Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Gadgets or tools?

How many times are we teachers annoyed by students using their "smart" phone, tablet, laptop, or any other electronic gadget in class? We tend to have fairly strict rules related to their use during class and in most cases I find it possible to control. But the question is: Are we taking advantage of these gadgets? Can we transform them into tools that can enhance learning?
Much ink and recycled electrons have been used talking about this issue but it seems to me that more is necessary. So I'll share a coupe of ideas that I have toying with.
One is to develop an app for my class. This app will allow them to connect to my class using their smartphone where ever they are and when ever they want to learn. They can have access to files like power point presentation shared in class, or to videos uploaded to Vimeo or YouTube explaining concepts and providing content for the class. These videos can be the ones I am producing myself or they can be those provided by others in YouTube, TED talks or Khan Academy.
The other is enhance communication using all means available. We already have and use a "Moodle" site as a course management system, where information about the course is centralized. Students have continuous access to the syllabus, and to other materials. Students have access to chat rooms, forums, and other platforms for peer interaction and discussion, of course also a way to get help from me. WE also have a FB page for studying chemistry, a Padlet Wall for announcements and other information that might be relevant to their motivation, a Google+ group for us to have video conferences through a "hangout". Finally I just want to share the QR for my webpage.
What other tools do you use in class?

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