Every day in my K-8 tech classes, I use a variety of cloud-based tools to enhance the learning experience for my students. There are more of these 'Web 2.0' tools than I can keep up with, but when you teach tech or coordinate technology for your school, 'keeping up' is part of your job.
Here's how I determine which of these hundreds (thousands?) of tools are student-ready:
- Before I introduce a tool to my class, I try it myself. Can I get it to work with ease? Is it intuitive or will it require teaching? Does it work as promised? Are there intrusive ads? Will students get distracted as they work through the steps required to complete the assignment?
- Next, I query my social networks to determine the experiences of fellow tech teachers. Have they had much success with this tool? Any problems they ran into? Is it stable? If my e-colleagues find that the glamour of the Web tool is only skin deep, I move on. Of course, sometimes I'm ahead of the curve and my colleagues are unfamiliar with the tool. In truth, that rarely happens. There's always someone somewhere who has experience.