4 Innovative and Inspiring Tech Tools
If you’re a part of the Spark network, you know that we’re always on the lookout for innovative tech tools. Last week, we showcased five unique tools that helped students and adults get creative in some seriously inspiring ways. This week, we’d like to shine a spotlight on four more new digital devices. From wireless […]
If you’re a part of the Spark network, you know that we’re always on the lookout for innovative tech tools. Last week, we showcased five unique tools that helped students and adults get creative in some seriously inspiring ways. This week, we’d like to shine a spotlight on four more new digital devices. From wireless whiteboard pens to storytelling software with a twist, these cutting-edge ideas are changing the way 21st century learners grow and play. Check them out and see for yourself:
1. The Pen That’s Mightier
Gone are the days of dusty chalkboards. Now, when teachers want their students to participate using their classroom boards, they can use the AVer AP20T Teacher Pen to take the experience to the next level. The wireless pen allows students to interact with digital whiteboards without ever leaving their seats. Ms. Debbie da Silva a teacher at 3rd Grade Teacher at Joseph Weller Elementary School in Milpitas, CA loves using the AVer pen with her 3rd grade class.
“The AVer pen allows students to participate in interactive lessons from their seats or anywhere else in the classroom,” says da Silva. “The wireless capabilities also help avoid obvious safety concerns by eliminating dangerous cords and plugs. Since students can participate form anywhere in the classroom, time is saved because they do not have to take turns coming up to the whiteboard. Subsequently students are still sitting among their peers, which allows for collaboration. There is no need for expensive slates because the AVer pen works on many surfaces, including desktops or clipboards. This tool is more affordable than an interactive white board and uses many of the same lessons. I’ve have easily downloaded interactive power points or created my own lessons using the AVer software. Students are able to complete Math problems, highlight important points in text, move objects, write sentences – all from their own seats. Tools like this are essential in the 21st Century classroom.”
2. Helping Language Instructors Get the Message
The most effective tech tools aren’t always the flashiest. Often, they’re simple programs or apps that find creative ways to use technology to solve a persistant problem. That’s definitely the case with Hallo Social Voice Messaging — a tool that lets users post 30-second voice messages to Facebook or Twitter. With its social media capabilities, Hallo has no shortage of uses, from leaving friendly messages to hosting online Q&A sessions between celebrities and fans. But what really caught our eye at the Spark network was how Hallo’s being used by language teachers. Shane Peterson, an ESL language instructor loves using the tool to assess his students’ talents and needs.
“Hallo provides an essential service to me,” says Peterson. “I’m an ESL instructor to thousands of students around the world. Thanks to Hallo, I can hear their voices and learn what their deficiencies are regarding pronunciation and “speaking confidence”. Thanks to Hallo, I’ve been able to build my business and have more personal relationships with students from all over the planet.”
3.Giving Educators a Gaming Edge
From digital badges to in-classroom gamification, it’s no secret that gaming elements are an easy way to make learning fun. But it can sometimes be difficult for teachers to incoorporate gaming into a lesson plan with very specific standards and goals — until now. Software developers Scirra, have created a coding-free 2D game engine called Construct 2 that allows even those with no background in programming to create their own custom computer games.
Bill C., a teacher from Boston, MA says Construct 2 is one of his favorite in-classroom tech tools. “Construct 2 provides me with an easy way to create interactive games for teachers and students,” says Bill. “Using this program I have created educational games that students can play at home as homework. The kids learn while having fun at the same time, and it’s really easy for me to use. I’m not a programmer but I can make something that works great. This program is something that both students and teachers can enjoy and make the whole learning experience fun for everyone.”
4. A New Chapter for Creative Writing
Everyone has a story to tell, but encouraging children to tell theirs isn’t always easy. So award-winning app developer Launchpad Toys decided to give even the shyest story tellers a fun incentive by adding an element most kids can’t refuse — cartoons. To inspire the writer, artist and producer in every child, Launchpad Toys developed Toontastic — a learning tool for the iPad that lets kids create their own cartoons.
“One of the most remarkable parts of Toontastic’s success has been the breadth of creative storytelling by students across a range of subjects and grade levels,” says Andy Russell, Co-Founder of Launchpad Toys. “Given the app’s focus on creative writing, we expected a lot of fairytales and pirate adventures from elementary language arts classrooms, but never in our wildest imagination (and it’s pretty wild — like jet-powered jungle cats rocking out to Freddie Mercury) did we expect science, math, history and language teachers to so wholeheartedly embrace and extend the possibilities of storytelling in the classroom. It’s been inspiring.”
Are you using tech tools at home or in the classroom that you think the Spark network should know about? Tell us all about it by tweeting us @SparkPGH or by dropping a note on our Facebook wall. Fill us in on the programs and devices you use to give learning a 21st century twist, and who knows? You might find them featured right here on the Spark blog. And if you do give any of our featured tech tools a try, drop us a comment to tell us all about your experience. We don’t call ourselves a network for nothing — so go ahead and jump into the conversation.
Published September 12, 2012