February Online Tool Favorites 2014!

“Have you seen the video where…” How many times have you heard this? Unless you live in a cave, and even if you do, I’m positive you heard this at least once. If people talk about only a small part of videos they watch, imagine how much time they spend watching videos. YouTube is now a staple in most people’s lives. It is there to watch movie trailers, cat videos, vine compilations, music videos and to find out how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew. Of course, those are the most common uses one can think of with using YouTube, but can it be used in education?

I’m convinced that it can be a great tool to use with students. There is, of course the traditional way of using YouTube in class, which is showing students an informational video about a subject or another. This is a very good way to get their attention (every child and teenager likes videos) and to teach them things about animals for example, or about a historical figure. Certain schools in Indiana have even implemented what they call “the flipped classroom” in which the teachers film important parts of their classes for students to watch at home and have them do their homework in class (http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/2011/10/12/how-youtube-is-changing-the-classroom/). When they do their homework the teacher is present to answer questions. Now i’m not saying every class everywhere should do this, but it is an example of how YouTube can be used effectively in the classroom.

Another way I could find to use YouTube would be to create playlists on a teacher’s account and have the playlists pertain to different subjects. (http://www.edudemic.com/youtube-in-classroom/) These playlists can be assigned as resources for homework. Also, by having a YouTube channel as a teacher and having students follow it, it allows the teacher to put in videos of important parts of class before exams for reviewing. It also allows them to say, make a video explaining a project and giving them links on where they can start their research. Everything is at the same place and it is an easy reference to get back to. The comments section can be a good resource for the students too, students can ask questions and either the teacher or others students can answer. It can become a good place for students who are having a more difficult time with their homework.

For research projects, YouTube can teach students how to use keywords effectively and will test their ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Because YouTube has so much content on it, most of it not being relevant to class, it is important for students to learn how to concentrate. I wouldn’t use YouTube in this way with younger children because not everything on YouTube is appropriate.

There are many resources for teachers to find instructive videos to show their students like https://sites.google.com/site/mistersill/google-goodness/youtube-in-the-classroom On this website there are many videos. From how to tie a show all the way to tools for teachers. Websites like these are abundant on the internet. On YouTube there are many channels for ESL teachers. I searched a little and found many videos and channels that look really instructive, I’d never thought of looking up teaching on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/user/eslteachersgoldmine This channel for example, looks like a good resource for activities and classroom management tips. In the comment section, teachers can contribute their own ideas and read ideas of others. I think YouTube is a good way to help teachers evolve as educators.

I think that YouTube is a really good tool to use in class. It can be used for so many things and I think students appreciate having videos either at home or in class. It makes class more varied and interesting for them. For teachers, there are so many things to discover and learn about other teachers all over the world and their techniques. Plus, there are some really good cat videos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbP2N1BQdYc

You Pique my (P)interest

Pinterest is mostly know as a place where people share and “pin” fashion, beauty and fitness related things, but Pinterest can actually be much more than that. It was first created to be another community or way of sharing different things, but as we know when new ideas are created people will find many more ways to use it than what it was created for. Teachers and educators are now sharing more than 500,000 education pins daily (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teachers-stuck-on-pinterest-kendra-jarvis). Personally I did not know that Pinterest held an eductional part. When I explored it a little, I was surprised with how much information students and teachers could really get from this unconventional source.

When I think of Pinterest in the classroom, I think of the students using it first. I think that it would be useful for group project, brainstorming or research. In a group project, Pinterest could be used to share ideas, concepts and information via pictures (http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/UsingPinterestforEducation.aspx). What is great with this website is also that every “pin” has the original link attached to it and that can lead to even more information. Teachers can also leave comment on students work directly on the “pinned” image. For students, Pinterest is more eye-catching than other research engines because all the images are big and colorful and there are a lot of things to look at.

I also think that for a research project Pinterest would be a very interesting tool to have kids use. For instance if they have to do a report on their favorite animal, they have pictures and information about the animal all in the same place and can build their project in a more efficient way. It is a one stop shop for information. It is also a way for students to share their projects among themselves. http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/06/educators-guide-to-use-of-pinterest-in.html I think that the more students know about the tools at their disposal, the more they will know which to use for certain projects. I think introducing them to many things will help them be more efficient and more autonomous.

As for teachers, Pinterest is also a great resource to share and find new content and activities for classes. With the new “education” section (http://www.pinterest.com/all/education/) teachers can share lesson plans and while looking through this section I even saw a lot of posts on how to deal with students with ADHD or Autism. It’s a fabulous way to get input on lesson plans and just see what is going on in the teaching community all over the world.

I think that as a resource in education, Pinterest may be an unconventional choice but it is worth a look. Both teachers and students can benefit from the colorful layout and tons of information hidden in these cute little “pins”. It’s an opening to so many different opinions and ideas that I can’t think of someone who wouldn’t benefit from the use of Pinterest.

Facebook in The Classroom

Since its creation in 2004, Facebook has been gaining popularity at an extremely rapid pace. Now, every 12-year-old and their grandmother has a Facebook account. Most children and teens are connected 24/7, on their smartphones, their laptops, and even on their game consoles! Ever since Facebook started becoming popular, schools have restricted or banned the use of it. The question now is: could schools adapt to this new technology and actually use Facebook as an educational tool?

It is safe to say that students, at least, have already started to use Facebook for education. Even right here at Laval University we have created a help group for the BEALS students (Baccalauréat enseignement de l’anlgais langue seconde) where we can ask questions, post interesting articles and just talk about teaching English as a second language. I find it innovative and very useful to have as a student. If we students can do it why can’t the teachers do it too?

Facebook can have many advantages in the classroom, Michael Wong of The University of British Columbia brings many good ideas to the table. Facebook can be used to contact friends for projects, for file sharing or even for group conversations about projects. (http://ctlt.ubc.ca/2009/01/30/facebook-and-education/) Not only that, but Facebook can also be used to create groups for classes where students can ask questions, teachers can answer rapidly, and where everyone can benefit from the information shared. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxrlrbP4UNo This video explains many ways in which different Social Networks can be useful. Christine Greenhow mentions that for students who are shy it is also an easier way to express themselves and ask questions they might not ask in class (not everyone is comfortable raising their hand!).

I also believe that Facebook as an educational tool is not only useful for students but for teachers looking to better their own teaching skills. There are many Facebook groups of teachers sharing activities, methods and tips about how they manage their class http://www.edutopia.org/social-media-education-examples-facebook. For example, right here in Quebec there is the Quebec ESL Teachers group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/400947743302185/) which is a great group to be a part of while doing our practicums and even for our future careers. It is full of people who want to help and learn from each other. I think that groups and information sharing is one of Facebook’s greatest assets.

On http://www.teachthought.com/technology/100-ways-to-use-facebook-in-education-by-category/ it is shown that if a teacher knows where to look, there are a ton of Facebook apps and resources that can be of use in the classroom. For example, there are apps like CiteMe which creates citations in a few different formats and StudyGroups, on which students can create study groups and share things in between themselves. This website also talks about how Facebook can be a way to include parents in the classroom. If they are allowed to join the Facebook groups for their children’s classes they can give input and tips to the students and also see what goes on in class. Most parents really like to feel involved in their child’s education and make sure what they are doing is relevant. Including parents does mean more eyes on the teacher but I think that it can also create a precious link between parents and teachers if done right.

Now using Facebook in class has a lot of potential, but also has many things to be wary of. This article explains a little about it. (http://ctlt.ubc.ca/2009/01/30/facebook-and-education/) Of course the parents need to give permission for their child to have a Facebook account if they are younger than 13 years old (and I would consider advising the parents even if the children are older). The teacher should also be with the students when they create their accounts (or use their existing ones) to go over the security and privacy settings with them. As we said in class, it is important to know who sees what and be conscious of what is on the Facebook page. It is crucial for students to be aware that everything they post can potentially be seen by the whole world. Security and privacy are also an issue for the teacher, in class we talked about creating a “professional” Facebook page and I personally think it is a good idea to keep a certain distance from students in this regard. Students don’t want to know what their teacher does on the weekend or about how much they hate their boss. Anything a teacher posts on Facebook can be detrimental to his or her career so I think it is better to keep everything separated.

All in all I think that Facebook can be a very useful tool for education if used in the right way. On one hand, there are many risks involved and a huge responsibility over all of the students a teacher brings onto Facebook. On the other hand, there are so many useful tools to use and it can be very valuable when it comes to answering queries and sharing knowledge. I say use Facebook , but know the risks and do it at your own peril!