Free Online Tools

Writing a blog on free online tools is a perfect opportunity for me to share a Powtoon that I made regarding digital tools that can be used for online collaboration. The link is here:

Here you’ll find a variety of tools that can be used for online collaborations. Whether they are used primarily for social, educational, or professional interactions, there is really a plethora of tools that can be utilized to make online collaborations run smoothly.

In my own personal experience, I really enjoyed using Google Docs. I find that in using Google Docs you literally have all the tools you would need to efficiently work with others at your fingertips, from google hangouts, to slides, and docs, it offers a platform where every member of a collaboration can view, edit, and comment on all aspects of the collaborative process. It also automatically keeps a log of the time that all changes have been made to a document to ensure that there is a process account of what took place during the collaboration.

Lastly, I would like to talk about some of the online tools that I have used for presentations and creating digital artifacts. The first is Powtoon, the program that I used for the video above, it’s a really easy to use program that allows you to create impressive videos containing the input that you so choose to apply. The only problem with this program and many others is that only certain features are available for free, you can get a lot more graphics if you pay monthly for them. The other tool that I have really enjoyed using is Prezi. If you want to amp up your presentations and add an interesting dimension that Power Point or Google slides can’t, then this is your go to. It’s a great way to depict your thinking through a linear connection of slides. Much like Powtoon the downfall of Prezi is that you have to pay for additional services such as making your presentations private.

There truly are so many free tools out there that can make your presentations and work or in the classroom really stand out!

My First Listicle: 5 Ways to Help You Improve Your Collaborations:

Collaboration is a social process by which individuals interact in groups to develop their knowledge and work towards achieving a set goal. Collaboration is becoming more widely used in classrooms, amongst educators, and in other professions outside of education.  However, working with others is not always the easiest task as we often face many bumps along the way. Here are 5 crucial components of collaborations that should help to make any group project progress more smoothly.

  1. Establish a Common Ground: For collaborations to be successful, all participants must be aware of the goal that is set out to be achieved. If there are misunderstandings at this level, it will further impact the work that students and others put into solving a problem. Once everyone is on the same page, it is more likely that successful cooperation can follow.
  2. Set Roles: If members of a collaboration are unaware of their role, motivation and interest can easily be lost. Members might begin to question “what am I even doing here?” or arguments might be introduced over who should take on which tasks. Collaborations will work more smoothly if roles are established before the work begins.
  3. Engage in Discourse: It’s important to consistently engage in discourse throughout the collaborative process. By doing so we can ask questions, make arguments, or seek clarification that help to ensure that the group has a common understanding of what has taken place throughout the entirety of the process and can further develop a shared knowledge of the task at hand. It’s important to remember that no member should be left behind. In collaborations, knowledge and understanding should be shared and mutual.
  4. Reflect: Reflecting on progress is crucial because it allows for an opportunity to determine where any missteps might have been made. It also provides an opportunity to reroute your plan in making progress toward your goal if something has been discovered to be a more useful or useless tactic throughout the process. Reflections allow the group to continually analyze what is taking place within the process and evaluate what can be done, if anything, to promote even more progress.
  5. Celebrate: Last, but not least, it’s always important to celebrate your success. Collaborations are hard work and should be rewarded. The knowledge that has been gained and the discoveries that have been made should be shared and celebrated. Don’t forget- rewards are a great opportunity to keep groups motivated when embarking on their next collaborative task!

Once again, collaborations might seem like difficult task, with differing opinions and ideas, but in the long run they allow for a richer knowledge to be gained that can be shared by the entire group, an outcome well worth the effort!

Student Privacy

Student privacy is an issue that I have recently thought about a lot. Currently, I am taking a course in collaborative inquiry wherein the topic of the benefits of online collaboration for teachers and students is prominent. In the past, I never used online collaboration for my students but now that I have been educated on sites such as Edmondo and knowledge forums that allow for students to build on their knowledge through the sharing of ideas and engaging in discourse with their peers, I feel that engaging in online learning can be greatly beneficial for the students. However, when it comes to anything that is shared online, privacy should always be taken seriously. In my own personal life I am very careful with the information that I share online and what I make public, educating our students to do the same is also very important. So, when it comes to the work of our students, should they share it online? I feel that there are pros and cons to doing so.

Pro- by sharing our work it allows us to help educate others, bringing light to something that others may not have thought about before OR it can help our own knowledge develop as others may comment and ask questions that can help to develop our knowledge on the topic that we are posting on.

CON-perhaps sharing our work online would give way for other students to use work that wasn’t their own which may affect their own learning as perhaps they wouldn’t put in as much research into an assignment as they would have if they did the assignment on their own.

However, at the end of the day, I feel that building our knowledge through the sharing of ideas and working together to answer questions that perhaps we never thought of before is an excellent way to learn, after all “learning occurs through interaction with peers” (Barron, 2000). By using the internet to share our work we open up our knowledge beyond the limits of the classroom which can potentially allow for feedback from those with different backgrounds and ideas that can help to develop a deeper and more inclusive knowledge of the material that we are learning At the end of the day, I think that having our students share their work online is greatly beneficial and protecting their privacy at the same time, perhaps by not sharing their identity is necessary.

 

Barron, B. 2000. Achieving coordination in collaborative problem-solving groups. Journal of the Learning Sciences . Vol. 9 pp. 403-436.