Tools for learning
In the course, we have been learning to use different tools that all aim to facilitate the process and add value to the learning part. Some of these tools were introduced in this course, while others were very familiar to me. That is, Blackboard, zoom, and Google apps are amongst the ones that are known to me; however, tools like Slack, the class blog (True Writer Splot), and Pseudo writer were new. I will dedicate this blog post to reflect on some of these tools and evaluate their efficiency based on my needs and interests.
Variety of tools
So, one of the benefits of digital literacy is that it lends support to the agility and the space of experimenting, and by running these experiments, it reflects on learning as well. although the class offered us as students a plethora of tools to experience, I had to be selective and use only the ones that are accessible to my screen reader. In addition, I had to choose the ones that serve my purpose because it is not just using the tool, but it is how to benefit from it. Our multi technological classroom exemplified the abundance of tools, yet I only depended on the ones with which I am familiar. There were boards and touch screens, which helped my colleagues to annotate, jot down ideas, and participate fully in the class. I, however, did not benefit from such tools, as they were not accessible, and I am already aware of how I can fulfil the same task using a different technique. Overall, sometimes using multiple varieties can add many values, but at other times, they are in vain.
The class blog: True Writer Splot
This was one of the tools we experimented this semester. It was inspired by the final reflection prompt from MyFest22, where we, as participants, reflected on the program by submitting our writing on this site. Therefore, upon agreeing with the instructor that this tool was very accessible, I suggested that we include it in the list of tools for the class. Although this WordPress site allowed us to post our reflections and blogs easily and rapidly, it still had some troubles, as opposed to when someone creates their own blog on WordPress itself. *however, I always like to look at the bright side; for this one, it gathered all the class reflections. I can say that this was interesting, as we were always able to peruse others’ writings. In other words, I was able to learn from others in class by looking at their ideas and thoughtful contributions.
Slack for communications
It was my first time trying out Slack in an academic context because I used it also during MyFest. Generally, I loved using the tool, not only because it runs on a desktop as well as a smartphone, but also because it is organized in channels. If, for instance, I compare it to WhatsApp, Slack will be better in terms of its accessibility guide and keyboard shortcut user manual. Although we have been using the free version in class, I am aware that there are a lot of features that would even accelerate the communication process. Such features include: the slack apps that allows allow users to perform certain functions within the app itself e.g. zoom integration and YouTube; the ability to record/ attach videos and audios; and the voice note features. I believe that if Slack would be used in its full version within a classroom, it will replace many tools.
Google products: slides and forms
As all the google products are very familiar, I will be focusing only on comparing the use of these tools in this course and the other courses. Usually, people tend to use google slides and forms to either create class presentations or do surveys. However, in this course, we used google slides to create our digital narrative game, and to display our projects or game prototypes. We also used google forms to self assess our performance in class, vent to the instructor anonymously (the minute paper), and some people created their games on forms. This taught me the true meaning of creativity, as to how a tool can be used differently. Finally, the only thing I did not like about google products is that they are inaccessible for collaborative activities, so I had to download everything on my computer and study it locally.
Hypothes.is for annotation
This is the tool of the semester. In addition to learning how to annotate and develop my critical thinking, I had to create another way to make it accessible. For a detailed tutorial, please see this page. I can tell that using hypothes.is will extend with me in other courses. As a literature student, my studies depend on many readings, so I will be heavily relying on the tool to put my insights and thoughts. however, if I can mention something I wish it could exist in relation to this tool, it would be that I wish I can annotate and comment on word documents. Although the commenting feature does similar to this, it’s still not easy to maneuver through the list of comments, as opposed to hypothes.is.
The role of zoom in understanding the concepts of intercultural learning
If zoom had not existed in this class, we would not have had this rich engagement with internationals from all over the world. Zoom greatly helped us to do a session with Equity Unbound (an equity focused curriculum). In addition, we also hosted a guest speaker from Malaysia to equip us, the students, with an understanding of the fun ways of learning. All of this culminated in the development of our intercultural learning.
I would like to conclude this post by stating that this course achieved its mission with regards to integrating digital tools in the everyday use. The variety of the tools used allowed me to learn how to be resilient. That is, if a tool is inaccessible, this means that I should find a way to do the required task in an alternative way. Overall, I undoubtably can say that I gained many skills and attitudes including communication skills and attention to details. Many tools impacted my view of the world. Many tools also reshaped my experience with things that I hated before. I learnt things about myself that I was not even aware of. I did not know that I would be able to easily try different formats for assignments in case of any inaccessibility. I am thankful for being able to bounce back and challenge any difficult conditions. Finally, to the future student of the course, my advice is that you should embrace every learning opportunity in this course.
Thanks for this! I just wanted you to know that the free version of Slack now allows for voice notes and some fo the students send me voice notes all the time privately.