In the previous posts, we may have leaned towards the cautionary side of using external tools and apps. But you can use third party tools to enhance teaching and learning. In today’s post, we talk about some apps and platforms that we recommend and how you can use them.
What are these: These are free(mium) web apps which allow you and your students to post virtual post-it notes to a dedicated webpage.
How can you use them: These tools can be good for brainstorming, planning, discussing complex concepts and running informal discussions during and out of class.
What to look out for: Most of these tools have different accessibility settings, ranging from requiring students to create individual accounts to participate to allowing public access. Make sure you check these settings and policies carefully to create a safe space for students to express themselves freely.
Is it suitable for assessment: Not really as most of them allow others to post anonymously. In Padlet, you can get students to enter a screen name. But you could get students to work in groups to update a Padlet or Linoit wall as part of continuous assessment – Just remember to take screenshots or export the files.
What are these: These are public social media platforms that allow for synchronous and asynchronous discussions where you can write, share and comment on posts (with limited characters for Twitter).
How can you use them: You can use these tools to get students to provide opinions or commentary, ask questions and respond to each other during and after class. Think of it as a mini, open forum discussion.
What to look out for: Firstly, all of these apps require users to sign up for an individual account, moderated or public. Secondly, as these are social media platforms, users are required to have a public profile which they may feel uncomfortable with, particularly if they are using their personal accounts to respond to your activities.
Is it suitable for assessment: It is tricky but you can certainly use hashtags (e.g. Course code) in Twitter and Tumblr to consolidate students’ posts and comments or create a community in Reddit for students to have assessed discussions. But remember to take screenshots or keep a record of the discussion as there have been instances where students had deleted their comments or posts prior to being assessed – as previously discussed, not all students want to be represented by their assessments in public!
Audience Participation Gurus – Poll Everywhere, Kahoot, Pollcode, Wooclap and Socrative
What are these: These are live audience participation tools which allow you to run polls and quizzes that can be accessed via mobile devices.
How can you use them: You can use these to survey students in class about their opinions or review their knowledge about a particular subject. It is especially useful in large classes where it may be difficult to interact with individual students.
What to look out for: Some of these platforms require students to download an app, apply for an account or bring a mobile device. In addition, many of these platforms are free up to a certain extent and may limit the number of participants to the activity (e.g. Poll Everywhere allows about 25 responses on a free account) or questions you can ask.
Is it suitable for assessment: No, but great for formative quizzes and activities to gauge if students have engaged with you and your content in class!
And… does your University have a similar tool such as Echo360 ALP?
What are these: With the absence of Wikispaces, you can use these tools to encourage collaborative writing. Note that some of these tools are not free!
How can you use them: You can get students to write and edit documents or webpages in groups. Some team-based activities may include developing group proposals, drafting “white” or discussion papers, or getting students to contribute knowledge/examples to certain topics – and much more! See how Griffith University (and others) used Microsoft Teams for collaboration.
What to look out for: Some spaces may allow students to edit documents or pages anonymously and without the ability to track who has authored what while others may require identification and logins. Depending on what you are hoping to achieve, I strongly recommend you look through the varying features of the platforms before deciding on one.
Is it suitable for assessment: Yes! Many of these allow you to download the document or webpage for submission if required. But you can also get students to share the document or page with you which can then be used for continuous rather than just summative assessments.
Did you know that some LMS’s such as Moodle have similar wiki or blog spaces?
What are these: These platforms allow you to create content that students can interact with such as a video with questions or presentations with clickable content.
How can you use them: You can use these to present content in more personalised and interactive ways. I was reminded that interactive PDFs or EPUBs are easy to create and can include videos, links and audio files which can make previously static content more interesting. Here is an example of an interactive EPUB.
What to look out for: For H5P and Oppia, you should be aware that all content you put up is Creative Commons licenced and may be found or reused by others.
Is it suitable for assessment: Not really, as these tools are used mainly to encourage people to interact with the content (i.e. formative activities). H5P can be integrated as a plugin with some LMS’s and platforms such as Moodle, Drupal and WordPress. These activities can then be used for assessment as students’ responses can then be recorded, stored and graded.
Final Thoughts and Considerations (particularly when Using Apps for Assessments)
Remember to check the policies of your universities!
Don’t forget to backup and record students’ data, especially if you are using them for assessments.
Consider if students and teachers require support, and who would provide or how would people receive support for the use of these apps.
If you are using apps, particularly for assessment, remember to include this caveat in your course outline!
- And… are you certain your University doesn’t already have tools that support similar functions? Why have you chosen the external tool over the enterprise tool?
- Have you used any of these tools above and do you have any words of wisdom to share?
- Are there other tools you would recommend?
- And how would you evaluate the effectiveness on the use of these apps?
Further Readings and References
- Bennett, S., Bishop, A., Dalgarno, B., Waycott, J., and Kennedy, G. (2012). Implementing Web 2.0 technologies in higher education: A collective case study. Computers and Education, Vol 59, issue 2, 524-534.
- Microsoft Teams. Retrieved from https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/exlnt/entry/8149/view (2019).
- Morris, S.M. & Stommel J. (2013). The discussion forum is dead; long live the discussion forum. Hybrid Pedagogy.
- Turnbull, S. & Moore, C. (2017). Teaching with Twitter: A Case Study in the Practice of Audiencing. In Hight, C. & Harindranath, R. (Eds) Studying Digital Media: Audiences Perspectives from Australasia. New York: Routledge.