A big part of my job as technology teacher is IT coordinator, which means I must keep up with tech ed widgets and tools so I know what to recommend to the teachers at my school. I have a robust PLN that constantly shares what they are using in their classrooms, programs like PowToon, Dipity, Tikatok, Yacapaca, Glittertools, Chart Gizmo, Noteflight–you get the idea. Still, there are more than any one teacher can test properly.
In a perfect world, here’s how I determine which of these hundreds (thousands?) of tools are student-ready:
- I try it myself. Does it work easily and as promised? Is it intuitive? Are there intrusive ads that will distract students as they work through the steps?
- Next, I query my social networks. Have my fellow tech teachers had success with this tool? What problems did they run into? Is it stable? If my e-colleagues find the glamor is only skin deep, I move on.
If a tool passes these two tests, I try it in class. Since I teach over 430 students every week, that’s the true barometer. If a program survives the hands-on grade-level labor of dozens of students, if they can create a project that supports their learning in new creative ways and still have fun, I’ve found a good tool.