Sunday, November 16, 2014

Attitude of Gratitude #15: Tech Tools

Today's Attitude of Gratitude Blog Challenge question is "What tech tools are you most grateful for? Why? How have they changed what you do?"  These are the first ones that popped into my mind: 

Haiku Deck: I like this free presentation service. Haiku Deck forces me to rely more on visuals than on text. I keep reading how too much text on a slide defeats the purpose of presentations, so this tool has my name written all over it. Super simple. Plus I like the notes function and the fact I can embed the slides into our Blackboard, our learning management system. Below is a presentation I cobbled together, hacking the MAPS (medium, audience, purpose, situation) acronym for my Filipino American Learning Community, students who would appreciate this salty, greasy, sweet mnemonic. 

SPAM! - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Screencast-O-Matic/Powtoons: I am at the bottom of the learning curve for these video tools. I have fantasies about flipping my classes, But that's not going to happen any time soon. It's time consuming and a bit challenging.  But I do enjoy learning how to chunk-out my lessons into short, digestible pieces that complement or clarify a lesson. Screencast-O-Maticmakes it easy to turn my slides into YouTube clips. Powtoons is a bit fancier, allowing me to use narrative and animation to make lessons appealing. Both are fun to use, which is big reason why I'm willing to spend the energy it takes to get proficient with these tools. Check out this post for samples of my Powtoon experiments.

Tumblr: I use Tumblr to store images memes, and quotes that I might use on Haiku Deck or for sponge activities to get class started. Here are some of my "go to" hash-tags:  writing processrhetoric, and college success skills. I don't assign students to use Tumblr, but I do introduce it as a mode of curating inspirations for their writing projects - or any interest they want to follow: current events, professional interests, political issue, hobby, wherever their passions lie. I want them to see social media as something they can leverage for more than socializing.  Maybe I should just admit I am addicted to Tumblr and that any use I get out of it for teaching is an excuse to play around on social media. 

With the exception of Powtoons, these tools are free. And luckily, I got on board with Powtoons when it was testing, so the price was reasonable. I enjoy the process of learning how to use these tools, and I introduce these tools as options for students to use for their own work. An added benefit is there is always at least two or three students in my classes who are much more skillful with these tools. When that happens, I urge them to take the floor during lab, letting them be the expert. Students get a charge out of teaching and learning from each other, and I can model that I'm learning, too.