Module 8: Supporting Literacy with Learning Technology: Web Tools
Image courtesy of Google Images
In my last learning curation, I assembled a toolkit of resources for teaching digital and media literacy. Building upon that curation, it seemed a logical next step to being assembling a toolkit of web tools for supporting literacy. Learning technologies and web tools certainly support my essential question, “How can I develop library learning commons programming which effectively honours 21st-century learning and inspire my students to be curious about the world around them, discover their individual passions, and become lifelong learners?”. Using the web tools in my toolkit allow for creativity, differentiation and personalized learning, honouring student choice and voice, and supporting 21st-century learning. Students gain important skills and learn various concepts as they interact with web tools, and I have often given students choice in how they wish to present and/or create content, particularly at the culmination of an inquiry unit. Web 2.0 tools in particular have the “potential to support learner inquiry, to offer new modes of representation and expression requiring literacies, to support innovative thinking and problem solving through collaboration and to allow publication of work to an authentic external audience” (Ferguson et. al., 2015). These potential benefits of using such tools not only supports 21st-century learning, but also creates a deeper and richer learning experience for our students. There are certainly barriers to the use of web tools, including cost, privacy and safety concerns, and updates and maintenance of infrastructure, but I strongly believe that the benefits to students have tremendous potential to support learning if we can find creative solutions to perceived risk and barriers. Web tools also have the power to increase student engagement and form connections between students’ informal and personal use of technology and help ensure students are encouraged to interact with technology in meaningful and positive ways.
Image retrieved from: https://sites.google.com/site/newwebtoolsforblendedlearning/
In selecting the tools for my toolkit, I considered several factors while utilising the readings and resources from this module, as well as exploring reviews and recommendations from Common Sense Media:
Appropriateness for use with elementary-aged students – iPad apps are often more user-friendly and accessible than web-based tools or websites, particularly with primary students. Many of the tools I have highlighted have not only a web component but also an app. Additionally, some tools I have highlighted would be more appropriate for teacher use. For example, curation tools which would be best used for teachers to populate with curated resources for students to access or tools for design to be utilised for teachers creating instructional tools.
The intended concept, purpose, and category of each tool – What are the pedagogical reasons for using this tool? What concepts and skills are students using and refining by using each tool?
Privacy and security – I have not yet thoroughly examined each tool to determine potential safety concerns, but would ensure that I do so before using any new tools with students.
Applications for aspects of my teaching position other than my role as teacher-librarian – I also teach music and technology, and am interested in finding web tools which can be used for these purposes as well.
Tools which are already used in the district – Considering which tools are currently being used across my school district allows me to locate other tools which would complement these and fit with the culture of what is currently happening.
I have also attempted to mostly highlight resources which are completely free or offer a free account, although this may limit functionality.
As I explored the four categories of curate, present/publish, create/design, network I also noticed how the categories are interconnected and would argue that many web tools could be used for a variety of different purposes and fit in more than one category. For simplicity’s sake, I have organized my toolkit with each web tool in only one category although it may be used in different ways.
I have organized my toolkit using Wakelet, which is a curation tool recommended by a colleague that I have been meaning to try. Within each category I have also attempted to use one of the recommended resources in my toolkit and included my example.
“K-12 digital curation is about getting our users/students/teachers to the good stuff, pointing them to content and resources they might not themselves discover with their own intuitive strategies. It’s about saving teachers instructional time. But it’s also about telling a story, organizing resources for sense-making, interpreting, presenting choices, palettes, and dashboards. And it’s also about instruction and modelling for learners what it looks like to organize content and tools to manage our digital lives as information citizens.” (Valenza, 2017)
The above quote clearly highlighted to me the connection between using web tools for curation and my essential question connected to 21st-century learning. Organizing information is an essential skill for creating students who are literate and able to make sense of the world around them.
In addition to using Wakelet for curation, I also tried out the Smithsonian Learning Lab to curate some resources for a jazz music unit I am currently teaching to my grade 4/5 music classes.
To experiment with a tool for publication and presentation, I tested out Powtoon. I have used the “School Rules” template as a fun way of presenting rules in my music classroom.
To test out a creation and design tool, I created the above infographic using Piktochart.
I have slightly modified the category of “network” to include collaboration. One of my favourite collaboration tools that I frequently use with students is Padlet. Below is an example of a Padlet provocation that I recently created with one of my Grade Two classes in the library.
Ferguson, Rebecca, et. al. (2015). Pre-teens’ informal learning with ICT and Web 2.0. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 24(2)., 247-265.
Valenza, Joyce. (July 5, 2017). Curation situations: let us count the ways. School Library Journal. Retrieved from: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2017/07/05/curation-situations-let-us-count-the-ways/
Schwartz, Katrina. (2016, June 22). Librarian approved: 30 ed-tech apps to inspire creativity and creation. Retrieved from: https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/06/22/librarian-approved-30-ed-tech-apps-to-inspire-creativity-and-creation/
Holderman, Ellen. (May 2, 2014). 16 websites and apps for making videos and animation. Retrieved from: https://www.commonsense.org/education/blog/16-websites-and-apps-for-making-videos-and-animation