On Sunday 30 September 2012 (12 noon BST (=GMT+1) voting closes for Jane Hart’s (Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies) list of Top 100 Tools 2012. This list is based on contributions from learning professionals around the world.
I thought it would be interesting to review my own choices at the time I voted before Jane publishes the final results on Monday October 1st.
So what have I used recently?
Evernote - an outstanding note-taking tool and something I use every day. I have a notebook for each of my classes to which I upload any resources I want for that class. I also note down any ideas for lessons or reminders relevant to that class. It is also a good way to share for example a list of websites with students - using a shared notebook.
WordPress – obviously – you are reading a WordPress blog right now! I have several other blogs, Games, Starters and Mathematics Tools for example. I find a blog such as this an excellent way to share information with colleagues and students. For students I have recently created a new blog and something I am very pleased with is a blog I use to give the details of homework for each of my classes. I created ‘What was that homework?’ as a result of a survey of students across several schools where many students said that they would like homework details online. No student can ever say to me that they didn’t know what their homework was! (The very first post on this WordPress blog - which includes some useful WordPress links).
Twitter - great for professional development – I have contacts in education all over the globe and have been led to many useful resources by my virtual colleagues! For Maths resources - I regularly check Craig Barton’s tweets @TESMaths, where he highlights excellent TES Resources. See for example these two recent tweets on an excellent presentation on negative numbers and a self checking spreadsheet on standard form; this would be excellent for students to use themselves at home.
YouTube - there are numerous videos useful for Mathematics teachers – perhaps to show in class or for students to use at home, for example the Math Centre videos or those from Khan Academy. (Videos page with many sources of Maths Videos). Other channels I subscribe to include Mrbartonmaths, TED-Ed (see this post for further information on Mathematics TED-Ed videos) and Desmosinc for videos on my favourite online graphing calculator.
Google Docs – I have used Google docs to collaborate on documents such as presentations with other teachers. Using Google Forms provides an excellent way to get feedback from a group of people, their responses are all returned to a single spreadsheet. A comprehensive manual can be downloaded here.
For an examples of forms see this one used to collect student self-assessments of their PLTS skills development in Mathematics and this to collect student feedback on their Mathematics experience at the end of their first year with us.
Moodle - I have a Moodle course for each year group in school; each course has links to any websites that we use in class so students can investigate further themselves if they wish. VLEs are sometimes criticised for being no more than ‘filing cabinets’; I would argue what useful filing cabinets they are – containing resources chosen by teachers for their students all in one organised place. For example prior to a recent GCSE Mathematics module the relevant Moodle course received hundreds of hits as everything students needed was available, not only syllabus information and papers but worked examples that we had uploaded. It is also of course possible to use forums and quizzes on a VLE. (Digital Tools blog page on Moodle).
Slideshare - it is very easy to upload presentations to this (free) presentation sharing site. Any PowerPoints for students could be uploaded for example. There are several examples on this site, such as the WolframAlpha slideshows.
Diigo - I have saved many hundreds of bookmarks using this social bookmarking / annotation tool; I can even find them again! There are numerous examples of Diigo lists on this site – see this list on Statistics and Probability for example; note that the green link takes you direct to the site. Always liking the idea of a backup plan – all my Diigo bookmarks are sent automatically to Evernote via ifttt (I also have Diigo set up to send the bookmarks to Delicious!)
Wikispaces- I have used wikis with Mathematics classes - for doing exercises together for a change, as journals for example where each student has a page; also for any collaborative projects as it is easy for a student or students to be responsible for a page of a project. (Digital Tools blog page on Wikis).
Screenr - when trying to type Mathematical text is too slow, a quick scribble on some kind of screencasting tool can be the answer (graphics tablet essential). (Blog post on Online Whiteboards - consistently one of the most popular posts here).
A choice of 10 is not actually enough for those tools I use all the time! I see that GeoGebra, Gmail, Excel, and Google calendar are all quite rightly on the 2011 list and WolframAlpha (mentioned above with Slideshare) nearly made it!
Update – Jane’s top 100 tools 2012:
The 2011 Top Tools: