Emily Acosta Lewis

App Swap

This group opened my eyes to a lot of different apps and websites that could be used in teaching. I already try to incorporate technology in the classroom but this group helped me to learn more about different apps that are used in other disciplines that I wasn’t aware of. It was great to be in a work group where we were all able to learn from each other and take the time to play around with the apps and websites and learn about the pros/cons before implementing in the classroom setting.

One of the websites that I discovered while researching for this group was appcrawler.com. It is a great website to look at different apps that are out there based on age level, discipline, etc. Socrative is an app that allows for creating quizzes and ways to engage student with Q&A in class in real time. There are pros/cons to Socrative which I’ve outlined in a previous evaluation. Canva is a great app that allows people without design skills to create many products via drag and drop. One can create brochures, facebook cover photos, logos, flyers etc in Canva. I also use Dropbox which is a Cloud storage system, but it is much faster to upload very large files and also automatically updates files for those sharing a folder with each other. Padlet is a website that can be used to have students interact anonymously or with their name via a digital chalkboard. It is done in real time and responses can be exported to a PDF and saved for later usage. Picktochart is website that allows anyone to make an infographic. I find this useful in classroom as a replacement for a research paper, a results section of a research project, or to add to a presentation. Poll everywhere is an app that makes it easy to ask students basic questions and get responses in real time. Weebly is a very easy website building app that is free and can be used to supplement or replace class projects.

Though I did not do a formal survey of my students-I have implemented and used many of the apps that we talked about and plan to use some other apps in future classes. I find that with any new technology, there is a learning curve with students to use it and faculty to implement it. There are also technology issues on campus that make using the apps on campus problematic at times-such as limited WIFI or classrooms that are not “smart.” Also, with all of the apps that can be used in “real time,” there are inevitably some students who have issues logging in or accessing the room in order to comment or participate. Students are generally receptive to using the technology in the classroom-both in real time and for at home projects. However, again, it requires additional time in the beginning to learn the technology well enough to be able to help students. Sometimes, it also means that class time is used for troubleshooting which can sometimes take a long time depending on class size. Also, sometimes students are required to play around and learn a technology on their own which some students love and others hate.

Personally, the particular apps/websites that I have used a lot vary greatly in how much students like or dislike it. My students in Coms 340 (PR firm class) have to create a digital portfolio of their work from the semester and use Weebly to do so. Many of them really enjoyed learning how to use Weebly and found the portfolio useful when job hunting. However, others found it very frustrating to have to learn a new technology in addition to regular class content. For apps that I have used in class in real time, such as Padlet or Socrative, most students enjoy the ability to use their phones during class, even if it is for class work. However, there are always students who have technology or phone issues and those who don’t participate but use the opportunity to check their Instagram accounts. I have also had students create infographics as part of research projects for Coms 301 (Comm research and theory). Instead of having a traditional results section of their papers, they have to create an infographic that summarizes the most important findings. It’s a great way for them to learn a new digital skill (infographic creation) while also learning how to summarize research. Most students, though not all, enjoy learning new digital skills and learning any practical skill that might be transferrable to a future job setting. However, in general, though our students are on their smartphones a lot, many of them are not very tech savvy and find it frustrating to learn new technologies or apps or troubleshoot issues on their phones that might not allow them to participate in real time with in-class app use. I do think that most students, even those who are frustrated at first, do find it useful to learn the new skills/apps and ultimately end up enjoying using technology in the classroom.

I think this project should absolutely be offered again. Though one thing that I think would be useful would be having at least a few participants who are very tech-savvy so that they can help everyone more when issues arise. There were times that none of us knew the answer to a particular situation. Ideally, having some tech-savvy people would help resolve this. It might even be worthwhile to have an IT person involved or even bring in students to see what apps they are using so we could implement apps that students are already using and familiar with.