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Some Excellent Web Tools to Give Students A Voice in Class

September 24, 2015
At the core of progressive pedagogy is the empowerment of students by giving them a voice in class and making them part of the decision making. Unlike traditional instruction where  students are viewed as passive receivers of  pre-designed knowledge, a progressive instruction is primarily student-centered and dialogic in nature. It views students as subjects with a sense of agency capable of co-constructing their own knowledge. This pedagogical stance is especially popularized by educationists such as John Dewy, Paulo Freire, Maxine Greene, and Vygotsky. For these theorists, learning is driven by curiosity, inquiry and self-discovery, processes which involve students in their own learning and makes their learning meaningful.

With the help of web technologies, you can use a wide variety of web tools with students to provide them with an outlet through which they can express their voices. Here are some examples to try :

1- Web blogs
Blogs are virtual spaces where students can write and reflect on learning experiences.  Some of the platforms we would recommend in this regard include:

A- Blogger

Blogger is a service provided by Google and is completely free. It is easy and simple to use and if you already have a Google account you ll set up your blog in minutes.

B- Edublog

 Edublogs lets you easily create & manage student & teacher blogs, quickly customize designs and include videos, photos & podcasts - it's safe, easy and secure so try out an Edublog today!

D- KidBlog

Kidblog is designed for K-12 teachers who want to provide each student with an individual blog. Students publish posts and participate in academic discussions.

E- Glogster Edu
'Glogster EDU is the leading global education platform for the creative expression of knowledge and skills in the classroom and beyond. It empowers educators and students with the technology to create GLOGS - online multimedia posters - with text, photos, videos, graphics, sounds, drawings, data attachments and more.'

2- Use Backchannels
There are a several  web tools that teachers can use to create backchannels and hold synchronous conversations and discussions in the classroom. Some of our favourite tools include: TodaysMeet , Socrative,  and Poll Everywhere. Here are some ways you can use backchannels in your classroom:

  • Poll students on a particular classroom event or on a decision regarding their learning
  • Crowdsource feedback on learning activities and use this input to inform your future instructional strategies.
  • Backchanneling empowers students voice and make them feel they are real participants in the knowledge building taking place in the class.
  • Conduct informat assessments .
  • Assess students prior knowledge about a given topic.
  • Brainstorm ideas for a writing project.
  • Encourage students to ask questions about anything they did not understand.
  • Hold synchronous discussions of video content shared in class
  • Organize real time discussions in class.
  • Backchanneling is a good way to engage introverts and shy students in classroom conversations.
3- Polls and surveys
Polling students is another way to allow to express their voice and take part in decision making taking place in their class. Besides Google Forms, here are some other tools to use for this purpose:

A- Kahoot

Kahoot allows teachers to create quizzes and surreys that include a wide variety of multimedia elements such as videos, pictures and text. Each quiz you create can be accessed by students across different devices .

B- Zoho Survey

Zoho Survey is a great tool that teachers can use to create surveys and quizzes. This service comes with a wide variety of interesting features such as: Mix and match 21 response formats in your survey, ready made templates and themes to use with your surveys, multiple question types are available and hence you can ask your audience exactly what you want. Add logic to your surveys by skipping or adding questions. Depending on the survey taker’s previous responses, you can always make the surveys shorter and more relevant.

C- Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere is a powerful web tool for creating and distributing polls. It offers you five types of polls to choose from: multiple choice poll, free response poll, true or false poll, clickable images poll, and discourse poll. Your respondents can vote on your poll either through SMS or via the web using the generated link you will provide them. Poll Everywhere also has a wonderful way of displaying the results of the poll. You can have the results displayed on a chart of bouncing bars.You can also present your polls as a seamless part of your PowerPoint or Keynote slideshow. Flip on through and instead of another flat picture, your respondents see your slide come alive with real time poll results.
4- Brainstorm together
You can use brainstorming with students to crowdsource ideas related to a given topic. Some of our favourite brainstorming tools include:
A- Popplet
Popplet is a free online tool that allows you to create mind mapping and brainstorming diagrams. You may create a maximum of 5 Popplets.

B- MindMeister


MindMeister allows your  to be more innovative by providing a shared collaboration and brainstorming environment on the web. Plan projects, manage meetings and sketch out business plans online with partners and colleagues, all in real time!

C- LucidChart


Lucidchart is a web-based diagramming software which allows users to collaborate and work together in real time to create flowcharts, organisational charts, and mind maps.

D- Bubblus

                        is a simple and free web application that lets you brainstorm online. You can create colourful mind maps online, share and work with friends,embed your mind map in your blog or website, email and print your mind map, save your mind map as an image.