As an educator, one may find an array of software applications that are useful in and out of the classroom. Most commonly used is an office suite, for creating lesson plans, for delivery of assignments, and more. Not all of these apps, however, do exactly what they need them to do, or more accurately, they simply aren’t particularly designed for eLearning use. Here are some popular and extremely useful software applications that educators will be happy to have in their digital schoolbag all times.
For a number of reasons, screen capture and audio recording could likely be the most useful technology based teaching strategy available to educators. Whether it is for distance learning, online activities, lesson reinforcement, or for students who may have missed an important lecture in a physical classroom; having class recordings available at all times is hugely beneficial to students. Conveniently, audio lectures can easily be recorded and made available via podcasts, while on screen activities can be captured and made available on school websites or on private YouTube channels.
While any basic audio application (including Microsoft Windows’ long standing Sound Recorder) can record audio for simple purposes, more specialized software is required for enhanced features, such as, video and screen capture. TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio, now in its 7th incarnation, is a popular choice when it comes to recording live screen action that may require, screen stills and audio narration. In conjunction to the capture component, the studio offers a full featured editing application that allows for annotations, zooming/panning, and more. Educators should be excited to know, that not only does an evaluation version of Camtasia Studio exist, but TechSmith also offers a comparable but limited software application named the Jing Project for free. Not only will the Jing Project introduce teachers to the possibilities of capturing screen content, but it can also offer students a great way to create projects that require screen elements and audio.
Adobe Captivate, a popular eLearning software application, has recently been reinvented and rereleased alongside the CS5 suite of products. Similar to Camtasia, Captivate allows screen recording, voice over narration, and more. Additionally, Captivate, allows for simulations and quizzes to be easily created with the extra ability to optionally connect to a backend LMS (Learning Management System) for reporting. A downloadable trial of Captivate can be found at Adobe’s website.
Test and quiz creation software packages can be helpful when assembling questions for a classroom evaluation. With such an application, a variety of question types including true/false, matching, multiple choice, fill in the blank, ordering, and more, can be easily and quickly deployed as a part of an online or paper based assessment. For the more popular applications, pre-made exam question banks are usually available from textbook publishers and peer educators. Assessments created with the software can also be imported into systems such as Blackboard. Examview, and TestGen are two applications that offer similar features and functionality.
There are also a variety of free applications available that educators can use for dail;y activities, such as, vocabulary practice and study. One favored approach is to present terms in the form of a puzzle such as a crossword, rather than as a dictionary list. One such free application that creates free crossword puzzles from custom made word lists is EclipseCrossword.