Start With Simple Purposeful Tech Tools

One problem of web-based or other tech resources for teachers or students isn’t really how to use them, but that there are often too many tools. There is no way to really keep up with them, nor should one. If you subscribe to a few websites or twitter feeds, the lists resources can be overwhelming. Some of the tools are amazing, but may be start-ups that will be gone just when you get comfortable using them. Still, it’s great to know so many people are thinking of innovative ways to make the web more kid friendly. Two of the three tools below I got from Tech & Learning. Warning: most will be overwhelmed with that site.

Take youtube for example. There are amazing, short videos that are great for launching units, independent study, and other kinds of learning. Unfortunately, for every great video posted, there are hundreds of terrible ones. If a child simply uses the youtube search window, there’s no guarantee what they’re going to get (teaching kids how to search better is also a key).

If you have a specific youtube video in mind that you want a young student to visit, try safeshare.tv. It allows you to enter the youtube URL, and then gets rid of all the unwanted ads, and additional clutter.

There are also some great websites out there, but they are just too cluttered with ads that get in the way of the real content you want your students to view. Thankfully, most browsers have settings you can turn on to block banner adds and content that may be too irresistible for a second grader. “Click Here to Win an iPod,” for example. Yes, you want to teach kids how to avoid ads, but especially when they are working independently, a little help goes a long way. Along with the browser settings, there are some third party tools such as adout.org which is a website where you can enter a url and have it come back ad free. There is also the software you can download, like AdBlock which is also a browser ad-on to help eliminate those ads. I know many websites rely on ads to survive, and I know most adults can live with them. For very young kids, though, sometimes, it’s just nice to remove clutter.

It’s often because the web is so overwhelming that many don’t even want to think about it. But, as much I overuse this word, it’s a mindset. Think of your goal or purpose, find a tool, and start.

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One thought on “Start With Simple Purposeful Tech Tools

  1. That seems to be a reasonable argument for not letting kids near the Web until they get some common sense (in some cases, middle age).

    Your last post on dictionaries started me worrying – up till then, I hadn’t even thought about that – but then, I have no contact with K-12 education.

    There’s an old adage that goes “Learn the rules before you break them”. I’d suggest a corollary:
    “Learn how to use books before you use the Web”.

    Do you have any thoughts on how early kids should get “connected”?

    As an aside, I’m in the middle of a book documenting a high-school class in teaching film. Yes, they got to watch 18 or so movies; old, new, American, foreign. The book makes the argument that movies are an international language, and also that our kids (and this is from the late 60s) are primarily visual, rather than verbal. That could explain the dramatic decrease in verbal skills on the SAT &c. I’m working on a summary of the book to post later. But I do think it’s an important point. We’re teaching a verbal, written world to a group that’s mainly visual, image oriented.

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