Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One-Click Wonders

Following a theme from one of my earlier posts, I am promoting the concept of a one-click classroom.  Alliteration aside, this refers to the teacher's and students' ability to get to their most prized web tools within a single click of their application dashboard.

As our district prepares to unleash a 1:1 pilot, we are doing our best to support the following expectations or themes:
  • Device independent applications
  • Cost-neutral applications
  • Reduction / elimination of paper-based instruction
  • Integration of Core Curriculum and NETS standards
  • Close the digital divide by leveraging mobile technologies and high-speed connectivity
  • Promoting a "Digital Evolution" in our schools
Recent developments, and conversations with teachers and students have caused me to re-evaluate my recommendations for essential web tools of a connected classroom.
I am currently building out two blended courses; one for professional development for teachers using mobile technologies for instruction, and the other is for students to develop and assess their digital literacy.  

Here are the five tools that I am using to build out my "one-click classrooms"
  • Google Applications - The foundation of it all.  One-stop shopping for my classroom communication, collaboration, and information search.  Docs, YouTube, Gmail, Maps, Images, Search, Calendar, and Google+ all within one click when I open my Chrome web browser. (Am I cheating my own system if I have pinned Sites and Blogger to my Bookmarks Bar?)  In addition, there are roughly forty other Google-supported applications within a second click.  Oh yes, did I mention the worlds most powerful search engine.  For many students, the word "search" has become synonymous with Google.  "I don't know - let me Google it."
  • Edmodo - The weekend's announcement of Google Docs integration into Edmodo made this a slam-dunk for me.  Yes, you can find more features with Moodle or BlackBoard, but students appreciate the Facebook-like look of this learning management system.  Complete with online gradebook, and assignment / lesson manager.  Edmodo allows teacher, student, and parent interaction in an anonymous, personalized, but publicly-viewable social network.  Pearson's OpenClass has also peaked my curiosity, but Edmodo is easier to set up, maintain, and navigate.  I also use Edmodo for social networking as they have a nice collection of ready-made social communities - many of which are educationally themed.
  • Twitter - At some point, I may consolidate my social media experience into Google+, but for right now Twitter is my main resource for building out my professional learning network.  I am also showing interest in Pinterest, but tweeting is a staple of my one-click SM experience.  Twitter allows me to follow and interact with the gurus, the giants, and the experts in eduction and instructional technologies.
  • YouTube - Mentioned above, I have a dashboard icon for YouTube because this is where supportive video content for curricular objectives.  My YouTube library contains subscriptions to Discovery Education, Kahn Academy, National Geographic, and TEDeducation.  These videos provide content for many of my flipped lessons.  Have you seen YouTube lately?  Great customization tools that include playlist development and sharing, along with simple video editing.
  • ScreenOmatic - is my screen-casting application of choice.  Web-based, PC or Mac, and of course, the base-package is free.  It lacks an easy drawing solution, but the interface and functionality is easy to follow.  Screen-casts can be uploaded to either Google Docs or YouTube.  Thus, it is easy to build out a library of tutorials or web lessons where my digital content already resides.
So, that's my fab-five, one-click wonders.  Share your list and "give me five" right back!

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