Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Literacies for the digital age: Tool literacy

This is the eighth in a series of blog posts highlighting the digital literacies our students will need to succeed.  This post will provide you with some ideas on how to help students attain the tool literacy skills they need.

Tool literacy, the ability to manage and create information, is all about using software tools to help support the other literacies. This is sometimes called computer literacy or technology literacy.
Managing information using online tools in a digital space is an important skill. Here are some quick tips that can help students (and you) manage their information overload using Web clipping tools, curation tools, RSS and newsreaders, and synchronous communication and backchannel tools.
One way to keep student’s information organized is for them to use Web clipping tool such as Evernote. Evernote runs on desktops and via an iPad and Android app, and allows the student to take notes, record audio files, insert images, and much more, and the notebooks with the information remain synced across all their devices. Classroom ideas: Evernote for educators Livebinder
There is a clipping tool made especially for schools. It is called EduClipper and it has been developed by Adam Bellow of EduTecher.  The created EduClip boards are easily shared and there is an iPad app, tool. Classroom ideas: Creating digital portfolios with Educlipper
Many educators use Pinterest, for their Web clipping tool, which works with the browser, iOS devices, and Android devices. Classroom ideas: 37 ways teachers can use Pinterest in the classroom
One iPad app I have started using is Pocket, which downloads the items I add to it. This is a great way for students to have hard copy of what they have found. It works on computers, iOS, and Android devices.Classroom ideas: How to use the Pocket app for classroom research
Pearltrees is an online curation and organizational tool and an iPad and Android app with a social component. You can search, link to other’s pearls, and organize your own into meaningful areas for you. Classroom ideas: Visual social bookmarking with Pearltrees
One tool that I have been using for a lot of years, and that has now been released for many platforms, is Microsoft’s OneNote. With the ability to easily create notebooks, add images, text, embed files, and draw, OneNote is now my tool of choice for keeping myself organized and for curation across all of my devices. Classroom ideas: OneNote for educators Pinterest page
RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a very important tool for students.  RSS allows the user to gather (also called aggregate) many of their data sources in one place. The tool that gathers the information in one place is called a newsreader. One of the most popular newsreaders is Feedly. Feedly has plug-ins to the major Web browsers and an iPad and Android app, too. Classroom ideas: Using RSS in the classroom

RSS can be used for many purposes to support teaching and learning as well as personal items of interest. It saves the student the time to visit that blog or news site or even Twitter and has all of the information just flow into their newsreader. I love this video by wydea which explains RSS in a practical way!

Students should also become proficient with real-time audio and video conferencing, collectively called “synchronous communication”. Both Skype and Google+ Hangouts are samples of that. And this can be done via a tablet, too. Classroom ideas: Skype and Google+ Hangouts
Knowledge of some simpler online tools to use as a backchannel or a planning space is useful for students to know. I asked my Twitter PLN to post to a TodaysMeet page with some ideas of how students might use it for planning. Classroom ideas: 20 ways to use TodaysMeet in the classroom
And, an old favorite, Wallwisher, has reinvented itself as Padlet. It works perfectly as a backchannel tool through a Web browser on a tablet or computer. Classroom ideas: Interesting ways to use Padlet in the classroom
81Dash is another backchannel tool and is intended for education. You can create rooms and open them when you need them and even have a conversation in the room. Classroom ideas: Backchannels in the classroom
What tools do you use to support tool literacy? Let us know on Twitter! #kathyschrock