I have been looking into some new methods/approaches and tools that we can incorporate into our research toolkit. Back in the dim time (when I first started working at Essential), we drew some inspiration from cognitive behavioral therapy to develop hands-on activities, such as "Three Wishes" and "Transformational Portraits."
A friend of mine, who's a teacher, suggested that I look into online teaching tools. Here are some great tools I've found so far that allow participants to collaborate create.
stixy.com acts like an online bulletin board. It looks like it can be used to help keep families and teachers organized and up-to-date with each other, but we can use it for online collaboration, or as a more fun and interesting way to organize an online diary. What's great is that it has sharing capabilities (which means we can see a participant's progress in using it). I tried this out with Kate today and she said it was easy to use (drag and drop), her only gripe was that the briefing message I had included in the invitation was buried deep in the message.
protonotes.com would be great if we are showing prototypes to participants. Put an image of the prototype onto a webpage, and in the HTML, put in the code that will allow participants to add stickynotes on the prototype. This would also be a neat tool to use with clients. Click here to try protonotes!
Intel has some interesting education tools (they're not the prettiest things, and usability is another issue altogether), one of which is a ranking tool. What's really useful about it is that once all participants have completed the ranking, the researcher can compare rankings all on one screen.
There are many more out there I'm sure, but this was just a small example of some that have come about through the education field.