Can something 10 years-old be considered “old school?” Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch but when you consider the rapid change within education technology, a decade can sometimes can seem like a lifetime. For example, think back to technological resources and hardware you used with your students ten years ago There’s a good chance the devices, software, and/or resources you used then have changed dramatically.
While the evolution of technology has made some of these programs obsolete, there are also several tools that have been able to stand the test of time. Website that were established years ago but have made the necessary changes to keep their product relevant and beneficial over a number of years. In thinking about this topic, I tried to reflect on my own personal experience to identify the technology I used early in my career, which still could be valuable today. So this post is dedicated to sharing to sharing the Ed Tech tools that I’ve used for years, which you may still find to be helpful in your classroom.
Nitesh Goel started designing Padlet, known as Wallwisher, in 2008 in an attempt to create an interface which easily allowed users to work together on a digital “scratchpad.” Four years later, Goel received funding which allowed for Wallwisher to make some nice upgrades and transition to Padlet. Over time, Padlet has continued to make key refinements aimed at increasing functionality and making the interface more friendly. What makes Padlet so great is that it’s an easy-to-use but very flexible resource which can be utilized across any grade level of content area. It’s a great way to tool to use for brainstorming, collaboration, formative assessment instructional delivery, or even a visual “dropbox” for students to share and comment on media products they created in the classroom.
In a time when game-based review websites (Kahoot, Quizizz, Quizlet) are extremely popular in schools, Socrative still hold its own as a valuable tool for for review or assessment.
Founded in 2010, Socrative gives teachers a straightforward approach to create quizzes either as self-paced assignments or through teacher led instruction. There’s also a built in review game called “Space Race,” which students enjoy. Socrative is simple but very user friendly to configure and to use during a lesson. While there is a paid tier of the program, the free version which allows the creation of 1 room works great.
Animoto is a cloud-based service which instantly turns photos and text into beautiful animated slideshows. When Animoto was first launched 12 years ago, the ease of use and excellent quality of video slideshows were extremely impressive. This gave educators the ability to quickly and easily transform photos and videos from their classroom into polished slideshows.
The downside of Animoto for educators, has always been the pricing which starts at $8 per month. While it is an excellent service, it can be challenge for many educators to spend almost $100 per years on products like Animoto. The good news is that there is a free Animoto Education trial which is good for up to 6 months. You can sign up with any school email and have access to many features. The feature does limit the length of projects and the quality of exported videos, but has worked well for embedded videos on class website. Once the trial period expires, you can easily sign up again.
Toward the late 2000’s, I remember social bookmarking sites like Dijgo or Delicious were extremely popular. But the visual nature of Symbaloo, another social booking site, made the website very useful tool for any classroom. Symbaloo is essentially a grid known as a Webmix which individual tiles which can be linked to any web-based resources. Many teachers use Symbaloo as a “landing pad” where all important and relevant websites can be linked and accessed. The signature Symbaloo grids always looked great and could easily be embedded on any classroom website or inside a Learning Management System. Symbaloo is free for educators and also offers Symbaloo Pro for individual users and institutions.
Prezi is perhaps, one of the most polarizing examples of edtech – you either like it or hate it. Some associate Prezi with the motion sickness brought on by poorly designed presentations which overused the proprietary Zooming User Interface (ZUI). The learning curve for Prezi was definitely more challenging than other slide-based programs. which also didn’t seem to help their cause.. But when used correctly presentations created with Prezi have a very strong visual aesthetic that give audience members a break from slide based presentations.
There are actually examples of very strong Prezi’s where the unique features and visuals helped assist the storytelling and communication process. Over the years, Prezi has made some key upgrades to the service including options to collaborate and add a voice narration, as well numerous mobile apps. While I don’t use Prezi much these days, it’s still available for free for educators through the Prezi EDU standard account, though a EDU Plus account does exist.