Technology is an excellent way to make students of all generations more engaged in classroom activities and more motivated when they attend classes or do their homework. Some tend to consider technology as a threat, as its extensive use reduces the attention span considerably and makes students less interested in education in general.
Granted, there is some truth to it. Nicholas Carr aptly explained almost ten years ago how the internet changes our brains. However, this is only one side of the coin. If used wisely, technology and the internet can help students be more creative and even more focused.
Many people tend to think that the internet is useless or even harmful, but that is only if we consider it only a source of entertainment. We all know that this is no longer the case. For some time now, the internet has also become a significant source of information for students and teachers all over the world.
Just to give a few examples, Khan Academy, Crash Course, and popular MOOC sites like Coursera and edX have started a revolution in education, making their own content or their partners’ content (especially higher university institutions on Coursera and edX) available for everyone.
Read more: 6 Things you may not know about MOOCs
Tools for professional-looking digital portfolios
Students have the possibility of creating their own content and post it online, using a wide range of tools for graphic design, audio and video processing, and file sharing.
Let’s see a few easy to use tools that will help students (and teachers alike) create professional-looking digital portfolios:
They say an image is worth a thousand words. While images should not replace the complexity of the human language, it goes without saying that visual aids will make a portfolio more engaging and more professional. Used as an aid, a carefully chosen image or a great infographic will help readers absorb the information more easily.
Free stock photos
There may be many talented photographers in every classroom. With an average smartphone, students can practice taking photos with great results. There are many photo editor apps for Android and iOS, so they should not have problems creating their images for the portfolios.
However, taking a great photo might take time and, in some cases, considerable resources. If you live in Minnesota and want to create a portfolio about the native tribes living in the Amazon rainforest, there is a good chance that you will not have the means to go there and take your own picture. This is where sites like Pexels or Unsplash, with their millions of license-free pictures available to everyone, come into the spotlight.
Screen recording is a good way for students to start creating visual explainers. They say that if you really want to learn something, you should teach it to others. Let students explain topics taught in class for their colleagues, and you might have a great surprise.
The experience might be useful for teaching purposes as well, as you will have the opportunity to see how students relate to the content taught in the classroom and how their minds work.
Two easy-to-use apps are quite popular these days: Loom and Screencast-O-Matic. Both have free versions and they are designed in a user-friendly manner, so your students might enjoy working with them.
Write a book
Book writing is not only for renowned scholars; your students might give it a try in the classroom. Sites like Book Creator and Storybird offer users the possibility to write their personal or collective books and can be successfully used by both students and teachers.
You create an assignment, choose a topic, and… start writing and reading. You can select the font, the style, the images. You might even insert short videos and create multimodal books. The sky is the limit!
Digital portfolios allow students to be more creative and use their imagination. They will need to be creative in their future professional careers, so try to stimulate them as much as possible in the classroom. You will have the possibility to discover the full potential of the unique, wonderful individuals attending your classes. Just make sure that they have the right tools to unleash their creativity and let them shine!
Veronica is a University lecturer with years of experience in language learning, a translator and interpreter, and a life-long learner.