Digital education: It’s growing. It’s exploding. It’s the future of learning. But, what exactly is it and how can it help the classroom?
Here are several digital tools that can be great resources to help teachers and students create successful learning environments. Feel free to add to this post with digital tools you have used or heard of.
Electronic textbooks: Mainly used by college professors. These allow professors to digitally edit and change the information in textbooks. This helps professors create a textbook that is fully customized to each class. Also, they are much cheaper.
Moodle: A virtual learning environment for students. Some educators can use it to create online classes and educational discussions. It is a free, open-source software platform, meaning users can edit and upload their own content. Teachers can upload practice tests as well.
iMovie and other multimedia programs: Instead of writing the standard research report, students can create a video or photo collage for a project. Studies show students learn better by creating visual and digital projects. Also, some colleges are allowing students to submit a video application; rather than a standard essay.
Blackboard: An online program that allows teachers to upload class notes, syllabi, grades, assignments and other information. Students can also take practice tests on Blackboard. It is essentially an online database that can contain any information that a teacher feels is relevant to the class.
Web site templates: Google sites, Wix, Intuit and other sites allow people to build their own Web sites. These programs are very user-friendly and can be easily completed with minimal technology skills. This could be a great tool for both students and teachers. Students can create an online resume and portfolio, showcasing their work and strengths. Teachers can build a site for their class that can be more attractive and creative than the standard page Blackboard would allow. Most of these programs are free, and they offer many templates to choose from.
SMART Board: An interactive white board/computer projector screen with Internet input capabilities. Teachers and students can easily write and erase on the board, upload and project class notes or show Web sites, online videos or other educational materials from the Internet. Teachers can project digital textbooks to the class, large enough so every student can easily read them. There are other, similar digital projection screens.
Skype: This is an online, person-to-person video chat. Teachers and students can use this to easily bring guest speakers into the class or clubs without paying travelling expenses or taking up too much of the speakers’ time. Students can easily ask questions, and the speakers can respond instantly. Some foreign language teachers are using Skype to video chat with students of that native language. So, American students who are learning French can “Skype” with French-speaking people. C’est super!
YouTube: Many teachers are video taping their class lectures and uploading them to YouTube for free. This allows students to hear the lecture again or see it if they were absent. Students can even watch lectures from other professors or teachers at different schools. Also, YouTube offers many tutorials that could be helpful or beneficial.
Wikipedia: It is a free, online encyclopedia that is fueled from user-generated content. People can easily edit, change and create new posts. It is a quick and easy way to learn about nearly anything. However, some do not find Wikipedia to be a credible source.
Social networking sites: Twitter, Facebook, Ning, Blogspot, etc can all be used to create conversations and easily share educational information. These sites can create social atmospheres around a topic.
Google docs survey tool: As part of gmail’s google docs, this allows students or teachers to create a unique survey and send it out en-masse over the internet. It also automatically creates summary charts.
Online Blogs: Blogpost, LiveJournal, Blogger and others allow anyone to create an online blog. This can help students market themselves to college admission offices by showing strong writing skills and standing out from their peers. Teachers can blog about their topic of expertise and help educate more people than they teach. It’s a great way to get heard.
Leave a comment about all the other digital tools that have benefited you as a student, teacher or someone else involved in education!