Too many times over I have heard people complaining about technology taking over our lives and education. Concerns regarding technology's (and more specifically, social media's) impact on students' ability to communicate are far too many! If we had this attitude about all technology should we not then ban the use of cars as they are they are one of major causes of death rates and contribute to the ever increasing obesity epidemic? Technology is not the problem but rather how we use it. When used thoughtfully and respectfully technology has the potential and power to enhance communication skills, expose new avenues to communicate through, broaden options in the ways we choose to communicate and expands our audience! Exploring Bubbl.us, Glogster and Prezi has made this clearly evident to me.
During my teaching course I used a program similar to Bubbl.us but never really incorporated into my teaching. Once I got started on my brainstorm in Bubbl.us, I was smittened! It was so easy to use - almost instinctual and made it so clear to visualise the connections in my thinking and learning, and in turn, it prompted new thoughts and connections I had never made/thought about before (plus, I'm a real sucker for pretty colours and clean and tidy lines).
If using this program had this impact on me, imagine how this tool could deeper learning for students by allowing them to make and see their own connections and prompt new ideas or ways of thinking. The ease of using Bubbl.us is key to being a quality educational tool as it would allow students to focus primarily on the learning task not about becoming familiar with it's functions. As I'm sure you would've all experienced, there are two types of students: those that complete their work in a blink of an eye but have put minimal effort into the presentation aspect of their work and those that seem to spend all of eternity straightening every line, colouring every gap and continually revising the layout of their work. With Bubbl.us students can present their thinking in a manner that is clear and aesthetically pleasing - and best of all it allows students to do all of this efficiently! One challenge I had with using Bubbl.us was trying to unpin and re-pin bubbles to a different area. This might be frustrating for students who wish re-organise their thinking.
Our 5/6 team at school, have already planned to use this tool as a part a pre and post assessment task as a part of our inquiry unit to compare how much they knew about the topic prior to the unit and how their knowledge has developed and/or thinking has changed towards the end of their inquiry.
Although I loved the variety of images, headings, backgrounds and the ability to make the poster multi-modal (through incorporation of images, text, audio and video), I found it challenging to use this tool. It took me a little while to get my head around incorporating a Youtube clip into my poster and organising the different components on the page as I wanted i.e. placing an object behind or in front of text. Despite this, I can imagine that students would love to use this program to present their assignments, especacially those who find working on the aesthetic aspects of their work to be tedious. One thing that I particularly liked about Glogster is that it allows students to incorporate videos and audio of themselves on the poster, therefore, providing multiple ways in which students can express their understandings and ideas.
Using Prezi felt like working with an upgraded version of PowerPoint. It was really simple to use the program and made my work look professional. I chose to create a presentation on the Holy Spirit as it may come in handy while preparing Year 6's for their Confirmation. I would definitely like to trial using Prezi with the students at school to provide them with another option to present their work. Using programs such as Prezi are also a good opportunity to discuss the improtance of incorporating quality content and considering the aesthetics of your presentation in order to grab and maintain our audience's attention. When using Programs like Prezzi or Glogster with my students I think I will ask them to work on the content on Word or PowerPoint first becuase once you start playing with the different features of this text it becomes very challenging to be produtive!