Google Drive: If I had to rank the applications and web 2.0 tools that I use and love most with my students Google Drive would be first. Google Drive is a cloud storage, file sharing and collaborative work space. Drive is home to Google Docs, a word precessing application, Google Presentation, which is similar to power point and keynote, Google Spreadsheet, similar to Excel, Google Forms, an information collection tool for surveys and quizzes, etc. and Google Drawings, a tool for creating diagrams, flowcharts, designs, etc. This suite of applications can be used as students work on the same document in collaborative work groups while at school, in another class or at home. No more, “I left my jump drive at home.” Google gives each document created within each application it’s own personal website so students can turn in assignments without using paper. Facilitators can then comment, review and grade. There are also many more applications that can be used with Google Drive, two of my favorite and most used are Google sites and Blogger.
Google Sites: Google Sites is a webpage creation tool which allows anyone and everyone to have their own website. In my class we use this as an online ePortfolio. Students are able place their best work from all of their classes. I have my students talk about their abilities and connections they have to their same-aged peers. They have their transition plans, goals for life after public schooling, in pictures on this site. And most importantly students have their annual goals and they keep progress of these goals themselves and how they are accomplishing these goals. I love this part most because they are then able to pull up this ePortfolio when moving onto a new school and show that teacher how they learn best in their own words.
Blogger: Blogger is a blog site hosted by Google. Blogger is very user friendly for students of all ages and is a great way for students to exhibit their work to the world. I found that when I introduced blogging into the work my students were doing and they knew that Ms. S. was not their only audience member that their writing was better structured, more thoughtful and was getting better. I have students of all levels blog.
YouTube: YouTube is the website as a special educator that I use most often. On this website I can learn from professionals in my concentrated area of studies. I can play and figure out how to use and apply information, learn about IEP goal writing, behavior supports, classroom activities and an area that I’m getting into more now, problem based learning. As a facilitator I have my students use this to exhibit their work to the world and because most of my students are non-readers I teach them how YouTube is a great visual learning platform. We often follow recipes in the kitchen, how to use Google maps or a certain software or app. YouTube has pages that you can follow and receive updates on their new videos. Some of my favorite for education are TheSocialAdvisor helping businesses with social media however they have really good “how to” tutorials and TED-Ed videos in education. Follow my YouTube Channel which is growing with favorites and educational videos I have made.
Camtasia: I LOVE CAMTASIA! It is an easy to use screen recording and video editing program for Mac or PC. I have to admit that it was a gift from TechSmith that I received through my schooling but after using it I would purchase it. Affordances are easy importing and exporting of images and video. Great for flipping my classroom. I can capture the screen with or without sound from me and/or my computer. Constraints for me would be that it does have a steep learning curve and I am still learning how to use it to the best of it’s abilities. The test options are touchy meaning they get lost in the background or won’t let you change the size/font if you click off and go to click back on.
Code.org: A place where children and adults alike and come and learn how to coding for the computer. Affordances are that is is really easy to learn, it has an easy to follow one hour overview to learn coding. And it’s engaging! Constraints are that this is only a starting point, another program like scratch.mit.edu or Gamesalad will need to be downloaded to going into more depth about coding and making games.
Mozilla Popcorn Maker: An online website that allows for you to pull video and images from the internet and remix them into one slide show or video. Affordances are the teachers can use this to put together a lesson that has many different types of media from all over the web and students can use it at home and at school to create projects and school assignments. It is easy to use and can be simple or elaborate. Constraints would be that the video sometime just disappears.