I learned from Bonni the other day that Jane Hart compiles a list of top tech tools for learning each year. Apparently one of the things to do is to write a blog post about your individual take. Here goes...
I'm actually rather hesitant to offer a list, as it is too easy to take these lists out of context and assume that they are based in anything other than personal preference and unacknowledged bias, but I figure it might be a good exercise for me to think through why I use the tools that I do, why they work for me, and maybe offer some ideas for other people to try.
Just remember that this list is not in any way authoritative.
I'll also say ahead of time that it's too easy to get caught up in technological solutionism and presume that any perticular tool or set of tools is going to revolutionize education writ large, or even an individual teacher's practice. The best things in education happen when we empower, trust, celebrate, believe, protect, and dignify students and their busy, complicated lives. The more you can do in your classroom to humanize the learning experience, the less you will need to rely on techno-wizardry and clickyclickyblingbling to make your classes engaging.
So, that was a lot of ado...here we go, in no particular order.
Github is a web service that uses Git technology to allow for collaboration, change tracking, and version control on projects and files. While it is typically used in software development teams, the fact that you can use the very simple Markdown syntax to style text files, makes it a great tool for creating and editing text documents. The reason Github is here as an educational tool is that it makes transparent the process of cooperative learning, in particular the 5 characteristics of CL, positive interdependence, personal and group accountability, promotive interaction, interpersonal and group skills, and group processing.
Scholar.social is an open source instance of Mastodon, a private, distributed alternative to Twitter. If you like the community of Twitter but are drained by the crap, hop into a Mastodon server somewhere, or spin one of your own!
Feedly, which is an RSS reader, is a tool you can use to take control over your online consumption. Inoreader is another, but I haven't used that one much. If you don't like having your information chosen and delivered to you by an algorithm created by an obscenely wealthy white dude in Silicon Valley, then you can curate your own stream of education-related feeds so that you are reading what you want or need for your career.
Also, if you run a connected course with students blogging, you need feedly to maintain your sanity.
WordPress is a workhorse for a wide variety of digital learning needs, from promoting student ownership and agency in your courses, to maintaining your own professional portfolio, to building your PLN. WordPress has you covered.
The reason I use canva is to help me with my lack of graphic design capacity. It's free, super easy to use, and lets you create high quality graphics and well-designed documents for classroom use. Also great for students to use!
Conversations with your students and peers on the web, where the content is. The digital implementation of marginalia.
For tech-savvy educators and learners who want a git-synced site, like this one! A little more difficult to use and learn than WordPress, but did I say that it syncronizes with your git repo with ease?
Don't write a paper without some sort of citation manager! Import citations from journals or the web, insert in-text citations in dozens of styles, and automatically generate your reference list.
Gitpitch is another git-enabled tool that allows you to present directly from your git repo. You can compose your presentation using simple Markdown syntax, choose a theme (and switch it mid-stream if you want) and offer your slides for 5R activities.