Monday, 23 January 2017

Summer School '17: Digital Tools I am Excited to Try

This week I have not only come away with lots of knowledge about learning theories, pedagogies, and affordances related to digital technologies, but also an array of apps and programmes that can enhance the learning. It is easy to get stuck in your ways and use the same tools, so I'm glad I learnt about some tools and their uses in the classroom.  Here are some tools which I am excited to try this year in my classroom.

Answer Garden

I came across AnswerGarden thanks to Ashley and her activity on Growth Mindset. It is a great little app that could be used in many ways.  If you want a smaller version, or want to conduct a poll where participants can't see the answers, use MicroGarden instead. This can be done when selecting 'share' on your AnswerGarden. If you want to share your finished AnswerGarden you can export the data to Wordle or Tagxedo, which creates pretty Word Clouds you can add on your blog, or print out.  If you want to read more about AnswerGarden, read this.


Latai introduced me to Mentimenter, and I am so glad she did! It is her favourite app and I can definitely see why. It will be a great tool to use to check understandings, share ideas as well as serve as a brain break. There are many pre-made examples from different categories too.  This tool can be used by teachers, as well as students.  Its really easy to use, and getting your learners onto your Mentimeter is easy. All they need to do is jump onto log on to and put in your code.

Special mentions


LinoIt is a collaborative multi-media sticky note tool which Georgia suggested the MDTA cohort to use. I am already quite a fan of Padlet, since it is pretty user-friendly and offers a lot of the same things as LinoIt.  Both tools allow for collaboration and you can add in images, videos and other links.  

Here are a few aspects which set LinoIt apart from similar tools.
  • Different coloured sticky's - this can be helpful if you want to colour code ideas under different subgroups.
  • Anyone can move a sticky note - unlike other tools, which only allow the poster to move their sticky note.
  • Tagging feature - the tags are like hashtags, which helps you quickly see sticky notes which have the same tags. If you click on a tag, the sticky notes with the same tag are visible, while the others are blacked out.
As with similar tools, LinoIt has many uses in the classroom.  Click here to read an exhaustive list. If you want so see an example of LinoIt's use, check out Georgia's LinoIt. Her students have colour-coded their sticky notes and used tags to share what they know about the Olympic Values. They have also used various modes to show their understanding (images, video clips and text).


Trello was introduced to me by my lecturer who used it to show the outline for each day. Trello is a collaborative tool which helps you organise your projects using a board with lists and cards. It shows you what is being worked on, who is working on it and what is completed.  You can organise your board with a series of lists, and can add 'cards' under each list. For each card, you can add labels, due dates and attachments. Make your Trello a collaborative document by adding members. You can see what group members (and you) have done by looking at the 'activity' section, which shows the board's history. You can learn more about Trello here.

This tool can be used by both teachers and students.  I am keen to use Trello as an online to-do list to ensure I stay on top of my workload this year.  I would also like to encourage my learners to use this tool when working collaboratively in groups.

I am looking forward to seeing how my new classroom responds to the new digital tools I will be using in my teaching!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Summer School '17: Digital Enhancement

The MDTA is half-way through our last course before we begin our dissertations.  Our week-long course is jam-packed, as we learn about theories of learning, learning design, affordances and pedagogies relating to digital technologies.

Readings, Readings and More Readings

Since there is so much to fit into such a short course, we had 9 readings we had to complete before Summer School.  These readings were all very lengthy and wordy, with a lot of challenging concepts.  To help us understand our readings, we were set with the task of creating an engaging activity based on a reading. 

My reading was Affordance, Opportunity and the Pedagogical Implications of ICT  by Peter John and Rosamund Sutherland.  I found this reading incredibly hard to comprehend, and found myself having to read it over and over again.  I decided to create a quiz to help test the MDTA's knowledge of the ideas discussed in the article.

Creating an Activity

 I chose to use the platform Socrative, rather than Kahoot! Personally, I prefer Socrative for a number of ways. Here are some reasons:

1. While Kahoot's leaderboard feature can be great for some learners, it can also put struggling learners off.  With Socrative, teachers can choose to keep the student's names hidden.

2. The questions and answers are displayed on the students devices, as well as your main screen (through AppleTV, projector, SMART board, etc). With Kahoot, the answer options are displayed on the main screen, and the students can only see the multichoice icons/colours. 

    3. Socrative allows you to create mutli-choice, short answer and true and false questions.  This is great if you want to have a variety of types of questions.  Kahoot, on the other hand, only allows multichoice questions.

    Creating my quiz helped me to consolidate my understanding of my reading, as well as the other MDTA BTs.  Taking part in each others activities helped us all to gain a deeper understanding of the readings. This will help us a lot for our first assignment, which is based on the readings.