If you are considering online learning, there are many tools you can utilize to help you study online effectively as a college student or even a high school student. Sit tight and lets introduce some of the most sophisticated online learning tools available for students and even tutors.
Whether you will be using a blended learning, flipped classroom, or distance-learning model, you’ll need to determine your objectives, assets, and logistics before you begin. And because an ever-growing wealth of online content and collaborative tools exist, you will want to spend time researching to discover the best resources.
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Online tools for distance learning will not replace you as the teacher. At least, not yet. Instead, they offer unique opportunities to teach in different ways that aren’t possible in traditional classrooms.
And that is something that should always be embraced. But rather than replacing normal teachers, they seem to enhance their lessons. It’s a perfect example of the sum being more than its parts.
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So don’t be afraid of the new online tools for distance learning that are out there. Instead embrace them, own them and you will own your class. Now that is something we can all hope for, am I right?
Tools for Distance or Online Learning
A personal favorite tool of mine is Project Share, where there are copious (yes, copious) numbers of courses that are available at no charge to educators and students within the state. In addition to the multitude of courses available, teachers can create their own courses within the system.
Each course has popular Web 2.0 tools available, such as blogs, wikis, forums, chat, and drop boxes. Multimedia and additional content is available within the content repositories. Teachers can create tests and quizzes and have the results auto-populate the grade book. Other features such as adaptive release, instructor reports, and a calendar allow teachers to closely monitor student progress toward curricular goals.
Google has also transformed distance learning through the use of hangouts, which allow students to video chat with instructors or peers. Hangouts can occur with multiple circles of students, and they can be streamed live so that anyone can participate.
They are also saved to YouTube accounts, enabling students to watch the hangout at a later time. During a hangout, participants can share files and collaborate on projects via Google Drive. Google’s course creation tool, “coursebuilder,” looks promising; it brings the best tools from Google into the online learning experience
The modern classroom isn’t complete without a collaborative website that allows you to put together videos as a group. That’s what WeVideo does and it does it very well indeed. Check it out, mash together videos of the entire group, and create an atmosphere of togetherness that is often hard to accomplish when you’re doing distance learning.
Scribble might not be the most complex of tools, but I personally see that as a bonus rather than a hindrance, as it means it’s in everybody’s reach. And that’s what you want with a tool that’s meant to help students share notes, compare ideas and collectively work on projects, don’t you think? Here they can share their resources and plan their next research projects together, which will create the feeling of community and togetherness. Fantastic resource.
Need something with a bit more oomph than Scribble? Check out A.nnotate. It packs a bit more punch, but gives the same kind of functionality with a wider range of options. A great choice if you’re working with people who are a bit more internet savvy and can handle things that are a bit more complicated.
If you grew up with PowerPoint, you can be forgiven for thinking there is no need for another presentation package out there. I’m sure they felt the same way at IBM when they heard people were trying to produce personal computers. Who needs that? Well, you and your group do. And Prezi is what you need. It’s intuitive, looks fantastic, and allows you to create presentations with real oomph and character. Definitely, check this one out as it will enhance not just your student’s presentation, but your own as well. And when both sides of the equation are enhanced everybody is better off, don’t you think?
It’s often hard to do projects together online. That is unless you’re designing a website. So, why not join WordPress.com’s bigger brother, WordPress.org, and create something that lasts – a website with the group that you can all refer to. The great thing about doing something that lasts is that suddenly everybody’s ego is on the line.
It’s no longer about learning; it’s about showing the rest of the world what you’ve learned and showing them how well you’ve learned it. Suddenly, people that were only trying semi-hard are going to blow out all the stops, so as to show the world that they do have what it takes. And that’s why we build websites.
Yeah, of course, you know about Dropbox. But this is a post about the essential tools and Dropbox is an essential tool. You can’t teach a class without the ability to share files easily. And that is something that Dropbox allows you to do. Create universal folders where people can upload their stuff. Create links where people can grab the lesson plans. Create anything and make it available to anyone, really. That’s the power of Dropbox. And we might have become pretty blasé about it, but that’s an awesome power.
Particularly designed for conference calls in mind, Speek is the way to let people finally have that group conversation they need to move their project forward. Because let’s be clear about it; chats are great, but they will never beat a face to face conversation, as they’re always going to be slower, more cumbersome, and more restrictive. We need to speak to get that in order. And that’s why calling apps will always be one of the greatest apps for productivity.
Don’t just teach your kids facts; teach them social responsibility. Every week DoSomething.org has a way that you and your class can help do something to make the world a little bit better, cleaner, safer, and nicer. And if the students learn that kind of stuff early on, then there is a good chance that they’ll become the kind of citizens we’re going to need in the years and decades ahead. And if they don’t? Well, there’s always room for another banker to stick more money into their own pocket, don’t you think?
A gorgeous online time-line tool, Dipity is the way to really bring home the passage of time, when things happened and what order they happened in. Great for social studies, history, and finding out about the people and movements that matter. The tool allows you to add in videos, photos, texts, and more, so that your timeline isn’t just a line with dates, but ends up being a real work of art.
Blended learning, also known as hybrid learning, is a combination of face-to-face and online instruction. The teacher connects personally with the students in the brick-and-mortar classroom and that relationship extends online. In part because of this connection, a teacher can immediately intervene with remediation or acceleration as needed. Also, the student does not experience the isolation that can occur in a completely online course.
Blended learning can be the best of both worlds. The teacher can provide the best multimedia resources to complement the core content and extend or reinforce the learning. He or she can also easily differentiate for students based on their instructional needs and learning styles. With blended learning, the emphasis is on active learning, independent and collaborative assessments, and learning beyond the classroom walls.
Tools for Blended Learning
Edmodo is one tool you could employ in a blended learning model. Edmodo provides a secure learning environment for any grade level/content area. The teacher creates a class and provides an access code to the students. The students then use the access code to join the class.
One of the features of Edmodo is “Note.” Using this feature, the teacher can post an announcement to the class, share files, and engage in dialogue with students.
“Assignments” is another feature and allows students to access files and links to complete a task. With “Assignments,” you can view who completed the task.
The teacher can create any format of quiz and send it to the class. Once a student has completed the quiz, the results show in a grade book (which can be exported as a CSV file). A polling feature allows the teacher to survey the class and notifications show up on the side of the screen, allowing the teacher to receive updates at a glance.
Another recommendation for a blended learning model is Kidblog. Kidblog is a blogging platform and much, much more. The platform contains the ability to embed almost any multimedia into a post, allowing endless possibilities for assessment. Students could watch an embedded YouTube video and post a response to a prompt. The teacher and/or the student could create a product using Web 2.0 tools and embed it in posts. Both teachers and students could use Kidblog as a place to house ePortfolios, showcasing their work. Most importantly, teachers can post multimedia to extend learning and introduce or review concepts.
The Flipped Classroom
One popular approach to online learning is the flipped classroom. In a flipped classroom, students review content at home and then apply that learning in the classroom. This model establishes a foundation of knowledge (outside of class) and then uses instructional time in the classroom to expand upon that foundation. A flipped classroom shares many of the benefits of blended learning. The teacher can monitor and intervene with students as needed, using class time to work and connect with students individually.
Among other benefits, the flipped model maximizes the limited amount of instructional time teachers have with students.
Tools for Flipped Classrooms
TEDEd is ideal for a flipped classroom model. TEDEd contains original lessons, created by instructors and animated by professionals. Lessons can be viewed conceptually (by subject) or thematically (by series). Each lesson employs the following scaffolding: Watch, Think, and Dig Deeper. “Watch” contains a quick multiple choice quiz students can use for assessment. “Think” is a short answer question students can use for deeper comprehension. “Dig Deeper” provides additional resources for exploration.
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Each lesson can be modified by clicking on the “Flip this Lesson” button. The teacher can edit the information, add questions, and add resources. When a lesson is flipped, a unique URL is created for that lesson. If students are signed in to their YouTube account, they can track their progress through the lesson. As the teacher, you can view student progress through the lesson. In addition, you can use any video from YouTube and create your own flipped lesson.
NeoK12 contains educational videos, games, puzzles, and quizzes. Videos are available for almost any content area, and with one click, users can search YouTube for more videos. Users can also recommend that those search results be included on the listing at NeoK12. Listed with the videos are interactive quizzes and print-friendly materials. Once an account is created, the user has a dashboard available, showing videos recently viewed, quizzes taken, and interactives explored. Additional features include “What’s Up Today,” a daily assortment of historical events, word of the day, science news for kids, and contests such as a spelling bee, hangman, and funny comics about education