Overview to High Tech Tools: Building Blocks for Learning
Just as children gather hammers, nails, and lumber to build a treehouse or adults organize family history documents and post-it notes for genealogy projects, high tech learners seek out resources and tools for their learning experiences. Computers, open source software, and digital cameras are just a few of the tools that can be used in learning to organize and express ideas.
Libraries, educational institutions, museums, and community organizations all play a role in facilitating high tech learning by providing access to virtual and place-based tools and resources.
Building Blocks for Learning
From laptops and electronic whiteboards to smart cell phones and ipods, the building blocks for learning include text, graphics, photos, sounds, animation, video, and animation that can be shared on a wide range of devices. Our young people are particularly active multimedia creators and consumers.
High tech tools are changing the way we create these building blocks for learning. Let's use real building blocks as an example. When you were growing up, you may have created worlds using wood blocks, Tinker Toys, or Lincoln logs. Of course, these traditional tools are still around and in some cases enhanced with new features. For example, you can buy large plastic Tinker Toys for young users. However the introduction of newer building blocks such as Lego have expanded the choices and options for construction. Today, you can buy high tech accessories including electrical attachments and robots. There are even online Lego spaces for constructing virtual worlds. These cool new tools do many of the same things, but also provide opportunities not available with the original blocks.
Tools for creating high tech messages and communications in learning are much the same. What began as simple text-editors has evolved into a way for people speaking different languages to communicate. Motion pictures started out as silent black and white movies and have evolved into interactive virtual worlds.
High Tech Tools
This section of the course focuses on technology tools that can be used as building blocks for organizing questions, ideas and information; building understandings; and creating products and communications. The goal is to think in new ways about the technology tools around you. How can these tools be used to make high tech building blocks for learning?
Read Software from NETC.
In their popular book, Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement, Robert J. Marzano, Debra J. Pickering, and Jane E. Pollock describe teaching strategies that have positive impact on student learning. As you examine each area, consider the ways these technology tools might be used to facilitate learning.
In addition to traditional school assignments, many libraries are using technology to encourage learning through innovative approaches to reading promotion.
Print the High Tech Tools (PDF) chart. As you work your way through each of the technology areas, consider how each tool might be useful in addressing the teaching strategies listed. Take notes on the chart or use the Microsoft Word version to take notes.
Some projects require you and your patrons to share very large files. Read How to Save and Share Ridiculously Large Files for ideas.
For more information about the nine teaching strategies, skim the What Works in Classroom Instruction (PDF) or (PDF) document by Robert J. Marzono, Barbara B. Gaddy, and Ceri Dean from McREL (August 2000). Notice that this document doesn't speak specifically to technology applications.
The technology tools are organized into six categories based on the form or representation of information desired. Think of them as building blocks for learning. In each area, we'll try to answer the following questions:
- What technologies are available to organize and create this form of information?
- How do the tools of technology serve learners?
- How can the tools be used to facilitate learning?
- What are the issues, techniques, and problems associated with these tools?
Links to the materials in this section can be found in the navigation bar on the left side of this page. Begin with the Tools: Text page.