Things: Google Docs, Screencasting, Screensharing

The college I teach for offers a 23 Things for Professional Development program. I just completed the summer portion which included Things 4, 5, and 6: Google Docs, Screencasting, and Screensharing.  This is a great program led by some creative librarians who truly want the educators at their school to have the opportunity to learn about, play around, and practice applying technology tools that have the opportunity to create better learning environments for students.

The program is simple (thank goodness)! Each Thing has a separate area on a wiki. There were three lessons to each Thing, one released every two weeks. In order to earn participation, everyone did an activity then shared about it in the discussion forum and replied to two coworkers.

Summaries of my three Things are below:

Google Docs
I have been using Google Docs successfully for years, and love it. I had not used it in the classroom because I could not see the payoff prior to participating in this activity. I have changed my mind. There are a lot of advantages of offering a Google Docs experience to my students. For many, it is easier to use and access than Microsoft Word. For many it is a simpler way of keeping themselves and their assignments organized. I think these are the most relevant goals that I will keep in mind when I try out Google Docs in the classroom next quarter.

Screencasting (Screenr, Screencast-o-matic)
Before this program, I was unfamiliar with screencasting and how to do it. I knew the technology existed, but had never tried to create anything myself. I now have created a screencast myself, realize how simple it is, and will definitely incorporate it into my classroom. The ability to show examples and illustrate concepts in a video format without needing high-tech, fancy equipment or computers is really amazing. It is silly not to use this freeware to help students understand concepts.

Screensharing (Join.me)
I have enjoyed using Join.me in the classroom for a while now. The virtual tutoring is something I feel comfortable using and offering to students. After going through this Thing, I will now explore other opportunities. I will hold virtual office hours on via Join.me as opposed to the angel chat room as an opportunity to “do more” during those sessions for those that attend. The question I am still left with is how to motivate students to take advantage of the opportunities. I have included the offer in passive and very direct ways via announcements and emails — but I might try suggesting very specific tasks or concepts that I plan on illustrating at such and such time and see if that improves attendance.

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