What technologies enhanced / reduced your effectiveness this past spring?
Flipgrid – Though I had an account for Flipgrid since it was obtained by Microsoft, I had yet to use it with my students. We got started right away in March, and it became a favorite of mine and many of the students. Everyone participated. It was great to see and hear the students. It gave them an authentic chance to practice speaking English. I appreciated not having to download videos to watch them. The platform is excellent and has lots of great features.
Screencastify – From the first day of our remote emergency learning, I purchased Screencastify. It was a simple way to create teaching videos for students and to teach my colleagues how to do tech things that I normally would show them on our computers in person.
Zoom – This was a new program for me, and now it is so familiar. I have seen improvements over the months. There are a lot of benefits. I love the breakout rooms and chat feature. A lot of discussion and collaboration can occur remotely through Zoom.
Kahoot – So many apps gave free upgrades for the time schools were closed. It was a really good idea. We needed ideas. We test-drove a lot of apps. This one was really fun for students, and it was great to have the premium version. They will get some customers when the free version expires, but in the meantime, they helped a lot of people.
Our student information system – I won’t name it, but it was weak. When we all began to use it, students began posting assignments and we had to collect the same. It was then we realized its weaknesses even more. It reminded me of an old html website we used to build in the 20th century. Clunky, cumbersome, slow, missing so much potential. Every time I used it, I longed to use Google Classroom, where students could complete assignments on Google Drive and just turn in the link. Instead, on our system, I received assignments . Then I couldn’t view them until I downloaded them. Some assignments (like pages in a book we created together or pen pal letters to be shared to Arizona) I needed to upload to Drive. There was so much wasted time and bandwidth for everyone. I was happy to see that our school has adopted Google Classroom for the fall for all grade levels.
Padlet – I was disappointed to learn (two years after the fact) that Padlet had put a limit on the number of walls you could make on this old Wallwisher site. I hadn’t used it very much before, so when I rediscovered it I jumped in and used it for several lessons and recommended it to others. Sadly, new users had a limit of three walls, so they quickly exhausted their usage. Unlike so many of the educational tech companies that gave free access during the pandemic, Padlet did not. It didn’t take long for me to exhaust my six walls. Then I went back to the less robust but very helpful Lino.it app. It has seemed better to me after my springtime experience with Padlet.
Tumblebook Library – This is an online library program that our school has subscribed to. We were using the program before the shutdown and we continued and expanded our use after the shutdown. We signed up all our students for the Tumble Tracker, where we could assign books and quizzes and see when our students read the books. It had some weaknesses, but we used it for some assignments. Sadly, instead of improving the weaknesses, they just stopped the Tumble Tracker. They replaced it with a much less robust assignments feature, which has no way to track students or differentiate the assignments. The more I got to know this program, the more of a disappointment it became.