This “support forum for K-12 ed-tech leaders” greets the viewer with a graphic of a scuba diver swimming through a deep blue sea filled with laptop computers. On the right side of the home page are links to online articles, tools, and a listserv of experts in the ed-tech field. It isn’t very prominently displayed, but at the bottom of the home page is the “Tech Leaders Toolkit,” a creation within The Snorkel that connects researchers with PDF downloads on general ways to use school technology effectively. In fact, The Snorkel is chock-full of relevant and useful links and tools, such as an “Internet Connection Speedometer” and an anti-spyware guide. Another useful section of the site is the “freeware and shareware” tools page. This page includes free and for-purchase downloads of software in various categories, including graphic design, text editing, and social networking. The Snorkel is affiliated with the Contra Costa County Office of Education in Pleasant Hill, Calif. The office serves 18 local school districts, as well as a community college. But the Web site’s content is applicable to any educator interested in making his or her classroom more technologically advanced.
New Technology Foundation
Created by: New Technology Foundation/Napa New Technology High School For: Educators interested in technology-driven project-based learning
Features: This is a useful destination for educators interested in technology’s role in project-based learning. Such education emphasizes collaborative, often technology-driven projects as an alternative to traditional teaching and testing. Among other features, the site provides a drop-down menu for viewing the New Technology Foundation’s network of schools, which is worth visiting to see how those schools are incorporating project-based learning with a technological twist. The network includes 42 high schools in nine states. The site also includes a lot of background material about project-based learning, so it’s a good place to go if you want to shore up your knowledge about this kind of teaching and learning.
Created by: Educator Jason Smith
Features: TeacherTube is a YouTube-like interface for teachers to share videos of class projects, lesson plans, and other educational videos. With dozens of new videos being added each day, the site is growing quickly, and just like YouTube, it requires visitors to dig through a lot of material to find the gems. Each video can be ranked and commented on by participants, and to make searching easier, the videos can be sorted by the number of views they have, the number of comments they have received, how recently the videos were added, and their quality ratings. Videos can also be browsed by channels, which group videos into categories such as “high school” or “reading.” To take advantage of most of the site’s features, participants must first sign up, for free.
—Compiled by Katie Ash & Mary C. Breaden
A version of this article appeared in the October 20, 2008 edition of Digital Directions as Top Picks