Nicky Carr, a lecturer in teacher education, has a special focus on how digital technologies are integrated into classroom learning and teaching, both at a school level and within  higher education. Nicky integrates digital technologies in her own teaching and, where possible, works with local schools to add site-based elements to her courses.

I knew this was going to be an interesting interview with Nicky, and it certainly was. Thanks Nicky for agreeing to be interviewed and taking the time to meet.

Do you use alternative online technology tools? If so, which ones?

    • Wikispaces: to create a more user friendly, online collaborative space than Blackboard  (
    • Facebook: For reminders and communication as this is my students’ preferred mode of communicating; not everyone checks Blackboard  (
    • Scratch: To create and share stories, games, and animations with others; to think computationally and develop problem-solving skills (
    • Pinterest: To avoid lecture dense sessionsl for students to (
    • Voki: For creation of avatars (
    • Popplet and Inspiration: to capture brainstorms ( (
    • Storify: For students to use to curate research (
    • Voicethreads: As an alternative mode of capturing and presenting diverse views (
    • iMovie and MovieMaker: for students to create stop motion animations and videos as alternative ways of representing what they know. I use iMovie myself to create podcasts for students to view
    • Explain Everything: as an alternative to PowerPoint or Echo360 for creating lecture podcasts

Tools I am exploring for future use include:

  • augmented reality:
  • Infographics: to present information to students in a more visual way

Why are you using those alternative online technology tools?

Simple: My students need to go beyond Blackboard. Blackboard is not a platform that is widely used in primary and secondary schools, so the tools I use need to mirror what schools are using. I also want my students to use tools more than I do, to develop their own skills and confidence in using a wide range of technologies and to understand the  pedagogy that underpins their effective use. You only get that when you use the tools.

What process do you use to choose the alternative online technology tool?

Depends on the objectives of the course. There are a number of factors that I need to consider including:

  • Time taken to up-skill students on the tool
  • Is the tool free
  • Does it run on multiple devices
  • Is it something that provides my teacher education students with skills and knowledge that are transferable to a school setting.

I need to be able to keep abreast of what is happening out there. So I use sites like And of course I have shared this with my students as they need to be aware of these tools.

Do you think that alternative online technology tools better support learning than Blackboard?

Yes, because Blackboard is a formal learning space. Blackboard is more authoritarian, and teacher-centred. Blackboard supports information transmission really well, but teaching is so much more than that.  I prefer digital technologies that support more constructivist learning and associated student-centred pedagogies. Other tools are less formal, so that helps to create a more interactive environment and more of a learning community.