Since my last post examined how to troubleshoot technology issues independently, I thought I would dedicate this one to websites that provide formal tutorials and just-in-time training for a variety of technology tools.
Formal training references and tutorials are useful for both teachers and students to learn how to use technology. Whenever I try a new tool with students and teachers, I like to know the basics and how to troubleshoot common issues for my own comfort and confidence. Everyone has their own preference as to how little or how much they need to know before they use technology in the classroom. I want students and teachers to experience the process of what it’s like to learn something new, and find out how and what they need to know in order to use a piece of technology to complete a task.
Learning to use technology is part of the entire learning process, and should not be considered separate from a curricular outcome. Applying a piece of technology in a specific context is far more effective for learning to use it than simply learning the static how-to’s. Understanding the process for learning to use a new tool is just as important as actually using it. Furthermore, directing students to online tutorials allows them to learn at different rates, and allows teachers to help students troubleshoot and engage in the process, instead of worrying about directly teaching basic ‘how-to’s’ for a particular tool.
Here are some tutorial sites that I would recommend using. Remember: you don’t have to learn by yourself–get your students to use them too! It is all a part of the process.
- Lynda.com video tutorials (free and paid). This site offers professional tutorials at all levels on just about any piece of software under the sun. What I love most about Lynda is that most tutorials don’t just focus on how-to’s–they also state why you should do things a certain way, which helps you to learn better. Even with the cost for accessing all of the tutorials, I believe it would be an excellent investment for a school because teachers and students can use the tutorials. My impression of the tutorials is that they are aimed at people who have an intermediate understanding of computers. The narrators are enthusiastic and professional-sounding. Many tutorials are free.
- Atomic Learning video tutorials (free and paid). Like Lynda, Atomic Learning offers short video tutorials on just about every piece of software. It also offers additional services for paid membership, including ways to track student progress, self-assessments, and ideas for technology integration. Atomic Learning tutorials cover all levels, but the presentation style seems to be aimed more at beginning technology users, and sometimes the narrators sound a bit dry.
- Microsoft Office Training (2010, 2007, and 2003) (free). Microsoft provides full tutorials, broken into short video chunks, on all Office software. Each tutorial includes review and a self-assessment.
- AdobeTV (free). Provides free videos on all Adobe products. Many of these videos are also available on Lynda.com. They are well put together, organized, and professional.
- Tech-Ease (free). Provides 3-6 sentence-long, well-written text-only explanations and tips on topics like: how to integrate the internet into teaching, using digital images, chat, and file sharing, as well as classroom management with technology. It is not a technical ‘how-to’ site per se, but it is aimed directly at teachers and students to help teach them the vocabulary of using computers, like explaining plug-ins, spam, error messages, and the like. I also like the tips on how to compress files, share them safely, and back-up your work.
- In Pictures (free). Provides images of basic how-to’s for Microsoft Office that are well-organized and very easy to follow. If you dislike using videos to learn, then this is a pretty good alternative.
- One-Page references from Tim’s Blog (free). These one-page printable references are well laid out. Tim has created these for a variety of web 2.0 applications that are handy for students and teachers.
- Custom Guide Online Learning (free and paid). This site offers text and image guides for MS Office software. I also like the guides (which are actually more like books) on Business Writing and Giving Presentations. Only a few of the guides are free, but the free ones are high quality references.
- Websites for web 2.0 Tools. It is useful to note that all web 2.0 tools (like Google Docs, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc.) provide their own tutorials and help references that are well laid-out and easy to follow. So don’t hesitate to use them!
How have you used online tutorials or references to further your own learning and that of your students? Do you have more resources to share?