With +1,600 teachers that actively use the platform, a +1,000 application collection and 300 evaluated classroom experiences, Toolbox has become an educational content referent in Catalonia.
The online platform has turned into a space where the educational community can evaluate and share contents that foster the use of digital resources. It also intends to encourage all teachers to create new contents adapted to their classroom needs.
We have talked to Vicky Gilisbars de Francisco (Escola Pla de les Vinyes, Santa Coloma de Cervello) and Ignacio Monclús López (Escola Pau Boada, Vilafranca del Penedès), two Toolbox regular users and both winners of the summer contest that mSchools promoted among the teachers who uploaded a new application evaluation to Toolbox website.
How do you use mSchools Toolbox platform?
Ignacio: I have known this platform for years now and when I have some spare time I always try to review the new apps I have tested in the classroom; especially since last year, when the school received 13 tablets that allowed us to work in small groups.
Vicky: I use the platform on a regular basis. This is not a website that I use once in a while, it is a platform that I always check when I am looking for an app that could help me when I need to start a new activity in the classroom.
What do you like the most about Toolbox?
Ignacio: I like that all the applications are classified by type, educational level and subject. It makes the whole searching process really easy.
Vicky: To learn how other teachers feel about an app enriches me. Reviews coming from teachers are much more reliable than anything I could find on Google. This way I not only get a general review about the application, I can also learn about its pedagogical use.
Ignacio tells us about how do his students work with Lego WeDo 2.0. In the pictures we can see how they have connected their robots via Bluetooth to make them work. Afterwards, they can use an app to programme several functions.
When introducing technology into the classroom, which is the real challenge that you are facing?
Ignacio: Currently, in Education we are living a transitional point in which both teachers and students are starting to work with new technologies on a regular basis outside the Computer Science room.
Vicky: Besides each school’s limitations ─like time, knowledge, tablet’s availability, price of the applications…─, I think that the challenge is to educate teachers so we can become familiar with the different technologies that are appearing or will appear in the future.
Give us an example of an activity you carried through by using applications
Ignacio: I love to learn how to programme with Scratch and to bring that knowledge to the students afterwards. Also, the Kahoot! app is one of my favourites to prepare classroom activities.
Vicky: I liked to work in an activity for the Plastic Arts subject. I gave some tablets to the students and I told them: «Guys, today we are shooting a movie!». We thought it all through: the setting, the story, the characters… We used the tablets to record it and several apps to edit the film.
What do the students think about using apps?
Ignacio: The students love when I introduce a new application. They enjoy it very much and they are always very interested.
Vicky: Students love it! The classroom becomes a much more dynamic and collaborative space.
And the rest of the teachers at your school do also use mobile apps?
Ignacio: As the Computer Science coordinator, I increasingly see how many more teachers ask me for advice about technology, ideas to use applications into their classrooms, notions of programming… We are really trying to comprehend technology in order to use it with educational purposes. All this requires a change of methodology and a change in the way we evaluate students.
Vicky: The key point is that the teaching staff gets acquainted to new technologies. It is an extra effort that we need to put in. Any of the nowadays’ teachers studied in a context similar to what we are currently living in the classrooms, so it is important that we adapt to it. If a teacher does not regularly use apps with his or her mobile or tablet, it is impossible that he or she could imagine activities for his or her students using these tools.
We encourage you to enter into the free platform Toolbox to discover new apps and to review the ones you are already using at your school! You can also get inspired with the educational experiences that share other teachers.