Navigating the TechScaffold Site

What Is TechScaffold?

Given the need to determine how and why teachers are using certain apps, TechScaffold is a tool designed to help inservice and preservice teachers to make decisions for selecting relevant apps to foster students' learning. It scaffolds this decision-making by having teachers formulate purposes for using apps and then sharing projects illustrating use these apps with other TechScaffold users.

TechScaffold is organized into three content sections: Apps, Community, and Projects. In the Home section, users In the App Reviews section, users search for apps based on app categories and/or their purposes for using apps based on their objectives, subject, grade level, expertise, platform, and costs, as well as add and recommend new apps. In the Community section, users can connect to other teachers similar to themselves to share apps and/or projects, a feature useful for employing TechScaffold within a school or district Professional Learning Community or a methods course. In the Projects section, users can share and access projects based on use of apps specific to certain objectives or standards.

Introduction: What's the Purpose of TechScaffold?

As the name suggests, TechScaffold is designed to:

The creators of this tool, Richard Beach, Greg Klotz, and John Scott, all bring background experience in teaching and educational technology backgrounds to design this tool for use by and for teachers. Richard is Professor Emeritus of English Education, University of Minnesota, and co-author of the book, Using Apps for Learning Across the Curriculum: A Literacy-Based Framework and Guide,

Using Different Sections of the TechScaffold Site

TechScaffold is organized in four categories listed on the top of the landing page: Network, Apps, Community, and Projects. Users can access any of these sections in any order depending on their initial relevant needs.

Network. Users can add their profile information to the site by providing personal information, a photo, and rating their technical experiences in terms of interest in, comfort/experience with, and use of technology. Users can then create a network with other users by following other users as part of the Community sections to share app and project reviews.

Apps. In the Apps section, users can enter in keyword search terms to search for apps based on what you want students to do or create, or your learning objects/standards, or features associated with use of a particular app, for example, using a app to create annotations. By clicking on Advanced Search, users can also search for apps based on platform, grade level, and subject. Users can also add their own apps based on platforms, user level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced), grade level, and relevant subject areas, as well as add a description of the app.

By clicking on App Categories, users can search for apps based on eleven different categories. Or, by clicking on App List, they can go directly to the app database to access detailed information about specific apps.

Community. Users can create their own Community Group by giving the group a name, indicating whether the group is public or private, and add a description of the group. They can also join existing groups as well as find users who share similar interests and goals for using apps. This community feature is particularly useful for teacher groups or professional learning communities (PLCs) within a school or district who share interests in use of apps to achieve certain common goals or objectives. This feature is also useful for college courses related to use of educational technology in schools in which students can share app reviews and their projects illustrating use of apps.

Projects. Users can search for projects stored on the site based on search terms related to categories similar to app searches: what you want students to do or create, or your learning objects, or standards. They can also search for project using the Project List. Users can also add their own projects to then tag those projects based on subject area, unit/topic, grade level, learning objective/stances, a description, and related apps employed in the project, as well as add attachments or links to the project.

User Comments about TechScaffold

"I like the ability to browse a list. I like seeing what's one there and putting my own 'spin' on things AND doing some app-smashing things!"

"I feel that finding apps is not difficult. What is difficult is knowing how to use them in powerful ways. The way this tool connects apps to a community and projects should alleviate this issue."

"I can see my support team using this to connect teachers in our district with other teachers who are using technology in powerful ways."