I am revisiting the 200 blog pieces I’ve written or co-written the past 11 years. The thoughts below still accurately reflect how I shall proceed when Jane Hart releases her Top Learning Tools list next week.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time the past few days thinking through how best and how quickly to proceed in bringing into my classroom the right balance of elearning tools. Just now I have finished examining Jane Hart’s recent overhauling, updating, and reorganizing of her 2010 Learning Tools Directory. More specifically, I have gone through Jane’s category of “instructional tools” identifying which showed promise of immediate use to me. My admittedly idiosyncratic “screening criteria” included the following:

  1. Do I already have the software? Alas in my frenzied attempt to know about such tools I have too often acquired a tool and then never deeply explored its utility.
  2. Does it have a quizzing/testing component? I want to be able better to give students prompt, reasonably personalized and reasonably detailed feedback.
  3. Is the tool free (or, if not, does the cost offset the costs of free software)? I don’t have time to spend with buggy or poorly documented software.
  4. Will, in my professional judgment, the tool truly allow me to teach better or in new ways or will it only provide students with a fun experience? Though there is a place for fun in learning, I am interested in more than entertainment.
  5. Is the tool hosted? Since I move back and forth between a Windows and a Mac environment (and because my personal machines are often more advanced than those available to employees at work) it is important that something I develop be easily portable and accessible for student use.
  6. Will I (and my students) be able to master the tool quickly and use it immediately? I want to avoid frustrating my students with a steep tool-learning curve unless I judge that frustration is a necessary or inevitable component to mastery.

 

Posted by Professor David Simpson

Professor of Psychology, Carroll University (USA), Lover of Dogs, Reading, Teaching and Learning. Looking for ways to enhance cross-global communication and to apply technology learning tools.

One Comment

  1. I think this is a great way of analyzing the effectiveness of a tool for use in the classroom. Somewhat related, when Abbey and I decided to use Facebook Messenger for a communication tool, the biggest deciding factors were the accessibility, the free access, and the popularity, as we knew that most students would not have trouble mastering it very easily.

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