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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Digital Tools

Hey y'all!

As my graduate course focusing on Integration Specialist Toolbox winds down, there are many tech tools I would like to introduce to you to incorporate within your classes that  I have explored within my course.  As a teacher in a very tech-accepting school, many of the tools I have been exposed to within my course, I already knew about.  It was a great feeling to know I am ahead of the game, but at the same time I wish I could be introduced to tools I am unaware of.  Nonetheless, this course afforded me the opportunity to explore tools that I have not yet had a chance to explore.

Podcast is a great technology tool that I have not really explored until now.  I knew of podcasts, but just never really looked into it as a tech tool to incorporate within the classroom.  That might be partially because I was never one to listen to the radio, or listen to audio books, preferring actual videos to watch and books to read. I'm sure some of it stems from the fact I am hearing impaired and can't really listen to a podcast without a transcript.  

A podcast is essentially a digital audio file available on the internet for downloading to computer or media player.  Anyone can create a podcast - teachers, students, administrators, community members, and parents can create a podcast for a multitude of reasons. 

A teacher can create a podcast for students who are auditory learners. They can post lectures in podcast form and have students listen to it at home.  Students can create podcasts for assignments if they are verbally articulate, but not as articulate through the written word.  The one major downside to a podcast is it is not necessarily an inclusive tool.  People who are hard of hearing will have a difficult time listening to a podcast, though if they have a transcript, they can read along while listening.  

The only thing you need for a podcast is your computer, microphone, or even just a smartphone and do everything from your smartphone.  Creating a podcast is generally very cheap, and in some cases, it is free - if you upload it to Youtube it's free.   If you want someone else to create the podcast, he or she may require a fee of some sort.  If you want to find podcasts online, occasionally you will have to pay a fee, especially if it is through a site like iTunes.  

Training on a podcast is very minimal.  Most of us have experience with video-taping and even just giving lectures as well as possibly using an audio recorder to keep notes.  Consider podcasts like a video, except without the images.  

I am going to have students try to create a podcast.  I will post when I get a sample podcast.  In the meantime, go to and google podcasts for your content area to get an idea of what a podcast looks like.

I had heard of Diigo, but had not used it up until now. Diigo is an app that you can add on to your Google Chome and when you come across articles, assignments, videos, lesson plans, etc that you would like to look at later, you can send it straight to your Diigo and it keeps track of everything for you. It's almost like bookmarking a page, except you can actually annotate everything you put in your Diigo.  It's excellent for someone like me who loves to look up resources, but might not have time to look at it at that moment, so I can just throw it in my Diigo and then look at it later. As an English teacher, I LOVE annotating so this annotation feature is like Christmas to me!  Another feature that I love is the fact I can create groups in Diigo and my colleagues and I can share articles, files, etc with one another.  This is great when one of us finds an article on a new "best practice" strategy and want to share it with others. When we share articles through email, it tends to get lost in the massive amount of emails we get per day. With Diigo, it's right there and easy to access at any time.  

Diigo is complete free to use! All you need is an internet connection and an electronic device that connects you to the internet. Go to and sign up. When you sign up, it will ask you whether you want to add a Diigo extension button on your Google Chrome toolbar.  I added the extension button and it really makes it easier to just click on the button and send articles to my Diigo account without having to navigate first to Diigo and then putting the file in. 

The only negative feature about Diigo is you can't make anything available offline, like you can with Google Drive (at least that's according to my knowledge. If anyone knows anything different, PLEASE let me know!).

Training on Diigo is very self-independent.  I hope you take the opportunity to explore Diigo and incorporate it in your PLC/PLN.

Cheers until next time!

Ms. Bergin