The Science and Engineering Practices of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) require students to ‘obtain, evaluate, and communicate information’ (NGSS Lead States, 2013). As students engage in argumentation, verbal reasoning, and explaining with evidence, it is critical that they have access to dynamic technology tools to promote and guide such communication.
Despite this need to communicate with increasing clarity and creativity, oftentimes students and teachers rely upon common modalities such as Powerpoint presentations, Word brochures, and handmade posters when asked to communicate information within the classroom setting. While useful and rife with practical implications, these traditional options tend to be overused and are limited in their capabilities to communicate information in dynamic new ways.
Additionally, it is important that students learn to use a wide variety of technology tools within our 21st century classrooms (US Dept. of Education Office of Educational Technology, 2016). This article features recommendations for technology tools that enable students to communicate information in innovative, creative, and visually appealing ways. All of these resources:
- Are free
- Can be downloaded for offline use, emailed, and/or shared via social media
- Are web-based
- Have privacy mechanisms to ensuring students’ work is secure
- Require an email address to create an account
Technology Tools to Meet NGSS Standards
From presentations to posters, eBooks to event flyers, and everything in between, Canva offers 63 different design types that students and teachers can easily use to communicate information in exciting new ways. Used by more than 10 million people worldwide, Canva’s mission is to “empower the world to design,” which is evident in their vast array of graphics, text options, icons, and templates. Canva quickly became a staple in my classroom, as it constantly inspires and facilitates many creative evaluation deliverables such as magazines, advertisements, and flyers.
Visme offers presentation, infographic, and banner tools to help teachers and students communicate information. Of this list, Visme is the easiest to use. Editing features are simple yet powerful, data can be easily incorporated in beautiful ways, and insertable options are usefully categorized, sparing you the annoyance of scrolling through seemingly unending lists of icons. As a bonus, the Visme Twitter account (@Vismeapp) frequently supplies useful tips and tricks to boost communication skills. However, Visme is the most limited in the number of free templates available for use.