How salt is like web 2.0 tools

 

Laura (my wife) and I like to have really good salt around. We have some fleur de sel and some great pink Himalayan sea salt (given as a gift) that we have been using with more and more frequency on more and more foods. We can’t have chocolate ice cream anymore without sprinkling some of that Himalayan salt on every bite.

We had tasted good salt at fancy restaurants before, but the realization that we could keep it in our home and use it all the time on whatever we wanted was one of those deceptively obvious epiphanies. Why are we still wasting our time with that Morton’s stuff? This other salt has been here all this time?

That’s how I feel when I come across a web 2.0 tool that I suddenly realize I could be using. I’ve seen these things before, but only at a glance, or in a different context (a fancy restaurant), and it takes seeing them again, sometimes, to realize that I can use them myself.

Nik Peachy has a great post on his Learning Technology blog in which he describes 10 tools he uses in teacher training courses. Some of these tools I’ve seen before, some are new to me. But I got that feeling I tried to describe above over and over again as I read through his list and watched his video demos (made using Jing).

For example:

Why would I ever use PowerPoint when I can use 280 Slides? It’s all in the cloud, so I could just put the link to the presentation on my class’s web page and not have to worry about kids having PowerPoint at home or anything like that. And I can work on it from anywhere without transferring files. I have tried the Presentation tool in GoogleDocs for that reason, but found it slightly too ugly.

Also, why would I continue to assign vocabulary exercises and practice on paper when there is a veritable trove of sites devoted to vocabulary-building games. Nik Peachy arranged several in this SimplyBox, a tool I hadn’t heard of. I got stuck playing Gwap’s Verbosity game for a while last night, where you partner up with a random user and take turns writing clues for words, a la “$100,000 Pyramid.” And Knowords entranced me for a bit, too.

If I see a faded handout with a matching activity on it tomorrow, it’s going to feel like using those tiny salt packets that used to come with airline food. We have moved on since those dark days, but we still pretend we cannot keep the good stuff in our own pantries. And unlike the pink Himalayan sea salt, these tools are free.

 

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