Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: CCSD's Super Tool Smackdown

This summer, our team was fortunate enough to attend the ISTE 2016 conference here in Denver. It was a fast and furious week full of key notes, playgrounds, poster talks, and some mind-blowing presentations full of content but also new strategies for presenting professional development.

One of our favorites from this week was 60 in 60: The EdTech Game Show! presented by Brandon Lutz and Scott Snyder. This presentation was fast paced and shared over 60 Web Tools, Apps, and more in 60 minutes. Part of this presentation was a sweet 16 style bracket where eight sets of tools were paired up against one another and the audience was given time to vote for their favorite based on one minute descriptions given by the facilitators (and eventually audience members) until a winner was chosen. Aside from the super fun game show feel there was also some great information given by the presenters on how to use this structure in a professional development setting.

The Set-Up

From what we could see, here’s how they set things up:
  • Pre-event: audience exploration of tools
  • Presentation: Initial presentation with introduction of game show format; 1 minute overview of each tool (each facilitator took one in the pair)
  • Voting: After each pair presentation, the audience had the opportunity to vote on NearPod and a winner was chosen 
  • Repeat for each pair (1st round - 16 tools)
  • Audience participation: Before the show, the presenters asked volunteers from the audience to represent apps later in the presentation with practical advice or usage examples. The deeper dive into the tools was to continue to persuade the audience to vote for one tool over the other. (2nd round - 8 tools)
  • Transition Time: Between a vote and then next round of tool overviews the facilitators had to update the presentation and voting spaces with the new pairs. While this was happening the other facilitator took the time to share other tools (not in the initial 16). 
  • Repeat for final tools (3rd round - 4 tools)
  • Audience Smackdown: 5 minute free for all about final 2 tools. Voting commences. A winner is chosen. Cheering! Hooray!

Here’s Why it Rocked

The setup was simple, mostly because it had to be. Sharing that many tools in such a short amount of time would otherwise be impossible. The descriptions of each tool were short and to the point; that was really refreshing. Also, there were plenty of tools to choose from. As participants we didn’t feel like we needed or wanted to get to know each and every tool they presented, but at least having the option to eliminate a few of the choices almost right away felt empowering in a sense. If we knew this wasn’t a tool we didn’t find useful, or we had already used the tool they were presenting (or anywhere in between those places) the next tool was literally only moments away. In the end, we were sure everyone in the room (including us) were able to learn about a tool they could use right away in their classrooms. That’s powerful.

Our team attends presentations with two lenses. One is our “learner” lens. The other is our “facilitator of learning” lens. We saw several new tools that can be used and shared with our teachers using our “learner” lens. We thought about the structure of the learning environments we support using our “facilitator of learning” lens. The structure of this presentation is something we definitely could use. That is how this blog post came to life. So here we are, sharing it with you. Right now. In this space.

Let the Smackdown Begin!

A 16-tool blog post is something you would rather not read and we would rather not write, so we simplified things a bit and are going to present eight tools for your consideration. There will be 4 head-to-head battles, and then a semi-final with the four remaining tools, and a final round after that between the two tools left standing. Quick reminder: just because a tool “loses” does not imply that it’s useless. All of these tools can add value to your class when used in effective ways.

Here's the bracket. You can check out each of these tools on your own and then vote using this FORM. Check out the details below by hovering over the blue or red circles next to the tool listed. Each one is hyperlinked to their website...check them out! 

Please feel free to share this post with your colleagues so they can 1)learn some new tools and 2)vote for their favorites! You have 2 weeks to vote as our next round will begin September 27th! Happy voting!

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