Partner: Center for Social Innovation

The purpose of this article is to illustrate four common methods for using digital tools in teaching and learning according to Huang et al., (2020), which are: live class tools, instant messaging tools, and social networking, concept-mapping and mind-mapping tools, and collaborative authoring tools.

Live Classes Tools: By using live education streaming platforms or other tools, it is possible to conduct real-time teaching and learning concurrently in different locations. There are many platforms available for providing live lessons to large groups of students and tools such as Zoom for providing live lessons to smaller groups.

Instant messaging tools and social networking: Using tools such as Blackboard Collaborate, Skype, and Google Hangout increases the motivation of students to engage in online learning because they are required to take an active role in the learning process, allowing them to communicate with their teachers and peers. It is possible to increase students’ active participation in online courses through both synchronous and asynchronous communication methods. Online teaching can be also enhanced by the use of social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. These websites or apps enable students to collaborate and learn research techniques.

Concept-Mapping and Mind-Mapping tools: The purpose of this type of tool is to create diagrams that illustrate relationships between concepts, ideas, or other information. The concepts are usually arranged in a circle or box, with lines and linking words illustrating their relationship. There is a natural organization structure based on lines, symbols, keywords, colours, and images. Some examples of concept-mapping tools are Cmap, Visual Understanding Environment, CompendiumLD, and BrainSharper. There are 8 types of thinking maps, such as: circle map (using previously known information for brainstorming), tree map (for classification and organisation of information), bubble map (defining the main theme with specific adjectives and phrases), double bubble map (combination of two bubble maps comparing similarities and differences between two topics), flow map (a representation of an instruction, process, or progress), multi-flow map (provides insight into the causes and effects of certain events),  brace map (helps analyse the relationship between various parts of a whole), and bridge map (helps find similarities and create analogies).

Collaborative Authoring Tools: This type of tool allows multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously or asynchronously. Examples include Google Docs, Office 365, Elucidat, and Adobe Captivate Draft. Among the advantages of these tools is their flexibility, since they are usually cloud-based, allowing easier access and safer storage. Users can access and track course progress, communicate, provide feedback, make revisions, as well as review their peers’ contributions.

The following guide can provide you with a better understanding of the topic:

Huang, R.H., Liu, D.J., Guo, J., Yang, J.F., Zhao, J.H., Wei, X.F., Knyazeva, S., Li, M., Zhuang, R.X., Looi, C.K.,

& Chang, T.W. (2020). Guidance on Flexible Learning during Campus Closures: Ensuring course quality of

higher education in COVID-19 outbreak. Beijing: Smart Learning Institute of Beijing Normal University.

Relevant Link: