Andy Garcia of Educational Paradigns: Learning and Teaching in the 21st Century blog, wrote an article titled “10 Things All Teachers Should Know How to Do” that was published on July 1, 2010. I bookmarked this article for future reference and it eventually inspired me to write an explanation of how to do these ten things to use in a professional development session.
So, here, it goes…an explanation of the 10 things all teachers should know how to do!
1. Subscribe to an RSS Feed
RSS Feed stands for “Really Simple Syndication meaning than anyone can syndicate their online content by allowing Internet users to sign up for the service. On most websites and blogs there’s a subscribe option. Click on the RSS or Subscribe link to start the process of activating a subscription to a website’s content whether it’s article, audio podcast, or video based. You can choose one of the web-based readers, email, or the xml option (which imports the feed into your web browser’s bookmarks. I like to use the XML option, but I would choose Google Reader if I was choosing a web-based news reader because I already use a Google account for mail, calendar, sites and maps.
2. Bookmark, tag and annotate websites in the Cloud
There are several options for bookmarking, including using
the bookmarking tool in your web browser (like XMarks in Firefox); however, this are two ‘best’ online options for bookmarking and the great thing about using an online bookmarking tool is the ability to access your bookmarks anywhere there’s wireless. Online bookmarking relies on a tagging system instead of organizing your favourite links into folders. Delicious is an application you can sign up to use and then download a toolbar for your browser for quick bookmarking. When you bookmark a site, you add tags for quick searching later. The tags can be used to create lists of sites. Diigo operates in the same manner, but it has options that are appealing: online highlighter and sticky notes for adding your own notes to webpages that will be there whenever you go back to the page.
3. Create and use a BlogA blog is an online personal or professional diary. There are numerous platforms for creating your own blog. In every blogging platform there’s a ‘dashboard’ of some type for styling your blog, adding pages and postings, permissions, and other general site settings. As well, there a process for adding links, embedding web objects, and uploaded images and videos.
Here is a list of the most popular options:
- Google Sites – If you already have a Google account, you only need to add this feature to your account. Then you select “Create” and complete the sign up information and specifications of your site. It’s quite versatile for any type of website.
- Blogger – This platform is owned by Google and the format and style is quite specific to daily or periodic blogging.
- WordPress – Same features as Blogger.
- LiveJournal – Much the same as Blogger or WordPress.
- Kid Blog – Designed with students in mind, the teacher signs up for the account and the student accounts are created by the teacher – no personal email required.
- Posterous – An email connected blogging system that can be posted by writing and sending an email. There isn’t much control over the posting format, but you can blog to this site using your cell phone and attaching content to the email, i.e. images, audio recordings, and videos
- Tumblr – Like Posterous. Also, post text, photos, quotes, links, dialogues, audio, video, slideshows, and more.
- Penzu – Personal online journal or diary that is private, meant for more personal writing. There’s less messing around with a dashboard and setting and more of a focus on writing.
4. Create and use a Wiki site
A wiki is a site that is created collaboratively with other teachers. It’s a space online where people collaborate on a particular topic. An individual can create a wiki, add the content, and then make it available for others to view (like this one), OR more than one person can be an administrator who has control over the style and content. A wiki can have an unlimited number of participants! The general idea is for people to collaborate on the creation of the content. A wiki can be used to compile information and materials for your own professional development or to share information and links with students. Students could create wikis on different subjects for projects.
Here is a list of the most popular options:
- Wikispaces – Create your own wiki, make it public or private, and allow collaborators if you wish.
- PBworks – Same as Wikispaces.
- Wetpaint – Free wikis that are more personal interest and popular culture focused.
- Wikia – Similar to Wetpaint.
5. Create hyperlinks (in emails, on blogs, websites and wikis)
A hyperlink is a hotlink to another . You can add hyperlinks to your emails or on any type of website (including blogs and wikis). Usually there’s an ‘add link’ button somewhere in the dashboard of a blog, website or wiki meaning that the process is as simple as highlighting the word or phrase that you want to be a hotlink, copying the URL link from the browser bar (when on the site you want to link to), clicking the ‘add link’ button, and pasting the URL in the box. You can insert hyperlinks that are internal, meaning they are pages on your site, or external, meaning they are other pages on the Internet. Once you know how to add links the easy way, you may want to learn how to add a link using the HTML. Here is a tutorial (this is a hyperlink) available on a technology help site for adding the hyperlink in HTML form.
6. Create a PDF file for free
There are file conversion sites online that are free, so you upload the file you want converted and it gets converted to a PDF. If your word processor doesn’t have a ‘print to PDF’ option, this is a solution if you want your file to be a PDF. The appeal of the PDF: the file maintains its format, it’s more difficult for others to manipulate it, and the file size is significantly smaller for saving, emailing or uploading.
Here are a few good options:
- Online ConVert -Free online file conversions of all types. Follow the instructions on the screen.
- Zamzar -Same as Online ConVert.
7. Capture, Remix and Upload Photos (without copyright restrictions)
8. Capture, Remix and Upload Audio and Video
It’s quite easy to capture simple videos with any digital camera with an SD card. Audio can be captured using a microphone, but you will need an audio program. You could use a simple online recording program like AudioBoo or CinchCast, but the final product is not an MP3 but a file that can be embedded on any website. If you are wanting to add an under five minutes audio to a website, for example as a podcast, you create the audio on the web application and then use the embed code to put it on your site. There will be an embed button in the dashboard. If you want to mix different forms of audio, the free shareware download Audacity is the best choice. There are several options but just keep it simple to start. Note that the file must be rendered to the audio form you desire: MP3 is the most versatile! Otherwise the program saves your audio file as an Audacity project file. Uploading a video to a site like YouTube is as simple as signing up for an account and following the instructions on screen. It does take some time to complete the upload and it has to be under 15 minutes. The shorter the video, the faster the upload.
9. Use Google Docs or other collaborative file sharing systems
Google Docs is yet another Google application that can be added to your Google account if it’s a feature that you don’t already use. After you add it to your account, you will see that it is organized like Gmail or other webmail applications. You can create several types of documents: text, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms. The document is saved online and you can access it anywhere you can access the Internet. The files can be kept private, shared by link, or made public and editable. Google Docs, and other Web 2.0 applications like it, allow the students to collaborate on the same document at the same time. To collaborate, they have to be invited with a link, so the permissions cannot be set to private for this to work.
10. Locate and participate in Social Networks on Education, tech tools, 21st Century learning, and content-specific websites
They are like Facebook only they have a professional purpose. Here are some suggested good educational social networks:
The Educator’s PLN – This is a general educator’s site for connecting with other educators from every grade around the world. There are groups and forums that can be joined (or you can create your own) according to professional interests and needs. As well, this PLN Ning is specifically tied to the #edchat hashtag on Twitter where there are educational discussions Tuesdays at 1pm and 7pm focusing on a current issue in education. (See my Twitter page for more information regarding hashtags and the best tools for managing Twitter.)
Classroom 2.0 – Another Ning PLN that focuses on current educational practices and technology.
English Comapanion – This Ning network is my favourite as an English teacher because it’s specific to my subject. Sometimes I post questions to request assistance from other English and language teachers; other times, I answer other teachers’ questions and offer assistance if I have the time, knowledge and expertise to do so. I have, at times, received responses within the hour of posting!