In the lecture of last week we were looking at the possibilities of using technology in education and we were trying some technology ourselves. At first we looked at one of the newest events in the technology world: QR-codes. Some QR-codes were hanging in the classroom and it was nice to see that this kind of technology can be used in education as well.
After this, we got the assignment to play in groups of three with different tools available at http://cooltoolsforschools.com. At this website there are all kinds of different tools which can be used straight away; examples are tools for making slideshows, videos and music. We choose to look at the drawing tools. Each person had to look at one specific tool, try to find out how it works and try to imagine how it could be used in the educational setting. Since we had just one laptop with us, we looked with the three of us at the next drawing tools: ‘Google sketch-up’, ‘Word-it-out’ and ‘Floor planner’. All of us already knew ‘Google sketch-up’ a bit. It is a program in which you can build buildings and put all kinds of furniture in it. You even have the possibility to look up your own furniture on Google and then download it and place it in your floor map. In this way you can make a nice floor map of your own house. Weaknesses are that you need to practice before you can really do a lot and that for example making a selection can be difficult sometimes. I had never before thought of the idea to use this program in education, but actually I think there are a lot of possibilities for use in schools. The next program ‘Word it out’ is a program in which you can make word clouds. So you put in some sentences and then the program makes a word cloud like shown in the picture beneath. It is a nice way of presentation so at school it could be used by learners for making a front page or picture.
The last program we took a look at is Floor Planner (underneath a picture of the interface of floor planner is shown). This program looks a lot like Google Sketch up, but it is more easy to use and you can chose to have a 2D and 3D view. You can make floor designs and you also have a lot of possibilities to decorate your home. The map you create looks really nice. You can choose nice cars to put in the garage. A weakness of the program is that you can give the furniture abnormally seizes. For educational purposes it can be used to learn students to draw floor maps, to improve spatial awareness and learn them about dimensions.
By doing this exercise I discovered that there are a lot of different drawing tools which can be very useful and helpful in education. And moreover, those tools are not that hard to work with. This makes it possible for teachers to use it in education.
One of the other groups got the assignment to go outside and play the game ‘Seek ‘n Spell’ by using mobile phones. They had to go to different places to gather letters and create words with these letters. The person who has got the most words at the end becomes the winner. It was very interesting and nice to see that you can do learning activities by using the newest technologies. I think a lot of students would be really enthusiastic to join an activity like this.
Other groups had taken a look at slideshow tools, quiz and poll tools and file and storage tools. It was very interesting to see what kind of different tools are available and in what way you can use them in education. Also drop box was discussed. I use drop box mostly to share pictures with friends but realize now that it has also a lot of possibilities for education.
To conclude I would like to say that this site can really show people that it is not that hard to use technology in education. A lot of teachers do not know how to use technology in education or where to find suitable technology for education. That is why a lot of teachers stick to the old ways of teaching. This is really a pity since using new and different technologies can be a good way of motivating students. This website is a good example of how easy it can be to use technology in education. Most of these tools are easily accessible, they are free to use and also easy to work with. So teachers: just go for it!