Different kinds of etools

So far for our project, we are exploring different kinds of etools, each of which provides a different kind of interaction with scientists, scientific data, and local relevance (and brings up the question of what an etool is). So far, the biggest categories are:

1. national databases that students can contribute their own local data to. This is similar to projects like Journey North’s monarch butterfly tracking or citizen science projects out of Cornells’ Lab of Ornithology. monarch-butterfly_1photo © 2007 Mike Baird | more info (via: Wylio)

2. modeling tools like My World GIS, where students can layer different kinds of data onto a global map and synthesize information, gather evidence, and form scientific arguments or predictions.
In Honor of Patricia Neal:  What Would Happen If The Earth Did, Indeed Stand Stillphoto © 2010 Joe Wolf | more info (via: Wylio)

3. online collaboration tools like Voicethread (my current favorite): we need to find a way for kids to collaborate with outside experts (and each other) around specific artifacts. I like Voicethread for its annotation tools and the fact that kids can contribute voice to make comments (making it more likely that they’ll contribute). Are there any other tools like this out there that are free and easy to use?

4. Online artifact-making tools: prezi & Glogster. Trying to figure out ways for kids to make final products that are informative, data-driven, fun, and locally relevant. Any others that we should be aware of?

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One Response to Different kinds of etools

  1. Martha Groom says:

    Interesting! I’ve been a big fan of citizen science projects and have been trying to sort out how we could work these into K-12 more thoroughly. You may also know of the rock dove assortative mating project – that one is great for teaching about animal behavior, and very accessible as the birds are everywhere.

    OK, for me, a lot of the issues are around how to work with these eTools in and out of classes. How do we make use of the face time, how we coordinate the online time, etc. I know that some of what Will was trying to get us to consider/do is to let more of it be unscripted – but I do think kids/adults need help in sorting and in using these tools effectively (just like all the other educational “tools” such as writing papers!).

    One of the aspects I really like is the idea of having the communication between the scientists and the kids. So having voicethread – IF IT IS EASY TO USE (i.e., takes under 5 minutes to learn) – would greatly increase the participation on the scientist end as well. I think having the idea that you could react more spontaneously and record feedback would be very appealing. One of the aspects I always wonder about is how one maintains those ties with scientists to tune in and provide feedback, etc. But definitely making it easier on that end has to also increase the odds of getting more from them as well.

    I’d love to talk more about these possibilities!

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