You can’t have fun teaching online without getting your hands dirty!!
As an online teacher, a great part of my work involves utilizing the best educational tools for my content creation, content delivery, or to encourage active learning with students. I will describe them based on the needs of online teachers and/or classroom teachers who wish to integrate what they do with online technologies.
1) Virtual Classroom
I chose the WizIQ virtual classroom after much initial research for a number of reasons. First, I found it easier to use than other virtual classrooms back in the days when I was new to teaching online.
I was also attracted by the e-teaching community on WizIQ and the fact that there is a very responsive support team for trouble shooting. The You Tube and mp3 feature, screen sharing, polling, and whiteboard make teaching attractive and interactive for learners. You can also start your 30-day trail for FREE.
2) Creative Technologies
For content creation I like to use Prezi and Edu-Glogster for colorful, brain-friendly presentations. These tools can be exploited for all kinds of interesting lessons that bring course books to life and transform dry curricula. Prezi can be used collaboratively with students for massive projects online. Here are some examples of global projects I created collaboratively with teachers and learners on Facebook.
Here is a story-telling Prezi for proficiency vocabulary.
I like Animoto for simple video-making. Although the freeversion only allows making of two minute videos, I use that to my advantage by creating two-minute grammar bites, for example. However, it’s also very useful to learn how to use Windows Movie Maker, especially as your students can have fun using it too. Photopeach was also featured by my colleague Theresa in a previous article.
4) Podcasting and Voice Recording
Being able to record your voice for your students is very powerful. You are no longer dependent on traditional audio CDs from big publishers. This can become infinitely creative as a teaching tool. You can record sound effects, moods, situations or embark on wonderful story-telling adventures. Students would have multiple benefits from recording their own voices too, and apart from podcasting, I get my online students to record themselves while giving presentations or doing speaking interviews using tools such as mailVU. They send their recordings to me and then I can correct and comment via a return video email. We have Audacity for professional podcasting purposes. You can record your voice and create mp3s. The possibilities here are endless and it is quite a simple, yet sophisticated tool. Instructions on how to use Audacity can be found on the Teacher Training Video website. Apart from Audacity, we have simpler tools for lessons and /or for students to have fun with. Fotobabble and Audioboo are two such popular choices.
5) Image editing
When creating content or managing student multimedia projects, you will need to be able to manipulate images. This also adds a fun and quirky angle to your work. Photoshop is the most common tool for this job and is, therefore, an essential part of your toolbox. Here is a short demo for beginners.
6) Desktop recording and video-making for archiving lessons or creating self-paced courses.
This is another one of the magical tools that make you feel like a film director instead of a teacher. There are many reasons why a teacher may want to record their computer screens. Creating ‘How-To’ videos being the most obvious one. I learnt about this, as with most other tools, from Russell Stannard’s Teacher Training Video website. All these ‘How-To’ videos are created using Camtasia. If you want to create asynchronous courses, you can use Camtasia with PowerPoint for voice-over audio. You can add captions to your slides, or you can use Camtasia instead of Windows Movie Maker for creating YouTube videos. If you want to record your live online lessons, you can use Camtasia and upload your lessons to YouTube. Camtasia is not free, but worth investing in, if online teaching or content creation is your life-long career and purpose in life. For online teachers, it is as valuable as having a smart phone. There is, however, a free alternative called Camstudio. For simple screencasting, there is also a tool called Screencast-o-Matic, which I recently learned about from Dr. Nellie Deutsch, and Jing, which is also from Techsmith, the creators of Camtasia.
7) Google docs, Apps and MindMapping
Google docs is a simple, flexible and indispensable tool for collaborative work and editing of essays, etc. Like all tools, what you do with it, will depend on your imagination and teaching needs. The best part of Google docs is the collaborative nature of the tool as your whole class can share and work together on creative, academic or integrated project work. Business English students can use Google docs as a tool to mirror real-life business situations, for international business communication. MindMapping is an advanced method of brain-storming . It’s possible applications in education are mind boggling, to say the least. I use iMind and have a basic, affordable license to use it. Another free tool is MindMaple.
8 ) Moodle
If you are already feeling empowered with your Edtech tools, and are ready for some more elbow grease, you can tackle the mother of all engines.
Apart from live online classes, we need a learning space where our students can interact, share, create, and get feedback throughout our courses. Moodle can be a creative learning space if you take time to play with the interface and block features. I’m still learning all about the teaching possibilities in Moodle, with the help of Dr. Nellie Deutsch on her Facebook page called Moodle Mania. If classroom teachers want a learning management system to manage their students, they can take advantage of the free teacher training currently provided by Dr. Nellie’s Moodle MOOC.
9) Club EFL
I also want to create quizzes and games quick and easy for my students, so I add the ClubEFL sandbox to my main Moodle learning arena. Here is an example for a quiz I made from Bono’s speech on TED called ‘Action For Africa’. I want my students to create their own quizzes too. Imagine a student preparing for exams, who could try to recreate testing situations in a fun way by transforming practice test questions into multimedia projects?
Evernote is the ultimate tool for organizing all of your online projects. You can stick to using simple features or get super sophisticated and operate completely from Evernote. A great feature is the web clipping service that allows you to easily keep everything you find online in organized folders. Are you ready to get insanely organized?