Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a popular topic among many teachers today. There are tens of thousands of ICT tools on the Internet and many of them open up new possibilities of teaching and learning in the classroom. In this text I will review three quite different ICT tools with a lot of potential: Quizlet Live, Google Forms and Presentain.
Quizlet Live (www.quizlet.com/features/live) is a new feature of the online learning tool Quizlet, released over 10 years ago. Quizlet is a website that creates various activities – from games to practice tests – using vocabulary terms. It is an incredibly popular website with more than 40 million visitors a month.
In April 2016, the completely new Quizlet feature “Quizlet Live” was released and it added cooperation and a social dimension to the online learning tool. Quizlet Live is an in-class, team-based learning game based on Quizlet’s vocabulary sets. Students are randomly paired into teams of three or four and race against other teams. In order to win, teamwork is a crucial element.
Quizlet Live Tutorial: www.quizlet.com/help/how-to-use-quizlet-live
Quizlet Live is a powerful classroom tool that engages students in learning new words and concepts. It stimulates communication, promotes teamwork, and introduces a whole new classroom dynamic. The team dynamic makes this a positive experience for both strong and weak students, since learners of all levels can contribute to a victory as part of a team. Since the students are randomly divided into teams, they get to know and work with everyone in the classroom, not only their closest friends. In this respect, it is even better than the extremely popular game-based learning platform Kahoot. I give Quizlet Live a top score: five out of five lion paws.
Up until quite recently, I have let students evaluate my courses manually answering my questions using pen and paper. Sure, I have been aware that there are proficient evaluation tools online, but I guess I have stuck to the non-digital solution out of old habit.
This school year, however, I decided early on that I wanted to renew my evaluation methods. For this reason, I have tried several different digital survey/poll/evaluation tools and many of them offer great functionality, like Surveymonkey and Typeform. Still, almost all of the good ones have some limitations, unless you pay for them. The only exception (that I have found) is Google Forms (http://www.google.com/forms/about).
Google Forms provides an easy way to collect information, conduct surveys and perform quick assessments. It is also a great tool for course evaluations. It is flexible, completely free and without any limitations. It offers a variety of themes and you can customize the questions to meet your aesthetic requirements.
It is surprisingly easy to create evaluation forms in Google Forms: you write down the questions online and let your students answer them digitally. All the responses are saved in an Excel file and once everyone has responded you can download and analyse the results. This way you can quickly identify patterns in the evaluations. Another great feature of Google Forms is that it is a responsive and looks just as good on your PC and MAC as it does on your tablet and smartphone.
Google Forms Tutorial: www.bit.ly/1YjcW2E
Example: My English 5 Course Evaluation Form: www.bit.ly/1PQ8MO5
Google Forms is a great tool for creating course evaluations. It is highly customizable and will save you a lot of time when analysing student evaluations. Google Forms does not have as many features as similar tools that cost money, but as a teacher you have more than enough of customization (at least from my point of view). I give Google Forms a solid four out of five lion paws.
Presentain (www.presentain.com) aims to provide an innovative approach to presentations by making them interactive and accessible. This is how it works: first you create a presentation the traditional way (using PowerPoint, Google Slides or Keynote). Then you upload your presentation as a PDF to the Presentain website. From there, your audience can access your slides on their own devices, which enables interaction between the audience and the presenter.
One of the great facets of Presentain is that your smartphone acts as a slide clicker – simply press a button on your phone to move to the next slide. There is also the opportunity to use polls in your presentation. These can be set up beforehand and they can be shown on the audience’s devices at any point in your presentation. This lets the audience vote and the poll results are displayed as pie charts.
In addition, audience members can submit questions from their devices to the presenter’s smartphone. This gives the presenter the opportunity to discuss the questions with the audience at an appropriate time of the presentation. There is also the option to record your voice along with the slides and share the presentation online.
Presentain is an innovative tool with a lot of potential. The most exciting part of Presentain is its interactivity, which adds something extra to your presentations. However, there are a few downsides. First, in order to use Presentain effectively you have to subscribe to the service ($69.99 a year with a teacher discount). Second, transitions and animations in your original presentation are lost when you upload it as a PDF to the Presentain website. Nonetheless, I like Presentain a lot and I give it three and a half lion paws.
Text and Illustrations: Erik Axelsson