Tools of the Trade, An Initial Look

Weekly Writing 10 – Lori Sowa

For an online pedagogy course, I thought we’d jump into tools fairly early on.   However, it is refreshing to wait until this stage, after exploring course design, objectives, and assignments, to look at tools with this perspective in mind.   I prefer to encounter a need, and then find the right tool for the job rather than finding a cool tool and trying to figure out how to use it.   Although, it is certainly possible that a new tool can provide inspiration for a unique way to achieve a learning objective.

In an online course, the method of delivery and interaction becomes more scripted.   I truly enjoy walking into a classroom with a general idea in mind, and having the course of the class period take a sharp turn based upon student needs and interests.   I’ve been teaching long enough now that I can pull this off (in certain situations), and chalk and a chalkboard are the only tools I need.   I have not mastered this in the online classroom.   Perhaps with time, experience, and the right tools I could achieve that level of flexibility in an online classroom as well.   I suppose a better, interactive white board than what I’ve found in Blackboard would go a long way to achieve this goal, at least for synchronous sessions.   Perhaps the answer is as simple as an external writing pad such as this.

Many of the tools that I initially think of as student project tools – such as Thinglink – can actually be used by instructors to present content.   Video lectures, especially those with interactive features, are useful, but expanding our horizons as instructors to think about creating content through various means that students will engage with in an active way may produce better learning outcomes.

In the near future I’ll be reviewing Thinglink, Camtasia, and Quizlet.   Thinglink is a tool for adding content to an image – text, website links, or video.   Camtasia is a screen capture tool.   Quizlet is a simple quiz-making application.   Perhaps it says something about these particular applications and the type of learning they support (active, passive, and lower-level Bloom’s taxonomy, respectively) that I’m most looking forward to exploring Thinglink.

3 thoughts on “Tools of the Trade, An Initial Look

  1. Owen

    Thanks for the comment on waiting to tackle tools. I agree, we need to know what we’re attempting to achieve before we start searching in the tool box.

    I look forward to your detailed reviews. I’m not familiar with thinglink.



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