What 'Tech Tool' Has Had The Greatest Impact On Your Teaching?

I am wondering what tech tools have had the greatest impact on your teaching and student learning. What has really transformed how you go about the teaching/learning process?

By tech tools, I mean: gadgets, smartboards, web2.0 tools, browser plug-ins, software, etc....a very broad definition.

I think it would be handy to create a list here of what people really use on a day to day basis. Of particular interest would be tools that were not used in the recent past but have now become a "must have" :)

Tags: learning, teaching, technology, tools, transformation

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Computers--then Internet. I've been teaching long enough that I was there when they plopped an Apple 2E in my classroom. I think one of the things I liked best about the Internet 1.0 was the availability of primary source documents. I use a lot of primary sources in the classroom and I loved the easy access to these documents. This winter we are doing a project using the original database from the Titanic. WOW You can see some of the projects we've done over the years here.

Of course, I use many 2.0 tools and love them too--but will never forget the "wow" I felt the first time I searched for primary sources.
Probably wiki's and blogs with the ability to embed video, links, slide shows and create interactice lesson plans that teachers can edit and change on the fly. They also remote student collaboration and make differentiated and project based learning easier to implement.
I would have to agree with Kelley on this one. Blogs and wikis have completely changed how I teach English to my college students, from me using them to distribute content to the students using them to write and collaborate. I have students develop a writing portfolio of their work for the semester using either a wiki or blog. Then I make their portfolios public by having students and other people comment on them. It really helps students to realize that writing has a real purpose, and that is for people to read it (not just the teacher).
As far as tech tools, I would have to say data projectors have had the greatest impact (given the Internet and computers). Projectors allow limited resources to be stretched so that with only one computer you can encompass whole class participation. If the kids can't see it, it doesn't do much good to access it.
My teaching has really been transformed by the ability to research that the Internet gives my students (and me, too, of course). As I gain greater and greater access to primary and secondary sources to use in my Social Studies/History courses, I find I use textbooks less, lecture less, and have the kids spend far more time researching, drawing conclusions (guided by me), and collaborating using Web 2.0 tools like wikis. The Internet as a research tool has radically transformed the way I set up my classes and continues to change them.
For me, it's been Visual Communicator. It allows students to create a virtual newsroom with a teleprompter on their computer screen. You can use it in a cross curricular fashion; and the fact that the students are "running" the software, I have found, it empowers them to delve deeper into any activity.

It's relatively inexpensive and has minimal bugs. http://www.adobe.com/products/visualcommunicator/
If I start at the beginning, I guess I would have to day podcasting with Audacity to start, and now Camtasia. I started creating podcasts for my students to help them review for tests, evolved to Camtasia with screencasts, and then a website, www.masterymaze.com to share and build a learning community. The site has only been up a couple of months, but we are growing steadily. My students now use it like they would a textbook, but download it and take it with them on their iPods and those provided by the school. We are also in iTunes as MasteryCast. My scores have improved significantly by allowing them an alternative approach; my students are enjoying the class more as they are doing well. My students are now creating their own podcasts which we will be putting on the site to share with the world as well. I have an overhead mounted projector and the site has become a fixture in my class for review. We also blog, will be doing class discussions, and hopefully a worldwide collaboration in the Forum as well.

When my students come in the building in the morning "plugged in" like all the other kids, many of them smile and show me their iPods. They are listening to me and studying. Totally cool!

For more, listen to the launch podcast of masterycast on the site. We will be putting much more on the site after the holiday.

Sue P
I use something very similar for our TV studio, called Wirecast you can check view it by going here, it's great for adding effects, transitions, live broadcasting, chroma-key, etc.

Hi, thanks to your recommanded tool - I want to check it out although I´m always prefer working on free Web 2.0 apps.
yours Hans
I’ve been examining my daily teaching/preparation habits and have come up with these equally ‘impactive’ tech tools. I’m going to break the rules and list 4:

RSS feeds: (ie..this forum, education news, learning, ed blogs)
I use them in my hunting and gathering phase and to stimulate new ideas and to stay current.

i-pod (mp3 players): I teach music. Since owning an I-pod, I listen to more music, my students listen to more music (I play relevant music during class which we analyze) which makes us all better musicians. Peripheral to classroom use is this-I can now simultaneously exercise and “study” by listening to music and/or education/podcasts. In the past, I often had to choose-work out OR prepare.

Smartmusic: Allows students to see and play music on their computers. They can e-mail recordings to me for assessment purposes. Thousands of exercises come with the program. It allows students to build very solid performance techniques.

Audacity: A free and easy way to capture student performances….after all “data” in a music class are recordings of student’s playing (or singing or speaking). In Music Tech (8th grade) we use Audacity to modify sound data and create found sound compositions. We’re also beginning podcast projects as well.

All of these are used daily and have completely transformed the teaching/learning environments I inhabit. Perhaps this is relevant as I read something about resistance to change on another post……I’ve been teaching 18 years and always look forward to finding meaningful ways to adopt tech tools for the benefit of my students. What benefits them benefits me.
I often do sessions with administrators addresing this same question, here is my MUST have list if tools if I would return to the classroom.
Tablet for every teacher
Data projector mounted on the ceiling
An interactive whiteboard
Personal response systems to collect data
United Streaming
Voice applification sound system
Document camera

Field trip anyone? I was part of the team that outfitted 7 ELL classrooms with these tools in Bolingbrook/Romeoville Illinois. I helped with the professional development, and I will say these teachers are nothing short of amazing with the digital tools!
I often think about returning to teh classroom, but without these toos I would be totally lost, a chalkboard? Yikes!
Happy to answer the questions:
The interactive white board is great if you (or a student) is in the front of the room. The tablet lets the instructor move about and gather feedback from students. In the project Imentioned they actually have laptops not tablets and use the school pad in this link http://ipanel.org/products/index.html
Yes the personal response system is like a remot control devise in students hands, also found on the link. A few other brands include Quizdon, Senteo, and eInstruction.
In a perfect world I would rather have a document camera so I can project things that are 3-D.

Let me know if you have other questions!



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