5 weeks, 5 days, 5 sessions of technology for education

 

After my teaching time as a visiting lecturer to Katho, this web I returned to Bahrain to embrace a new challenge. After the success of my Prezi workshops which have seen the powerpoint alternative very quickly adopted by academic staff around the campus, more about it made a lot of sense to try to put together a series of technology workshops throughout which participants would be introduced to other cloud computing solutions.

In the 5 weeks during which the workshops ran, clinic each session introduced participants to a new platform, its potential uses for higher education and its main functions. The criteria for choosing the platforms included previous uses in academia, multiple data access options (such as browser-based, smartphone app and desktop application), automated synchronization, collaboration opportunities and no or low cost.

I started with Mendeley and talked about how it could be used by students and lecturers alike working on research projects. Mendeley’s online platform coupled with its desktop application and its option to work and share content with groups of users, make is a very promising tool for researchers looking to build on their bibliography or aiming to work on collaborative projects. Moreover, for students taking research classes the platform provides a safe medium for experiementation and academic debate while also providing an increasing number of research examples.

AudioBoo followed next. Its very simple to use interface, its in-browser recording option and its recent iPhone app made it for a very appealing tools for language teachers and their students. However, uses of Audioboo can go beyond the language classrooms and  into journalism, advertising, acting and research.

Evernote was also covered.  The session focused mainly on generating, editing and moving notes indicating uses for class notes sharing, team teaching or everday tasks. While Evernote too has desktop and iPhone applications, the workshop covered only the usage of its browser-based version.

Colaab and WebEx were the last two platforms to be covered. Colaab’s instantaneous feedback and opportunity to work on large files presented it as an interesting alternative to Google Docs. WebEx’s complex conferencing options on the other hand, its desktop sharing, annotation options and presenter swapping almost call for more integration within the classroom, especially where distance is irrelevant and team work is required.

Each session also offered a list of alternatives for the platforms covered as a means of highlighting the diversity and complexity of the online web2.0 tools environment and its richness in alternative solutions.

Now that the series has been completed, it is time to evaluate its impact as well as consider a potential continuation. For now, I have an extended list of new platforms to play with and quite some questionnaires to analyze. This data should hopefully provide some insight into the level of openness of technology of participants versus the faculty at large,  and the perceived likelihood that the faculty will use the technologies in a classroom setting after the workshops. Moreover, the data should help identify whether any correlations between the level of comfort with technology and openness to new technologies of the participants and their use of technology in the classroom, and correlations between number of workshops taken and use of new technologies in the classroom exist.

 

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