Online Learning - Tech toolkit

For what it's worth, I thought I would write a blog post about the technology I am using in my online classes and about some of the ways I use it. There is nothing ground breaking here, which is why I think it may be useful to some readers.

Index of covered Apps

Since many of you are already familiar with some of the technologies I cover below, here's an index that allows you to skip to the ones you may want to read about:

LMS: Simon and Google Classroom

My school's official LMS is called Simon. It is a local product with a very responsive owner and helpful support personnel. It is robust and allows the parents to see what work their children have been set, what they have completed and the teacher's feedback on submitted work.

I set up a weekly task for the sake of ongoing feedback. In the task description, I specify what we're learning that week and what the student is required to submit. An engaged parent can see a weekly snapshot of their child's progress.

The task description always ends with: Resources can be found on Google Classroom. This is because Classroom provides a quicker interface for me to publish resources and for the students to access them. This is especially the case given that I use Google Apps to create most of my resources in the first place.

In summary, I use my school's LMS for anything that requires parents to see and that needs to stay part of the student's history throughout their journey at the school. For lesson by lesson resources and quizzes, I use Google Classroom.

Online video conferencing tool: Zoom

I use Zoom. The other tool available to me is Google Meet. These are my reasons:
  • I find the audio much better than Google Meet. 
  • I use breakout rooms (which Meet now has, I am told)
  • I use the annotation tools that come with Zoom when showing resources such as PDF files
  • Zoom has the concept of a Host, teacher
At the end of the lesson, I often clip the most important part of the lesson, using Quicktime Player, and post it on Classroom.

Google Jamboard

Jamboard is a Google App that gives you blank pages, called frames, to "write" on. Below is a frame from one of my lessons:
As you can see, there are three ways I add information to a frame:
  1. Sticky notes, in which you can type text
  2. Pasted screenshots, in this case the text of the question
  3. Writing from a Wacom tablet
The reasons I use Jamboard are (I am "ending with why"!):
  1. I can post it on Google Classroom before the lesson.
  2. Students can open it and follow the changes to the Jamboard live. This is especially helpful to a student whose Internet connection is playing up, preventing her from following the Zoom meeting. 
  3. Students can add their own contributions just as they could in a Google Doc.
  4. At the end of the lesson, the notes are already available through the same link posted on Classroom.

Google Forms for quizzes

Google Form Quizzes integrate nicely with Classroom. You can create a "Quiz Assignment" which takes you to Google Form with a Quiz template. This enables you to:
  • Ask questions. These can be in the form of images that are screenshots of your existing bank of questions. I use two formats for my questions:
    • Multiple Choice
    • Short Answer
  • Specify an answer key
  • Get all students' answers collated in one spreadsheet.
I have a quiz at least once a week to gauge what the students know and to provide them with feedback.

Slido for polling my students

This is a sample poll I used with Year 7 Digital Tech students at the end of last semester:
Here's a "freehand" poll in Year 10 Maths:
For more on the benefits of asking this question, suggested to us by our principal, see my earlier post.

Acknowledgement

My colleagues, Cath, Naomi, Caitlin and Steven introduced me to features of the programs mentioned above and really sped me up on my learning journey. I am grateful to them for doing this.

Conclusion

These are the main technologies I am using. They work on all platforms, Windows, Mac or Linux, and are uncomplicated to use with an abundance of online tutorials for them. Simon may be the most "proprietary" of them but, chances are, your school also has an LMS that you are already familiar with.

Are there any technologies you have found that make your life and that of your students easier? Please share in the comments.
 

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