3.6 Selecting open tools to support your learners

In this exercise, we will look at a range of open tools, and attempt to match them up appropriately with learning scenarios common in the VET sector, based on what we have learnt so far.

We want to focus on the pedagogical approaches that are most relevant to your learners in your context. You will be asked to comment on your choices, and offered feedback. Remember to save your responses to your reflective journal, for future reference.


1) Classroom-based activities
Open tools you chose:
Multimedia production (e.g. YouTube), Presentation tools (e.g. Prezi), Collaborative writing tools (e.g. Google docs / Mediawiki), Reflective tools (e.g. WordPress), Interactive tools (e.g. Socrative), Social tools (e.g. Facebook, Twitter),

How you might use them:
Small groups of students could use their phones to make a video of each of them reading a part of a poem they are studying and then commenting on the way rhythm, repetition and metaphors are used. The students would get a chance to experience the poem through reading it aloud and to comment on how the poet has conveyed meaning. Later the class could watch some of the videos and discuss them. Students would be able to view the videos not presented in class at any later time because they would be available in the class Youtube channel, or perhaps in the VLE. They might later be able to use a clip from the video as part of a portfolio of their work.

Neil’s feedback:
There are a wide range of technologies that can support classroom-based learning. Technology enables learners to acquire knowledge, produce new knowledge, share knowledge and check their own knowledge. You could use a wide range of tools in a classroom-based setting depending on the learning outcomes of your session. For this type of activity, you would typically use multimedia production tools, presentation tools or collaborative writing tools

2) Informal social learning
Open tools you chose:
Collaborative writing tools (e.g. Google docs / Mediawiki), Interactive tools (e.g. Socrative), Social tools (e.g. Facebook, Twitter),

How you might use them:
The students could use Google calendar to set a timetable for their revision eg what they would revise on their own ahead of a discussion in a Google hangout or an online chat. They might decide to take turns answering questions from an example exam and identify for each of them what they are weakest on. Or they might use the online session to ask each other for help on any problems they had with the topic for that session. This would help them manage their revision in an organised way, and get the insights of others on issues they need to focus on.

Neil’s feedback:
For this type of activity, learners will want to make use of collaborative tools, such as Google Hangouts; they will probably also make use of their preferred social media networks, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to share updates, and will probably use these alongside email and SMS.  Increasingly, learners are producing their own revision questions (e.g. MCQs) to reinforce their learning, so they may use an interactive tool to produce and share these with their study group.

3) Work-based learning
Open tools you chose:
Multimedia production (e.g. YouTube), Reflective tools (e.g. WordPress),

How you might use them:
Some learners may like to create a vlog in order to record their reflections on their work-based activities or to record themselves in action and then comment on what they thought they did well or badly and why and how they could improve the next time they did this type of task. This would be a rich resource for getting feedback from peers and educators because it would show what they did when they did it. This could work well for tasks such as talking to clients on the phone, or following a procedure to repair a fault in a car’s engine.

Neil’s feedback:
Reflection is a key component of the learning process, irrespective of the learning context. Digital technologies can help leaners to keep individual records of their professional development, and to share these with named individuals or publically. In this example, you would probably advise the learner to use a reflective diary such as the blog tool WordPress or to keep a video diary using a multimedia tool. However, a collaborative writing tool such as Google docs would work equally well if the main aim was to keep a written record and share it with others.

4) Online learning
Open tools you chose:
Multimedia production (e.g. YouTube), Presentation tools (e.g. Prezi), Collaborative writing tools (e.g. Google docs / Mediawiki), Reflective tools (e.g. WordPress),
How you might use them:
A student could use Prezi to demonstrate the skill of creating a plan for a promotional event. The zoomed out view could show an overview of the plan – key aims, activities, resources and costs, timeline, task allocation, evaluation process. Zooming in would show the subtasks and details of each aspect. Tasks for different teams could be colour-coded and this would be a useful basis for an initial planning meeting with a clear structure for discussion. The design of the presentation, both visual and logical, would demonstrate competence in planning, communicating, teamwork facilitation, attention to detail.

Neil’s feedback:
In this activity, learners would need to produce a resource that demonstrates them undertaking the skill and shows them to be competent with all aspects of it.  Depending on the skill concerned, this may be best demonstrated through use of multimedia production tools and some form of presentation or reflective tool.  It is easy to imagine a learner recording themselves with their smartphone, uploading this to YouTube and embedding the video in an online Prezi with a narrative.

Web 2.00 tools/Open tools

A fantastic range of free tools are available. There are also many listings of these tools.

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2015

Social media resources

Chris Rowell at Regents’ University

If you need more help with using Twitter, the site’s own support pages are a good introduction to the various things it can do. Or if you google your question or search on Youtube for video tutorials, you’ll also find that there are a host of resources that people have made and uploaded to help others. But perhaps best of all, your Twitter network itself is a great place to ask questions and find people who can answer them, as we’ve found on this course!


Seen in Week 2 video – pedagogy of blended learning.

Designed for video assessment where criteria can be set and the place in the video evidencing a particular criterion can be marked. Available in iOS and Android.