Which tool are you??

Please don’t take offence at the title!  This post has been born out of the annual list of the top 100 tools for learning that is compiled by Jane Hart.  Basically people submit their top 10 tools for ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ learning.  This list is in it’s 3rd year and I have been looking at it since it began and find it really interesting so see the swing in the types of tools people are using for ICT and education and the real movement away from computer based applications to web based ones.

Alas, to my horror, on the list sitting at number 10 (at time of posting) was PowerPoint. For those who know me know my ‘love’ of PowerPoint!

top 10 tools

top 10 tools

Don’t get me wrong, I see the purpose of using PowerPoint but from an educational perspective I see PowerPoint as pretty much past it’s use by date in some respects.  Yes, there are times when presentations need to be put together for others, but we have such vast array of tools to do this now, I was concerned to see PowerPoint rank so highly.  PowerPoint was an innovative use of ICT many moons ago.

So, I did some digging, and found out some information that was extremely encouraging. You see, when people add to this list you can see who added what and what their role/occupation is.  I was especially surprised to see that of all the contributors who had PowerPoint in their list, a very small percentage were classroom teachers.

Those who seemed to rank PowerPoint as one of their most important tools were those win roles which were obvious involved giving a lot of presentations, so I can live with that.

But it got me thinking, given that you can track the change in position of these tools over time on the list, how are teachers moving from what could be deemed their comfort zone of using general computer based software applications like MS Office or some drill and practice software titles toward more online and unfamiliar types of ICT tools?

I would hazard to guess that we have the normal bell curve of those out trying new things to those content with staying in their realm of safety.  However, to really get the potential of most of the tools on the list, users (teachers/students) are going  to have to create their own online spaces to utilise them to their fullest.  This refocuses on the constant debate that schools are always confronting – what access to what sites do students and teachers have?

It’s interesting that schools are still reluctant to wholly embrace the use of the web and what it has to offer in regards to education, particularly given the amount of ‘free’ applications that save them money from licensing, but even more interesting given the Victorian curriculum (VELS) has assessable standards  from grade 2 in terms of accessing information and email to grade 5&6 students uploading to their own protected online spaces.

Given that the majority of these exciting and engaging ICT tools are the right price (free) this should be at the very least the catalyst for getting students and teachers on the web.

The full list of tools is available here and add yours to the list as well.  I’d be interested to hear what your favourite tools are and why, PowerPoint users invited to contribute as well.

My next post will look at my favourite tools and why.