Enhance Online Learning

Online education allows people to learn virtually anywhere.

The Internet enables students, from elementary to graduate, to learn from the comfort of their homes. Critics of online education express concerns about the lack of in-person interaction. However, by incorporating a variety of multimedia tools, you can provide interactive experiences that rival those available in the classroom. You can also use online tools to enhance classroom-based learning.

Instructions

1. Share your voice with podcasts. Write out a three- to five-minute script about your chosen topic and record it using your computer, a microphone and a sound editor. You can download Audacity, a free sound editor, from audacity.sourceforge.net. Use an audio-sharing site, such as Odeo (odeo.com) to share your recorded podcast. Students can download the podcast to their MP3 players and learn while they drive or exercise.

2. Engage students with video. Record a lesson with a video camera and import it into a video editor on your computer. Microsoft MovieMaker for Windows and iMovie for Mac are included with their respective operating systems. Use transitions to connect multiple video clips into one project. Add captions or subtitles with the text tool. Export the video and upload your lesson to a video-sharing site like YouTube. Some video editors will export the video directly to the video-sharing site.

3. Set up a class blog. Sign up for an account with a free blog host, such Blogger.com or WordPress.com. Post resources related to course content and have students discuss them in the comments section. You can also have students sign up for individual blogs, where they can post their observations about coursework.

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4. Use a wiki to collaborate. Wikis are a type of web software that allows multiple users to add content to a website from a simple interface. Wikispaces.com provides free wikis for K-12 education. Sign up for a classroom wiki and have your students create a collaborative website on a topic instead of writing a traditional research paper.

5. Hold a meeting with web conferencing software. Web conferencing allows you to host a class session where all students can meet online at one time. Sign up for a free web conferencing account, such as Yuuguu, and download the necessary software. Schedule a meeting, then provide all attendees with the time, date and sign-in information of the meeting. Share streaming audio, Powerpoint presentations or web pages. Participants can interact by phone, voice chat or text chat.