Last week I was researching web design best practices for my middle school tech class’ unit on HTML and web page design. There are a ton of resources – but few that give a concise and comprehensive summary in a format appropriate for my students. Therefore, I had to clip one or two main ideas from at least a dozen different pages. I wouldn’t have been able to keep them all straight were it not for Diigo’s ability to highlight, tag, and save online sources to the cloud. But Diigo isn’t the only tool that can help you with that: Pinterest and Zotero are at least two tools aimed at casual and academic scenarios.
Even at its best, searching for information on the web can be a case of “too much of a good thing” – there are so many sources that you can’t sift through them all. At its worst, web searching can be too much of a bad thing, with sources containing one or two useful facts but much more fluff. Making the research process collaborative can make it more manageable, and in this session we reviewed three free tools available that facilitate this.
ePortfolios aren’t indispensable but they can be a powerful way to show student growth. Since we’re a Google Apps school, last week I led a session on using Blogger and Google Sites to create ePortfolios.
EPortfolios can be a complicated topic, but they don’t have to be. Broadly speaking, you’ll want to decide whether you want to focus on reflection or achievement. In the jargon of ed tech, a reflection-based eportfolio is known as a “workbench” because it’s where students post their work as they do it and reflect regularly (for example, weekly). An achievement-based portfolio is known as a “showcase” because it is designed to show the student’s best work rather than the process. Of course, ePortfolios may take elements from each of these models.
PowerPoint is the most misused tool in ed tech. How many PowerPoints have you see where the student has tried to cram all the information they know onto the slide, then completely neglect their speaking?
Don’t get me wrong – cramming information into a product has its place in the classroom. Just not in Powerpoint. If you want to give students the opportunity to synthesize what they know in a variety of formats (written, visual, etc), then consider asking them to make a website.