This past spring, I completed my first online course with Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt. Before then, I had very little experience with technology and online tools used for learning. Google and Facebook were pretty much the only reasons I relied on the internet. However, with help from Alec, Katia and my classmates, my experience with using technology has drastically improved. In fact, I am still discovering new ways to use online learning tools that are engaging and beneficial. Last semester, I was exposed to the Blogging process for the first time. I was also introduced to Zoom, Twitter and Google+. Luckily, these are the same online learning tools we are currently using in EC&I 833. However, I have also discovered new tools which prove to be user friendly and are appealing to both teachers and students.
I truly enjoy using WordPress and find the blogging process quite simple and fun. Blogging allows people to demonstrate their understanding of content as well as share their thoughts and opinions about particular things. Furthermore, blogging has played a major role in education. It is used within the high school and university level and provides an effective way of sharing information and discussions. Blogging presents people with the opportunity to become storytellers in a creative yet professional manner. The most attractive feature about writing a blog post is the ability to include additional research as well as media sources within your writing. By doing this, you are demonstrating a deeper level of understanding as well as providing insight to support both your thinking and learning. Blogging is definitely an online tool I would use if I taught an online class. It presents an effective way of displaying information and allows the students to keep track of their learning as each post is automatically saved and easy to retrieve.
Twitter is another online tool which I have found to be effective. At first, the “tweeting” process seemed difficult to do. Turns out, it is simple and very engaging. I enjoy following my classmates, instructors, co-workers and other people within my profession and appreciate the information they tweet. Twitter allows people to share information, take part in discussions, collaborate ideas and is a productive tool for building your PLN. Twitter is not an online tool I’d like to specifically use within my classroom as my students are too young to benefit from it. However, if I taught an online course to adults I would definitely recommend using this tool. Some instructors may view Twitter as ineffective when it comes to the evaluation process, yet it still remains an effective tool for a person to grow professionally.
Zoom is an online tool which I am now familiar with as I have had the opportunity to use it within both of my online courses. I find Zoom to be a beneficial tool as it allows people to connect visually and learn together in a small or large group setting. While using Zoom, a sense of community exists and I appreciate this aspect. People logged into Zoom are presented with the opportunity to listen and share information. I also find the chat to be a wonderful feature of Zoom as many people are not comfortable sharing aloud, therefore they can share information in the chat and still remain an active member of the community. If I taught an online course, I would definitely use Zoom as an online tool as it user friendly and affordable. Moreover, evaluating student learning may be evident as the instructor is able to see, hear, and read topic information being shared.
Google+ is definitely one of my favorite online tools. This tool has many positive features which may be used within the work place or for school. I rely on Google+ to communicate information and keep me up to date within my professional practice and my educational network. Google+ is great for collaboration, sharing and storing information and projects, keeping track of information and deadlines, as well as organizing student work. Many teachers can benefit from using Google+ as it saves content automatically and provides storage space. Google+ is a tool I’d use if I taught an online course as it offers a sense of community for my students and would allow them to communicate questions or concerns.
Screencast-O-Matic is an online tool that I have recently learned to use. I found this tool to be user friendly as well as beneficial in terms of sharing information. It is a recording software program that can assist people who are not comfortable verbalizing within a public setting. Instead, this recording program can provide people with the confidence they need to share information while presenting visual media sources. As I learned from my group’s presentation, Screencast-O-Matic is also effective for managing time.
Overall, there are many online tools that are engaging and contribute different learning experiences. However, it is important to consider whether or not the tools you decide to use are beneficial to the task at hand. Before taking online courses, I always considered myself to be a “hands on” learner or at least needed to be within a classroom setting in order to comprehend information. I soon realized that I can learn in any setting really, just as long as I am engaged. But I supposed it depends on the person as not everyone obtains information the same. For some, face-to-face interaction provides a better learning experience as having a teacher present provides comfort and peace of mind in terms of being able to ask questions and gain a better understanding about assignments or projects. However, I have found the online experience to be just as helpful as when I have questions or concerns, I am able to contact my instructor or post questions on Google+ and receive assistance from my classmates. Although there may not be an immediate response, I have never had to wait long before someone does respond. In terms of people’s schedules, sometimes online courses are convenient and allows people to learn at their own pace and on their own time. Therefore, I suppose there are both pros and cons to online interaction. What online tools do you use? In your experience, which tools have you found to be effective?