Friday, January 30, 2009

The Technology-Rich Classroom for Free

There are an amazing number of technology tools available for teachers to support their classroom, and even more services purchased by our district for teachers. This tools aren't just websites to visit, but tools for instruction. And workshops in all of these are currently offered by our department. So although we hope all classrooms will eventually have interactive whiteboards, projectors, document cameras, newer computers, etc...these are some tools you can use now. And if your classroom is outfitted with good tech equipment these tools will enhance what you can do in class.

Blogs provide a great way to engage students using technology. Whether posting assignments or showcasing class events, blogs using Blogger are free and relatively easy to set up and get going.Photostory is a great program that can be installed on all computers, but if it preferable to use a service that allows you to communicate with a much broader audience and house digital stories, take a look at Voicethread. Accounts are free, and we have several teachers and schools in our district using this with students. If you need a kid-safe search engine, we have a district license for netTrekker. You can also use DEStreaming for finding digital media that we also have a site license for. If you want a way to organize bookmarks try delicious; for organizing RSS try out Google reader. If you'd like to videoconference but don't have a big budget, see if you have a projector and webcam in your school, and use Skype (part of the Creating Global Connections workshop). If you need to collaborate with a group in a website set up a wiki.

The great thing about using these tools is that most are web-based and don't require installation. So start working on that technology-rich classroom, on a budget, with some of these free and worthwhile options.

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