouped so that students can share resources they find with each other. Diigo is more than just a social bookmarking tool.  It is a powerful research tool and a knowledge sharing community for teachers and students.

The following presentation was recently delivered at the 2011 Mississippi Educational Computing Association (MECA) Conference in Jackson, Mississippi on February 8, 2011.  Please feel free to provide comments and suggestions.  Thanks.


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Microsoft offers the following free tools to help engage students in a variety of subject areas—from art to music to science and beyond. Teachers can use these interactive tools to encourage self-directed learning or to create fun, dynamic group projects.

  • AutoCollage: Have students gather images from the Web or snap their own photos on a subject. Then, they can create a unique piece of art using this free collage-making tool.
  • WorldWide Telescope: This free tool brings together imagery from the world’s best ground and space-based telescopes. Students can explore the night sky by panning and zooming to distant planets and galaxies.
  • Microsoft Photosynth: Students can explore famous places in the world with cinematic quality using this virtual, visual three-dimensional tour.
  • Songsmith: Bring out the musical creativity in your students. Choose a style—from pop to jazz or R&B. Have a student sing into a PC microphone, and Songsmith will generate musical accompaniment to match his or her voice.
  • Windows Live Movie Maker: Make your classroom lessons even more memorable with a movie. Windows Live Movie Maker is the fast, easy way to turn photos and video clips into great-looking movies and slide shows you can share in class or on the Web.
  • Photo Story 3 for Windows XP: Bring a subject to life with music and pictures. This free, downloadable program has tools to enhance, crop, and rotate your digital photos. Students and teachers can easily create a slide show with just a few clicks.
  • Bing Search and Bing Maps: The visual aspect of Bing makes searching the Internet a more captivating and rewarding experience for students. Bing Maps offer breathtaking, bird’s eye views of the world that can enhance any project.
  • Bing Translator: This helpful tool easily converts what you have written into nearly any language you need.
  • Mouse Mischief: Integrate multiple choice, polling and true/false questions into your lessons with this free add-in for PowerPoint 2007 and PowerPoint 2010 that lets students use mice to answer.
  • Windows Live SkyDrive: Gain access to 25 gigabytes (GB) of free, online storage. Use it for a student or teacher workgroup to upload and share documents in one central place, rather than trying to track them in e-mails. Store your photos and files, and access them with a password.

To learn more about the creative ways of using these Microsoft’s free tools to engage your students, you can download the Creative ways to engage students (pdf file, 3.5 MB) here.

Free Tools for Teachers

Engaging Students in the Classroom

Songsmith in the Classroom

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Augmented reality (AR) is an emerging form of experience in which the real world is enhanced by computer-generated content specific to a location and to an activity.  Today, AR applications have become portable and available on mobile devices.  AR is beginning to change news, entertainment, sports, e-commerce, travel, museums, architecture, and marketing in tangible, exciting ways.  In education and training, AR has the potential to make ubiquitous learning a reality, allowing learners to gain immediate access to a wide range of location-specific information from various sources.  The 2010 Horizon Report predicts that the use of simple AR in education will be widespread within 2 to 3 years on U.S. college campuses.

Although AR is not new, it is still in infancy especially applying in education.  As an educator, I think AR has great potentials in teaching and learning. We should examine the impact of AR on society, evaluate the implications of AR for education, and explore the integration of AR applications into teaching and learning environments.  To learn more about AR and its potentials and future in teaching and learning, I recommend the following videos.

Augmented Reality – Explained by Common Craft (Free Version)

Augmented Reality in the Classroom

Augmented Reality in the Classroom (2010 NMC Symposium)

Augmented Reality Encyclopedia

Augmented reality – Education

Augmented Reality – The Future of Education ( Ara Pacis ) – HD version

insideAR – The Future of Augmented Reality

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The phenomenon growth of social networking services/sites (SNSs) in recent years speaks to one of the defining features of Web 2.0 – the social web.  Today, social networking is very popular and digital native students already found social networking services integral to their daily life.  Many recent studies including my previous study indicate that social networking could be used in education to enhance students’ learning experiences and promote classroom communities of practice.

Approximately a year ago, Dr. Hsiu-Ting Hung and I conducted an exploratory study on the use of social networking technology to facilitate teaching and learning in the college classroom.  Our study set out to examine three regularly-scheduled courses at two public universities in Taiwan. Adopting the situated learning theory as the conceptual framework, our study attempted to answer two research questions: (1) What are students’ experiences with and views on the use of social networking sites in the courses under investigation? (2) What is the impact of using social networking sites to supplement face-to-face courses on students’ perceived sense of classroom community?

The findings of this study were presented at the 2010 SITE (Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education) International Conference in San Diego last week.   Overall, the results indicated that the majority of the students held positive attitudes towards the use of class social networks as a means to strengthen their connectedness among class members. Social networking in the observed classrooms was found helpful for promoting classroom communities of practice.  For more information about our study, please view the presentation shown below.  We welcome comments and suggestions.  Thanks.

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