I am always thrilled when I stumble across something new and exciting in the world of technology. Most of the time when I find a new tool such as appear.in, it is something that I had not even set out to look for, but it just appeared.
Last fall, I found this great resource and was instantly excited about the possibilities that it had to offer. I remember trying it with my computer and cellphone, just to see what it looked like, and was amazed at how easy it was. I then tried it with family, connecting across states, just to see how quickly it worked and was drawn right into all of the capabilities.
appear.in provides a great way to enable communication at anytime from anywhere. As a teacher, I can use it on field trips as a way to check in with my students and it requires no login or account creation. Once you have created the room, people can access it instantly by using the link provided, close the room and go back to it as needed.
How I've used appear.in
Scavenger hunt in school
A few days later in my Spanish four class, I decided to try it out in a fun way. In my Spanish classes, we use the social messaging tool, Celly to communicate with each other. That day I told the students to take their phones and I would send them a link through Celly. I told them that they had to venture and to different parts of the school and wait for my message. They really did not know what to expect but over the years they have spent with me, they know when it comes to technology, they can't be quite sure but they can be guaranteed that it will probably involve some new tool that I found and really want to try out with them and get their feedback. So off they went, into the halls of our junior senior high school, waiting for the magic message to appear. I created a room, sent them the link, and through it instructed them to go to different parts of the school and find people to speak to in Spanish or to ask about their language skills. An impromptu scavenger hunt and it was fun. They really loved doing this and thought it was the coolest thing ever.
Communicating with students
A few other opportunities like this occurred and then for the PETE&C, Pennsylvania Technology conference in February, I used it as a great way to check in on my students. I had to attend for all four days however a group of my students were traveling there to participate in the student showcase and a colleague was chaperoning them on the van ride there to meet me. I created the “PETE&C” room ahead of time and had a discussion with them while I was at the conference and they were on the bus ride. I can remember how impressed those in attendance at the conference were at seeing the capabilities with Appear.in for our communication.
Interactive activities with other schools
One of my favorite uses for it, still involving my students is when I am at conferences presenting and talking about the different possibilities for interacting with other students in parts of the state or in the world, I will send a message to one of my students back at school and bring them up onto the screen during the presentation to show how this great tool works. I can tell you that it was a lifesaver on Digital Learning Day earlier this year, when I had arranged to do some interactive activities with a few schools across the state. We were involved in a game of Kahoot! and had some issues trying to time the game correctly. So I had a thought, why don’t we use appear.in? So through my phone I created our Digital Learning Day room and we advanced the game simultaneously by using up appear.in as our way to communicate live.
There are so many possibilities for integrating this tool on a personal or professional level. It is easy to use, you can create whatever name of a room you would like, you can save that room, and go back to it whenever you need. There are tremendous possibilities for it and it really opens up a lot of great opportunities in the classroom setting for students to connect globally without time lost for set-up or logging in.
I find that the majority of the tools I use in my classroom are not specific to education but with a little creativity, you can find ways to use many of these tools in your classroom as well and the potential for students and for yourself are tremendous. All it takes is moving forward, taking a risk, trying something new, getting some feedback and then moving forward again. When it comes to things like this, it's always worth taking the chance because the benefits are limitless. I look forward to using appear.in again in the upcoming school year and sharing my experience using it with others.