Thursday, October 10, 2013

Jane Hart's Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013

Jane Hart recently released "The Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013." Hart has been accumulating and evaluating teaching tools for quite a few years now, so it's helpful both to observe the trends and to discover what's new and possible. Click through the slideshare she has provided.
My comments/observations on some of the items... (Links can be found on the slideshare unless otherwise included.) 

  • I have seen how Twitter can be helpful, but I just have not found it compelling to use very often.
  • Google Drive/Docs has become a very important tool in my teaching. We use Moodlerooms for our class management system, but for collaborative work, Google Docs still works best for me.
  • YouTube and PowerPoint: Until we're ready to step up considerably with our video production and hosting, I have found that for most of my online 'presentations,' what I've ended up doing is narrating/recording my PowerPoints. This internal PowerPoint feature became available in Office 2010 and generated huge WMV files. It is somewhat improved in Office 365 which generates MP4 files. The files are still quite large, so the best way to share them is to upload them to YouTube and then share a private YouTube link. (Note that you need to request a free educational YouTube account to upload large files.)
  • Dropbox: I use this as one of my cloud backup systems, but I've had much better experience with SugarSync. You get 5GB free instead of Dropbox's 2GB, and I find it easier to manage the folders that I sync. (Signing up with this link gets you and me an extra 500MB storage. Thanks!)
  • Facebook and Google+/Hangouts: I've been using it to set up private groups. Since most students are already on FB, it works pretty well. I'd like to move to Google+, and it has been helpful for more school business interaction rather than social. I also would like to use Hangouts more, but there is a lot of inertia with others about moving away from Skype.
  • LinkedIn: It still seems to me that people are afraid not to be on LinkedIn rather than finding it so great to be in it.
  • Prezi: It's not just a trendy alternative to PowerPoint. I have had some students do some really excellent presentations with it.
  • Feedly: With the demise of GoogleReader, I went to Feedly, and it's been fine.
  • Diigo: I use it, and I like it, but it's hard getting my students to use it. It really is a great way to share links and information.
  • Jing, Camtasia, Snagit...: I have a very old version of Camtasia that is still helpful, but for easy and free screen video capture, I have my students use Jing. For screen captures, a really outstanding free and open source program I highly recommend is Greenshot. It has a variety of capture options, a handy editor for quick annotating of the capture, and a variety of save and share options. If you've read this far, learning about Greenshot is the payoff!
  • Voicethread: I keep suggesting that my students try it to illustrate a biblical narrative...
  • Adobe Photoshop and other photography stuff: For the photographs I've taken in Israel/Jordan/Palestine/Turkey/Greece, I primarily use Lightroom. It's great. If I need to do more elaborate touchup, I use Photoshop Elements which is more than enough for me. For a free but still quite robust alternative that I regularly use for quick viewing and touchup, I use Faststone Image Viewer. For sharing photos online, I can use Lightroom to create an attractive viewer on my own server, or I send photos to SugarSync if I want to share and make them easily downloadable, or I send them to Flickr (which has really improved) or to my Google+ since it's so well connected with my smartphone.
  • SurveyMonkey: A great way to make quick surveys for my classes. The seminary got a commercial license, and it is now what we use for all our course evaluations.
  • Google Maps and Google Earth: I recently blogged about these and clicking on the links will bring you to the posts with exercises showing ways to use these resources for biblical geography.
  • I mentioned it last year, and I'll mention it again. The really significant omission on the list is Zotero. I have come to use this nearly daily as a way to organize books, articles, PDFs, and web pages I come across. It's such an outstanding bibliographic tool. I did buy the Scanner for Zotero app for my smartphone, so I'm prepared for Society of Biblical Literature meeting this year. Zotero also allows for collaboration with the sharing of libraries, so it's one way I share my bibliographies with my students and allow them to add to it. (There are Zotero mobile apps for other platforms too.)

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