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10 internet technologies that educators should be informed about

by Kelly Walsh on April 19, 2009

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There are so many different tools and technologies available on the internet today, and so many associated terms and concepts. As I think about topics to focus on here in the coming months, I want to make sure we’re touching on the most important ones. What are the most important internet technologies for educators to be aware of, and informed about?

I’m sure many people would probably come up with a slightly different list, but based on my observations and experiences, and feedback from faculty at my institution, I have selected the following technologies. I do not mean to imply that every educator should be expected to use all of these technologies in the classroom, but rather that every educator should understand what these are, the potential they have in the classroom, and how their students may already be using them.

1. Video and Podcasting - One of the most widely adopted internet technologies for use in instructional settings is video streaming. Between YouTubeTeacherTubeEduTube, and many other video hosting sites, there are an abundance of lectures, how-to videos, and supporting materials available in the form of web based video. Podcasting has also been used to provide similar offerings of audio materials through popular sites like iTunes. [Click here to learn more about video hosting for education, or here to learn more about podcasting for education.]

2. Presentation Tools - This category is vast and rich. There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of tools on the Internet that can be used to create and share presentations, from simple Powerpoint slide players like Slideshare to multimedia timeline tools like Vuvox and OneTrueMedia. These tools can be used to support classroom teaching or distance learning, or for student reports and presentations.

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3. Collaboration & Brainstorming Tools - This is another wide ranging category, including thought-organizing tools like mindmap and bubbl.us, and collaborative tools like web based interactive whiteboards and Google Documents. Additionally, some of the other tools in this list, such as wikis and virtual worlds, also serve as collaboration tools.

4. Blogs & Blogging – Bloggers and many other regular Internet users are well aware of blogs and blogging, but there are many other professionals who really are not frequenters of the “blogosphere”. In addition to a basic familiarity with this technology, educators should be aware of sites like Blogger and WordPress, where users can quickly and easily create their own blogs for free.

5. Wikis – The use of Wikis in educational settings is growing every day. Sites like Wetpaint and others allow users to create free wiki web sites and are a great way to get started with using wikis for educational applications. [Click here to learn more about the use of Wikis in education].

6. Social Networking – All educators should have a basic understanding of sites like Facebook and MySpace and how they are used. This doesn’t mean they need accounts on these sites (and many educators would recommend against using these sites to communicate with their students), but they should understand what they are and how they are being used. Educators should also be aware of the professional social networking site LinkedIn.

7. IM – A large percentage of students use IM regularly, via Aim, IM aggregator site Meebo (Meebo allows users to combine messaging from Aim, Yahoo, MySpace, Facebook, and other sites), or other tools. It behooves educators to be aware of this, and I have even come across various articles about using IM within the classroom setting (such as this one from Educause).

8. Twitter – This listing is really focused on technologies, not specific applications, but this application is currently just too popular to ignore. You should at least understand what it is and the fundamentals of how it is used. [Click here for some insight into how Twitter can be used in education.]

9. Virtual Worlds – This technology has received a lot of press, with SecondLife being the clear leader thus far in this application area. In my experience, the use of SecondLife has been somewhat constrained by high bandwidth and processing power requirements, but this also means that there is still considerable room for increased adoption of the application as systems continue to become more powerful and higher speed bandwidth more prevalant. Active Worlds is one of a number of competitive technologies, and provides a “universe” dedicated to education that has been popular with educators.

10. RSS Feeds - RSS allows users to create their own “push” data streams (that is, define data flows you want coming to you automatically, rather than having to go and “pull” the information with a Google search or other browsing effort). RSS feeds enable you to take advantage of streams of published content that will be sitting in your In Box, or in an RSS reader, when you want them. There are RSS feeds available for many topics and many web sites.

While many readers may have their own interpretation of which technologies are essential for educators to be aware of, I think this is a great list to get started with. Of course, this list will require updating over time, as technologies change, and as educator’s uses of these technologies evolve. As always, reader input is welcomed. What do you think? Is this a good top 10? Would you like to see some other technologies listed here? Feel free to comment and offer your insights, please. Thanks!

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
5 Reasons Why Educators Need To Embrace Internet Technologies
Education Technology – Don’t Lean On It, Leverage It!
8 Engaging Videos Advocating Better Integration of Technology in Education
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About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Class Workshop in a Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

pascal mutulu May 18, 2013 at 8:02 am

thanks alot! my assignment is done…. lecturer had asked about five latest internet technologies. I have confidence in passing now. continue with your nice job and God bless you

free android apps May 7, 2012 at 7:54 am

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Vicki Fishman January 3, 2011 at 12:14 am

Although I am not a beginning computer user, I was so grateful for a brief but effective description of these technologies the majority of my students are well versed in. Perhaps it is appropriate to say that your 10 top technologies might have already “emerged” in the business world however according to my recent research, education (certainly we teachers) lags behind in understanding and effectively using what is now “mainstream” technology. I am presently enrolled in a master’s in education program with an emphasis on technology. Your blog is extremely informative. I am just learning about RSS feeds and now understand them much better as the result of your blog. As a neophyte to blogging and a teacher of elementary children I was also glad to learn about the dangers of adult content blogs. I will check into Edublog and KidBlog. They both sound great. I look forward to following your blog to find ways to engage and excite my students in their learning.

Sophie154 July 26, 2010 at 5:30 pm

This was extremely informative. I loved how each technology was listed, the possiblities of use as well as some listing of specific programs. Anyone who is interested in using different types of technology would get a great amount of information from reading your blog

Mrs4444 June 7, 2010 at 11:31 am

You’re preaching to the choir, here, but I would add that Blogger is not the ideal blogging platform for students; its “Next Blog” button can lead students to adult-content blogs, and if you don’t know how to get rid of that code, it’s dangerous. Thankfully, there are other student blogging platforms out there, such as EduBlog and KidBlog.

michael leventhal January 4, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Nice job. Allows good grasp of the universe of net tools for all teachers… novice and seasoned.

K. Walsh November 7, 2009 at 6:57 am

Hi Scott – RSS feeds are a mechanisms whereby you can get blog posts and news and other content from web sites to stream directly to your web browser or email, or an RSS Reader like Google Reader. Here’s a link to a Wikipedia entry that explains some more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rss_feeds. This Youtube video explains it further and illustrates how you can set up and use an RSS Reader: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0klgLsSxGsU.
To learn more about how to subscribe through your browser (instead of a reader), try your browser’s help function and search for ‘RSS feed’. Good luck!

Scott Hunter November 6, 2009 at 6:28 pm

This is a great source for teachers trying to infuse technology into their classroom. Can you please explain RSS feeds a bit more? I am having trouble understanding what exactly they do.

Marie Gauthier September 13, 2009 at 6:27 pm

This is a great post because it gives educators a good idea of what these technologies are and what they are used for. I am new with implementing technology into my classroom, and this site has been helpful. Just an idea of something else to add: digital backpacks. I hear that these are coming out in many schools. All students receive laptops and literally use that as their backpack. Most all work is done on the computer, including note taking and things of that nature. I’m not sure whether it is a good idea or bad yet, but it never hurts to try it I guess. Have you heard of schools using the digital backpack vision?

Karlana aka hawaiianbrat96 July 16, 2009 at 9:47 am

Great post! Even though I have been using great online tools,this post really spells things out more clearly. Will be using this post to refer others into the 21st century of learning tools!

K. Walsh May 25, 2009 at 6:54 am

Lisa – Just an ‘FYI’ re: Facebook – they have an array of privacy options that pretty much enable you to have a presence and see what others have shared, but share only what you wish (which can be practically nothing). Once you are a member, go to “Settings – Privacy” to see all the options. It can take some time to get familiar with these settings. You can also find plenty of ‘how to’ resources about understanding and using these settings by searching Google, or About.com, or YouTube for “using facebook privacy settings”.

Lisa Thompson May 24, 2009 at 10:29 pm

As a relative novice to all that is available on the Web, I appreciate this very concise list of tools grouped by their function. I have to admit that I am already a fan of Google Reader. I have subscibed to a couple of newspapers and the Peace Corps Journal. As a former volunteer, it is rather interesting perusing the blogs of the current volunteers. I’m not so sure about Facebook. I feel a bit exposed out there.

admin April 28, 2009 at 8:56 am

Thanks for feedback, Don!

Don Kaufman April 28, 2009 at 8:48 am

Great, clear, all-encompassing itemization. Extremely helpful. Thanks!

Deb White April 25, 2009 at 12:46 pm

As far as professional/social networking for educators is concerned, I love Classroom 2.0. It is a wonderfully active site that provides excellent resources for educators of all levels and content areas, whether they are experienced users of innovative classroom technologies or just beginning to explore how such technology can facilitate learning.

admin April 25, 2009 at 10:27 am

Thanks Squire,

Glad to hear that my post confirms your efforts – I like what you’re doing on your blog (squiremorley.wordpress.com). I’m always glad to see others blogging about this – there is so much opportunity for the expanded use tech in the classroom, and every new blogger on the topic is a new convert! Keep up the good work.

admin April 25, 2009 at 10:17 am

Thanks so much for the feedback, Ashwin – I’ll definitely check out openstudy.com. Yeah, I included a number of technologies that are not typically used in an educational setting, but are used by students and people in general, and I think warrant understanding. That being said, there is an increasing tendency to examine uses of these technologies in the classroom (for example, here’s a post about using Twitter in education:http://www.emergingedtech.com/2009/02/twitter-education/).

Thanks again!

Ashwin Ram April 23, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Nice post. Regarding #3 (collaboration) and #6 (social networking), Facebook/MySpace/etc are good examples but not really focused on education per se. Take a look at OpenStudy (http://openstudy.com), just launched out of Georgia Tech and Emory University. It provides social studying site with collaboration tools for high school and college students to study together in online study rooms.

admin April 22, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Thanks for your feedback on this post, Andy – I really appreciate your insight. My definition of “emerging” includes technologies that are becoming increasingly mainstream, and while folks like you and I have embraced many of these tools for some time now, I think a majority of educators have yet to really embrace many of them. As for netbooks and iPhones/iPod touch – good point. I was kind of focused on apps more than hardware, but that may be a bit of an oversight, especially with intriguing tools like the iPod touch, that are marrying apps/hardware/mobile so well.

Andy Polaine April 22, 2009 at 1:17 pm

This is a good list of emerged technologies and you’ve written clear descriptions that I would point many of my colleagues to. But I wouldn’t say any of these are emerging by any stretch of the term and educators should have got their heads around most of these several years ago Twitter is the “newest” of these and it’s already mainstream.

What is missing of that list is mobile though, specifically netbooks and iPhones/iPod touches. That’s still an emerging area with regards to education.

p.s. I’m @apolaine if you want to Tweet.

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