We’re living in 2007: here are some tools which I would expect every teacher to be able to use. Yes, there are the IT standards for teachers but, inexplicably, they centre around business administration-type tasks. Here’s the tools I think every teacher should have installed on their machine and know how to use. Putting something together using these tools should be second nature.
There’s five in all. If there’s someone in your department/faculty/school who doesn’t know how to use them, perhaps you should give them a nudge?
Many teachers now use applications such as Powerpoint to prepare content in advance. I use it every lesson – if only to display the date, title and objectives. It can also be used to blank out parts of images, add speech bubbles to people in photographs and make teachers’ writing legible! If you’ve got an interactive whiteboard you can save your jottings to your Powerpoint presentation for future reference.
Having Powerpoints available tied to schemes of work for colleagues to use and build upon is a great way to collaborate and ensure consistency within a department.
So long as you’ve got a SMART interactive whiteboard somewhere in your school you are allowed to install their software on your machine. You don’t actually have to use it with an interactive whiteboard! The clipart is very good and there are interactive features such as a thermometer and a ‘screen shade’ for memorization activities, etc. Certainly worth experimenting with, then you can ask for an interactive whiteboard each!
I can’t think of many subjects where Google Earth couldn’t be used effectively. The ability to quite literally have the world at your fingertips still amazes me. There’s add-on layers and, once you get used to the interface, it’s simple to add overlays and placemarks. The real power is being able to fire it up in response to a curious student, the off-the-cuff question. More in my brief guide here.
Using video in the classroom is an extremely useful and effective way of getting across important points when teaching. If you haven’t asked your technicians to digitise the important videos that you use, do it now before they wear out! You can also share clips with colleagues and download relevant ones from the Internet.
You then need something to be able to play these video clips. So that you don’t have to search for specific players for specific files, just use VLC. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux is free and Open-Source and plays everything…
Firefox is a great web browser. Not only does it allow you to open websites in separate tabs instead of separate windows, but it is standards-compliant (unlike Internet Explorer) meaning that websites appear as they are supposed to.
The reason educators should get used to using Firefox is that it allows add-ons (extensions) to be used to customise your experience. There are thousands of these – try the Firefox Add-ons Directory.
Which tools do you think every educator should be able to use?