Imagine a scenario in a traditional class where the teacher is teaching a topic in Math. She has already shared the concept a few classes ago and now plans for the students to solve problems. She divides the class in groups of 5 and each teams sit together in a circle. She then hands over digital devices to them and asks them to open a particular web app on the device. The students then start working on the problems on the app – helping each other out with solving the problem and asking the teacher in case they get stuck.
This is called collaborative learning. The students are learning how to be supportive to one another and encouraging each other to learn the concept. In collaborative learning, these apps are a medium to prompt students to talk to each other to sort a problem. Web Apps have changed the way students learn in a traditional class and online class. Web apps are defined as “computer programs that utilize web browsers and web technology to perform tasks over the internet.”
Why have apps become so important in classroom and online teaching? Web apps,
- Promote teaching and learning
- Encourage learner to contribute to learning – promoting motivation and performance
- Provide educational support – in terms of videos, audios, games, e-books or any other digital resource
- Track learner performance
- Organize and track information about classes providing insights
- Saves paper
While there are apps that can be used in both traditional and online classes, there may be some that are more suitable to either educational set-up. Feel free to explore these apps in your traditional or online classes to experience. Before we proceed to the apps, we need to discuss what can these web apps do for the two learning environments to promote communication and collaboration amongst students.
Why interactive classroom collaboration?
Collaborating is an important skill which is useful during college and work life. There is constant communication and interaction in these two settings with other students and colleagues. What better way to teach them collaboration than at school? Teachers feel that collaborative learning enables them to focus on a few groups of students instead of individuals making classroom management easy.
In a traditional classroom, teachers now realize that one-to-many teaching is not exciting to students and that learning is happening just by listening to the teacher and taking notes. Many students forget concepts after the exams are over. Traditional teachers now know, that real learning is that which cannot be forgotten. Students can learn well by doing and experiencing. More recently schools have opened up to trying new pedagogical methods such as Blended learning, flipped learning and collaborative learning. In collaborative learning, teachers try to have students teach each other. The teacher plays the part of a moderator or enabler in the physical setting. Students learn and retain better through this method as collaboration learning deepens understanding of concepts.
In an exclusively online classroom, interaction over a virtual classroom is not enough. Teachers increasingly feel the need to help students ‘do’ something around a topic. Thanks to the latest technology the answer lies in the numerous apps that have sprouted online. The one type of app that is important for collaborative learning in an online classroom is Gamification. Gamification apps let teachers group students together which facilitate collaboration.
Now LMSs allow for other provider apps to be integrated into their platforms making it easier to teach through a single platform instead of having students hop from one device to the other.
Five Apps for Traditional classroom
- Debate Graph
Have your students participate in a lively debate with the DebateGraph app. An award winning app, Debate Graph has students use it to unravel and present complicated topics through making mind maps. Student arguments and ideas may be added on the map along with text, videos or other resources against their point. Anyone who adds ideas to the map, will see the change in the map reflecting immediately. In case this map has been shared on other websites or platforms, then any changes made to the main app diagram will be reflected over any platform which the map was shared on. A live chat feature is available which enables the students to post messages to each other in real time to discuss the topic. Students may rate each argument which can then be tracked to show popularity of idea or argument. Used by the White House, Foreign and Common Wealth Office, this app is a powerful tool to measure responses of your students, keeping them engaged and informed at the same time.
- Education City
An application which started in 1999 has captured the imagination of schools worldwide. Developed for students in primary, secondary, special schools, Education city helps children to learn through online educational games. Features of the tool include an interactive whiteboard which helps the child to give answers on the whiteboard in front of the whole class. Teachers are also able to customize a learning path for the child and can use the app to suit their style of teaching. By allowing the students to interact with each other on a whiteboard activity, the app promotes collaborative learning.
- Go Noodle – Get Moving
Can you imagine kids learning and dancing at the same time? This app has taken physical activity right into the classroom. Who said kids could only have fun outdoors? Upbeat songs and rhymes get children going and have them respond to questions that teachers can include in the interactive videos. Some concepts are best learned when dancing – number of moves, or counting on your fingers among so many other skills. While dancing they learn to interact with each other and the teacher in a fun way. The video shows them how to sing a particular line, and then prompts them to say it on their own. GoNoodle Plus is a premium version of the GoNoodle. Subscribers get additional content for core subject practice with their classmates.
Padlet is a digital discussion board which allows the discussions to be posted on the ‘digital board’ with a colorful sticky note. Just like in the picture below, the teacher may show them an experiment and ask them for their reasoning and opinion. She can track which student has been able to grasp concept through their responses and which student needs more attention. Students responses are also color coded for the teacher to easily match the answer to the question. Students can create similar boards for learning a concept together via Padlet.
Teachers may create videos, add QR code, add a drawing, graphs to their presentations for the children. Students may work together on Buncee to get cracking on creativity, making their own project work together. Creating yearbooks, albums, having debates and discussions using Buncee is something that teachers recommend that you can do too.
source: Padlet App for Collaboration in a Traditional Classroom
Five Apps for Online Classrooms
- Explain Everything
Through this app you can create your own digital story and let students collaborate on a project in real-time. Students, using the application may use an iPad along with an apple pen which will help to them draw on the digital page of the Explain Everything. Students do not have to be together to work – which is amazing.
You can record the ongoing work (whiteboard and voice) and share the content to dropbox and other social media platforms You will be able to import existing videos, pictures, sounds, and share the same on the whiteboard for students to see.
With this app the teacher creates a digital room with a ‘board’. Students may add pictures and, texts, pdfs to create a ‘flow chart’. Other students may be invited to the board to help them with the project helping them to collaborate with each other to learn. This can be used for a remote collaboration in an exclusively online class. With Mural, deep learning and understanding can develop as each student’s perspective is recorded and read by other student contributors.
Many teachers love Wikispaces as it unleashes student’s creative and collaborative spirit. Teachers say that students learn how to make websites and also conform to the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Standards into their teaching.
- Google Tour Creator
Want to give children a virtual reality tour of Rome? How? Make a Virtual Reality tour through the Google Tour Creator. It is simple to use and the final videos can be viewed through Google Cardboard. Using this tool, students create their virtual reality videos by using existing photos or Google Street Views and can share the VR video with the student community around the world. Explore for yourself here. For example, it helps students to see how other students from around the globe live every day. The theme of a virtual reality video may be different but it does get students working together.
An online collaboration tool which allows teachers to facilitates collaborative activities for their online students. If you want to promote friendly competition among students use the ‘Space Race’ feature which is an intergalactic quiz. On the app there are chat boxes and discussion rooms to have kids talking to each other. How does this tool work? Watch here.
Teachers must take care to help students
- Make shared goals during collaboration as well make individual goals
- Divide tasks during a project and having deadlines on each task so that they do point fingers at each other.
- Experiment with apps – make a student test group
Teachers must take feedback from students in every session. You can make spider graphs or visual maps to keep a track of who communicates when. It will help you nurture those students who do not participate in class.
In the year 2018, these are some exciting apps for both the traditional and online classrooms. If you have any other apps that we have not included in our list, do comment and share with us. It is an exciting year for education, that’s for sure!
View webinar recording on Exploring Powerful Free Web Apps for Interactive Classroom Collaboration by Kelly Walsh, Founder EmergingEdTech.com, and a Community Administrator for the Flipped Learning Network. He is also a CIO and Faculty of Administration at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY. Explore now to get insights into the latest web applications for interactive classroom collaboration!
 https://blog.ed.ted.com/2015/09/19/25-awesome-apps-for-teachers-recommended-by-teachers/ /