The number of tools available to us as educators to create innovative assignments for students is overwhelming. On Tuesday, September 19th, from 4:00 to 5:30 in the HCC Digital Auditorium, DTLT will host a “tool parade,” where we will show off about 25-30 tools, running the gamut of genres, with a particular emphasis on dynamic and interactive digital media tools. Immediately afterward, we will hold a reception to celebrate the opening of the academic year and to give participants the opportunity to learn more about the tools introduced. The entire event will be livestreamed on Facebook and from our YouTube channel.
The idea of a tool parade is to get your feet wet … to consider what’s possible, and come away with a handful of tools you might want to explore more deeply. The idea is also to show how arbitrary the selection of a tool can be. And to consider what digital tools can’t do. As we plan for this tool parade, the DTLT team is gathering together here to sharing some of our favorite digital learning tools and resources…
TimeMapper: We frequently recommend tools like timeline.js, StoryMap, and Google My Maps. The tool TimeMapper combines some of the best of all three worlds — a collaborative Google spreadsheet that feeds into a timeline that also does points on a simple map. You can add rich media to the timeline and show how an event moves through time but also over space.
Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers: I mentioned this resource before, when Mike Caulfield gave a talk last semester here at UMW, but it bears repeating. This is an invaluable resource for any faculty interested in integrating digital fluency into their courses. It is open-licensed and flexible, filled with relevant activities for students (and faculty!) to test their skills. It is an important new resource for our digital age.
Pixlr is a browser-based photo editor. You can think of it as a pared-down version of Photoshop. You might use this program for some basic graphic design as well as photo editing. You can use layer and clipping masks, spot removal, image warping, and a number of other adjustments to things like contrast curves, white balance, and sharpness to really manipulate images beyond basic Instagram-like filters.
Screencast-o-Matic is a web-based screen recording program which also allows you to record your webcam. For free, you can record up to 15-minute videos and do some basic editing, then download the file to your computer or upload to YouTube. The ability to record your webcam and screen at the same time, as well as show where your cursor is clicking, makes for a really streamlined way to record online mini-lectures.
Ghost is a streamlined blogging platform that just came out of beta. It currently must be installed on a dedicated server, so can’t yet be used on a shared-hosting platform like UMW’s Domain of One’s Own. My own site is currently being hosted by Ghost(pro), the Ghost non-profit’s own full-service paid hosting option. Even if there are still some barriers to entry for using Ghost, I am curious to find more ways to use it, because of the (somewhat nostalgic) joy and immediacy I’ve felt blogging with this tool.
World Time Buddy is a simple web-based tool I use for coordinating meetings or events across several time zones. Using it for years has helped me think about how we can (and can’t) productively work synchronously on an international scale. What you quickly realize as you start using it is that it’s not possible to make a synchronous event accessible to everyone around the world, but there are new ways we can think about our work to reach beyond our geographical context.
Bit.ly is a tool that has a plethora of uses, but the most common use is link shortening. What does that mean? Well it means that I could take a link like this: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1MhoMDj5wbgC9zolSE-6NY0RKD1pbvn-1_6T-o9jnSt4/edit#slide=id.p and turn it into this: bit.ly/student-technologist.
This is useful in many settings including conferences, meetings, group messages, and in the classroom. Sharing a link to a document, slideshow, or image during class can be a hassle. When you are able to share a very short link with the class, the students will be able to visit the content quicker and will be able to remember the link better outside of class. Bit.ly also includes analytics on the link, meaning you can see how many people have clicked the link.
Ghostery is a browser extension available for all of the major browsers as well as the mobile browsers on Android and iOS. Ghostery detects and blocks trackers on websites, which in turn decreases the page load time, eliminates clutter, and protects your data. With the tool, you will also be able to see what the individual trackers are. Protecting your data is something every web user should consider, because your information is out there. We often do not realize how much information we are sharing across the web. We sign up for accounts with our birthday. We fill in our political stances. We add profile pictures. We fill in our employer addresses. All of these bits of information are being picked up and shared. Taking a step to keep some of this personal data secure can help protect your digital identity as well as your in-person identity.
Known is a lightweight platform for Domain of One’s Own that supports simple, socially minded sites, like blogs, discussions, or even your own personal Instagram. But there’s one thing that Known is really great at supporting — podcasts! You simply login to your site, click on “audio,” upload your podcast’s audio file, and you’re done! You can even use a hashtag (like #podcast) to create a separate podcast feed on a site that also hosts videos, pictures, or blog posts. To try it out on Domain of One’s Own, login to umw.domains and use the Installatron Applications Installer (like you would for WordPress). You can also get a free, but more limited, account on withknown.com.
And speaking of podcasts, FreeSound and SoundBible are two excellent repositories of recorded sounds for those podcasts or other audio (and video!) projects. Need a thumping heartbeat for that dramatic scene? A cackling hyena? The sound of running water? A baby babbling? These sites have you covered with audio clips you can insert into your recordings, or dub over your video, and they are free to use in academic and creative projects (usually with attribution). We even used some of these sounds for our thriller movie, “The Convergence,” premiering on October 4 in the HCC Digital Auditorium!
If it’s free stock video you’re after, check out Pexels Video for a variety of video clips you can use for free, without attribution, for your film projects, or to have some interesting video to play around with as you learn iMovie.
We have written a number of posts about tools for collaborating, writing, visualizing, building community, and creating media on the blog. Check them out!
- Tools for File Sharing and Collaborative Writing
- Choosing a WordPress Theme
- Tools for Collaborative Image, Text, and Audio Annotation
- Building Community Online
- 10 Apps for Writing and Collaboration
What are some of your favorite tools? What new tools should we be looking at? What challenges are you looking for a tool to solve? Let us know in the comments!