Friday, August 1, 2008

UCAT: Technology Tools for Enhanced Education

Thanks to all the Participants in today's Conference. It was a great pleasure to be there with you. I felt like I had to go so fast and didn't really get to delve into all the things I would have liked to. I decided to blog some of the points I didn't have time to talk about.

I mentioned in the presentation many of the personal productivity tools and ways they can be used. Windows Live and Google Tools are two fantastic online tools that allow you to maintain control of your busy life and schedule. One of the IT Guys from Salt Lake Tooele Applied Technology Center pointed out that while there is a modicum of security with these online tools it is very easy for malicious individuals to introduce malware, bad code, trojans and other security risks. Like all other online tools it is good practice to be cautious with what you do and be aware that there are risks.

Student Collaboration

The area I didn't get to spend much time on was how these tools can be used in student collaboration. I mentioned briefly that GoogleDocs is an online tool that you an use for yourself, but one application I thought of was with class presentations. Often we as educators ask students to create a class presentation regarding a relevant topic from our class. This is a good educational practice. Taking this a step further, with GoogleDocs, an educator could require that students develop a collaborative presentation and require that they work with a student from a different section or class. This would force students to use a new tool to collaborate. Also, if you are a collaborator on the document then you can review the revisions that each collaborator has made and get an idea of what amount of work each student has done. See the Google Video about GoogleDocs to get an idea of how this might work.

The second example of an effective collaboration tool is GoogleSites. This is a tool designed to be used by commercial entities and schools to develop websites. It allows a manager (the teacher) to set up a group of collaborators on a site. This could be used for students to create a website about different topics from your class.

Communication Tools for students

Another key element in our students online lives is the lively discussions they have. The video mentions that students spend 2 hours on their cell phone, a goodly portion of that is probably text messaging. Text conversations go back and for all day. As educators we can harness part of this through online discussion groups. GoogleGroups, is one tool that allows you to moderate discussion groups. Most Learning Management Systems such as WebCT Vista, Blackboard and Moodle will also allow this. Additionally, there are other free discussion group softwares available if you do a google search for them.

Thanks again for your attendance at the conference and feel free to contact me. My email is listed here or contact info can be found at


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