Jennifer Elsden-Clifton is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at RMIT University. As an experienced school teacher and university educator, she teaches in teacher preparation programs in the areas of health education, professional issues in teaching and preparation for WIL.

Thanks Jen for taking the time to be interviewed. At this time of year I understand you are busy with marking, so I appreciate your time.

Do you use Blackboard?

I use Blackboard where appropriate.  However, recently I have converted most of my Blackboard shells to Google sites.  I have found Google sites in terms of set-up, ease of use and access a lot more reliable.  There is a wealth of Google based support and Google also removes a lot of log-in issues,  also I am able to share the Google sites with students earlier than semester starts. Most importantly, it makes my course accessible to “outsiders” who aren’t enrolled in my course – this opens up my classroom.

Do you use other technology tools?

Yes, I use a lot across my teaching areas of health and WIL teacher education, including:

Google Sites – all course material (except staff contact details which is housed in Blackboard) are housed on a Google site, for example rmito2t

Twitter – is the social media tool that can be used to frame a lecture, show learning and share your course beyond the classroom walls. @ecjen

Symbaloo – helps organize content in an accessible way and is easy to share. This can be embedded into a Google site or Blackboard shell. It can also be used to structure a lecture instead of using PowerPoint, an example of Symbaloo can be found at: Symbaloo.  Students also create their own Symbaloos to collate course materials or base them on a theme from the week.

ExplainEverything – an Ipad app that I use to record a lot of podcasts for students e.g. assessment support, narrated criteria sheets and course content.  This can be uploaded to YouTube and shared.  Educreations is an alternative PC based software that has similar features. Educreations

Sockpuppets – an Ipad app that allows you to create your own lip-synched videos.  A playful way for students to show their learning and report back to the whole group.  Or a way to make your Blackboard announcements more interesting and less text based. A playful example: Sockpuppet

Padlet- allows you to comment at any time and any place and make posts using an electronic sticky note.  You share a website address with students and they can respond to questions before coming to class when using a flipped classroom.  A sample wall created by students’ response: Padlet

ThingLink – software that allows the user to add videos and links to create an interactive image.  Another way to display information or frame a lecture.  Here is one created to make the social model of health more interesting and housed in one location: ThingLink

Actionmovie – an Ipad app that allows the user to add Hollywood movie effects that the user shoots.  A lot of fun.  Playful way to introduce wonderings and what ifs into a lecture.

Aurasma – Augmented reality used to bring textbooks alive among other things. Aurasma

TEDEd – a feature of the Ted Talk which I have found a useful way to interact with YouTube videos in the flipped classrooms.  TEDEd

Where possible, I use many sites that don’t require a login, as I believe logins create barriers.

Why are you using these online tools?

As my students will be teaching in school, I try to use (and get them to use – were appropriate given access and equity issues) educational technologies that they will be able to use as future teachers.  As most schools don’t have Blackboard I look towards technology that schools do use and try to model and unpack positives and negatives of use.

What process have you used to choose the tools?

There is a tweet that I often share with students:

“Just remember people who buy a drill don’t want a drill, they want a hole – choose the tool for the task & focus on the task #VITTA2012”@mackas_ict

I try to keep this focus and not just use technology for the sake of it.  How I chose technology is dependent on different things.  Sometimes I adopt the tool first, for example, I might learn about a new tool on twitter and think “that would be great in this course to get students to….”.  Or I might approach it in a different way and think this learning experience didn’t work last year, how might technology change or transform it. I try to use technology in a way that enables me to do things not possible in a face-to-face learning environment.   It is just one tool in my teaching toolkit.

Interviewed by Erika Beljaars-Harris