Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Five Technologies I'll Be Introducing This Semester

My number one priority this semester was to incorporate more digital writing. I think it's imperative that students are digitally literate when they go out into the work force. It's surprising how many people lack the ability to write a clear email, are scared by the thought of 140 character tweet, or don't know how to write a hyperlinked text. Digital writing can really give a person the edge over competition, especially in the corporate world.

This semester I plan to incorporate these five technologies into my class:
1. LiveBinders: LiveBinders are seriously cool (and free). There are binders on everything about everything. You can use them to enhance your teaching, to do research, or to create portfolios. Personally, I will be using these to create a course binder. It will include my syllabus, policies, on campus resources, online resources, and my contact information. The great thing is that the websites appear in the binder, as opposed to having to leave the Bb site once a hyperlink is clicked. 
I am also looking for a great way for my students to  showcase their work in ePortfolios, since there is a good chance that they will want to include digital projects that simply don't work as well in traditional paper form. LiveBinders just might be the best option.
2. QR codes: While these probably won't be a huge part of my class (especially since I can't assume that all of my students have QR compatible phones), I think that hiding QR codes in projects or leaving some in our class LiveBinder will be a fun way to engage students. 
Try scanning this code!
Additionally, when I go to conferences this semester, I plan to carry cards with a QR code to my bio page. I'm also going to put one on the front of my cubicle that will link to my office hours, so that students can easily find out when I'll be there if they miss me. 
You can create QR codes by typing URLs, Phone Numbers, etc. into a QR generator, like this one: Then, download a QR app (Barcode Scanner is a popular one) to your smartphone. 
3. Twitter: A friend of mine uses Twitter in her class, and after spending time chatting with her and other teachers, professors, and students online, I think it's a great idea! Using the hashtag #np556, students will be able to backchannel during classroom discussions, use it for research, and get homework reminders if need be. If they stick with the hashtags, and you refrain from following them, you won't get their personal updates, only the things they wish to be included in the class conversation.
4. Facebook Fan Page: Last semester, some students asked if they could be my friend on Facebook. I was torn about what to do. I think that teachers should be role models for students, and modeling appropriate social media use is just one of those things that we can do. Plus, I know many of them are on Facebook every day, and it is a great way to get reminders to them and to share links, videos, photos, and resources. At the same time, I am just a few years older than many of my students, and I didn't want to blur the line between teacher and friend. Also, I didn't really want them to know things about me that might affect the way they were writing, such as my religious and political views, my professional affiliations,etc. I thought friending them would complicate things, so I denied them access until they had already finished my course and received grades. 
With a fan page, I can interact with my students on Facebook without causing confusion about our relationship. We can all contact one another, but they can't see my information, and I can only see as much as they allow nonfriends to see.
5. Glogster: I see a lot of potential for a tool like Glogster that allows students to create interactive, hypertextable digital posters. Talk about multimodal-- you can add words, videos, audio, photos, and animation. 
For the first day of class, I'm thinking about using it to break the ice by having each student introduce themselves with personalized posters that they explain to a partner who will, in turn, introduce her or him to the class (assuming that they all bring laptops on day 1).  I might also have them create posters about their writing process later in the semester, rather than just having them write about it.  
Here's an example: 

With GoogleDocs, I think think this could also be another interesting options for ePortfolios. Hopefully, my college students won't think it's too "childish." 

Sadly, most of these things will rely on the cooperation of the WiFi in my classroom, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

What educational technology will you be using this year?


anthea said...

Great idea! I really think that it's important that more digitally literate. It's horrifying how many people are incapable of writing a clear email, horrified by the notion of a 140 character tweet, or, as you say, write a hyperlinked text. Digital writing gives everyone edge over competition not just in the academic but the corporate world.

I'll be popping by on a regular basis to see what's up here.


Danielle Lee said...

I really love how you are making the classroom an innovative and creative space. I also like the Glogster idea. I can see it being a great ice-breaker and a way to get students to think about what it means to bring creativity into an academic space. Even more important I think is that creativity is invited into your classroom. Kudos!

NP said...

Thanks Anthea and Danielle! I'm glad you both like these ideas. I will let you know how they go as the semester rolls along.

I hope you'll continue to share your feedback and your own ideas =) I love hearing from my colleagues!