As an English language teacher (or any teacher in fact), where resources can often be short you have to be able to make the most of what you’ve got. The fact that so many of these new platforms provide free services in order to create an audience and an ecosystem means there are plenty of high quality free products floating out and about. These are three relatively new (last year or so) technology platforms/apps that have caught my eye.
Studypool is a really interesting concept. The tutor pupil relationship has been emulated online by a number of services, Studypool breaks it down another step so that students are paying for questions to be answered rather than just teaching time.
It’s an interesting idea, as someone who codes a lot, I can definitely see the potential. There have been plenty of times where I’m successfully learning by myself and just need someone to help me conquer the points where I get stuck.
On the otherhand part of what a good teacher can do is direct your learning. It’s entirely possible someone goes on asks the wrong questions and gets less benefit than if they’d just hired a tutor for several hours to go the concepts around the problem and the problem itself.
It reminds me of a less generous Stack Exchange where rather than being motivated by stars and points, it cuts straight to the money. I imagine it will also be difficult to keep the question quality and tag quality high, because it’s difficult to moderate when people are paying money.
Having said all that I think there’s definitely potential, especially if they find good ways to keep the question and tag quality high and it’ll be interesting to see how it develops.
Teachpitch is tackling the problem of resource curation. There are a huge number of websites, full of lesson plans, exercises and every other kind of resource you could possibly want spread across the internet. Teachpitch takes all that information, provides specific teaching search criteria as opposed to just a text search and then allows you to review and share them. It wants to provide the tools to allow you curate the mass.
As it’s relatively new with a small audience at the moment, the initial pull has to come from the extra metadata they add to these resources in their search. As time goes on and they get more users, then the curation aspect will begin to shine should help the good choices stand out.
Curation is definitely a problem. A quick Google search for English teacher worksheets returns over 6,000,000 results. Single sites like BusyTeacher boast over 15,000 just by themselves.
Whether or not TeachPitch becomes valuable will depend on a. whether or not they can build up a community that can highlight the best content and secondly whether or not they can continue to provide the powerful search criteria that will make it more useful than searching through Google, or just on an individual site.
WaitChatter is less an active classroom tool and more a nice a little language learning app. It creates small vocabulary quizzes that display themselves in your GChat window while you’re waiting for someone to respond.
It was desgined by MIT’s Computer Science and AI Lab after they realised people can often spend up to 15 minutes a day just waiting for people to respond.
At the moment it’s only for GChat and it lacks a lot of the customisation you might want (vocab lists, custom translations etc.), but if you are learning a language in your spare time that extra little bombardment of the language can help keep it in your mind and keep you thinking about it. If you’ve got students who use GChat it’s a nifty little app. I’ve ended up using daily!