Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Random selection of Web 2.0 tools

A common occurrence in the Learning Technology world is the random nature a tool is selected for use. Mostly when a Learning Technology tool or environment is taken up in education there is no precedent. So what do we do? Well, it's worth noting that in the days before Web 2.0, it was difficult to really explore a tool. You had to rely on the product marketing which is always glossy and misleading. So back in those days, we would go with what we've heard others are using. This is fine but often what others are using is the first thing they have come across or read about or heard was being used elsewhere. This can be to do with not really knowing what a particular tool is really all about. Also, people can get blinded by one iteration of a tool and think that this is the only look and feel that is valid. Mostly, it's to do with not really knowing what you want. Not really knowing what you want can be applied wholesale to Learning Technologies in education.

I've been involved recently in converting a face-to-face module to e-learning. One of the activities I had to convert involved small groups drawing their thoughts on a subject. When I asked around, it becomes clear that what people were recommending in the diagramming/whiteboarding area was the one tool they had experience of or had heard of. I then followed the logical path of looking at as many tools as I could and choosing the best tool that fitted my criteria. Rather than spend hours googling, I used Web 2.0 in Education and Best Online Collaboration Tools 2009 - the latter turning out to be the most useful. The beauty of Web 2.0 is that you can try the tools out yourself assesses ease of use as you go. For this activity, I was keen to find a tool that didn't require creating an account (why-oh-why-oh-why do they always do this). The winner WAS ShowDocument - it's sharing method is quick and easy, it's collaboration options are intuitive, and the tools are easy to use. But they have changed their setup to require a login if you want a session to last more than 10 minutes! I'm now favouring Imagination Cubed which is really nice tool. The only issue is that the collaborative element isn't working at the moment. The below image shows the interface and some of my doodling.

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