This blog discusses five website tools that can be used for educational purposes. Their features will be outlined along with possible uses. Likewise, a comparison will be carried out between them that will investigate their usefulness.
Book builder is a software that is available online (Bookbuilder, n.d. online). The descriptive account is that it is a tool that can be used to create an online book. This online book can have many features. Images and videos can be attached and displayed. At the side, textual information can be typed. Besides this, below the screen, there can be a sound recording. This is to say that information can be displayed to the reader with text, sound, and media. Therefore, it offers to produce a unique online book that includes symbolic and iconic signs. Nonetheless, information can only be placed by following the instructions.
This software program is useful for an educational purpose in various situations. For example, if an abstract concept, such as a theory of something, is explained, it can be written down in a textual format. This will include the definition of the theory with technical keywords. It can be broken down into different keywords giving a rich explanation. Then the idea can be shown with an image that is related to the text, such as a diagram, graph or table. With a video, a scenario can be shown where the theory is applied in the practical world. The viewer can then read the text and watch the video to better understand the theory being explained. Sometimes when a letter or a word is read, it can be understood differently to the intended meaning. When the same word is heard, the correct meaning can be understood, or vice versa. Therefore, providing sound recordings can be very helpful in conveying the desired meaning. Overall, it is a pathway towards a deeper and better understanding via the utilisation of these different devices. Additionally, some pupils may experience various obstacles when learning a new topic, such as mental impairments or difficulties in reading, writing, hearing or citing. This resource helps to remove the barriers these students may face. Hence, it is a means to provide an inclusive education.
Authorpoint (Authorpoint. n.d.online) is a tool that allows sharing PowerPoint presentation to others without emailing it to the recipients (Authorpoint n.d. online). The produced presentation is saved on a cloud and can be viewed online and offline. A link is used to access this tool and therefore it does not need to be sent as an attachment. One of the advantages of sharing PowerPoint presentations in this particular way is that some PowerPoint files can be very large. Specifically, some images and pictures can take a lot of space. It takes time to download these files and sometimes they may not open. However, the recipient cannot carry out any changes. This means that only the person who has created it has access to make any changes. It is not possible for anybody to perform any corrections to the shared PowerPoint presentation. Therefore, changes and corrections cannot be carried out in a collaborative way. The workload, with regards to any changes needed, will be solely on the producer. Another disadvantage is that once a slide with a lot of information is completed, then that slide cannot be changed. However, if the slide does not take too much space, then it can be changed. This means that some features are not standard and can cause some inconvenience at times.
In an educational scenario, a lecture can be delivered online by the facilitator with the aid of this authoring tool. Those who have the link will use this shared PowerPoint presentation and this can be applied globally. The control of the resource will be in the hands of the producer. Therefore, the resource will be free from the risk of unwanted modification. However, this also means the online recipients cannot add any notes on this resource as they can do on PowerPoint slides.
Timeline is an online software that can be used to express data in timeline format. It can be expressed in a chronological order. It is useful because it can help create timelines from information in different types of resources such as text, images, and videos. Notwithstanding, the options are limited. For instance, the font size cannot be changed. It does not have the function of cropping and cutting an image. Furthermore, the system is complicated so it requires a skillful person and a lot of practice. Similarly, the media image is not clickable.
One the subjects it can be very useful for is history. Facts and events that happened can be presented in an order that conveys when they actually occurred. For example, the progression of education could be expressed since 1980 by including key dates in the time order. The order could be ascending or descending. Therefore, the software can be very useful in conveying information. However, creating such a detailed resource with this software can consume a lot of time for an individual who is not skillful in using Timeline.
The fourth online tool is called Course Lab. This is conducive for the purpose of interactive E-learning authoring and is considered to be easy to use and very powerful. It also offers features to create a timeline, as with the Timeline software. It could also be used for purposes of gamification, which refers to the incorporation of games in education. A resource created using Course Lab can be commercialised and sold as a product. However, using this online tool creates a lot of files. Therefore, there may be issues of storing and sending so many files as attachments via email. Additionally, this can generate downloading issues. Another problem is that once the resource is published, changes cannot be made.
An educational game could be programmed using this tool. Students can use this for revision in their free time. The students may revise while enjoying playing a game. Additionally, resources created using this tool can allow distance learning, as users can access the resources wherever there is an internet connection.
Finally, the Edmodo online software program is useful for many purposes. One of them is its online social network which parents, students, and others can use. Some parents may use this tool to help their children or parents may want to learn themselves. It engages members others than just the students and teachers with a layout that is very similar to Facebook. Another feature is that it is linked with Microsoft and Google. This means the user can access Microsoft and Google accounts via Edmodo without the need for additional passwords. In spite of all the advantages, functions are limited for an inexperienced user. A quiz cannot be created by everyone using this tool as it requires some experience to understand the various functions. Another problem is that students cannot give long answers to questions in a quiz nor can students interact with each other. Basically, it is an individual isolated tool that can provide information only to the one who is connected.
These five tools are all free without any costs involved. The main drawback, as is the case for most websites, is a risk of going to extinction. This would be due to decreasing users and increasing costs. To prevent this, these tools are constantly updated according to user feedback. A common feature between all five is that they are all authoring programs. This refers to the fact that the producer can create a program or resource using any of these tools. Then this resource can be used for the specific purpose of learning. Timeline and Course Lab are both timeline resources, with Timeline having more features for creating timelines and Course Lab having more features in terms of creating a game with a timeline. Book builder creates an online book with many features and Authorpoint creates online PowerPoint presentations. Book builder has various features that are not possible in a traditional and Authorpoint provides opportunities to add many features to a PowerPoint presentation that other such software cannot. Edmodo is very useful for communication between the producer of a resource and its users but not between the users themselves.
AuthorPoint. (n.d.) [Online] Available: http://www.authorgen.com/authorpoint/
Bookbuilder. (n.d.) [Online] Available: http://bookbuilder.cast.org
CourseLab. (n.d.) [Online] Available: http://www.courselab.com/view_doc.html?mode=home
Edmodo. (n.d.) [Online] Available: https://www.edmodo.com
Timeline JS. (n.d.) [Online] Available: https://timeline.knightlab.com