I remember the sinking feeling (OK, panic) I felt the first time I saw the Go2Web20.net meta list of web apps. There are, according to their site, 2587 applications and services in their directory as of today. The page just scrolls on and on….
I know not every tool of value is listed there. VoiceThread is missing, so is FlikrStorm. And some of these tools just leave me scratching my head: Plol– the Pablic Library or Law (hmm, help with praking tickuts?) and Foamy which asks, “Do you owe someone a beer?”.
I am really curious about what drives the creativity behind these apps. Are people inventing tools to create a need or do these tools meet real needs that can’t be addressed any other way? And does this matter? Maybe the true creativity comes after the fact when people find uses for applications that the inventor hadn’t imagined.
…for classroom purposes we need to stop judging these tools on the quality of their output rather on the rigor of their input and the interpretation of their output.
(Dan did recant his complete rejection of Wordle when a reader named Rich used it to calculate the mode of a set of numbers.)
To Dan’s criteria, I would add that using a tool should create a positive change–in the way a person (user or viewer) thinks, feels, or perceives. And the quality of change determines the value of that tool. In this context, change = learning.
Recently, Sue Waters presented a workshop on personal learning networks, and shared reader responses about their most important tools in creating and sustaining their networks. I said that RSS, Diigo, Nings like Classroom 2.0, and blogging conversations were my lifeline tools. She created the diagram here to show reader responses. Sue, Elaine Talbert, and other contributors may have convinced me of the value of Twitter, and I may take it up before the summer is over.
I am going to use Wordle with my Gr. 6 students: in math for demonstrating mode and the birthday paradox (suggested by Jason Dyer), and in language arts using this clever idea for puzzles from Winston Breen. And maybe, just maybe my students will find another purpose for the tool that no one has thought of yet. That would be cool.