Technology in Schools

Mobile Apps Within a Classroom

1. Twitter:

Twitter is a mobile app available for free. The user creates an account and "tweets" text, images, etc. to their account (that anyone can follow) as long as it is 140 characters or less. One's account can be public, anyone can follow and anyone can view their profile, or private where only the users followers , who have to be approved by the user, can view their account and tweets. Twitter uses hashtags which can be searched to connect individuals. Users are able to tag one another in tweets, retweet other users tweets (post another person tweet to their profile),  favourite tweets and private message others.

In a classroom twitter could be very beneficial. A teacher could create a professional profile that is private and have their students within a class follow that account. The teacher could then use the account to tweet reminders of assignment deadlines, messages of motivation or private message a student if they were interested in setting up a meeting to discuss an issue. I believe the students, especially at the Jr. High to High School level, would respond well to this form of education technology as they are familiar with it, they would feel that their teacher is in touch with the same things they are and I believe reminders and motivational messages would be useful for those who have missed class or are forgetful.

2. Pinterest:

Pinterest is a free mobile app in which a user creates an account that they pin items on. These pins are links to external websites and can contain anything. Pinterest allows users to organize their pins into boards to clearly group like items together. You can follow other users and see what they are pinning, search just about anything whether it is general or specific, and is useful for pinning items you are interested in and want to return to later, rather than having open a ton of tabs to websites on your computer or device.

In a classroom setting pinterest could be used in three ways. It could be used for the teacher alone, pinning articles, ideas, crafts, recipes, follow other teachers from around the world, etc. as means of planning and brainstorming new assignments, ways to approach a lesson or finding resources to use within a lesson. It could also be used where the teacher sets up a pinterest account for the sole purpose of the students. Pinning useful resources, study tips, articles used in class, different ways to do assignments, etc so that the student can take their learning beyond the classroom and have access to learning aids that they know the teacher approves because it was posted by them. Lastly pinterest could be used by the students for learning purposes or assessment. The teacher could have the students create an account separate from their recreational one for school. They could pin ideas or resources that could be useful for projects or ways to tackle assignments. Also it could be an assignment on it's own to create a pinterest account as means of representing the students knowledge, for example a grade four class showing their ability to research and organize ideas for a project as a pre project assignment. One benefit of this app is that it is easily monitored for the teacher could follow all for the students accounts and view their content, unfortunately this ability is also a downfall of the app because it does not have good privacy settings and the students pins can be repined, viewed and their accounts followed by anyone.

3. Edmodo

Edmodo is an excellent app for educational purposes. It operates similar to Facebook; you create an account, create groups and post within them however it was designed for educational and professional use. Edmodo has secure privacy settings and does not have a limit to your posting as twitter does with it's 140 character limit.

With Edmodo a teacher can connect with other teachers, students and parents all in different groups. The two most practical uses within a classroom, in my opinion, would be to create a group for your class. It would operate like how I describe Pinterst and Twitter to operate above. The teacher could post deadlines, messages, resources, tips, information about class instructions, photos of projects, etc. in a group that the students can view and use. They could also have private chats with the teacher or another student if they have any questions or post a question to the entire group and the students could help one another solve it. The second professional use could be to connect with the parents/ guardians of your students. As a teacher you are responsible for a person's child for majority of the day, you are in control of their social and cognitive development so naturally parents want to be involved and know what's going on day to day. The teacher could create a group where they post daily the activities that happened in class, the homework that was sent out, etc. and keep the parents informed. This would also be a great place to private message parents of students accomplishments for example message a parent "Your son stood up for a friend against a bully and we are all very proud of him" or "Your daughter aced this test, great job! Her achievement today reflects her hard work since the last test and I am very excited about her significant improvement." Little things like this make parents more at ease and trusting when they can understand your method and see the actual work their children do everyday. Edmodo however should not be used to inform parents of bad news, that should be done over the phone or if needed in a meeting.

4. Memplai

Memplai is a website where users can create an unlimited number of videos for free. Their video can then be shared to their other social media accounts. The videos are secure and can only be viewed by the creator or other users the creator has invited to collaborate with.

In a classroom Memplai could be used to create videos as projects to be assessed. This could be done as groups or individuals. The students could have the opportunity to peer asses one another as means of learning as well through the collaboration portion of the website. The ability to share one's videos to other means of social media such as twitter or google plus as well as invite classmates through these apps will tie together the different apps and tools used within the classroom. Students could also use Memplai as means of learning rather than assessment by creating videos or tutorials to expand their knowledge on a subject. Lastly the teacher could also make videos explaining a lesson plan, as a tutorial on a subject, assignment or on how to use another device or as educational entertainment focussed on curriculum content.

5. Quizlet

Quizlet is a free website geared toward educational use for all grades. It incorporates a variety of study tools and apps focussing on individual study needs in a variety of subjects and ways to learn. Through the use of their six study and game modes, flashcards, learn, speller, test, scatter and space race, students can create their own study sets of find already created one's that best suit their learning needs.

Quizlet is commonly used within classrooms and would be beneficial for the teacher, the students and because it is paperless learning the environment. It is available in 18 different languages and therefore has little restriction of where it could be used. Personally I would like to teach abroad one day and could use Quizlet, a tool I am already familiar with, in these other countries. It is also mobile for apple and android devices making learning accessible to students anywhere anytime. It could be used by teachers to create study tools for the class as a whole or for individual students who need a little extra help learning in a way that suits them. It could be used by students to create or find study tools that help them learn or even as a possible assignment to showcase their understanding of a topic and then have a resource that the teacher has approved to use for studying. Lastly I think this would be an excellent tool to use if your students are apart of a program where either they go work with younger students or they have older students come work with them. It would be a good tool to have older students either create study sets for the younger students or aid the younger students in creating their own.

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