Recently I was invited to attend a technology workshop for language teachers. Now mind you, I am not a language teacher – but seeing as I support faculty who are language teachers; I felt it behooved me to attend. Boy, am I glad I did! The workshop was led by Edwige Simon, Ph.D. of The University of Colorado at Boulder. Not only was she knowledgeable about technology relative to language education, but also provided a wealth of information that applies to diverse curricula.
Here is a brief review of some of the technologies we discussed and experimented with in the workshop:
- Kahoot: Kahoot! is a free game-based learning platform that makes it fun to learn – any subject, in any language, on any device, for all ages! Create a fun learning game in minutes (we call these ‘kahoots’), made from a series of multiple choice questions. Add videos, images, and diagrams to your questions to amplify engagement! Kahoots are best played in a group setting, like a classroom. Players answer on their own devices, while games are displayed on a shared screen to unite the lesson – creating a ‘campfire moment’ – encouraging players to look up. Social learning promotes discussion and pedagogical impact… whether players are in the same room or on the other side of the globe! After a game, encourage players to create and share their own Kahoots to deepen understanding, mastery, and purpose.
- Voice Thread – Starts the user with a free account allowing them to practice a limited amount of recordings. There are several models of membership including personal and academic memberships – each with varying benefits. Voice Thread is an application that can be used right from your browser, which allows you to use different types of media to create an interactive slideshow. You can use pictures, videos, documents, or even presentations. Then, you or your students can record video/audio that allows you to describe each slide in more detail. You can even draw right on the slide to circle or highlight different areas of interest.
One of the other great features of VoiceThread is that with each account, you can add up to fifty “identities.” This allows you to create an identity for each student without having to create individual accounts. This makes it very easy to change from one student to another without having to log out and log back in continuously. Go to YouTube and watch a couple different VoiceThreads to gain a better understanding.
- FreshGrade FreshGrade is a free tool that helps teachers plan their lessons, assess their students, document their work, provide personalized instruction, visualize student mastery based on standards and report student work in the form of ePortfolios. It is fully accessible in a browser and has a companion iPhone app (Quick Capture) that helps teachers document student activity in real-time.
Teachers create lesson plans based on objectives and standards and find resources to use (websites, videos, texts, etc.) from the FreshGrade library based on those objectives. They can use the browser add-on to immediately assign links to a specific student. When creating assessments, teachers can choose from a variety of question and scale types. They can track the results of these assessments and view detailed reports on student comprehension according to a teacher’s objectives or standards along-side behavioral trends and anecdotal notes. Teachers can use the Quick Capture app to take photos and makes notes in real-time. They can use these lessons, assessment results and anecdotes to create ePortfolios for their students that they can share with those students.
- Pictochart (sign-in with Google): Piktochart is a web-based infographic application which allows users without intensive experience as graphic designers to easily create professional-grade infographics using themed templates. An important feature of Piktochart is its HTML Publishing capability, which generates infographics that are viewable online with multiple clickable elements for users. Additionally, the program provides tools to add interactive maps, charts, videos, and hyperlinks.
- Vocaroo: audio recorder (up to 5 minutes) – This is one of the easiest podcasting tools you can use and is great for simple recording that both the teacher or the students can do. If you are looking for a quick and basic podcasting tool then this is a good starting point.