Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page iii
Table of Contents
Table of Contents iii
ICTE –Information and Communication Technologies for
PLACE: an acronym for understanding Information &
Communication Technologies for Education 3
P for Productivity 5
TOOLS SUPPORTING TEXT-BASED COMMUNICATION 5
Tools for Improving Written Communication 5
Typing Tools 6
Scheduling and Bibliographical Tools 6
TOOLS TO SUPPORT DATA PROCESSING 7
Online surveys and descriptive statistics 8
Statistical Data Analysis Tools 8
TOOLS THAT SUPPORT GRAPHIC EXPRESSION 9
Graphic Processing Tools 9
Tools for Making Multimedia Presentations 10
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page iv
TOOLS FOR MULTIMEDIA DATA PROCESSING 10
Tools for Processing Video and Digital Sound 10
Tools for Sharing digital products on Internet 11
Tools for threading voice comments on digital objects 13
Tools for Building web pages 13
TOOLS FOR TIME AND ACTIVITY MANAGEMENT 14
L for Learning Environments 15
CONSTRUCTION OF CONCEPTUAL AND MIND MAPS 15
CONSTRUCTION OF CAUSE-EFFECT MAPS 17
MATHEMATIC MODELS: CONSTRUCTION AND EXPLORATION 17
SIMULATIONS AND GAMES: CONSTRUCTION AND EXPLORATION 18
LECTURE NOTES AND FLASH CARDS: BUILDING AND USE 18
CREATION OF DIGITAL PORTFOLIOS 19
CREATION AND USE OF RUBRICS 19
A for Access to cultural, and intellectual capital 21
SEARCH ENGINES AND DIGITAL TAGGING 22
ELECTRONIC ENCYCLOPEDIAS 23
SUBSCRIPTION TO ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SERVICES 24
List Serves 24
RSS Channels 25
DICTIONARIES, TRANSLATORS AND THESAURUSES 25
EDUCATIONAL PORTALS 26
DIGITAL TOURS THROUGH MUSEUMS AND COLLECTIONS 28
C for Communication 31
TOOLS FOR INTERACTING ASYNCHRONOUSLY 31
Email (electronic mail) 32
Text messaging and chat rooms 33
Social messaging via Twitter 33
Social/virtual networking in education 34
Digital Diaries, also called, Blogs 35
The Wiki and collaborative knowledge building 36
Collaborative productivity tools 38
Network Forums 38
Video lecture capturing 39
TOOLS FOR SYNCHRONOUS INTERACTION 40
Chat rooms 41
Multimedia Instant Messaging Systems 41
Video Conferencing Systems 42
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page v
TOOLS FOR HYBRID SYNCHRONOUS / ASYNCHRONOUS INTERACTION43
Course delivery systems 44
Community management systems 44
E for Exploration of learning objects 47
DIGITAL MANIPULATIVES THAT SUPPORT CONJECTURAL
Some Resources for Manipulating Scientific Digital Objects 48
Some Resources for Digitally Manipulating Mathematical Objects 50
LEARNING THROUGH EXPLORATION AND CONJECTURE 51
Web Explorations 51
Digital Exploration of Our Planet 52
Using ICTE to improve teaching 55
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WITH ICTE 55
Personal growth with ICTE 56
Career advancement with ICTE 58
COURSE ENHANCEMENT WITH ICTE 59
ICTEs embedded in course requirements 60
ICTEs to enhance teaching strategies 61
About the author 65
Works Cited 73
Reference List for ICTE in footnotes 76
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page vi
ICTE–Information and Communication
Technologies for Education
Information and communication technologies—ICT—have changed the
way we relate to others and revolutionized many fields of human
endeavor. Physical presence is no longer a prerequisite for being in
contact with people or suppliers of information relevant to personal or
professional activities. By using ICT the interaction that is required to
perform individual and group initiatives can be achieved at reasonable
prices and with increasing effectiveness. Moreover, businesses are not
the same since computers and digital networks are now used to add value
to products and services. Hence, information systems and technologies
can create a difference in customer service and resource management of
an organization (Galvis, 1997).
Like all sectors of human activity, education has at its disposal multiple
technological opportunities to support the achievement of its mission.
Information and Communication Technologies for Education—ICTE—
have permeated the management of educational institutions.
Information systems—accounting, finance, library and student
registration—are increasingly more effective and provide better
administrative service to the recipients. In spite of the growing
investments made by ministries and secretaries of education and parental
associations to provide equipment to educational institutions at all levels
and in all sectors, ICTE have had a smaller impact on the activities
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 2
inherent to student development and the establishment and
consolidation of learning communities. At this juncture, the following
comment, from Seymour Papert (1996), resonates: It is easy to
understand how someone from this era might be in a classroom of our
time and appear to feel very comfortable since the teaching environment
has remained the same—centered on the professor and using the
blackboard. By contrast, if one were to face a different environment—for
example a hospital—one would not recognize it because technology has
radically changed the processes
In education there are many opportunities to reengineer educational
processes with technology support. Nevertheless, when we integrate
ICTE just to mediate processes (e.g., use of LMS—Learning
Management Systems—to distribute and collect course related digital
information) we will most likely continue doing more of the same; there
may be increases in efficiency but not necessarily in efficacy. When we
rethink what we are doing and use ICTE to make viable some of our
educational dreams (e.g., fostering active learning via interaction,
exploration, collaboration) we will most likely add value to education at
costs that merit the investment. With ICTE we can do business as usual
with new tools, or we can choose to rethink what is to be done and how
we will do it, given the array of digital resources available. (Galvis, 1998a,
Just having computer equipment and communication networks in
educational institutions will not make a difference in learning outcomes;
it is what is done with them and how it is done that matters. The use of
ICTE in fundamental processes adds value to the mission of each
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 3
PLACE: an acronym for understanding
Information & Communication
Technologies for Education
There are many ways to benefit from Information and Communication
Technologies for Education (ICTE). Of course equipment and
communication are essential; without them, digital processing and
technology-mediated interaction is not possible. Nevertheless, without
qualified educators and directives that support innovation and foster the
redesign of educational processes, it would be difficult to accomplish
anything of educational value.
Even though children and youth of today are “digital natives,” that is,
were born and grew up in a digital culture, we cannot think that giving
them access to digital equipment in an educational institution will
necessarily imply that educational improvement will take place. While a
myriad of technological initiatives have been introduced to close the
digital divide in education, we cannot be deceived into thinking that the
tools themselves are sufficient. There are thousands of pieces of
equipment in educational institutions that have not made a difference
with regard to student learning or teaching innovation. Fortunately, there
is an increasing number of cases that also indicate improvements in
student retention and advancement, the development of positive
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 4
attitudes toward learning, and an increase in competence for competing
in the 21st
century (Galvis, 1998a, 1998b).
The acronym, PLACE is a way to understand the opportunities that
ICTE can provide to educators and students. Information and
communication technologies embrace all of those artifacts that are of
value in processing, storing, or disseminating information in a digital
format. They also include all those artifacts that allow human interaction
by using digital devices. This book offers different paths and strategies
that educators may use to reengineer educational processes when they
integrate ICTE. Keeping this in mind, we wish to invite the reader to
understand ICTE by analyzing the following five dimensions which we
will mnemonically refer to as PLACE; with each letter illustrating a way
of using ICTE.
P ICTE that improve individual Productivity, simplifying
activities and increasing personal capacity.
L ICTE that support the creation of technology-enhanced
A ICTE that foster Access to cultural and intellectual wealth.
C ICTE that support individual or group Communications,
synchronously or asynchronously.
E ICTE that aid the Exploration of learning objects which
support knowledge construction.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 5
P for Productivity
What has made ICTE famous in the dominions of human activity is their
capacity to simplify routine tasks, and at the same time, extend the
potential of those who carry them out. This is done with informational
productivity tools which act as computational systems that benefit many
areas of human activity. The following sections include a review of
distinctive productivity tools that have not been created for education,
but are potentially useful in educational activities.
Tools Supporting Text-based Communication
One of the greatest necessities that educators and students have is being
able to properly express themselves in writing and make references to the
documentary sources that are required for footnotes and references.
This group of tools can support such functions.
Tools for Improving Written Communication
One of the basic activities in a large number of domains is written
communication. Word processors and other tools like spell checkers, and
reference and bibliography organizers allow writers to concentrate on
what they want to say.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 6
Writers can concentrate on the quality of the message when word
processing tools are used such as WORD from Microsoft Office  or
WRITER from the free Open Office  from Sun Microsystems.
Typing systems merit special attention. Knowing how to use ten fingers
to type well without looking at the keyboard makes a big difference in
category P every time we try to correlate what we think with what we
There are tools on the Internet that help to improve typing. For
example, LEARN 2 TYPE  is a free program designed for adult
users to simultaneously exercise while handling the keyboard and
the mouse. On the other hand, NAIL IT NOW  offers a free
solution for children.
Scheduling and Bibliographical Tools
The development of footnotes and references is a time-consuming task
that can be largely eliminated when a data base of sources has been
created. This type of system allows the presentation of footnotes and
bibliographic references in the format that is required (e.g. APA, ACM).
Moreover, bibliographic data bases are generated which may be
converted into shareable resources among members of the educational
Bibliographic reference management software like ENDNOTE 
becomes a wonderful ally that permits researchers and authors to
capture, to publish and to find references and include them in
documents in the appropriate format.
Your scholarly references and articles can be organized and shared
with CiteULike , a free service from Springer.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 7
The most current version of MS-WORD  includes features for
managing citations and references as part of the word processor
Tools to Support Data Processing
Knowing how to organize, store, recover and process numerical data
using a statistical analysis package is another challenge for educators.
This group of tools designed to alleviate these problems is best
categorized as follows:
Calculation and Analysis tools
The calculation and analysis of numerical data is another common
activity in many fields.
Thanks to spreadsheets, the processing of numerical data is focused on
organizing the data and defining the operations that the spreadsheet
should do. Once the data is captured, the program makes processing,
grouping, ordering and visual representation possible in many different
ways. The great gain here is linked to the possibility of supporting the
analysis of data matched with variables. It is like asking “What happens
if…?” while visually and numerically analyzing the data.
Let’s think for a moment about what a teacher can do when using a
spreadsheet to calculate his students’ grades or to group and order other
information. This tool allows him to utilize various criteria and depict
graphic results in one way or another. The possibilities increase even
more with considerations of diverse views on assessment or varying the
weight of certain components, when student results are calculated.
We should consider as well, what students can do when they are
analyzing the results that they obtain following a certain course of study
without limiting themselves to mere tabulation, but acquiring knowledge
derived from digital data. Consequently, the calculation process is
simplified and knowledge is increased.
Applications like Microsoft’s EXCEL  or CALC from Sun
Microsystem’s Open Office  simplify the calculation and analysis of
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 8
Data-Base Management Tools
Data processing available in organized digital repositories (databases)
makes it possible to generate aggregate information with distinct “views”
(content and level of detail) defined according to the needs of the user.
The functions of these tools allow data to be accessed via comprehensive
searches of available registries or just segments of the database. It does
not simply store, organize and search for information in an efficient
manner, but these tools also permit the generation of new knowledge
(cross listing and aggregate views) that without technology would be very
difficult to obtain.
Tools like Microsoft Office’s ACCESS  and BASE  from Sun
Microsystem’s Open Office are user friendly and very powerful,
permitting competent users to manage, design, administer and to take
advantage of collections of organized digital information.
Online surveys and descriptive statistics
Collecting data and feedback from customers is an important task for
educators and researchers. Many LMS (Learning Management Systems)
include their own survey creation and management tools, but in many
cases this function needs to be accomplished independently.
SURVEYMONKEY  is self-defined as the simple way to create, apply,
and get results from surveys. It has a single purpose: to enable anyone
to create professional online surveys quickly and easily. The free
version allows 100 answers per survey.
Statistical Data Analysis Tools
Usually databases contain very valuable information. Nevertheless,
beyond the data, at times, it is necessary to find commonalities, or to test
hypotheses about cause and effect issues allotting for diverse criteria.
Statistical data processing packages, for example SPSS  Statistical
Package for the Social Sciences or SAS  Statistical Analysis System,
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 9
make this type of analysis possible giving control of the types of
aggregations, cross-listings, statistical tests, etc. to whomever manages
the tool. They also resolve quantitative questions that guide research.
Tools that Support Graphic Expression
Oral and written communication is largely supported by the visualization
of what we mean. This group of tools can improve our productivity in
creating and editing images as well as presentations that utilize a variety
Graphic Processing Tools
Graphic expression is another activity where productivity software tools
can add a lot of value to various fields. The creation, capture and editing
of images can help to express what we say and feel. This task is relatively
easy when one knows how to use the appropriate graphic software.
It is said that an image is worth a thousand words. Those who have
chosen to use graphics to support their work surely feel compelled to
work on “rough drafts” whenever they process an image, then publish it
to give it “the touch” that it merits without major effort.
This function is not the only benefit of using graphic processing tools.
These technology tools make it possible to go beyond conventional
graphics design limits. Not only are artistic options increased, but the
opportunities to share and critique are made more available to the creator
of the work. This reality gives new possibilities to the artist.
Applications like Microsoft’s PAINT  as well as FIREWORKS 
developed by Macromedia, now owned by Adobe are praised for
their ability to enhance their users’ graphic expression as well as
offering the possibility of doing the graphic processing of digital
images. As far as tools for children, it is possible to emphasize
KIDPIX  an intuitive and powerful application developed by
Broderbund Software and sold by The Learning Company.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 10
Tools for Making Multimedia Presentations
The creation of multimedia presentations is also enhanced by the use of
productivity tools that allow easy manufacture and presentation of digital
materials. The new presentation softwares when used optimally, render a
finished product that is effective in conveying both content and appeal.
Tools like Microsoft Office’s PowerPoint  and Sun Microsystem’s
Open Office IMPRESS  have made multimedia presentations very
Tools for Multimedia Data processing
We often have film registries of video and sound recordings of audio that
we want to use in our educational activity. This group of tools can
efficiently support this process.
Tools for Processing Video and Digital Sound
Sound and video editing has stopped being the domain of audiovisual
specialists. Nowadays it is possible to become a fan of these arts and do
digital, audio and video processing including texts, special effects, sound
and visual credits, subtitles, multiple audio tracks (by language or with the
original sound and commentary).
Digital audio editing is doable with AUDACITY , an open access
multiplatform tool that allows basic to professional treatment of
digital sound; it imports and produces files in a variety of audio wave
Tools like LAS VEGAS MOVIE STUDIO  by Sony or QUICKTIME
PROFESSIONAL  by Apple make it possible for educators and
students to edit digital audio and video.
CAMTASIA STUDIO  by TechSmith allows the creation of screen
videos from the computer and the editing of videos you have already
created. All of these tools make it possible to create archives in
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 11
more than one format. CAMSTUDIO OPEN SOURCE is a free
version of Camtasia Studio 6 .
JING  by TechSmith and GOVIEW  by Citrix Online are open
access software that allow users to screen capture and screen video
recording with audio. Both applications upload captured information
to the Web, FTP, computer or clipboard. A URL is automatically
created and can be shared with others to view or access the
uploaded file. There is no video or picture editing with JING or
GOVIEW. You can add titles with GOVIEW.
ScreenR  allows instant screencasting for Twitter and it is free.
This web-based tool works both in Mac or PC. It generates MP4 files
that can be played everywhere on the web.
Tools for Sharing digital products on Internet
The Internet is a good way to share what we create as educators and to
benefit from what others have published. Depending on what you want
to share, there are very interesting tools and web services at your
disposition. The following is not an exhaustive list.
Your favorite URLs (Internet addresses) with the corresponding tags
can be organized and shared with DELICIOUS , a free service
Your pictures and albums can be shared with PICASA  from
Google or FLICKR  from Yahoo. Images can be uploaded and
organized in groups. Their free services permit a limited number of
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 12
If you want to publish slides or digital documents in different type of
formats you can consider using SLIDESHARE . It is a free
If you have created digital video and want to make it available in
video episodes no longer that 10 minutes each, YOUTUBE  from
Google is appropriate; it is one of the best known digital video free
publishing services. If you want your digital video to be part of an
educational collection, then SCHOOLTUBE  may be of interest to
you. It is an online community of educators that want to share
videos produced by students or educators, all of them approved by a
certified educator and organized in categories.
If you want your digital video or audio to be watched or listened to
on mobile devices as well as Internet browsers, then ITUNES U 
is a good partner. This is a free service from Apple; it allows sharing
content produced by universities, museums, or world leaders and
thinkers. Each one of the pieces becomes a track that can be played
Using TEACHERTUBE  or eSNIPS  you can share video,
audio, documents, or pictures, organized by channels or topics of
interest. While TeacherTube is a community of educators, eSnips is
an open community.
All of the aforementioned services include tagging, which allows
members to surf through each collection of digital objects by using tags
created by non experts, instead of classifications that follow well defined
rules. According to Wikipedia this practice of collaboratively tagging,
social classification or social indexing, is called “folksonomy”. Some web
sites include tag clouds as a way to visualize tags in a folksonomy.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 13
Tools for threading voice comments on digital objects
Digital objects (images, videos, documents, presentations) especially
those which are more complex, often require feedback that goes beyond
the written comment. Imagine being able to comment on your students’
proposals using voice-based remarks. Imagine online collaboration
around media where you and your colleagues can asynchronously share
ideas on digital objects by using voice, text, and hand written drawings,
all on one page.
VOICETHREAD  is a tool for having group oral interactions
around images, documents, videos or presentations or a combination
of them. A VoiceThread can securely capture and hold an entirely
group discussion on one simple page. `
Tools for Building web pages
Many people have their own web sites that they use as information
servers. This particular use of the internet builds on web authoring
languages such as HTML—Hyper Text Markup Language. There are
hypertext authoring systems that let the creator express himself through
integration of texts, graphics, links, and videos. These systems also
permit you to generate the corresponding HTML codes.
Hypertext authoring systems such as Macromedia-Adobe’s DREAM-
WEAVER  or Microsoft’s FRONTPAGE  minimize the effort to
Many Learning Management Systems—LMS—and Content
Management Systems—CMS—provide online course creators the
opportunity to use a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)
human-computer interface that generates editable HTML code. This
type of WYSIWYG interface is also behind many of the so-called
“Social networking” tools that include blogs, wikis, and community-
building systems. We will comment on them under the C type ICTE.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 14
Tools for time and activity management
Effective collaboration with others is not an easy task as long as it
requires a lot of coordination and time management. Beyond this, project
management, which involves coordinating goals, activities, resources, and
reporting, is even more challenging. Fortunately there are open access
tools that can alleviate these processes. Some are referenced below.
DOODLE  is a free on-the-web event scheduler and poll
manager. It allows users to create, edit, apply, and analyze poll
PROJECT2MANAGE  is a free hosted project management
solution. It assigns multiple levels of permission to different clients
& users, manages projects from anywhere, posts messages to keep
everyone up to date, manage tasks with to-do lists, creates
milestones to stay on task.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 15
L for Learning Environments
Instructors willing to give their students the opportunity to actively
participate in knowledge building may decide to use digital tools that
allow creation or manipulation of learning environments. When these
goods have been created by the students it is possible they may have
internalized the rules that underlie the product; when they have been
created by the teachers, the goods become learning objects. Tools that
allow teachers or students create learning environments, and that were
created with an educational purpose, are included under L-Type category.
Construction of Conceptual and Mind Maps
Conceptual and mind maps are a way of visually expressing relationships
that underlie a study object. They are especially useful when the student
creates the map as long as he appropriates a method for expressing his
understanding of what has been studied. Concept and mind maps can
also be used by the teacher to create visual navigation systems through
concepts and their relationships which can be used as support for the
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 16
CMAP TOOLS  are free tools that allow the construction,
navigation, sharing, and critiquing of learning models expressed as
conceptual maps. They can be used by teachers and students at
any level and content area, by themselves or as members of a
community that constructs knowledge collaboratively. Once the tool
is installed, the user can embark on discovering its functionality
through trial and error, or can go through the tutorial  to resolve
doubts about distinct functions and possibilities offered by the
system. This tutorial is controlled by a contextual menu that guides
the user step by step in resolving any questions and showing specific
images that illustrate the references. The aforementioned tool allows
for local creation and the global sharing of concept maps. It
enhances the ability to exceed the mental expression modes of each
author. Also, it allows the creation of learning communities
supported by concept maps. These communities share information,
discuss distinct perspectives concerning the study object and
MIND42 —Mind for two—is a collaborative browser-based online
mind mapping tool. It allows you to manage all your ideas, whether
alone, as a twosome or working with the whole world. As Mind42
runs inside the browser, installing mind mapping tools is no longer
needed for a hassle-free mindmapping experience. Just open the
browser and launch the application when needed. It behaves like a
classical desktop application! Mind42 is a WYSIWYG (What You See
Is What You Get) mind map editor supporting keyboard shortcuts,
drag and drop, zooming and much more. No forms and lists which
are generally used in web applications are needed.
WISE MAPPING  is the web mind mapping tool that leverages
the power of Mind Maps, mixing new technologies like vectorial
languages (SVG and VML) and the power of the whole Web 2.0
concept. No pluggins are required. A mind map is a diagram used to
represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged
radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate,
visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study,
organization, problem solving, and decision making. A mind map is
similar to a semantic network or cognitive map but there are no
formal restrictions on the kinds of links used.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 17
Construction of Cause-Effect Maps
Cause and effect maps help students to understand information that is
combined to solve a problem. Factors associated with a problem can be
organized and understood as they interact in a cause and effect
relationship. This software supports cycles of investigation that give
order to what students know; the knowledge is organized in a map.
A review by Eduteka (2002) related to visual tools that support
learning says that SEEING REASON , a program developed by
Intel and distributed for free, is designed to create cause and effect
maps. SEEING REASON generates a work area in the Internet
browser that can be utilized by the student for investigating and
understanding complex systems. It is not necessary to download
any software or install anything in the computer. In the area
“Teacher Workspace” the instructor registers, creates a folder for
each project and creates one or more groups of students to whom
he assigns a key. Each group registers in the “Student Login” area
and gives the names of the project and the group. A white work
area appears where the groups can create project components such
as cause and effect relationships that exist.
Mathematic Models: Construction and Exploration
Physical phenomenon can be expressed in multiple forms like equations,
tables, graphics and animations that respond to underlying logic. With
this idea in mind, applications have been constructed that allow students
and secondary and university teachers to utilize mathematics to create or
to explore interactive models.
MODELLUS  is a tool that allows making multiple representations
(tables, equations, graphics, animations) of studied phenomenon,
with manipulation of variables in concrete or abstract forms. It is
distributed almost for free (it costs $5 to receive the book and CD in
the mail). It is supported in several languages through which
examples can be analyzed and information can be gathered
concerning the function of the system. Modellus can be learned
experientially and through inquiry; online help is also available. One
can join the community of virtual Modellus users in Yahoo Groups in
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 18
order to share experiences and to search for solutions to problems
that surface when using the system.
Simulations and Games: Construction and Exploration
Games and simulators can be powerful environments for exploration.
Their construction, however, can become a challenge that demands a
very good understanding of the environments that are being modeled,
the rules that govern their function, the intervening variables and the
results. Creating games and simulators from scratch can be
overwhelming, but with the right tools it is an enjoyable activity for those
with such an interest.
AGENTSHEETS  is a multiplatform authoring tool for
computational models that simulate the diverse natural systems
(physics, social, etc.). Agentsheets uses visual object behavioral
programming (agents) which simplifies the work of modeling,
testing, adjusting and utilizing existing simulators. It has been
tested successfully in the construction of social and natural science
simulations at all educational levels. It is possible to install a test
version for ten days and educate yourself in its use by utilizing any
of the online help systems from the web site (manuals, video
tutorials, frequently asked questions, simulation books).
Lecture notes and flash cards: Building and Use
Students are not always good at taking notes, learning vocabulary and
concepts. As educators we can support this process with technology,
either by giving them access to existing resources, and/or creating the
means for collaborative creation.
Tool such as QUIZLET  allow students to create their own flash
cards, share them with classmates or with open groups, to practice
via different type of exercises, to get feedback based on
performance and answer speed. There is a huge collection of flash
cards available, organized by topics and number of flash cards.
Quizlet use is free.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 19
A similar free tool is STUDYBLUE . In addition to create and
share flash cards it allows the learner to collaboratively take notes
using wiki tools. StudyBlue automatically derives flash cards from
notes. There is also a large collection of resources organized by
topics and educational levels.
Creation of Digital Portfolios
The development of digital portfolios allows the documentation of
processes and associated outcomes as evidence of personal or
professional growth. The following set of resources effectively supports
the construction of multimedia-based digital portfolios.
Open access applications such as EFOLIO , EPORTFOLIO  or
ZPORTFOLIO  make it possible for students and teachers to
digitally record and present evidence in an integrated form of the
processes and products that comprise their work in learning and
Sometimes is worth creating multimedia documents that include
reflections and textual annotations about video episodes. This can be
done with free tools such as VIDEO PAPER BUILDER 3 . This
software has a dual format in PC and OS; it is a valuable aid to those
who desire to make videocases (cases that focus on the analysis of
video episodes) or videopapers (writings that reflect on video
Creation and use of rubrics
Open ended assignments (e.g., projects) as well as authentic
(performance-based) assessments (Wiggins, 1990) need well defined
criteria for the student to be able to self-assess processes and products
and for faculty to be able to give feedback with the same lenses to all
students. Rubrics serve this purpose.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 20
There are many rubric development sites available. RUBRICS FOR
ASSESSMENT , RUBRICS FOR TEACHER  include collections
of rubrics in different domains that may help educators understand
the logic of building rubrics and select and use those that fit their
There are also free tools available, such as RUBISTAR , a tool to
help teachers create quality rubrics and IRUBRIC  from
RCampus, which supports creation of rubrics and hosts them online.
Rubrics created with iRubrics can be used as a stand- alone or as
part of RCampus interactive learning resources, where results from
applying the rubric are kept in a grading system.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 21
A for Access to cultural, and intellectual
Digital tools in this category allow the instructor to learn from life
experiences through available electronic resources that permit access to
the wealth of humanity. These resources can be global, organizational or
People generally think of the Internet as a great collection of multimedia
information distributed worldwide in different repositories with different
degrees of privacy. The Internet is also associated with web searches of
different sites where there is electronic information and the opportunity
to share network materials. The same situation exists with Intranets
(internal or closed network for private information and communication;
available only to authorized users) and with local networks (groups of
interconnected computers tied to an electronic resource server). Within
these three categories, global, organizational and local, it is possible to
share and to enhance cultural, scientific and technological value by using
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 22
Search Engines and Digital Tagging
The challenge of surfing the Internet goes beyond using a search engine
that works for you. It is intimately related to effectively finding the
information that you need. This requires, first of all, that you know what
you want to find and that you know the search engine that is convenient
for you to use. Beyond knowing when to use a particular search engine, it
is necessary to know how to define the search and refine results.
Refining a network search is a fundamental skill for educators and
students to have. It demands clarity about what is desired, the ability to
express multiple ways of finding it, and perseverance needed for
searching diverse sites and book marking those that appear to be
interesting. It also requires the individual to determine if what is found
adds value to what is known as opposed to diverting interest away from
the subject at hand.
General searches can be made with generic tools such as AOL search
, GOOGLE search , Microsoft’s LIFE SEARCH , YAHOO
search , or KARTOO , a next generation meta search engine
that displays results in a visual interface.
When you need to explore certain collections, it is better to utilize
specialized search tools such as GOOGLE SCHOLAR  which
searches documents or sites that have academic value usually
produced by research or educational professionals. If what you are
looking for are photographs or images, it is preferable to use FLICKR
 a system provided by YAHOO, or GOOGLE’s IMAGES 
which investigates descriptive graphic information. If digital
presentations are desired, SLIDESHARE  can be utilized. DIGG
 is another valuable source; it is announced as a place for people
to discover and share content from anywhere on the web.
Additionally, newspaper archives can be used as another key source
of information, but there may be limited access available in this
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 23
Another way of looking for information on the web is by using tags
like the ones offered by DELICIOUS  or CITEULIKE . These
tags may be global or formed by each one of the web sites that the
users create. Each tag shows the names that are used in a given
collection. Each tag cloud shows the bookmarks used in that
particular collection as well as frequencies, information which is
reflected in the size and color intensity of each tag. Navigating the
cloud (clicking on some of the tag elements) opens the possibility of
new relationships that underlie the elements that they have as
Electronic encyclopedias are perhaps the most consulted type of
application by students and teachers when they are trying to investigate a
theme of interest or trying to ascertain a quick answer to a question of
historic, scientific, or social value. Encyclopedias provide access to an
organized body of information by means of key words, descriptors, sort
keys, and expressions. The man-machine interface of encyclopedias is
usually intuitive. The results can utilize manifold registries with textual,
graphic, sound, multimedia information as well as connections to
documents, web sites and other programs. The following list illustrates
the type of digital repositories and encyclopedias that could help students
or faculty keep abreast of topics of interest.
APOD—Astronomy Picture of the Day— is a free site that daily
presents a distinct image of the universe with explanatory comments
and links to other sites where further information can be found
about what is being observed. It includes links to all daily
photographs from June 16, 1995. There are websites that
reproduce this collection in distinct languages.
EET - The Encyclopedia of Educational Technology  includes a
multimedia collection of short articles on instructional design,
education and entertainment. It is free.
ENCICLONET  provides free access to articles about distinct
branches of knowledge. It requires registration.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 24
MEDLINE  includes articles about illnesses, examinations,
symptoms, lesions and surgical procedures. It contains an extensive
collection of medical photographs and illustrations.
MSN ENCARTA  has information articles, atlases and games. It
requires a paid subscription.
WEBOPEDIA  is a dictionary and search engine specializing in
concepts related to computers and the Internet. It is free.
WIKIPEDIA  is a free encyclopedia that is constructed
collaboratively and allows content editing by any user with a web
It is interesting to note that some encyclopedias receive contributions
(biographies, research summaries, other) which means that they are more
than repositories and providers of reference information—they are also
Subscription to Electronic Information Services
Another way to stay abreast of certain subjects is to subscribe to
electronic information services that provide content on demand.
Many web sites have periodic bulletins to which individuals may
subscribe using their email addresses so that when there is news the
subscriber will receive emails containing a link to the website where the
information is located. The subscriber can respond to the list serve to
register an opinion. This is a good way to remain current on events,
publications or news of interest. The disadvantage of subscribing to a list
serve is that your electronic mailbox can overflow with more information
than you desire.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 25
Another possibility is the subscription to active systems of information
(channels) that use the RSS format (in English Really Simple Syndication), a
format based on the XML language for distributing content. RSS
channels can be accessed by making use of system feeds (readers of RSS
sources) that allow the reader to receive news without having to surf the
web or receiving list serve notifications.
BLOGLINES  is a free service that allows you to stay current with
your blogs and favorite news channels. FEEDREADER  is free
software under General Publication License (GPL) that allows you to
subscribe and to classify RSS channels. The advantage is that it is
not necessary to look for news, the RSS channel brings it. The
disadvantage is that the user can become saturated with information
when you have subscribed to channels that frequently update (for
example public news) or collect information from many sources (like
the services for open news).
Dictionaries, Translators and Thesauruses
Dictionaries, translators and thesauruses comprise another group of
ICTE in this type A category. These resources have significant import for
educators and students who benefit from the specialized groups who
open their knowledge databases to the public. The following websites are
a small sampling.
BABEL FISH TRANSLATION  is a free service from Altavista that
allows the translation of web pages from many languages. The
translation is very literal but can be used in an emergency. Likewise,
REVERSO  can be used. It offers the same online translation
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 26
WORDREFERENCE.COM  offers free online dictionaries to
translate from English into Spanish, French or Portuguese, as well as
VISUAL THESAURUS  is a different concept of online help for
those who need to visualize specific meanings of terms in English or
other languages. It has a demo and you can buy individual or group
licenses for local or web use.
The ICTE within type A, also include corporate portals that address the
discipline of education. They are websites that support different
educational sectors by providing access to relevant information and tools
to each group served. Instructors can find valuable educational resources
to develop their teaching, and by using these portals, they enhance
student-centered learning. The nature of the organization that is being
supported determines the set up for each portal as the following
examples will illustrate.
BIBLIOTECAS VIRTUALES . This is part of the CIVILA network
portals. It is free and offers a reading room, a selection of full-text
novels, short stories, drama, biographies, essays, articles, fables,
poetry legends and literary texts especially from Iberic America. It
also has a room for interaction where virtual communities of writers
and readers can meet.
EDUC.AR . This is the Argentinean educational portal. It is
organized by five desks: institutional, educational resources,
teaching innovation, electronic literacy and services. The
educational resources are structured by content area and level and
include links to electronic resources for instructors and students.
Information services disseminate opportunities in distinct domains
for subscribers, individuals who need to navigate the site,
subscribers to newsletters or RSS feeds. It also includes tools for
email, chat and blogs. Innovation spaces hosts forums for interest
groups for debating relevant topics for educators and are moderated
by topic facilitators.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 27
EDUTEKA . This is a free educational portal that offers hundreds
of personal resources and numerous links to other valuable sites for
elementary and middle school educators. The majority of the
content is based on the mission of Eduteka: theoretical and practical
resources that help to enrich education with the use of ICTE. In
order to facilitate the search for specific content and in addition to
the graphic design, Eduteka offers four mechanisms; 1) a directory
with more than 13 thematic categories and 150 subcategories; 2) an
internal search engine with Google technology that is included on all
of the pages directly under the heading of Eduteka; 3) a classified
historical archive, and 4) a Tour through Eduteka.
MERLOT  Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and
Online Teaching is an American portal where educators can find
online teaching and learning materials that have been evaluated by
colleagues. It includes collections for the teaching of art, business,
education, humanities, mathematics, statistics, science, technology
and social sciences.
PCA. Portal Colombia Aprende . This website was created by the
Colombian Ministry of National Education in order to support
directives, instructors, students, families and a community of
individuals from distinct educational sectors. Each user group has its
own electronic posting platform where relevant resources are
organized. Subscribers can also use communication tools (email,
forums, chat) and private virtual space (electronic hard drive) that
stores digital resources.
PEC Portal Educar Chile . This is the website of the Chilean
System of Education. It is organized by writers according to the
type of user (instructor, manager, student, family, researcher); it
depends on a variety of resources organized by desks, categories or
search engines. Individuals who register to use the portal have
access to the hard disk and free personal email. They can create
web sites that will be hosted by the portal and participate en forums
The majority of portals mentioned provide navigation assistance. It is
generally possible to return to the beginning page with a click on the
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 28
portal icon or the start button. A map of the web site explains its
structure and navigates to distinct places. Internal search engines allow
you to find exactly what you are searching for.
Digital Tours through Museums and Collections
Another interesting option that extend cultural heritage are the tours of
innumerable sites of the great museums, or the site of NASA which
allows the virtual exploration of space. In places like these one can have
a "scavenger hunt” in which the participant explores a series of virtual
sites where questions can be resolved and whose solution demand that
you pay attention to details in visited sites and to use important concepts.
Listed below are some of our favorite museums and collections.
GOLD MUSEUM, Bogota . The richness of its masterpieces and
their organization into the different salons and regions of Colombia
as well as the international expositions show the beauty and richness
of Colombian heritage as well as the physical and historical context
where these gold pieces originated.
LOUVRE MUSEUM, Paris . One of the most spectacular
museums in the world, with a unique web site. It is worthwhile to
visit more than once in order to explore the distinct collections.
NASA . A portal with multiple possibilities for exploring and
knowing about our galaxy, the tools for conquering it, science and
technology that support the space missions and related studies. It
includes a section with access to multiple resources that can
motivate future scientists and engineers to participate in cyber-
excursions and diverse research about advanced technologies and
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 29
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC . This site will take you to amazing
vistas of animals, environment, music, people maps, and so much
more. It utilizes videos, photos, reports and activities to expose you
to the exciting and varied themes. There is a special page for
children  that engages them in fun activities that encourage
PRADO MUSEUM, Madrid . This museum is known for its
masterpiece exhibits and the stunning narratives that accompany
them. Here, children are invited to paint, assemble puzzles, and
practice cognitive skills. The site also alerts the viewer to
educational and research activities sponsored by the museum.
SMITHSONIAN MUSEUMS, Washington . This is the largest
complex of museums and research centers in the world. It is
composed of 19 museums and nine research centers and the
National Zoo. Visiting them on the web and exploring the collections
of each one aids in understanding why this series of museums
represents for many the opportunity of knowing the treasures of our
past, the vibrant art of the present and the scientific promise of the
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 30
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 31
C for Communication
Type-C information and communication technologies almost do not
require presentation here, since a great majority of people, young and
older people are currently using these tools with proficiency on a daily
basis. The common denominator is “people interaction mediated by
digital systems.” The differences between the types of C tools have to do
with whether (1) the interaction happens asynchronously (data streaming
in one direction at a time) or synchronously(data streaming in both
directions at the same time); (2) communication uses textual, oral or
multiple media; (3) the dialogue is moderated or not.
Tools for Interacting Asynchronously
Asynchronous interactions have helped to overcome space and time
communication barriers in order to achieve dynamic dialogues. There is
a growing number of tools to support asynchronous interaction. In the
following paragraphs we will discuss the educational uses for some of
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 32
Email (electronic mail)
Electronic mail systems allow receiving, sending and storing digital
messages in electronic mailboxes. Digital messages can include different
types of content via texts, images, photos, sounds, videos, or website
links. A digital mailbox also associates an identifier to be shared with
others and a password that only the proprietor knows.
In addition to email for private communication with others, email also
makes possible deferred electronic interaction between members of an
educational community. Nevertheless, it can be very wasteful and
ineffective when it is used to support the educational processes of
groups. Interacting in this individual way with many people requires
hours of reading and answering messages. Imagine receiving 40 messages
from students and trying to correspond with each one of them. In this
case, other approaches would be more effective (for example forums or
list serves) that address common shared interests leaving personal issues
to be discussed in private chat rooms or by email.
In order to take advantage of email it is necessary to develop:
The habit of downloading and reading the mail periodically
The capacity to process legible written messages.
The ability to identify legitimate messages (many are junk mail) and
create user lists (to simplify interactions).
The criteria for opening or discarding attached files (many viruses
arrive this way).
The strategy for organizing information that has been sent or received
(otherwise email would be unmanageable).
The ability to respond to one or several users (streamlining the effort).
Many Internet Service Providers (ISP) offer free email with abundant
storage capacity (about 6 gigabytes), virus protection, text or
hypertext messaging. For example, Google’s GMAIL , Yahoo’s
YAHOOMAIL , and Microsoft’s HOTMAIL .
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 33
Text messaging and chat rooms
The idea of digital communication via text has been expanded to the
world of cell phones and chat rooms. While text messaging via cell
phones can be considered asynchronous communication—sender and
receiver do not need to interact at the same time—conversations using
text-based chat rooms are typically a synchronous process—participants
need to be in the same chat room at the same time.
There are those who are fully against the use of text messaging via cell
phones in educational environments because they believe that dialogues
are imminently social and that texting does not favor the use of good
language. However, these systems reach audiences in a very effective way.
This can be considered an alternative way to reach students who do not
read email, informing them about events, requirements and important
opportunities. At the same time, this type of use can be disturbing when
students do not follow rules of engagement for the use of these devices
in educational settings.
Text-based chat rooms are now used less frequently because multimedia-
based group instant messaging systems are easier to use. When
bandwidth is limited, this type of synchronous text messaging can be very
useful. It can also be utilized as a complement to voice or video-based
messaging systems since text chat rooms allow documenting important
ideas that emerge from oral conversation via voice-on-Internet.
Social messaging via Twitter
Twitter  is a free social messaging utility for staying connected
in real time through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one
simple question: What are you doing?. Twitter limits you to 140
characters and spaces per post (or per "tweet"). You can follow
others Twitter uses on your home page.
Doug Belshaw's teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk blog says “I think Twitter
could be ideal for reminding students about homework, trips and such
things, especially as they can enter their mobile phone number to be
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 34
alerted when one of their ‘friends’ updates their account. The advantage
is that you don’t need to know the phone numbers of students to get
messages onto their device: they are the ones who authorize their mobile
phone from the website and they subscribe to your Twitter feed” (cited
education.html Available the 20th
of June, 2009).
Social/virtual networking in education
There is no doubt that social networking is a powerful way to get and
keep in touch with friends, colleagues, and people who share a common
cause or interest. Many of us have re-initiated relationships with friends
by using social/viral networking tools such as Facebook, MySpace, or
LinkedIn. All of them have the ability to put together people who have
an affinity (family, hobbies, work, school, etc.) and who decide to get in
touch as virtual friends. This role lets you share, from your profile,
information resources such as messages, pictures, videos, and other
virtual components. Your contacts (virtual friends) share their contacts,
which fortifies the network.
However it is not so clear how social networking can be used in support
of academic initiatives. An Inside Higher Ed blog available Jun 30th
, 2009 at
that “As colleges have worked over the years to solidify their Web 2.0
presence and reach out to students where they're most likely to
congregate online, there's often a glaring omission from their overall
Internet strategies: social networks. That's not so much an oversight as a
hesitation, with many institutions still debating whether to adopt social
networking capabilities of their own or grit their teeth and take the
plunge into Facebook, with all the messiness and potential privacy
concerns that would imply”.
FACEBOOK  is a social utility that helps people communicate
more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. (Facebook
Corporate page, available at http://campus-
firewatch.com/reprints/web2glossary.html on June 30, 2009).
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 35
LINKEDIN  is a social networking website geared towards
companies and industry professionals looking to make new business
contacts or keep in touch with previous co-workers, affiliates, and
clients. (Definition available June 30, 2009, at
MYSPACE  is an online community that allows friends to keep
in touch and meet new people as well. Anyone who is at least 14
years old can sign up for a MySpace account at no cost. Once you
sign up, you can customize your profile by adding information about
yourself, listing your interests, hobbies, and educational background,
and uploading photos of yourself and your friends. You can also
create your own blog for others to read. (Definition available June
30, 2009, at http://www.techterms.com/definition/myspace).
Digital Diaries, also called, Blogs
Physically, the closest thing to a blog (Binary Logs, also called Web
Logs) is a web page; that is, an Internet space where information is
published and shared using hypertext that allows the use of colors,
different sizes and types of fonts as well as links, graphics, sounds and
animations that may or may not be controlled by the user. The big
difference with a web page is that the blogs are time-sensitive organized
contributions. Another important difference concerning blogs is that
they allow for feedback which gives readers the opportunity to comment
in public (post). Many blogs have tagging systems that allow labels “to
follow” the contributions being posted. This is accomplished by surfing
the descriptors on the tags.
Some contentions exist, regarding truth, privacy and security vs respect
for the first amendment. Every time a blog is used the creators and
those who are making the commentary can say what they want without
the scrutiny of editors or those responsible for the website. Students are
exposed to many points of view, or commentary, which are not always
desirable for a formative scholarly process. So while there are temporary
solutions such as requiring students not to use complete names, or not to
include photos in public blogs in order to protect their identity, there is
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 36
still the issue of intellectual property rights that support one’s sharing
ideas or feelings in public.
There are also those who think that the solution is having an educational
intranet that will have blog systems that can only be consulted by
authorized users, or having limited domains defined by a certain type of
user subject to restricted access based on their profile (blogs for students,
teachers, director, etc.).
The most known open access blog system is BLOGGER . This is
a free service that is a part of the resources offered by Google to its
users. It allows the user to create a blog account in the language
that s/he prefers and to share authorship with friends.
WORDPRESS  is one of the best known tools for integrating blog
services, that is, placing contributions of distinct blogs together. It is
an open source content management system distributed under GPL
(General Public License); it uses a friendly WYSIWYG interface (What
you see is what you get).
The Wiki and collaborative knowledge building
Wikipedia (2007) says a wiki is a collection of Web pages designed to
enable anyone with access to contribute or modify content, using a
simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative
websites and to power community websites. Wikis are used in business to
provide intranet and knowledge management systems.
At first glance, a wiki is very much like a blog which allows the individual
user to create, not just browse or read. Nevertheless, blogs and wikis are
very distinct interactive tools.
A big difference is that every page of a blog is individually
authored, while each wiki page is collectively authored. In a blog it
is easy to identify who wrote what and when because each
contribution has author identification, date and time of the last
modification. In a wiki, the history keeps record of who
contributed what and when, but the final version is a collective
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 37
product and the end user does not keep abreast of the ideas
presented by each contributor.
Wikis’ history preserves the contributions to each page making it
possible to find previous versions, using them as the actual page
if necessary. Blogs do not preserve previous versions of a page;
the author can edit them whenever he desires; however, when
they are saved, the page is changed forever.
Blogs publish pages in chronological order, while a wiki publishes
pages as they are being constructed, always presenting the current
According to Pearce (2005) the wiki is gaining traction in education, as an
ideal tool for the increasing amount of collaborative work done by both
students and teachers. Students might use a wiki to collaborate on a
group report, compile data or share the results of their research, while
faculty might use the wiki to collaboratively author the structure and
curriculum of a course, and the wiki can then serve as part of each
person's course web site.
A report on Wikis from Educause Learning Initiative (2005) highlights pros
and cons about wikis in education:
Wikis allow faculty and students to engage in collaborative
activities that might not be possible in a classroom. Their
flexibility will encourage broader adoption [of wikis]—by both
students and faculty. A wiki’s versioning capability can show the
evolution of thought processes as students interact with the site
and its content and allows for teachers to assess an ongoing
project in ways not previously possible.
Because users can modify the content of a wiki (add to, edit,
delete materials), allowing such manipulation of the site’s
information carries some risks. Thus, wikis are often monitored
to ensure that inappropriate language, spam, and incorrect or
inappropriate content are not allowed. This can be both time-
consuming and personnel-intensive. As a result, many wikis
require authorization so only group members can modify
In order to diminish the risk of using open access wiki tools for
collaborative knowledge construction, wiki spaces ought to have
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 38
membership and accepted rules. In this way, what is published is
supported by a known author, and vandalism (e.g., leaving undesired
footprints) is minimized.
Some of the most famous wiki engines are found at MEDIAHAWK
, WIKIDOT , WIKISPACES , WETPAINT , all of them
open access wiki systems that control who contributes through
membership. It is possible to create web pages for each one of the
tasks to be done, or for each group of collaborators.
Collaborative productivity tools
The wiki philosophy has been implemented with productivity tools (see P
based ICTE), both for open access and commercial tools.
GOOGLE DOCS  is an open access application that supports the
wiki philosophy in regard to word processing, spreadsheet or
presentations building. It allows the collaborative work of creating,
editing, and publishing text documents and/or doing digital
spreadsheets on the web. The final work can be exported to
People who want to collaboratively create and professionally edit
documents may consider using OFFICE LIFE workspace  from
Microsoft, provided that all collaborators make use of Microsoft’s
Office. It is announced [ibid] that in a few steps you can organize,
manage and share documents, notes, spreadsheets, presentations,
contacts, to-do lists, and more. You can add one or more documents
including Microsoft Office Excel worksheets, Office Word documents,
and Office PowerPoint presentations.
Network forums are systems which allow discussions in virtual spaces.
Topics are debated using digital tools that allow one to take an active part
in the collective analysis and construction of knowledge. A network
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 39
forum has one or more discussion seeds, planted by the forum facilitator.
Participants can respond to single postings by replying to them, or can
thread ideas by using illation strategies that lead to creation of collective
The scope of the forums is bound to the communities that they serve;
this is to say, the forums are conducted among people who belong to a
certain group or virtual community, people who share certain interests or
objectives and who feel comfortable exchanging ideas with other
participants (Collison, Elbaum, Haavind, & Tinker, 2000).
Management Systems for Group of Interests like those offered by
YAHOO GROUPS  or GOOGLE GROUPS  have made it
possible for many educators and students to participate in web
communities united by common interests. In order to belong to a
group it is necessary to enroll by invitation or by application (some
communities are restricted, others have free enrollment; some have
one moderator or several moderators who control the information
and others do not have any). In order to participate, it is necessary
to register using a key and to follow web etiquette. To track the
activity of the group or virtual community, email can be used to
update any developments and report frequency of use and other
issues. Systems for administering interest groups not only offer the
possibility of doing forums, but allow information to be shared
directly (organized files in folders) or by links to web sites where the
information is available.
Video lecture capturing
There are different occasions in which faculty need to present content
using digital video. Depending on the need, various tools are available.
Short video episodes capturing the presenter and materials that s/he is
using, can be prepared with Tools for processing video and digital sound and
shared on the internet using Tools for sharing digital products on Internet., both
discussed in this book, under the topic, Productivity However, when it is
convenient to upload a lecture longer than 10 minutes, the above
solution might not work because of the restricted size of videos that can
be uploaded to free servers. At this point, access to streaming video
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 40
servers (also called digital repositories) where large size videos can be
uploaded and accessed if needed.
Regardless of the lecture size, there may be a need to give students direct
access to content embedded in video lectures. This may be the case of
remedial course units where students need to review concepts as they use
them; that is, without having to review all the tapes; only those episodes
where each concept is mentioned. Students may also not have good
learning skills and may need to refine concepts by reviewing explanations
or segments of a video that deal with hard-to-learn topics. Video lecture
capturing systems help solve this problem.
Commercial systems such as TEGRITY CAMPUS 2.0  and open
access systems such as PANOPTO  allow faculty to record their
presentations and to share them online via streaming video. In
addition, they allow viewers to search for keywords through
metadata embedded in power point presentations, and to surf
through the thumbnails of the slides. These features have
positioned these products as resources that can help students
selectively review explanations about topics hard to understand
without listening to the whole tape. Faculty can create collections of
video recordings that are available to complement classroom
sessions and that they can link from online course shells at the
learning management system in use. Also, faculty can follow
students’ activity online and do research on learning and teaching
supported with multiple media.
Tools for Synchronous Interaction
Synchronous interactions on the web that permit live dialog (chat) using
text, voice or video through the Internet are becoming increasingly
important to individuals who must agree on a single digital space.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 41
Chat rooms were mentioned before as allowing synchronous text
conferencing between people that agree to meet at a given time in a given
virtual space to talk about something of shared interest. Their great virtue
is that there is practically no limit to the number of participants who can
simultaneously follow or actively participate in the conversation; this may
be, at the same time, their major weakness, since depending on the
number of postings per minute, the complexity and speed of the
interaction can become an issue.
Another issue in these rooms is the type of conversations that can
emerge. There is social dialogue and then there is pragmatic dialogue.
Moderators typically promote social dialogue in private text interactions
among participants, while pragmatic dialogue is fostered via interventions
that either help focus or deepen the dialogue.
Since chat rooms can remain open during long periods of time and their
content can be saved as long as needed, the scope of text-based chat
rooms is wide and asynchronous interaction may happen.
Multimedia Instant Messaging Systems
Multimedia instant messaging systems are well known synchronous
interaction devices. They permit sending and receiving messages between
users who have previously agreed to establish communication using voice
or video on the Internet, with the possibility of chatting via text and of
sharing digital files as needed. These systems are deployed in a virtual
space that the instant messaging system creates for each group.
Multimedia Instant Messaging Systems such as SKYPE , MSN
Messenger , AIM  and ICQ  are very popular not
just for being free but also for allowing effective multimedia online
interaction with others; they are easily available, expansive and very
powerful. These systems allow a user to know which of his contacts
are online and their level of readiness (available, busy, out -to-
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 42
lunch). They also allow for the blocking or enabling of individuals on
the contact list, the saving of textual conversations, knowing if your
partner is typing a message in the dialog window, and expressing
feelings and sensations through icons or animations. On the other
hand, it is possible to dialog with groups, each with its own identifier
(photo, drawing, font), and one or more parallel conversations using
digital cameras, microphones and speakers.
A variant of these systems is Internet Telephony. This feature is
available in SKYPE and other voice-on-internet providers, where in
addition to providing a system of voice and text interaction on
Internet, it is possible to rent phone lines that are handled by the
network at a reduced price.
Educationally, multimedia instant messaging has garnered a lot of
strength among the members of learning communities. Free tools
like PRONTO  that run on multiple LMS platforms make it
possible for members of each virtual classroom to interact by voice
or text so that the members of the educational community may be
active. Personal experiences using this system in faculty
development and graduate courses show that it is an effective way
to contact students (who often do not read their email) when you
make the tool available to them. It also builds community with and
among them by holding voice dialogs and text chatting.
Video Conferencing Systems
Video Conferencing (VC) is becoming an increasingly important way to
engage in educational or organizational activities that require direct
multimedia interaction among participants who are physically distributed.
Each of them needs to have access to an internet connection with high
bandwidth, use of a headset to be able to listen and talk without echo,
and install those tools required by the VC System that make multimedia
interaction viable. The number of participants, the need to record the
interaction or not, and the security policies and licenses available all
impact the selection of best VC systems to use.
Some instant messaging systems—such as SKYPE and MSN—offer
users the possibility of videoconferencing between two people; each
member should have a web cam and headset, and be connected to
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 43
a high band width Internet service. Extensions of these systems—
like FESTOON —allow the grouping of up to six users limited by
the communication channel that is available (the frequency of
images can limit and reduce the sound when there is narrow
Integrated platforms for videoconferencing also exist for large
numbers of users such as iLINC , WIMBA  and
ELLUMINATE , from the commercial side. DIM DIM  and
WizIQ  have won good reputation as reliable and expandable
open access systems. In these platforms there are virtual
classrooms in which the instructors have privileges and can deploy
electronic presentations, present websites, share resources with
participants, like managing oral dialog with icons that ask for the
floor, applaud, ask a question, etc. The participants must have
headsets and microphones, but when the quality of the Internet
communication is unknown the telephone may also be used. It is
always possible to use text and voice chat. For those who do not
attend the session, it can be taped and posted on the Internet as a
It is also possible to use ICTE that allow video and high quality
sound, that use sufficient bandwidth and that demand investment in
equipment and communication services at each communication
point. This is the case of videoconference rooms with POLYCOM
 equipment which makes dialogs possible among groups in
different places who can see and hear one another.
Tools for hybrid synchronous / asynchronous interaction
Learning communities such as courses and study groups usually need to
combine different types of resources and interaction spaces. In support
of this there are course/learning management systems and community
management systems that let faculty and students benefit from a variety
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 44
Course delivery systems
Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Content Management Systems
(CMS) are used to support course activities (e.g., instruction delivery,
students’ interaction, knowledge building, testing) and to simplify
administrative tasks such as grade management.
Each of these systems include forum management utilities. Discussions
are conducted in global forums (involving all community members) or
group forums (involving only select members from the community of
learners). Some of these forums are moderated (a facilitator helps to
maintain the focus and deepen the discussion) and others are open, un-
moderated (e.g., social or technical ) forums. Most of LMS and CMS also
allow blogs and wikis to be included to support reflection on learning
objects with blogs and/or collaborative creation of knowledge with wikis.
MOODLE , acronym for “Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic
Learning Environment”, is an open source solution that has garnered
wide popularity within the community of users who utilize, maintain
and improve it. The same situation exists with SAKAI , an open
source environment used to foster collaboration and learning in
Commercial LMS, such as BLACKBOARD  and WEBCT  are
strongly supported due to their high quality applications and support
services. Recently, these two companies merged in order to make
their LMS capabilities even stronger.
Community management systems
Professional development does not always occur in terms of courses but through
voluntary participation in learning communities, in particular, communities of practice.
Social networking can be a solution particularly when it is driven by the participants;
that is, when they have the opportunity to co-lead the effort by having full control of
technologies in use.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 45
Open access solutions such as NING  can be useful. The
creator defines what resources s/he wants to encourage participants
to use (e.g., forums, blogs, pictures, videos), and invites initial
members. Each person can invite other people and the network
grows as the voice of its relevance is spread.
SECOND LIFE  is a free online virtual world imagined and
created by its Residents. It is Internet’s largest user-created, 3D
virtual world community. From the moment you enter Second Life,
you'll discover a fast-growing digital world filled with people,
entertainment, experiences and opportunity.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 46
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 47
E for Exploration of learning objects
Students must acquire large amounts of cultural, scientific and
technological knowledge in an effort to master the prescribed curriculum.
In many cases though, they do not have the opportunity to experience
the kinds of phenomena which can enrich their knowledge. Good
explanations and complete textual and audiovisual documentation are
often useful in presenting a mental model ---at least from the eyes of the
facilitator (the teacher). However, this type of expository activity may not
be sufficient for achieving full conceptual understanding.
Science laboratories equipped with state of the art equipment help to
carry out direct practice with a distinct degree of realism and precision.
The apprentices can then formulate their own theses and conclusions as
a basis for discussions with others and to build knowledge. These
resources, however, are expensive and therefore are often not available to
Field work and scale models also replicate direct experiences which help
to obtain evidence that permits the construction of knowledge; but
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 48
everyone cannot go to places to explore the objects under study, nor can
scale models capture the functionality that they possess. Consequently, it
is not always viable to have a direct experience with real objects, at times
because of their size (micro or macro), the limited availability
(phenomena of very low regularity) or simply because of costs.
Reasons such as the ones cited above have justified the great efforts of
educational research groups in the fields of mathematics, science,
technology and engineering to make available to students and teachers
technological devices that expand abilities, capture information and
permit individuals to discriminate and analyze data.
Digital Manipulatives that Support Conjectural
The following group of objects can be digitally manipulated and
controlled by the user. This control means that the user can alter the
status of the variables that affect the behavior of the object under study
and this may act organically; that is to say, like a live organism which
responds to the manipulation of said variables.
Some Resources for Manipulating Scientific Digital Objects
The following list does not exhaust the possibilities that exist to obtain
digital manipulatives that support scientific learning centered on the
student through research, experimentation and collaboration.
Nonetheless, they are a good initial collection.
NSDL—National Science Digital Library  is a US electronic
library created to support education and research in sciences,
technology, engineering and mathematics. It offers free access to
electronic materials for elementary education instructors, university
professors, biotechnologists, the scientific community and
newcomers to the discipline.
MOLO, Molecular Logic Project  is a project that searches for
students who want to understand fundamental biological
phenomenon in terms of atom and molecule interaction. Among
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 49
other things, MOLO has activities on macro-molecules,
intermolecular attractions, synthesis, the splitting of proteins. MOLO
has a database of activities for student and teacher use that can be
accessed by distinct concepts key words or numbers. Each activity
indicates what technology is required; some are editable and all
have student and teacher instructions. MOLO was produced by the
Concord Consortium. After registering, this public domain software
can be downloaded and the source code can be adapted under LGPL
PHYSICS.ORG  is a site created by the London Institute of
Physics of the United Kingdom in order to support students, families
and interested educators in learning physics by means of exploration
and reflection. It has an online consultation system that pairs
questions with web sites where the answers may be found. Also,
relevant web sites are included that are pre-classified by age and
previous user knowledge. Moreover, Physics.org offers a collection
of study sites which have been used in the teaching and learning of
physics concepts; it reviews a web site monthly. This site has
interactive resources that explore in a playful way the concepts of
physics used in daily life and the history of the discipline. It also
favors the understanding and exploration of natural phenomenon
TEEMS , Technology Enhanced Elementary Math and Science,
is a project of the Concord Consortium of Massachusetts with
financing by the National Science Foundation. It produces learning
units that use computers, sensors and interactive models for learning
mathematics and science. The digital resources can be run on
multiple desktop and handheld computer platforms utilizing any
commercially provided sensors that exemplify the nine US standards
for teaching the sciences in grades 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8. The resources
have user guides for students and teachers and are free after
registering on the project web site. The software code is open and
its utilization requires the user to accept a lesser general public
XPLORA . This is a European portal that supports science
education. It is free and is presented in three languages: English,
French and German. It offers news and pedagogical ideas for
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 50
science instructors. It provides access to a data base of electronic
resources for science education. It also opens the door to projects
and innovative focuses for practical teaching. It allows registered
users to create and to participate in virtual communities.
Some Resources for Digitally Manipulating Mathematical Objects
The following web sites include resources that help to enliven
experiences using mathematical concepts.
MATHSNET  gives access to a collection of web produced
resources or those suggested by the Interactive Tools for Science
and Math program for student and teacher use. The great majority
of the applications offered by this service are in Java, are free and
support the learning of mathematics or science at the secondary
NLVM—National Library of Virtual Manipulatives—  was created
to support the interactive learning of mathematics and includes a
collection of applications in Java (Java applets) that are utilized by
Internet users; it was created by the State University of Utah. It
includes manipulatives for distinct ages and different groups of
standards for teaching mathematics. Each manipulative comes with
instructions, with help for parents and lesson plans for educators,
and with an explanation of the mathematics standards that support
its use. It is possible to get copies of the CD or to use it on the web.
SEEING MATH INTERACTIVES  offers a collection of digital
manipulatives (digital objects that can be manipulated and respond
organically to stimuli that they receive) for playing with secondary
algebra concepts that are difficult to understand. Each digital
manipulative allows for multiple representations of mathematical
knowledge (symbolic, numeric, graphic). In order to use them one
must have Java  in the same version or higher than 1.3.1.
These interactives, produced by the Concord Consortium of
Massachusetts, can be installed and used freely in educational
institutions or by educators who register on the web site. Also they
can be adjusted for whoever downloads the code for the LGLP open
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 51
Learning Through Exploration and Conjecture
There are many ways of learning conjecturally and by discovery beyond
the use of digital manipulatives. Let’s review below the methods and
tools that have been shown to be effective in this process.
Web explorations are like organized field trips with educational ends.
They place the learner in contact with first hand information that he can
use as he pleases. Let’s review two of the best known methodologies and
CYBERGUIDES  are web resources that support the creation of
learning units focused on analyzing universal works of literature.
The Cyberguides are instructional units about literature used as
supplementary material the responds to the language standards of
the State of California. Each Cyberguide contains student and
teacher versions specifying the standards that are being addressed,
the activities and processes that are being carried out, the sites
selected and a rubric for orientation and evaluation.
WEBQUEST  is a methodology and a tool for constructing
exploration activities using the web. It was developed in San Diego
State University. It offers teachers the opportunity to examine and
to select learning activities based on the web and to structure them
as a lesson.
Bernie Dodge, the creator of WebQuest at San Diego State University
explains (2007) that technologically, creating a WebQuest can be very
simple. As long as you can create a document with hyperlinks, you can
create a WebQuest. That means that a WebQuest can be created in
Word, Powerpoint, and even Excel! If you're going to call it a WebQuest,
though, be sure that it has all the critical attributes.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 52
A real WebQuest....
is wrapped around a doable and interesting task that is ideally a
scaled down version of things that adults do as citizens or
requires higher level thinking, not simply summarizing. This
includes synthesis, analysis, problem-solving, creativity and
makes good use of the web. A WebQuest that isn't based on real
resources from the web is probably just a traditional lesson in
disguise. (Of course, books and other media can be used within a
WebQuest, but if the web isn't at the heart of the lesson, it's not a
isn't a research report or a step-by-step science or math
procedure. Having learners simply distilling web sites and making
a presentation about them isn't enough.
isn't just a series of web-based experiences. Having learners go
look at this page, then go play this game, then go here and turn
your name into hieroglyphs doesn't require higher level thinking
skills and so, by definition, isn't a WebQuest.
Digital Exploration of Our Planet
The teaching of social sciences has a large number of applications which
support the exploration of our planet from different heights with
different levels of details.
GOOGLE EARTH  and WORLD WIND  are two exploration
tools of physical sites from any place on the planet that allow visual
images to be taken from a satellite and come as close as possible.
Both use geographical information systems with maps that can be
seen from different heights with different levels of detail. Although
they may look alike, they are different products . Both tools
offer free versions. Google Earth is basic, although it is possible to
get a more advanced version. Once installed, one learns how to use
the tools through direct experience (trial and error), guided
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 53
experience (using online support), by demonstration (following the
tutorial) or being part of interest groups.
When these tools are used collaboratively by students to research and
construct knowledge, they can be combined with other tools to create a
publishable document or object. It is becoming popular to use Google
Earth to make cyber –excursions through countries where another
language is spoken with the purpose of expanding students´ linguistic,
literary, cultural, geophysical and geopolitical knowledge by consulting
multimedia geo-referenced resources that are associated with the places
of the cyber-excursions. From these findings students can share
electronic reflections and participate in discussion forums, or blogs,
about the multiple perspectives obtained.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 54
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 55
Using ICTE to improve teaching
As mentioned at the outset, the purpose of this text is to show different
paths and strategies that educators may use to reengineer educational
processes when they integrate ICTE. In this section I will explore two
complementary approaches: (1) professional development initiatives that
are focused on helping faculty grow professionally while using
Information and Communication Technologies, and (2) course
enhancement initiatives that are focused on improving course
effectiveness by adding value with ICTE.
Professional development with ICTE
It is accepted that Professional Development (PD) refers to skills and
knowledge attained for both personal development and career
advancement (Wikipedia). In this framework the reader can be
wondering how ICTE can contribute to PD. I consider that P-type, C-
type and A-type resources are opportunities from which any professional
can benefit at the personal level, and that L-type and E-type resources
become opportunities especially useful for the professoriate. In the next
paragraphs I will expand on this.
Establishing a PLACE for teaching technologies Page 56
Personal growth with ICTE
The following illustration taken from Gray (2006) helps one to visualize
an evolutionary perspective from which we can realize how different
tools have helped human beings deal with each other and with our
environment. Today, interactions with others and the expansion of
personal potential are best manifested via technology. Many of our
students were born in this era and, according to Prensky (2001), “they
represent the first generation to grow up with this technology, they are
Digital Natives that think and process information fundamentally different
from their predecessors… Those of us who were not born into the
digital world, but have at certain points of our lives, become fascinated
by and adopted many or most aspects of new technology, are and will be
compared to them, Digital Immigrants.”
In the above context it is evident that a challenge to many teachers and
faculty is to become “Information and Communication Technologies
(ICT) literate”. Definitely “ICT literacy” goes beyond “computer
literacy”, an expression that deals with being able to use computers and
related information processing with basic understanding. It also includes
‘information literacy’, which the Glossary of Library and Internet Terms
(USD) defines as “the skills necessary to locate, access, and use
information in today’s society Given that Information and
Communication Technologies (ICT) is an umbrella term that covers all
advanced technologies in manipulating and communicating information
(Wikipedia), “ICT Literacy” should also include ‘digital literacy’, a term
that the DigEuLit project (2006) defines as “an ability to 'identify…
integrate, evaluate, analyze and synthesize digital resources, construct new
knowledge, create media expressions, and communicate with others, in
the context of specific life situations, in order to enable constructive
social action; and to reflect upon this process”.