When learners leisurely use the Internet, they have many outlets for exploring content, communicating with others, and also collaborating as well. More and more learners are reading personal blogs, viewing videos, and podcasts to enlighten them about the world around them. Sites such as YouTube allow them to readily find how-to videos, as well as lectures, presentations, and instructional videos. YouTube can also be a way for them to communicate their ideas as well. Many learners, you will find, have a blog or at least some social media account that allows them to express their ideas and thoughts. Learners are also communicating through the use of video conferencing with software such as Skpye, Tango, and ooVoo. They are able to reach across great distances to have conversations with friends and family who may be clear across the globe. These tools can also be used to help them collaborate with those friends and family members as they have synchronous conversations. They are also collaborating by sharing documents using outlets such as Google Docs.
All of these tools can be used within the classroom as well. Students can still enhance their content knowledge by accessing blogs created by professionals within that specific content area. They can also use sites such as YouTube and TED to access presentations and lectures as well. Students can then in turn create their own blogs (Blogger, Word Press) to demonstrate their learning outside of merely participating in discussion forums. Then finally, when working in small groups, students can use wikis (Wikispaces) and video conferencing software to collaborate on assignments and projects. By utilizing technological tools that today’s learners are familiar with, it helps to ease apprehension about learning versus directing them to a site or program that they have little experience with.