Let’s Talk About: Edtech Tools for Community Engagement

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Edtech tools can be a great way to strengthen connection, participation, and involvement within a school community. It is important in this time of “viral information” and storytelling for educators to contribute to the dialog about education.  They also need to provide a window into the classroom for their community. Years ago, what happened in the classroom pretty much stayed there. But as our communities become more connected and global reaching, educators – as part of the community – are expected to embrace this new culture and share what is happening inside their walls.  

Many teachers are still unsure about using social media personally, let alone for sharing what they are doing in class.  Sharing doesn’t have to be complicated. There are a number of tech tools that can help. Plan a schedule of how often you might share, and let the school community know what to expect.  

Making a few simple decisions can help a teacher determine what tool might work best for them. Think of how you best like to receive information and how much time you have to dedicate to the process. Educators who are just beginning to engage their school community might be more comfortable using one-way tools: tools that allow them to share information, but not receive comments back. Here are some ideas for tools that fit in this category:

  • Animoto (reviewed here) allows you to create videos very easily.  It is a great option to use because as an educator you can get free accounts for your students to use as well.  It’s easy to take a few photos during the week and upload them to the site. Decide on a theme, add a few captions, choose some music and then publish your video. Or better yet, have your students tell the story of what they did last week.  Retelling is a great way to rehearse what was learned, and you can use the videos as a formative assessment. Send a link to the video to parents and guardians (and maybe your principal) via email.
  • Telegraph (reviewed here) is an instant blogging platform.  You can create a blog post with pictures without having to set up a regular blog.  A few paragraphs will provide an update that parents would love to read. When you have finished, publish your post and then email the link.  
  • Smore (reviewed here) will walk you through the process of creating an online flyer or newsletter.  You can use a themed template or customize the look of your newsletter. Smore has a great educator’s gallery so that you can see how other teachers are using it.
  • Wakelet (reviewed here) creates a collection of items for you to share.  You can collect artifacts from the internet or upload from your computer.  If you tag your collections, then community members can go to your profile page and look through the various collections that you have shared, focusing on the collections that interest them the most.  

Want additional ideas on engaging the community?  Check out these articles:

About the author: Ruth Okoye

Dr. Ruth Okoye is the Director of K12 Initiatives at The Source for Learning. As a long-time technology coach, Ruth shares ideas and strategies for professional learning and thoughts on how to motivate yourself to “dig deeper” into educational technologies.

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