I spent way too long on this activity, because I kept getting sidetracked by interesting ideas and possibilities. Anyway, the three innovations I have selected are as follows:
- Using Twitter in the Classroom.
In recent weeks I've developed a bit of a fascination with Twitter, and though I rarely 'tweet' myself, I have been actively following other tweeters. I am trying to establish whether or not it is feasible (and indeed desirable) to make use of Twitter in my teaching. This example (the Twitter Experiment) demonstrates how one history professor in Dallas uses Twitter as a way of involving her students during (and after) her classes. She has a separate screen running during the class with shows Tweets from students who want to ask a question or make a point. It seems to be an effective way of enabling students to be involved who might otherwise be shy about speaking in front of the whole class. It also helps in identifying queries that many students might have in common. Furthermore, the tweet stream can continue after the class is over.
I think this is a great idea, but I notice that she has a graduate teaching assistant to run this for her during the class. Much as I would like to give this a try, I would not have the luxury of such assistance. Nevertheless, I may consider experimenting.
- Using online photo-sharing services (e.g. Flickr) as part of students' coursework
There are several online photo-sharing services available now, including Flickr and Picasa. Most of these offer a free service which can provide online storage of photos and sharing facilities, together with options to tag photos and search public albums. This example from Educause describes how the use of Flickr was incorporated into a project which architecture students were required to undertake. The students were asked to identify examples of buildings of buildings which displayed certain architectural styles and then take photographs of them. This is a fairly common requirement for students studying building styles, but what was interesting was the additional requirement to upload their photographs to Flickr and to provide brief descriptive comments. Thus, a simple coursework exercise becomes a great way of sharing findings with fellow students and learning from each other through building up an online resource.
- Using free online screen capture services to provide verbal feedback to students
Professional screen capture software (such as Camtasia) is expensive and takes some time to learn if it is to be used effectively. There are a couple of basic screen capture services available free including Screenjelly and Jing. These allow you to record short screen captures with a voiceover and store them online. You can then embed the videos in a website or email them directly to someone. This has potential to provide a means of giving verbal feedback to students on a piece of work which has been submitted digitally.
By the way, if anyone is struggling to find examples of Web 2.0 innovations, you might be interested in having a look at Russell Stannard's Teacher Training Videos website, which gives loads of step-by-step training screencasts on various learning technologies. Russell is a lecturer at the University of Westminster, and although most of his work nowadays is in the field of multimedia / ICT, his background is in ELT / ESOL.