Pinterest is a great tool that instructors can use to organise and share anything from lesson plans, ideas and crafts using a virtual bulletin board. It also allows an instructor to network with other educators. It is one of the biggest learning communities of our time. On Pinterest you can find pins on literally anything from DIY (Do It Yourself) home improvement projects, to fun ways to teach grammar to children.
Pinterest is a free website and it is extremely user friendly. A user can register using their Facebook or Twitter profile. Users can upload, save, sort and manage images and other media through a pin board providing the user with a personalized media platform. Content found outside of Pinterest can be uploaded by the user through the pin it option made available on a particular web page or, by dragging the "pin it" bookmarklet on to your browser. When a user posts a pin his/her followers are notified via Twitter, Facebook or the Pinterest app.
This is a great tool that is gaining popularity among educators for many reasons:
Educators can create boards with resources for themselves or students. Each virtual board has a specific theme and a separate link. This makes it easier to organize information and share the board with others, which can be easily accessed through one’s profile.
It presents an innovative way to engage learners as, collaborative pin boards can be set up where multiple users can pin together ideas and resources to create one huge visual. These boards can be set up for specific group projects, portfolios, etc.
Great way to teach learners about copyright and digital citizenship
This is a great way to teach learners about copyright and creative commons. Pinterest presents an opportunity for educators to teach students about the importance of citing sources properly before they are pinned.
These are just some of the ways Pinterest can be used in education. Visit the blog post below by Stephen Abraham to learn more.
Stephen's Blog Post
Create your own Pinterest account at https://www.pinterest.com/
Google Docs is just like any other commercial office suite. However, the only difference is it is free to use. It has managed to replicate Excel, Word and PowerPoint with Google Spreadsheets, Docs and Presentations. Educators and learners can upload, create and store all these files online and then download them to other office applications and save them on their computers.
Following are some of interesting ways Google Docs can be used in education:
Google Docs integrates various tools like their famous search application, access to online books and scholarly articles, smart spell checker that provide writing support to students while working on their assignments, projects or papers. Students can share their work with the instructor or students to receive immediate feedback in this 24/7 classroom.
Feedback made easy
As instructors, we always complain about our email boxes being cluttered with inquires, submissions, questions, etc. from our students, colleagues, etc. This can be managed in Google Docs by using a Google Form. For example: An instructor can develop a Google Form to collect assignments. The students complete the form to submit their assignment and add the link to their Google Doc. This way the spreadsheet is automatically populated and, the instructor can keep track of assignments, and access them for grading and review.
Instructors can also create small quizzes with Google forms to encourage student engagement, reinforce learning of important concepts or, simply as a tool for feedback. The instructor can just create a form with a few multiple choice questions, submit the correct answers, input a simple formula into the spreadsheet and let the technology do the grading.
Another useful feature provided by Google Docs, is the drawing component which can be used for online collaborative brainstorming sessions that provide students with opportunities to work together to develop ideas just like they would in a traditional brainstorming session. However, it would encourage participation from all learners not just the “quick thinkers” in the class. Students can use shapes, arrows, text and even import pictures to build a visual map. Instructors can use the revision history option that uses color codes to track changes made to the Google Doc. This makes it easier for instructors to see what each student has contributed.
Google Docs is constantly updating its software by adding new features, to make it increasing user friendly for teachers and students alike. All you have to do is create a google account or use an existing account to get started!
Check out the links below to learn more about Google Docs
We live in an era where meetings rooms and classrooms are plagued with PowerPoint presentations (or one of the programs that resemble it). If you ask anybody to do a presentation or talk about a particular topic, there is a 90% chance they will get back to you saying they have a PowerPoint presentation ready to hit the screen!
That brings me to the first question, is power point over used? Yes, it is. In higher education, it is widely used by most instructors or lecturers to deliver information to learners on a particular topic. Now, think about this for a moment. If students look at PowerPoint slides in every class they attend per day, are they really going to look forward to learning if, you are going to pull up yet another bunch of slides? The chances are very unlikely.
It is almost like we have forgotten how to present without a PowerPoint presentation. This has led to a lot of dull and rote presentations also known as, Death by PowerPoint. Death by PowerPoint is one of the fastest trending topics for discussion in fact, a quick search on Google brings up
I did a short presentation on this very topic a couple of months ago. Before, I started my presentation I posed a question to my audience, “What was your worst power point experience?” As, I was jotting down their answers which were, too much information on one slide, tiny font, distracting backgrounds or animations, reading directly from slides, bad clip art, etc. I realized my presentation addressed almost all of points they brought up. Not only was this a smooth bridge – in but, it also got me thinking if the audience is focusing on these areas during the presentation, were they actually engaged during the presentation? I mean the first think they probably said to their friend sitting beside them was, “I could hardly read. The font was too small!”
Lastly, does power point support learning? In my opinion, a PowerPoint presentation is nothing but, a visual aid for the presenter. Think of it like a story board to take your students through the class or session, all the while offering opportunities for them to converse with you and each other to share stories and ideas. Therefore, a PowerPoint on its own does not support learning. It needs to be combined creatively with other active learning techniques, to ensure that the learners are engaged throughout the session. Some ways to do this include:
Incorporating different types of media within your presentation to appeal to different types of learners. Engaging them through various senses like illustrating points through pictures, music, demonstrations and videos. Also, including a tangible item that the learners can hold, feel, smell, etc. can be quite effective. For example, in a presentation I attended on the benefits of Turmeric, the presenter bought a sample of the curcumin root from which Turmeric powder is derived.
Another option that is gaining popularity is, incorporating social media into a presentation. This a great way to engage learners before, during and after your presentation. For example, instructors can send their students content that they will be presented or discussed in class beforehand. This can be a light reading, definitions of important terminology, etc. Include a Twitter hashtag so learners can start discussing before the class. The instructor could include some of the tweets in the in class presentation.
Lastly, engage learners in activities that allow them to reflect and discuss on what is being presented. It avoids the learners from zoning out, play with their phones, and gradually become numb to what the instructor is trying to say. There is an array of active learning techniques that instructors can chose from to use in the classroom.
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How to create a PowerPoint presentation that won't put people to sleep!
Listen to my Podcast
How to create a PowerPoint presentation that won't put people to sleep!
Bloom’s taxonomy is a simple, clear and effective model for both explanation and application of learning objectives, teaching and training methods, and measurement of outcomes. Using the 3 domains of learning the instructor can create well-rounded learning experiences for the learner as well as, meets their different learning styles.
The affective domain aims to evoke learner’s emotions to change attitudes and beliefs. The cognitive domain aims to allow learners to think critically, evaluate information and gain a better understanding of the subject and, the psychomotor domain aims to allow the learner to apply concepts learnt and demonstrate learning. Instructors can design activities and material to stimulate growth in each domain of learning appropriate to the overall objective.
Source: Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning
Creating a Positive Learning Environment
At the beginning of the class or session, spend a few minutes developing ground rules. Allow the learners to contribute as, adult learners are more likely to follow rules they help develop. This helps to build trust, ensure that the learners respect each other and keep information and discussions confidential.
Instructors can foster a learner centered environment by listening empathetically, acknowledging weaknesses, showing patience and being non-judgmental. When learners feel good about themselves, they are more likely to be engaged in the learning process. It is important to design activities that compels learners to discuss options and make decisions. Avoid sarcastic comments or humor that degrades or alienates some learners.
Lastly, Instructors should incorporate a variety of instructional techniques to appeal to different types of learners and their needs and, allow learners to drawn from their own life experiences during discussions and activities. Avoid stigmatizing mistakes and, allow the learner to reflect on ways he/she could have done a task or activity differently.
Source: Creating the ideal learning environment
Instructional Process/ Strategies
The BOPPPS model is an effective tool for lesson planning as it provides a rubric for pre – class organization through final wrap – up. Participatory learning activities are critical in BOPPPS since; they provide opportunities for learners to teach each other.
A bridge – in is a way of getting the learners hooked to the topic you are going to introduce or, to peak their interest in the subject. This could be through a story or posing questions to the learners or even a debate. Bridge - in builds motivation and helps the learners understand why the subject or topic is important.
Individuals can hold attention for about 10 – 20 minutes in a passive manner. Therefore, it is important to maintain the learner’s interest by embedding active learning into the lesson to increase motivation, concentration, accomplishment and opportunities to lead their own small groups.
Summarise the learning experience and create a sense of closure by reinforcing critical components, reminding the learner of the objective and reestablishing the relevance of learning.
Source: BOPPPS Model
Taking a few minutes to find out what the learners know about a specific subject or topic can help the instructor tailor the class to suit their specific learning needs. Pre assessments allow learners to improve participation and engagement as much as possible.
Pre assessments can be combined with the bridge in at the beginning. Clickers, opinion polls or a reflective learning activity, etc. can be used to assess their level of readiness and, can also bring questions or concerns learners have to the surface.
Post assessments provides ways for the instructor to evaluate learning. It usually involves bringing the class together at the end of an activity to reflect on what was learnt and, allow the learners to share ideas with others.
There are many methods to asses if learning has occurred this should be in line with the overall objective. Some strategies include asking simple questions like multiple choice, true or false and matching, complete post assessment surveys, etc.
Source: Strategies for Assessment
Media (possible considerations)
The blended learning approach focuses on the use of appropriate instructional technology along with traditional classes to ease the transitions of learners into the modern day approach of self-directed learning. For example, using tutorials in to reinforce basic concept covered in a lecture and, allowing students to complete an online quiz at the end. Students can redo quizzes or repeat tutorials until they understand certain concepts.
Using discussion forums, blogs, podcasts, etc. in education is increasing as learners become more nontraditional. These help instructors organize and share valuable learning material with the learners like online resources, handouts, videos, etc. as well as, allow learners with a platform to interact, share and discuss with other learners and the instructor.
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