Web Reviews: Instructional Technology Websites You Can Use

Whether you are new to teaching with technology or a looking for new ideas on incorporating technology into teaching, the blogs and online tools included in this review can give you new ideas for teaching information literacy skills.

Blogging about the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom

This blog is maintained by Steven W. Anderson, a District Instructional Technologist in North Carolina. As District Instructional Technologist, Steve is responsible for assisting school administrators in effectively using technology to improve learning. As the title suggests this blog focuses on incorporating web 2.0 technologies into teaching. While the blog does not focus specifically on libraries, it provides tips on teaching with technology as well as links to new online applications. As such, this is a great blog for keeping current on the latest trends in instructional technology. At least once a week, there is a “New Posted Resources” post that includes a list of links to online tools such as tutorials, web based applications as well as tips and tricks for using technology in teaching. A recent post included a link to “An Educator’s Guide to Twitter”, a web page that includes sections on Getting Started, Terminology, and Twitter in Education among other sections. The blog also includes posts related to information literacy skills. The "ABCs of Web Literacy”, a tutorial from the University of Pennsylvania libraries was recently included as a resource in a post.

To find additional information literacy posts, use the “literacy” tag at the bottom of the “New Posted Resources”, dated 10/16/10. If you are looking for new tools to try out in the classroom this a great blog to follow to get new ideas. On Twitter, you can follow him at Steven Anderson.

Free Technology for Teachers

This blog is maintained by Richard Byrne, a high school US History teacher in Maine. Byrne also provides workshops on using a variety of tools such as Google Earth in the classroom. This blog provides lesson plans and highlights free resources that can be used to incorporate technology into instruction. Similar to the blog reviewed above, this blog features tools that can be used by teachers in a variety of disciplines. It includes tools that can be used to teach every subject from Math to English. This is another great blog to follow in order stay current on new uses of technology for teaching. Many of the tools discussed on the blog are not ones specifically designed for educational purposes but those can be easily used for teaching. An online tool, Mapeas, was the subject of a recent post.

The tools can be used to help students find news stories from around the world by clicking on the location on a map. In addition to providing a description of a new online application, many of the posts include suggestions for how the application can be used in the classroom as well as links to previous posts related to the topic. For those too busy to keep up with another blog on a daily basis, this site also includes a “Week in Review” with a list of the most popular posts. This blog also includes posts related to teaching information literacy skills. A recent post highlighted “Surf Canyon”, a search engine that aims to make it easier to find information online. To find posts related to information literacy, search the blog using keywords such as “research” or “evaluate”. You can also use the tags at the end posts related to teaching research skills.

Online Educational Resources

Thinkfinity is sponsored by the Verizon Foundation and provides a variety of educational resources for teachers. The Verizon Foundation teamed with organizations such as the Smithsonian, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Center for Family Literacy to make lesson plans, worksheets, online games and interactive tutorials, and videos available for free online. I became aware of this web site at ALA Annual in Washington, DC. The Verizon Foundation had a room with staff members who gave presentations on the types of tools available on this web site. At first glance this web site may not appear to have much in the way of teaching information literacy skills particularly for adult learners such as college students. However, after exploring some of the various sections of the site, I was able to find several interesting tutorials such as the Hoax or Hoax? Strategies for Online Comprehension and Evaluation or Modeling Academic Writing Through Scholarly Article Presentations. With some changes, the lessons could even be modified for use during a one shot library instruction session. The web site is geared towards students in K-12 and contains tutorials for students at different grade levels. Many of the tutorials for 9-12 graders can adapted for use in college level courses.

The website is divided into several sections including a section on “In the Classroom” which among other materials includes lesson plans and interactive tutorials. Many of the lesson plans on the site do not address information literacy skills but there are some good lessons available for teaching research skills that are very detailed and can be used over the course of several lessons. To search for information literacy related lesson plans, click on “In the Classroom” in the navigation at the top of the page and use the Search on the right side of the page to limit your search based on grade level, resource type and subject. Using keywords such as “research” or “literacy” will generate some results. The information literacy related resources can also be found by browsing “Reading and Language Arts” under Subjects. This is a great resource for finding new activities for teaching students to evaluate web sites and helping students to better understand the world of information.

Reviewed by: Chanitra Bishop, Instruction & Emerging Technologies Librarian, Indiana University Bloomington.