Volunteer Training Series: Virtual Tools for Interactive Education
Right now you’re probably trying to figure out exactly how it is that the club year will go. And if you’re like me, you’re struggling to wrap your head around exactly how we’ll be able to take all of the things we’ve done in person in the past and just flip a switch and turn them virtual. No, it isn’t simple. It takes a lot of work and a lot of training to reteach yourself how to present in a virtual format. Its something I’ve spent my career doing…learning new ways to stay up to date in education. We want to reach our youth in formats that they are comfortable with and in ways that keep them interested in what we are teaching them and of course we want to stay true to our “learn by doing” way!
Here’s some tools that can help us stay true to our roots in our next wave of the 4-H program:
Zoom is an online video conferencing tool that is perfect for club meetings. There is security protocols that are recommended to keep things safe and that allow you to protect your attendees from some of those crazy people out in the virtual world. UF/IFAS Extension Agents have access to set up these meetings for club meetings, classes, training, and anything else where we would want to get groups together to meet. For more information about using Zoom, read Using Zoom in our New Digital World.
With Mentimeter you can create fun and interactive presentations. We help you make your events, presentations, lectures, and workshops innovative and memorable. Build interactive presentations with the easy-to-use online editor. Add questions, polls, quizzes, slides, images, gifs, and more to your presentation to create fun and engaging presentations. With a free account, you can only add 3 slides per presentation but you could create multiple presentations to use during the same presentation. Just remember, it takes a new browser window and adding another window on a computer screen or mobile device can be difficult for youth to maneuver.
Kahoot! is an online learning game platform, which consists of multiple choice questions and quizzes. The questions can be shared on Zoom and played by the whole group together in real-time (answering on their own personal device or another browser window). This platform can be setup as a competition and is the most fun in this format.
Google Sheets is essentially Microsoft Excel but web based. Multiple people can access a sheet all at once. Pixel Art is a great team building activity that can be completed on Google Sheets. Read Pixel Art using Google Sheets for more information on how to do Pixel Art. To use this as a team building activity, provide all youth the link and have them pull up the Sheet. You can insert a picture that you want the group to try and recreate using pixel art and cut them loose to see how successful they are.
Google Forms is a great tool to create forms where youth can submit pdfs, word documents, videos, and pictures. Creating a form can be done through the help of a template or by starting from scratch. You can insert photos to give forms your own style and to make it follow your style. Once a form has been created, share the link for youth to fill out the form. Access the responses by clicking the Responses tab in the Form.
Google Classroom is a powerful community based social tool for learning. It allows students to post questions and receive answers from their teachers and fellow students. Furthermore, teachers can post intriguing questions and lesson materials for review at home. It can also be integrated with other Google products such as Google Forms, which can be a great way to get feedback from students.
Want to create a web page where you can have each month of your club meetings have its own details, extra videos, activities laid out to do before the next meeting, and even be able to include links for google forms where data can be collected? Check out Google Sites. Its free and a really great tool to be able to lay out an event that would be done in person typically. Our summer day camps were all made virtual this year and we used Google Sites to make the lay out super simple!
Quizlet and Quizlet Live
Quizlet provides a platform for students and teachers to create and share their own learning materials, including flashcards and diagrams. Quizlet Live is the free in-class quiz game, produced by Quizlet, that can then bring these learning materials to life. In this engaging and interactive game, students must all contribute, stay focused and communicate well to win. Quizlet has good reviews and is a great way to bring study notes to into the 21st century.
Scratch is a simple, fun, and engaging introduction to programming, designed specifically for 8 to 16-year-olds. Users can combine music, graphics, and photos to create interactive games, animations, and slideshows. All of their creations are shareable with others in a student’s online community. It’s important to note that Scratch will really only teach programming concepts, not so much real, authentic programming.
According to Prezi, “creating, giving, and tracking beautiful interactive presentations is as easy as 1,2,3” with their cloud-based presentation software. Prezi presentations are nothing like your traditional presentations; zooming in and out and moving side to side across one single, very attractive and modern canvas, focusing in on images and videos inputted by the user. Prezi is very popular and consistently receives good reviews.
SelfCAD is a free, cloud-based 3D CAD software package for students. It is incredibly easy to use, yet provides an authentic, ‘real world’ 3D design experience. Another notable feature— SelfCAD has teamed up with MyMiniFactory, to provide a database of already completed 3D printable designs, making thousands of 3D objects available for immediate 3D printing. All round, it is a very powerful and effective tool for learning in STEM, and a number of schools are getting on board.
Seesaw is an easy to use learning portfolio application, enabling students to document, showcase and reflect on what they are learning at school. Work can be made accessible to parents as well. The collective monitoring of learning by students, teachers, and parents is a great way to motivate students, and the tool is incredibly popular with teachers.
Adobe Spark Video
Spark Video is part of the Adobe Spark suite. The application enables students to produce short, animated, narrated explainer videos. Students can easily add photos, video clips, icons, and voice, as well as professional-quality soundtracks and cinematic motion to their video creations. Video and vlog making is a great way to engage students creatively, and an ‘out of the box’ approach to class projects or reviewing learning materials.
Canva is a tool that can be used to create flyers, videos, presentations, infographics, etc. It has tons of templates that can be modified to fit your needs. Canva for Educators is a free version available to educators that includes much of the Canva Pro features. Canva has an app available for use on mobile devices. You can easily create brands and be able to apply that to any of your creations with the correct colors and logos.
Our would has changed much faster in the last three months than we likely ever remember happening in the past. We have to learn new tools to better reach our audiences. All it takes is the same we teach our youth “learn by doing”. We must learn to use these tools ourselves and then we can use them with our youth. If you need assistance, please feel free to reach out.