The Use of Podcasts

Before digging into it, I was completely unaware of podcasting. Sure, I’d heard about it a couple times but I never watched one and I never subscribed to one. All I knew about it was that it was an option on iTunes, and that some people posted them occasionally. Truth is, podcasts are quite simple. After watching this video, I understood that they can be made using either a microphone, a video camera, a computer and some editing.  It can either be an audio or a visual media file, and anyone can subscribe to your podcasts and the subscription simply downloads the new file each time. 

Since technology is constantly being used, and children are becoming more and more interested in using the technologies available, as a future teacher, it is important to be completely aware with all the different ways I can do different activities and engage my students. The first thing that crossed my mind when I saw this tool was: class projects!

In high school, we were required to create a movie trailer for a book we had read. That was probably the most fun I had ever had completing a school project. To me, presenting a video in class was about 100 times less nerve racking than doing an oral presentation. So this is why I decided to further my knowledge on different and interesting ways I could implement video and audio projects in my classes.

I watched this interesting video, which states several possibilities of using podcasts in the education system. They use it for general purposes, such as school news. This is interesting because it could be such a fun project to do with students. For example, I could have students prepare a podcast of news and events coming up in the school in the target language. The school could have a podcast channel which parents and students could subscribe too. Of course, it also mentions the possibility of using podcasts to do class presentations. Students can get creative on their own time and during class by creating a presentation and use their imagination with props, costumes and scripts! Another idea is that students can conduct interviews on the podcast, as if one of them was a celebrity and the other a talk show host. I honestly think those are all interesting and awesome ways to get students excited and have a little fun while being evaluated. They are definitely projects I would consider implementing in my course plan later on.

I gained more information after watching this video as well. This information centered mostly around the advantages of using podcasts in class. First, it is a great asset to students who are visual and auditory learners. It allows students to express their creativity while having fun. It’s easy to use thanks to all the advancements and programs out there. Of course, it’s not all about the fun. There does need to be an educational side to things, but that’s why I love this idea. It’s both. Students get to work in teams, they get to use all sorts of different technological tools and software’s, and then they get to show their hard work to their peers. In this article entitled “Why every school should be podcasting” (clearly I’m not the only fan), one young student stated that after doing diaries, plays, stories and news reports using podcasts, she describes it as, “a fun thing to do!”

So why not?

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iPads in the classroom.

I remember when my high school got new computers.  Finally, computers that worked! I remember our excitement, and how happy we were when teacher’s said, “Alright, we’re going to the computer room today for an assignment.” Well, now, it’s probably going to be, “Alright, get out your iPads for an assignment.” As someone who has not grown up in a technological savvy school, I admit some confusion upon the necessity of all these tools and electronics being provided by the school. However, having also grown up in a society where technology basically took over everything, I understand the appeal.

As I read into the idea of using iPads in class, I came across this article that said that the use of this Apple product actually was proven to boost test scores. Students were said to be more enthused about literature, hence the improvement in literacy. Now that I think about it, it’s true that the iPad has the potential to make things a lot more interesting. Apple launched iBooks, allowing it to be an e-Reader which provides kids with a book at the click of a button. There are endless amounts of apps, which can enrich student’s knowledge about, well, everything.

Continuing my research into the matter, I found a wonderful site stating “Top 10 Reasons Classrooms Should Have iPads”. Interested, I went on to read the Top 10 reasons and actually learned a few things. First, there’s an app for that! There are tons and tons of applications with educational purposes. There are some very interesting ones specifically for a second language classroom. Now, this one really surprised me. Exams! There are websites and programs that allows kids to write their exams on the iPad and get the result as soon as their done. If that’s not proactive, I don’t know what is. Of course, test taking and writing an exam is an important thing to learn as well, but little quizzes and exercises can become a lot more fun with the iPad. Of course on the Apple website there is a whole section about “Apple in Education”. Textbooks are available as eBooks, educational apps, and as a teacher, I can connect the iPad to a projector and use it along with the students.

I have read some reviews regarding the use of iPad, and how it affected teaching. Most teachers say they realized their students felt like they were participating in class a lot more with the device. They felt responsible and more encouraged to use the tool and it enriched their learning experience. As a future teacher, I have to consider how I would integrate it as part of my teaching. Well, truth is, there’s so much to do with this tool that I can basically integrate the way I want depending on the class content. I would definitely enjoy using this tool in a classroom, for homework assignments, classwork and group activities and lessons. I think that kids nowadays love using these kinds of things, and love doing these types of activities. If it makes students succeed and enjoy learning, then it’s definitely worth it. 

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Interactive White Boards

An Interactive White Board is a large screen, resembling a projector, which allows teachers (or whoever else requires this type of tool) to write, touch, scroll, and animate. Basically it’s a giant touch screen. One can project a document and highlight, write, underline and draw. A teacher can add notes, annotate and underline important aspects of a document and then send it to the students so they have a replica of what was done in class. Several activities are actually created specifically for the IWB. On this interesting website, I was actually introduced to a number of advantages to using the IWB in class. For example, the IWB is actually a very good alternative to, and I quote, “technophobe” teachers (we all know one, let’s be honest) because this type of white board is so user friendly and similar to a regular computer and whiteboard. And of course, there are the unfortunate disadvantages which range from the high cost and possible technical problems taking time away from class.

But here’s the thing.

 Interactive White Boards are now part of my reality. Whether I like it or not, I will most likely end up using this tool later on when I am teaching. I can’t say that I dislike this tool, because I honestly believe there are interesting sides to using it and there are a lot of advantages to using the IWB. I sometimes have a hard time really grasping the usefulness of this tool, but whenever I go deeper into the possibilities I feel like an idiot because there are so many reasons why using this tool is pretty great!

 While searching for different ways to integrate the IWB into my teaching, I came across an interesting website which included videos of ways to integrate IWB in the classroom. The videos included different demonstrations and ideas in which to use the IWB. Personally, I would integrate the IWB in the most basic manner. I am no “technophobe”, but I don’t think technology needs to be all impressive and complicated to be interesting. After reading this webpage, I realized that I actually enjoy some of the proposed ideas. I love the idea of projecting files, activities, and information. I love the idea of having students come up front and write in answers to ESL questions or classroom activities, and being able to add notes and highlight important facts myself and sending it to students rather than have them not pay attention and do it themselves. I could have grammar activities, where I leave blank spots for the students to write the correct response. I could create activities where they need to use the board themselves and at the end of each class, I just save where we stopped and go from there the next day.

 My favourite thing about this tool is that it’s not complicated and can be used everyday in class and be effective. It doesn’t impose much change in the classroom. What I mean by that is that it doesn’t require students to change their habits that much, they just get to look at a projection and a cool marker that writes on the projection and participating in technology. No matter what teaching-style I develop, the IWB works. I can use it at all levels, and I can use it with all students. It would make my teaching better because of all the reasons I mentioned above. Because of all the things I can do with this tool, and all the ways it makes teaching easier for me, and all the ways it makes learning more motivating for the students. Classes can become fun with this tool, and not just note taking and boring grammar lessons. Of course a IWB may not be necessary to have fun, but considering that technology is slowly becoming more and more popular in education, students will start expecting these tools which immediately makes traditional classes boring. 

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Twitter in Education.

When I first heard about Twitter being used in education I was extremely sceptical at how useful and effective it was. I first heard about it from a friend, who found it incredibly, and I quote, ‘awesome’ that one of her friends’ teachers was using Twitter as a tool in her classroom. At first, as I said, I thought it was useless and kind of strange. However as an on and off Twitter user myself, I began to see how interesting the whole idea was as soon as I found myself clicking on hashtags and learning about many different global events happening in the news.

So that got me thinking about the whole initiative. How can we use Twitter in the classroom? What kinds of things can be done, and what has been done already? The answers to both those questions are: there are several ways to use Twitter and a pile of activities and suggestions are already available online.

Researching this topic is extremely easy. Why? Because it’s already so popular. As a teacher in training, it’s quite obvious that technology will be very present in my career. If other teachers are already coming up with all these ideas now, there’s no saying what will come up in a couple of years. However, that’s what makes it so exciting and so interesting. I managed to find a very interesting slideshow by David Hopkins, which gives an idea of how Twitter can be used in academics.  He briefly discusses all the ways students could get involved on Twitter and how it can be deemed useful. It’s basically a “How To” guide. 

Some of the ways Twitter can be used in education are actually quite practical. For example, in one of my sources entitled “100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education”, it is suggested that this social network be used as a learning tool. Similar to what I have done myself, they call it “learning through hashtags”. Twitter is used by all kinds of different people such as celebrities, universities, colleges, news channels, political figures, authors and the list could go on and on. Popular events or big news is always ‘hashtagged’ and even possibly ends up in the latest Trending Topics. The trends on Twitter are generally just the topics that are being ‘hashtagged’ the most on the site.

Another interesting way of using Twitter is for classroom announcements. Twitter can be accessed by anyone, even if they don’t have an account. Students could give parents the classroom URL and the parents could be kept in the loop with the announcements. One of my favourite ideas which I’d certainly consider using is creating a classroom hashtag. Students can come up with a clever hashtag which can be used at the end of tweets in order to link them all together and creating an online classroom community. It’s also a great way to stay in touch with people you may want to talk to later on. Perhaps a student will ask a question that another student had, and as long as they use the hashtag, it’ll be available to anyone who searches it.

Monica Ranken, a professor at the University of Texas in Dallas has actually used Twitter in one of her courses and called it, “The Twitter Experiment”. In order to see if it was worth all the hype, she created a Twitter for the class and had students tweet questions during the lecture which were answered by the TA or the professor herself creating a Q&A experience students could refer to. This is definitely a clever idea I’d consider using, and also a good study tool.

Of course, believe it or not, there are endless possibilities for activities. There is a website created which provides trivia-centered Twitter games. This is an interesting idea, which entices students to compete with each other while using their second language online. There is a presentation available on Google Docs which allows teachers to post activity ideas. Within this presentation, there are many ideas that really interest me as a future ESL teacher.  Tweeting a story, GeoTweets, Twitter poll, all of these seem so much fun that it hardly seems like schoolwork. I like these ideas because while students are having fun, they’re actually practicing and developing literary, writing, thinking and grammatical skills.

Even though I initially thought this whole idea to be strange, I’ve come to see it as an extremely useful tool. There are so many ways Twitter can be used as an educational tool, and they all seem quite effective considering the reviews and comments regarding the implementation. This is definitely a tool I would consider using with my future students. There are too many possibilities and interesting activities not to try it. 

Sources used to gather information:

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