Reader Poll Results: New Tech Tools in the Classroom

classroomTwo weeks ago I asked readers to talk about the tech tools they were most excited to take into the classroom this semester.

The impetus behind this question was a request for participants in a poll by ReadWriteWeb author Audrey Watters; her follow-up post on August 15th, “Teachers Pick Their Top 5 Back-To-School Tech Tools”, discussed her poll results. Specifically, her poll found educators most excited to integrate the following tools in their classrooms:

  1. iPad/mobile learning devices (including netbooks)
  2. Twitter
  3. Google Apps for Education
  4. student blogs
  5. Sharing and Collaboration Tools (including wikis)

I thought the responses Audrey gathered would differ from those gathered in the comments to my original post, given the difference in audience between ReadWriteWeb and ProfHacker—I expected answers from ProfHacker readers would show more curiosity about technology than cutting-edge technological implementations.

For the most part, I was right—while in general the responses in the comments to my post intersected with Audrey’s “top 5″ poll results, there were several answers that show just where people (and their institutions) fall in the technology adoption lifecycle. That is to say, while some people are excited about writing custom programs to randomize exam questions, others are excited about using a learning management system for the first time, or blogs, despite the latter having been around for ages. The ProfHacker readers who left comments show the full range of the technology adoption lifecycle, which is a good thing since we aim to help a wide range of folks and also create that necessary space for others to help their colleagues (virtual or otherwise) as well.


Although the iPad and other mobile learning devices led the way in Audrey’s poll results, only a few responses here referred to the use of any sort of hardware (and you’ll see “hardware” is pretty broadly defined): guerson plans to use clickers in a world history class to gather responses and help initiate conversation; erictho plans to use colored chalk to help students visualize patterns in the morphology; vivid looks forward to using the iPad for note-taking and electronic teaching materials.


Since the responses were weighted heavily toward software, I’ll categorize these based on the popularity of responses.

  • blogs and blog-related: blogs may seem like “old tech” but many people are still testing blogging in the classroom for the first time, while others (such as myself) have done this for quite some time; commenters deannamascle, pandian, and yours truly voted for blogging while commenters phdeviate and tellio noted their excitement about the WordPress 3.0 plugin Anthologize. (Note that blogging was fourth on Audrey’s list.)
  • learning management systems: both erictho and tee_bee mentioned Moodle, mposner mentioned ANGEL, and matt_l talked about using specific features of Desire2Learn.
  • wikis: mentioned by both drnels and aeonelpis
  • screencasting: specifically Jing, mentioned by both peril and dgiberson
  • items with one vote included: Twitter/microblogging (note this was second on Audrey’s list, and if you’re looking to work with Twitter in the classroom I highly recommend reading A Framework for Teaching with Twitter and Practical Advice for Teaching with Twitter), Mac apps such as Mental Case and iAnnotate, presentations in pecha kucha style, collaborative timelines, Mendeley, and web-based online learning environments on specific subjects, such as For Better or Verse (scanning poems) and Little Red Schoolhouse Online (for writing curriculum).
  • So there you have it—heavy on the collaborative learning tools, less so on slick new hardware. No matter what technology you plan to bring into the classroom this semester, remember the advice offered in Ryan Cordell’s post Kids, Solid Foods, and Allergies: An Analogy for New Tech in the Classroom—make sure the technical elements work how you expect and that they fulfill the pedagogical purposes you hope they will fulfill.

    [Image in this post by Flickr user Max Wolfe; Creative Commons licensed.]

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