The first 3 days back at school have been hectic to say the least even without having any students back as yet. However I have been playing with and finding some new tools that could very well find places within my classes. Here are a few of my favourites.

1) Blue Chat – Bluechat is a free bluetooth messaging software. Bluechat allows you to see other Bluechat users around, ping anyone of them, and create either private chat sessions or public messaging rooms via Bluetooth. Given that my Outdoor Education subject will be utilising mobile phones to deliver its content, I could see this as a useful addition. Here are a few of my ideas of how it could be used.

  • Use it as an alternative to a ‘backchannel’ when computers arent available such as on camps and excursions 
  • All student’s could get across their questions/thoughts on a topic that would be recorded on the teachers phone for review at a later stage
  • Have students author a class story/narrative through bluechat that required them to respond to each others single sentences and continue the story

2) Prezi – Ever wanted to create a truly unique presentation? Well this is for you. As Rodd Lucier of The Clever Sheep fame says ” Prezi turns traditional slide presentations on their ear!”. Basically it lets you create a zooming presentation that gives the users much more control over which slides they view. The best explanation for Prezi I’ve heard so far is from Mobbsey who told me “Imagine the screen is like a drafting table with all the “bits” of your presentation scattered across it. You then set up a path through the jumble and it zooms through them when you click forward”. Anyway the best thing to do is to see how it works for yourself and sign up.

3) Wiffiti This one is very very cool. Wiffit lets you SMS a text message to a unique number that you set during the sign up process, that is then dsiplayed in a wordle type arangement. So as the messages arrive in, they are updated and included on the online ‘billboard’. The only problem here is that this service is at present only available to residents of the USA, however a web based input will be alternative is in the works and should be included soon. So how do I think I could use it? Well…

  • Students could text/type in questions/thoughts on topics that are then displayed instantly and visually for all to see, ultimately giving everyone a voice within the classroom.
  • It would help students identify key themes within topics as these would appear more often on the ‘billboard’
  • Could be used for revision type sessions where students create the questions the rest of the class needs to respond to
  • The teacher could use it as a form of feedback at the end of a session or class

Given the list of exceptional tools coming out these days this list could go on and on, however i’ll keep some more exciting ones for post in a few days. Let me know if you have used these before and whether or not you have any ideas of how they could be used further. Meanwhile I better get back to organising my first classes for 2009.