Last week a social studies teacher forwarded me an assignment sheet and asked how he might better integrate technology. The assignment asked students to analyze the 1920s as both a decade of anxiety and intolerance, and a decade of liberation and hedonism. The students were to provide 5 examples in support of each perspective, along with explanations and accompanying images to support each example. In previous years, each student created a Powerpoint and then presented to the class, but the teacher was hoping to find a few more engaging alternatives.
As I considered the use of technology in this assignment, I felt it would be best to alter the assignment from a narrated presentation to an interactive poster or digital scrapbook. Because the students were combining a variety of media types, I tried to focus on tools that easily integrated the use of images, text and audio. Here’s what I suggested:
- Thinglink – Using a relevant background image, students could add tags for their images, text and audio narration
- Padlet – Students add media rich “posts” to a static background. Similar to a pinning notes to a bulletin board, students can add a variety of media types to their wall, and they can decide if the layout should be organized in a stream, chronologically like blog, freeform or in a grid layout.
- Prezi – While most of us think of Prezi as an alternative presentation software, it also provides a great platform for creating interactive posters because of the ease of adding and resizing a variety of media types including audio files. And students have the option of adding a path to their posters so the content is viewed in a specific order.
Two additional tools I explored for this project didn’t quite fit, but still had some interesting potential, and put into student hands could create some amazing results.
Pixiclip – This is a new tool I haven’t had much time to explore, but allows the user to add voice (or video) narration to uploaded images, doodle on the screen, or add text. This tool would create an end product more similar to a narrated presentation, but doesn’t seem fully developed yet. I’m hoping that embedding video will become a feature they will support in the future.
Slidesnack – Is a tool that also creates a narrated presentation, but comes with a family of related products like flipsnack (flipping books), podsnack (podcasting tool), and photosnack (slideshow tool) that can be combined to make multimedia presentations.
Finally, the tool I was most intrigued by was the National Archives Digital Vaults creation tool. Because this was an assignment for a social studies class, the idea of using primary source documents was highly appealing. The creation tool has 2 options: 1 for creating posters, and another for creating a video segment. Each of the options allows for the user to add in text and primary sources but unfortunately there tool is quite limited.
For users who accustomed to using programs like Canva, the interface seems clumsy and primitive. Another limitation is the primary source content available to add to the films or posters, which for this particular assignment was quite limited. I would love to see the ability to add audio files, or narration to the movie or poster options, as well as an improved user interface.
What other tools have you used or disovered that might work well for this type of assignment?
Author: Brooke Ahrens
Brooke Carey Ahrens is a Google Certified Teacher and Instructional Technology Coordinator at a bay area high school. Brooke is currently serving as a rep Northern California Region rep for the California School Library Association.