3 Basic Tech Tools for Beginning Online Teachers

Ever feel overwhelmed by all the Web 2.0 learning tools available?  I’m crazy about technology; however, a PowerPoint presentation that covers 40 or 50 tools is just too much for my brain to assimilate.  This blog focuses on the 3 most basic tech tools that I use for online instructional design.  Plus, they’re free!  I have 7 more to share in a follow-up blog.

I. Ever wish you could take a photo of your computer screen to explain something to a student?  Well, it’s actually quite simple if you want to snap the entire screen.  On a Dell computer, the keys to use are: Ctrl + Prnt Scrn.  It copies the picture onto an invisible clipboard; then you can paste the image in an email or wiki for discussion.  Is the image too large or not precise enough? Then you’ll have to use a drawing tool to edit the section of the screen that you want to capture with Paint or Gimp. Paint comes with the purchase of Microsoft software.  Check your computer programs under the Start menu to see if you have it.  Otherwise, download Paint or Gimp for free.  Once you teach this to your students, you’ll start getting lots of emails with images of what they’re getting stuck on. Here’s an example of my Ctrl + Prnt Scrn (and Ctrl C+ Ctrl V for cut-and-paste) of the TESOL website:

My professional association

II. Would you like to record your lecture or create a virtual tour for your class?  This could be used for student presentations, too! Screenr.com has to be one of the easiest screen capturing tools.  You’ll need a headset with a mic to record clearly.  Headsets costs around $20 at Walmart.  A red recording button will appear along with the border for landscaping your video.  The border is moveable; just click and drag it to the desired area.  Screenr provides the option to save your file as a MP4 or upload to YouTube.  Don’t worry, it’s easy to delete if you don’t like what you create!  The basic free version doesn’t have editing features, and you only get 5 minutes talk time. In the following screencast, I introduce myself to a workshop session.  Students can use it for presentations, too.  Notice how I used some low tech ideas like typing on a blank MS Word document without speaking to add variety to my video.


III. How would you like to embed your PowerPoint into your website or learning management system (LMS)?  Don’t let the tech skill of embedding HTML code scare you off?  Embedding is a simple cut-and-paste task.  With Scribd.com you can upload your PowerPoint or Word document, and then share the content on your website by embedding the HTML code.  Here’s a newsletter from TESOL Italy that I shared on Scribed.  (See p.9 for our article on EVO)  Perhaps you’d like to use this tech tool to display a collection of your emails or summaries together on a wiki or blog.  That way your students can simply review by clicking through the pages on your LMS  instead of leaving to check email.


About Sandra Rogers

Sandra Rogers
Mrs. Rogers has a master's in TESOL, as well as the TESOL certificate in the Principles and Practices of Online Teaching. Currently, she's enrolled in a doctorate program for instructional design. She has a K-12 bilingual (Spanish) teaching certificate from California. Her areas of expertise are in bilingual education, culture, language acquisition and development (BCLAD), reading, quality assurance, and technology. She's active in the CALL-IS of TESOL and volunteers to provide free professional development for the Electronic Village Online (EVO). Mrs. Rogers spends her days scoring the TOEFL and TOEIC online for ETS. Additionally, Sandra founded a nonprofit charity to help job seekers find employment utilizing social media as a career tool. Find her on twitter @teacherrogers to learn about tips on integrating technology into the classroom.
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5 Responses to 3 Basic Tech Tools for Beginning Online Teachers

  1. I like the simplicity of the advice here. Especially where you point out that anyone can capture a screen by using the key combination ctrl printscreen and then paste what’s in the buffer to any application, like Paint or even Word. But if you want to crop or annotate your image, you’ll need a third program. I waved all that goodbye when I discovered Jing http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html. This is an easy download that lets you capture just the part of the screen you want and save just that. Ok, you say, the snip tool in Windows 7 can do that. But Jing can capture still shots or screencasts AND save it to your disk OR to the cloud and give it a URL which you can share instantly. You can record voice over your screencasts or annotate your still shots. Jing saves a lot of steps when you can do it all in one program, and it’s easy to use and free to download, from the makers of Camtasia.

  2. Dear Joe,
    Thanks for the info on the use of Print Screen on your computer. Mine is a laptop, too, but a few years old. By the way, what did you mean by “flatten the image”? I’m sure the readers would like to learn more about that.

  3. Joe McVeigh Joe McVeigh says:

    Thanks, Sandra. These are great tips. I use the Print Screen one quite a bit and would add the following. To make the best use of this, you need to have your web browser open (if you are ‘printing’ a picture of a web page) and also the program in which you are planning to edit the picture of the screen.
    My computer works a bit differently from yours. Since it is a laptop, where space is at a premium, my print screen is labeled “Prt Sc” and it is on the top half of another key in the upper right hand corner of the keyboard. So I need to go to the web page I want to copy and hit Shift + Prt Sc. Now the image has been copied.
    Then I need to switch to the other program–I use Photoshop–and be sure that I have a new, blank, opened document or picture that is at least the same size as my screen display , in my case 1280 x 800 pixels. Then I can hit paste and the image of the screen that I have copied is entered into the graphics editing program.
    As a last step, I need to “flatten” the image, by removing different layers so that I can save it as a jpeg file. It sounds complicated, but once you’ve done it a few times you will easily get the hang of it.

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