Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ways to Help Students Connect Using Technology

As a teacher there is always that challenge to help students "connect" in the classroom setting because of the variety of personalities. The great part of integrating technology in the classroom is that it gives students a voice...sometimes a voice without having to be audibly heard. For those students who are more introverted, it is hard to pull them from their shells to share openly in class. However, with technology a teacher can "hear" each student and help them connect to other students. Here are a few things to try to help students connect, brainstorm, share in your classroom.

Try using technology as an online discussion board. There are several free tools teachers can use for online discussion. Learning Management Systems (Edmodo, Canvas, Schoology) are popular in education because most of them have some type of discussion board. Other online discussion boards that can be used are Today's Meet or Etherpad. These tools give students a way to express their voice silently. These are great for those students who are not comfortable sharing aloud.

Large groups can be intimidating for students. When helping students connect, consider placing students in small groups and using technology to collaborate. My favorite collaboration tool for the classroom is Google Docs. Google Docs allows students to access the same document at the same time, as well as the ability to insert comments, make suggestions using the "suggesting" tool, chat live, see a revision history, research within the document using the "research" tool, and access citation formats in the "research" tool. See this link for information on these tools. Here's another great Google Docs tutorial by Amy Mayer.

Brainstorming is often thought of as a process of jotting down notes on sticky notes, whiteboards, notebooks, etc. Think about making the brainstorming process digital. My favorite brainstorming digital tool is Padlet. Padlet is like a virtual corkboard. Each user double clicks the board to add a post-it note. That note can consist of text, a hyperlink to a website or a webcam video. Click here for Padlet tutorials. If you are using iPads, try the Post-it Plus App. This app captures post-it notes, organizes them, and allows for teachers/students to share with the group.

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