As I look back over the last 8 weeks, I am surprised by how much I have learned about Web 2.0 tools and how to evaluate and use them. I have many years of experience using online tools, and already advise others in their use in my role as a Technology Coach. I already had a firm grasp of what kind of tools were available online and how to find and access them. Even so, it is important to remember that needs change, and tools change, and it is always worth revisiting programs when assessing current needs.
The most relevant tools I have come across are actually the rubrics for assessing online tools. I have already begun to evaluate the tools already in use at my school, and am identifying new web tools that might suit our needs better. I must confess that in the past I was often dazzled by a new technology and found ways to use it because I liked it – with varying success. Sometimes a program can be really cool but not meet the needs of the students or mesh well with the current curriculum. Over the last eight weeks of evaluating all these online tools, I realized that matching the tools to the needs via a rubric made it easier to look past the “cool” factor to see if the tools were a good fit based on needs and goals. We already use Learning by Design in our school to build our lessons based on rubrics, so it seems a natural extension to use rubrics to evaluate how well online tools will meet our needs in fulfilling the educational goals we have already determined. As a result, I already have plans to replace or augment some of the tools we already use.
One tool that I had visited in the past and didn’t feel particularly drawn to was VoiceThread. After using it as a collaboration tool and evaluating it based on our current educational needs, I will now be implementing VoiceThread in my Technology curriculum this fall. I will also share these rubrics with my faculty and encourage them to look for web 2.0 tools based on their curricular needs and goals.