Heather Russino By Heather Russino • August 3, 2016

3 Tech Tools for an Engaging Online Learning Experience

Technology has improved our lives in many ways over the years – various gadgets, apps, websites and devices help to make us more efficient and productive at home and in the workplace. This technology also allows us to instantly connect with others across continents in real time, changing the way we communicate. Especially with the rise of social media and popular networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, using this technology has become a way of life. It’s actually hard to remember a time when this kind of software or access to information did not exist.

Thomas Edison State University is no stranger to technology. The University is constantly reviewing important data to improve programs and courses. In fact, this year the University launched a set of tools which is fully integrated into several new courses in Blackboard Open LMS, formerly known as Moodle, our Learning Management System (LMS). These tools are changing the way students connect, collaborate and engage in the online classroom – for the better.

Here are several tools that you can maximize for your own educational use. Be sure to take note since you may see one of these tools in an upcoming course! 

1. Blogs

Blogs have been around for nearly 20 years and, in the world of the social space, a blog (especially microblogging) has been viewed as a primary way to instantly publish and share ideas, updates or messages to the masses. A blog is defined as a “weblog” or a hybrid online journal infused with personal reflections, providing users with a platform to share their voice.

Blogging is a fundamental digital media practice and a significant means by which people communicate about particular issues, establish credibility and construct online identities. The blog tool provides you with the opportunity to practice and refine your blogging skills, offering another way to engage in the discussion of important course topics and issues. Similar to a blogging platform you may already be familiar with, this tool allows users to comment on each published post.

2. Wikis

When services such as email only existed, users were forced to collaborate and share ideas through the receiving and sending of multiple messages via email; it was difficult to keep track of who was responsible for what and when particular tasks were accomplished in a constant string of endless emails. Now, using a wiki allows users to collaborate in a seamless way, sharing ideas and editing content directly by the users themselves in one space.

The wiki tool allows students to discuss, share, critique and collaborate among group members and is the online space designed for teamwork. A wiki is an effective tool when collaborating on a project, researching a topic and even discussing a complex issue. Content building has never been easier, and a wiki helps users create and edit content, together.

3. Podcasts

Podcasts are a form of audio broadcasting where digital audio files are produced in new installments. Similar to blogging, podcasts are designed to instantly share content beyond traditional measures.

The podcast tool is a product of digital media, a reinvention of traditional media allowing students to practice and share ideas through audio broadcasting. Podcasting is a great way to present information and practice oral communication skills. As podcasts proliferate and grow in popularity, it is important to be able to utilize this form of media so this is an excellent opportunity for students to work with this tool.

Learning to use a new technology effectively has many benefits. Using these tools will enhance your written and oral communication skills, offering you the ability to communicate in a new way and share ideas. Stay tuned for some of these tools to reveal themselves in one of your future courses!

Heather Russino

Written by Heather Russino

Heather Russino is an instructional designer in The W. J. Seaton Center for Learning and Technology, an innovative and trailblazing learning environment center that serves self-directed students through the use of current and emerging technology and outcomes-driven curriculum design. A Columbia University graduate and educator for over 20 years, Russino enjoys writing about her areas of expertise in teaching, learning and course design.

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