Productivity Tools

There are extensive resources on the Internet that allow teachers and students to increase productivity in the classroom. Resources for teachers include learning communities, lesson plans, subject area specific sites, and online learning. Resources that are available for students focus on homework help, study guides, and learning communities. In addition, there are multimedia resources available such as clip art, sound files, and movies. These resource tools allow teachers to enhance their students' learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity.

Resources for teachers

The productivity tools and resources available on the Internet for teachers allow for collaboration in constructing technology enhanced curriculum. The web addresses for selected productivity tools can be found at the end of the chapter.

Learning communities for teachers
A teacher-learning community web site provides a place where teachers may gather and share ideas. These virtual communities can also offer a community feel for teachers as they bring together diverse backgrounds of experts, teachers, administrators, and university faculty. A community web site offers something for everyone. Often these web sites contain guidelines for the "best of the Web" resources and lessons. Learning communities on the Internet are designed for teaching, learning, research, and collaboration.

Lesson plans
Lesson plan web sites provide opportunities for teachers to request, submit, and exchange lesson plans. Teachers work together to share ideas, success stories, and lessons learned. The lesson plans or Units of Practice (UOP) provided at these sites by teachers, often place an emphasis on integrating technology into the classroom. Some of the lesson plans match state standards or the NETS for Students.

Subject area specific sites
Subject area specific web sites provide resources for a specific subject or content area, such as social studies, math, or science. A content specific web site will often include quizzes, word games, puzzles, lesson plans, and other resources to be used in the curriculum of a specific subject. In many cases, these sites are designed specifically for teachers by teachers and include links to professional organizations.

Online courses
Online courses provide teachers with opportunities for professional development. These web sites foster changes in teachers' practices, providing new strategies for effective methods of using technology to engage students. Some of the courses offered are free of charge, while others require a fee. Most courses provide the opportunity for continuing education credit. The online delivery method allows teachers to do their learning at their own pace beyond the regular school day.

Resources for students

Tools and resources are provided through the Internet for students to use outside their classroom. Although a site may be designed for students, it is strongly suggested that teachers or parents guide the students in the use of these sites.

Learning communities for students
Student-learning web sites provide resources for students in an interactive learning environment. These web sites include tutorials, games, puzzles, and activities for online learning opportunities beyond the classroom. Lessons are provided to improve study skills, class notes, time management, and test preparation.

Some student sites are commercial, and while they do provide valuable content, students are exposed to targeted advertising. Universities, professional centers, and non-profit organizations also offer topic specific web sites for students. While free of advertising, sites sponsored by advocacy organizations are usually created to forward the group's agenda. Keeping this in mind will allow students to evaluate the appropriateness of content.

Reference web sites include a variety of reference resources for students. Online virtual libraries provide students access to dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauri, atlases, almanacs, and other valuable reference materials.

Government sites for students
Government web sites for students are designed especially for students to explore and gain information about governmental agencies. These kid-safe educational sites include facts, games, tutorials, and quizzes. US government web sites do not collect or share personal information about their visitors.

Multimedia resources

The multimedia products displayed on the Internet can be used by both teachers and students to enhance productivity as the classroom moves towards a greater use of multimedia. When students find a specific resource they would like to use, they should check the site's "terms and conditions" to determine what is allowable.

Clip art
Clip art web sites allow users to download various graphic images.

Stock photos
Stock photography web sites provide users with the opportunity to download and use digital photos.

Audio web sites include links to digitized audio archives, such as sound, music, and voice clips. These resources can be downloaded and used to enhance multimedia projects.

Video web sites provide users with the opportunity to download archived video clips. Sometimes clips are large in size and can take a while to download.

Virtual field trips

Virtual field trips can allow students to visit areas that would normally be inaccessible to them. The following examples illustrate the exciting learning opportunities that can occur because of multimedia tools.

Virtual tours
Virtual tour web sites give students the opportunity to visit remote locations around the world. These sites include museums, exhibits, cities, countries, and other points of special interest. The tours may include videos, photos, sound clips, and virtual reality movies.

Online simulations
Online simulation web sites allow students to conduct and perform actual experiments. The goal of online simulations should be to enhance lab projects, not to replace them. Online simulations allow students to perform experiments, study samples, and make further inquiries.

Software resources

Classroom productivity can also be enhanced through the use of specific computer application programs widely available on the Internet.

Freeware is exactly what it says, free. These are fully working programs that are free to the user. In most cases, the author retains all the rights to the programs so they cannot be altered, renamed, or sold to a third party.

Shareware is a copyrighted program that is freely distributed. Typically, it may be used for a limited period of time as described in the accompanying readme file. When the trial period is over, the user must either delete the program or pay the modest registration fee.

Public domain
The goal of public domain sites is to make information available to the general public. Once any work, such as a book, becomes public domain, anyone can use it. These reference web sites help the user to identify public domain resources, such as instrumental and choral music, writings, and images.

Software trial versions
Some software companies provide demonstration versions of their products. Trial versions of software allow you to evaluate programs before you purchase them. There are limitations to the trial version programs. Some allow only a limited time period for usage, while others disable certain features of the program, such as the save command. This is a wonderful opportunity for the user to preview and evaluate a program.

Index of web resources

Resources for teachers

Resources for students


|| Contents || Internet Basics || Becoming Good Netizens || Productivity Tools ||
|| Communication Tools || Research Tools || Problem-Solving Tools || Appendices ||

Last updated 2009

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