Expert Educator Columns, Featured
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Bridget Crooks: The Student Voice- Top 5 Tech Tools for 2014

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by Bridget Crooks
Expert Educator Columnist, New Zealand

It is very easy to see the value in a tech tool as a teacher. We see the learning in our classrooms clearly. We are very aware of the learning that needs to take place and the movement we have to take to get there.

But sometimes we forget to actually ask our students what they like to use. And most importantly what adds value to their education; what’s easy and intuitive to use; what fits their learning and their lives.

So, I asked my students for their top tech tools of 2014.

What did they use? Why did they use it? How did it fit into their busy lives?

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On line storage for all those important documents!

Why do they like it? No more worrying about the safety of their work. No more lost documents. No more problems when they swapped computers. They loved being in control of their work.


A scrap book of ideas or a mood board online. A great visual tool that has been very successful with both genders.

For my Theatre students it has been a great tool – designing for costumes and stage sets. Creating boards of what a character would wear, read, do. Creating ideas for makeup.

Why do they like it? They can collaborate, follow industry experts and comment on the ideas simply and easily. And they can do it quickly and easily from the phone in their pocket.


I love how this gets a mention. My students’ cannot remember a time when Word was not around. It is their go-to word processing tool. Always has and always will be.

Why do they like it? Familiar, dependable and intuitive. Word Online gets a mention too.

Quite simply a powerful tool for learning.


As a design and creation online tool my students don’t think you can go past Canva.

Students used it for many tasks – including static image work for English and advertising for Enterprise. They also used it to create blog headers and most recently Christmas cards.

Why do they like it? Because it made non-designers create beautiful work. And because it was quick, easy and accessible through a browser.


Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them with others.

My students have enjoyed using Instagram and using hashtags to share their work visually this year. All they needed was a smart phone in their pocket – and they could document their work and get rapid feedback from their peers and teacher.

Why do they like it? For design students a picture really is worth 1000 words – getting immediate feedback on a texture or makeup application has been invaluable for their learning.


I challenge you to ask your students what they like to use in their learning. I was not surprised with their responses – I know the go-to tools they use to learn and collaborate – but hearing it in their own words was great validation of what we do in the classroom. And then share them with others!

Happy Holidays everyone!

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