There are a lot of tools that can be used when creating an e-learning environment. I’m going to check out three this week that I am not as familiar with.

Podcasting podcasting

I have said before, I am definitely more of a visual learner, but I am starting to be converted into being a fan of podcasting. In building this e-learning site, I would like to accommodate different types of learning styles. My brother has a podcasting website called The Teacher’s Life that chronicles (as you guessed it) his life as a teacher, and I definitely have gotten a lot out of listening to that. There is a ton of potential when it comes to auditory learning and it is definitely worth it to me to look into.

I found what I think is a pretty useful article on how to put together an educational podcast called Teaching & Learning with Podcasting.  Here are some great points the author got across:

  • Not every topic is right for the podcasting format. As the article points out, “most students listen to podcasts as they perform other tasks (i.e., riding a bus, driving, exercising, walking to class, etc.).” For this reason it is important to choose a subject matter that is not overly complex for a podcast. Make it succinct and highlight the main points you want to get across.
  • Have a clear goal for the podcast before you create it.  Do you want it to be entertaining and fun or do you want to elaborate on a complex subject? Your goal will shape the final output of your podcast.
  • Be creative with your content. I think it might be hard if you have a series of podcasts to give them continuity, but also spice up each one. I think you’d have to do a lot of planning before creating a podcast in order to make a quality experience for the user.
  • Don’t just read a script. The article gave what I think is great advice: be yourself and sound natural, but also be enthusiastic.

photosharing

Photosharing

When I think of photosharing, I usually don’t immediately think of e-learning applications, but I am starting to see how this type of activity could be applied. It seems like using a site like Flickr for educational purposes is fairly new, because I found it a little difficult to find very official articles on the subject. However, I did find some interesting tidbits along the way that show the potential in how photosharing can be used in e-learning.

  • Photostreams One application for e-learning that Flickr has is the ability to create sets of photos or photostreams. This way, learners can quickly and easily navigate through a series of related photos, and read descriptions appropriate to each. I found this article called Using the Online Photo Community Flickr for Science Education that described how educators in California were using Flickr as a way for students to see groups of related science images, which also allowed the students to ask questions and make comments. This seems like a fun, interactive way to learn science. Here is an example of an educational set of photos on Flickr.
  • Annotation One of the really cool things about sites like Flickr is that you can add notes to particular parts of an image in order to focus on specific objects. One example I have this used for educational purposes is this art history example. The annotations allow students to hone in on certain parts of the painting, and discuss the artist’s technique and meaning behind the subject matter. This seems to work especially well with a complex image.
  • Geo-tagging I could see geo-tagging being another great feature in Flickr for e-learning. Clearly, for a geography assignment, it could be really effective to use the geo-tagging feature to help students identify various historical locations on a map. One video blog by a K-12 teacher that I stumbled upon shows users how to use features like geo-tagging in Flickr for education, which I think is really useful.

Social Networking  social-networking

Finally, I wanted to see what kind of e-learning applications social networking has, specifically through the site Ning- which is an online platform for people to create their own social networks. Again, this must be a pretty new development in the e-learning realm because I had some trouble finding formal articles about the subject, but I was able to find some related resources.

I found this support page on Ning that was created specifically for educators. I think this is cool because it gives a forum to teachers who are trying to implement this technology in their classrooms. Also, some of the Ning experts write blogs about how to better use Ning. One thing I like about Ning is that it gives you the ability to request ad removal for an educational site.  This way you wouldn’t have to expose kids to unwanted advertising.

I think people are now familiar with the process of social networking, so it wouldn’t seem that difficult for a user to create a profile for an e-learning site. I just wonder if people are too accustomed to using social networking sites purely for fun, that it would be difficult to steer them in a more educational direction. I could see a social networking feature being useful, especially in a professional, corporate learning setting where users can share ideas within their respective teams, and have certain learning objectives they need to meet.

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