I first tried online learning when I took a high school biology class on my school’s television. We were a small school, so some of our options were to be taught classes by teachers in other schools. This was in 2012 when there were not as many tools for online education as there are now. It was not very fun. After teaching in an emergency online learning setting, I had a lot of opportunities to try out tools that I enjoyed using and still use in my classroom today.
Before I jump into online tools, it’s important to note that some students and teachers will thrive in an online setting or while using online tools, but it’s not for everyone.
Those Who Benefit From Online Learning and Online Tools
- Students who focus better outside the classroom and who can develop their own routines.
- Students who are immunocompromised or have a disability that maybe affected by learning in a classroom setting.
- Students who are busy ( like grad students who are also full-time teachers).
- Teachers and students that enjoy technology and have developed the skills they need to use online tools productively.
Those Who Do Not Benefit from Online Learning and Online Tools
- Students who need a teacher to develop important skills.
- Those who thrive on social interaction and who need in-person learning to succeed
- Teachers that cannot teach in front of a screen all day and enjoy being in a physical classroom.
- Teachers and students that aren’t tech savvy.
Online Tools I Have Enjoyed
I’ve taken a few EdTech classes and I love what technology can bring into a classroom. For some teachers, it can be difficult to find and navigate through all the tools we have to explore. Many of us taught through a pandemic and even though it isn’t exactly online learning, ( it was more of an emergency type of online learning) I think many of us took some of those tools back into our classrooms. Lovepreet, Shristy, and Gunpreesh gave us many examples of their favourites. Here are some of my mine:
- Google Classroom– I would schedule all assignments and posts beforehand and have them ready during emergency learning. Now, I use Google Classroom when I have links I want my students to check out. I will also assign Google Docs or Google Slides for projects so they can turn it in and it’s easier to access when marking.
- Google Slides and Google Docs– My students use these tools to be able to collaborate on assignments and projects. It’s super easy to use and my students are pros now.
- Math and revision games like Kahoot, Blooket, Quizizz, and Prodigy– We played plenty of quiz games in 2020. Now, I like making revision games for math on sites like this since they are engaging and easy to set up.
- Padlet– I never got to try this in an online setting before, but I enjoyed using it in my classroom. It’s easy to navigate and allows for creativity. I’ve used it in my online classes and I know many teachers enjoy using Padlet to collaborate with other classrooms around the world.
- Flipgrid and Canva– I haven’t tried these video-making sites in any setting as a teacher, but I’ve used them in my online grad classes. I want to try and use them in my class this year ( however it’s a bit difficult to have students record at school).
Using These Tools in My Classroom
I’ve already mentioned this above, but there are many tools I used while teaching remotely that I still love to use in my classroom. At times, I enjoyed teaching online. I enjoy using tech and it was a nice change of pace. However, even with all of these amazing tools, the connections I make with my students in person outweigh all of this. I still use many online tools in my classroom since they help develop important skills, increase productivity,( for some students) allow for creativity, and adaptability. However, I struggle at times when I need to teach these skills and find a middle ground. Some students know more about tech than me, while others still have trouble making a text box.
- Do you have any rare online tools that you use that you think other teachers should know about?
- How do you manage online tools in your classroom when some students may be more tech-savvy than others?
Thanks for reading!
4 thoughts on “Online Tools in and Out of the Classroom”
With regards to your first question I don’t necessarily have any fantastic tools that haven’t been already mentioned, however I do have some advice. If there is someone in your school who is passionate about a particular set of tools try and partner up with them. For a long time I avoided using more advanced features in the Microsoft suite because I didn’t understand them. One of my colleagues (who moved into the class across the hall) came from a 10 year career in banking and was very well versed in their use. One day he saw me using Outlook and had to intervene because the way I was using it “was painful to watch.” I didn’t know much about how to use the program in more than a rudimentary way, but after a couple of hours he significantly improved my outlook skills. I was so bad I didn’t even have folders set up in my inbox. I seem to think that the Internet is the repository of all knowledge, but often forget about all the human resources that surround me.
I like how you broke down who benefits from online learning and who wouldn’t. I definitely wouldn’t have done well if I had to complete elementary/high school from home. But now as an adult, I work better at home than in the classroom because I can pick the time of day I am feeling the most productive. As for using tools that are well-known. I am a sucker for teacher tok on Tik Tok and I am constantly finding new apps and tools to use in the classroom. Some I use are Blooket, GimKit, all the apps in the Google suite and more. My toolkit is always growing! Using a new tool also promotes engagement in the classroom. When kids in my class are more tech-savvy than others I utilize peer teaching. I have experts in the room that students know to go to for questions. By doing this, I also don’t need to explain the same thing multiple times. Win win!
Anonymous was me by the way!
Great post Megan. I too enjoy many of the tools that you do. I think that in response to your second question we can always keep in mind that some students will be more tech savvy than others (just like us teachers!). Often times those students will be willing to help others. We should take advantage of this and give students new tools to try + time to play around and explore them before always expecting them to “do something” with it. These tech savvy students can be great leaders !