Saturday, August 14, 2010

Technology and how teachers are using it

Earlier this summer, I bought a Mac laptop computer.  I did this because I know how to use a lot of the tools it comes pre-packaged with.  iPhoto, while not the world's best photo editor, makes moving photos to other applications very simple.  (I like '09 less than I like '06--they did something to the organization options that I find simultaneously more invasive and less intuitive.)  Garage Band is an AMAZING piece of software, and I have endless fun with it.  It also lets me (or a student) record a podcast and export it to iTunes.  From iTunes I can convert it into an MP3 file and distribute it in one of myriad ways.  Mac's Work suite is pretty well designed, too, although, again, I like the '09 version less than the '06 version.  The software designers seem to have de-prioritized simplicity for the sake of lots of cool mouse-clickable buttons.  The big advantage is the ease with which bits of some applications move into other applications.

But for as much as I love my Mac, and am excited to use it in my classroom, it turns out that my tech fu is no longer at the black belt-level I thought it was.  (Well, maybe it is, but like a 1st-degree black belt, not a 3rd-degree, like I thought.)  So, here are some of the apps and sources I'm finding online that can make my job better and easier:

Free Technology for Teachers.  This is a blog about, well, I'll let you guess.  I'm going to start following it a lot more closely.  In the meantime, it led me to the some of the following websites.

Screencasts.  Just the other day, I wanted to create a video out of Google Earth.  I could do it in Google Earth, for the entirely reasonable price of $400.  I decided against it.  Today, I found out about a whole host of screencast tools, which will permit me to do just that.  They will also let me make how-to videos for the whole lot of new technologies I hope to introduce.  I'm just going to link to this post, which describes a variety of tools for doing this:  Four free tools for creating screencasts.  I'm going to download Jing and play around with it, and maybe I'll try some other things.

Online whiteboards.  Colleen Young highly encourages the use of these for teaching math.  She recommends Sketchcast with some reservation.  We'll play around with those, too.


Ray said...

I am so scared to make the leap to Mac. Maybe for Dawn's next computer I will get her a Mac.

JohnCosby said...

Great to see you here, Ray! Macs are about the same "ease of use" as PCs, but a little different. The best part, I think, is that all the internal software (the stuff you use every day) is all designed by the same company. So once you've learned how to use one thing, you know how to use all of it pretty well.

The other nice thing is that, when you buy a Mac, you get lots of productivity software that on PC's you would have to find and buy separately.