HOT TOPIC: Top Teacher Conferences
Volume 1, Issue 7 - October 17, 2004

"Technology trainers the world over know there is no greater boon than a nicely done digital tutorial. These how-to helpers can be a nice supplement to training done in person. They also can be a good reinforcement when training is done. Used wisely, they can offer guidance for learners who are well-ahead of the group. Most importantly, though, is the way online tutorials can be an ever present support even when the trainer can’t be there.

All this having been said, finding well-designed technology tutorials online is a real hit-and-miss proposition. Not all techies are well versed in instructional or graphic design, and not all teachers are expertly proficient in the documentation they choose to post for public consumption. In some cases the job is made easy simply by the test of time; those tutorials which are truly worthwhile remain online long after the others have dropped away from sight. But the WWW is an organic entity, continually evolving as web sites appear and disappear. What was deemed good and popular five years ago may be obsolete today. Therein lies the challenge of finding what’s best and current online.

In selecting this digital dozen for you, I wanted to focus on productivity tools which I see most often in use in education. Yes there are great tutorials for all kinds of instructional applications, and often the best of the best are right on each respective vendor’s web site. But productivity tools offer a flexibility and diversity of use that make them much more practical for everyday use then a mapping application or a science simulation. The productivity tool tutorials recommended herein can be used across the curriculum, offering so much functionality that even proficient users can always learn something new in utilizing them.

While each of these sites is highly recommended for your consideration (all 12 receive an A rating), remember to carefully review each site before sharing them with students. Some will be more appropriate than others, considering your audience and their needs. These tutorials can help you empower your staff so that they become independent power-users of technology, each finding ways to tailor their use to specific needs and interests. And once your users become stronger personal users of these productivity tools, they will in turn begin seeing the possibilities for using these same tools in instruction! ….."


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