14 September 2014

#ReflectiveTeacher Blogging Challenge Day 13: Google, how do I love thee?

Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rank them in terms of their perceived (by you) effectiveness.

In compiling a list of what I use and love, I discovered pretty much everything I love is a Google app--by birth or marriage. Maybe it's because they're free. Maybe it's because they're integrated with accounts all students are provided. Either way, , my edtech recs are primarily an ode to what I love about Google.

Let me Google the ways
10 Communities, maybe only 4 students logged on all summer, but you are an excellent, integrated way for me to get messages and links out...when they're interested...or required.

Forms, I love collecting student information and feedback in your nice, neat little columns with qualitative and quantitative data collecting options!

Hangouts, I admit I find your recording function the most attractive, but screensharing is pretty sweet, not to mention the little sidebar chat for people to interject without interrupting the flow.

7 Docs, now that the simultaneous editing bugs are in the past, your commenting function is a godsend, and the kids and I are deeply enamored of your new suggestion function.

6 Drive, you allow me to upload almost everything I could ever want to upload, share everything I could ever want to share. You do have your foibles with formatting, but we can work around those to make our relationship work.

5 Blogger, I love your labels and your multiple authors, your tabs and your scheduling.

Sites, I love your inserting and embedding, your templates and sharing.

Translate, though some only see our fights, your phrasebook and pronunciation help make us better friends than enemies.

2 YouTube, I could not teach language without your bountiful music videos, playlists, how-tos, and snippets of shows. I can no longer imagine life without you!

Classroom, you came into my life amidst students forgetting to share files, upload issues, and assignment confusion. While I must transfer your grades to another for calculation (and because, well, mandates), know that you have combined everything else I and our children need in a learning management system!

Non-Google Honorable Mentions
Pinterest and Twitter, your boundless context-rich authentic texts and endless ideas make my heart pitterpat on a daily basis.

Dropbox, I know in my heart we were meant to be together, but my district just doesn't understand our love! How I long to save my work on one computer and open it up refreshed on another without having to plug in, upload, download, or open browsers! I fear I took you for granted, too, as now my automatic camera uploads have overflowed your servers. And so, dear Dropbox, it is with heavy heart, that I transfer my files to Drive, who doesn't understand my synching needs like you do, but I don't have to sneak around my district's rules to see him.

ThingLink & Piktochart, you are as two sides of the infograph coin, making information more accessible and appealing to all.

TodaysMeet, you are the answer to listless movie watching and talking to the screen, making learning always interactive.

InfuseLearning, it would have been really sweet to not have to kill a forest of tape trees to review vocabulary doodled on paper and to be able to just cut and paste rather than photograph, upload, insert, crop to display the drawings. Here's hoping our love will have a chance now that laptops are in order.

It's not you, it's me.
There are many tools I use that are not on my list for various reasons, some conspicuous in their absence. Here's why we cannot be together just now.

Audacity is a staple of free and easy recording for any language class, but I find I really need an easier publishing/embedding option for reviewing student recordings to be manageable.

Trello was a staple of my Genius Hour plan last year, and it helped organize my approach, but mostly it just confused the students to have that on top of where the assignments were.

Glogster I'm not happy about discovering that I had to shell out $40 to make the soundboard project feasible this semester, and then there's the whole rigamarole with deleting/not deleting unused accounts, activating and inability to deactivate. DiscoveryEd has a similar, if less extensive function I may be looking into, but I'm still really hoping someone will go ahead and invent me a soundboard creating/publishing app.

Skype is still fine for international synchronous collaboration, but I really wish there was a free way to record the video, like on Hangouts.

Movie apps like Sock Puppets, Adobe Voice and GreenScreen have a lot of potential, but I haven't had a chance to pilot the latter two, and the former frustrates be because I can't figure out how to export students' work without filming their iPads with my iPad.

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