January 30

Not all Web 2.0 creation sites are the same

Whether you want to create a blog, a podcast, a website, etc there are a plethora of sites which are free and enable you to create the web content (Web 2.0 makes us all creators as opposed to passive readers of content on the web.) Which site or app you choose to create your content with comes down to a few things:

1. What you want your content to be able to do, simple or all the bells and whistles
2. How much control over the advertising you have, can you ask for no advertising?
3. Is it to promote a school event/class. Will viewers or posts involve people under 13?
4. Is it to promote a school?
5. Will your “brand” be affected by advertising content? Starting to get to the nitty gritty now….

The majority of free options will give you the basics, however, they need to make their money somehow, and so there will be advertising, or watermarks which will appear on your content unless you pay or upgrade to have them removed.
You may be happy with this, after all, they are providing you a great service, you don’t have to worry about the coding and so on, and if you are using the content for personal use, where you and your friends who will view it are all over 13 the ads may be annoying, but not too much of an issue. It does become an issue when you have inappropriate or annoying advertisements when you are trying to sell your brand or service. How do you get around this? AND keep it free?
Many sites will offer education versions, some of these are great, offer all the same functions of the higher end versions, but with added security and level of privacy, really great for primary kids

Website creation:
Wix
Weebly
Google Sites

Blogs
Wordpress
Edublogs (also under the WordPress umbrella, campus edition with an education focus)
Global2 (another campus edition of WordPress, you have to be at a Victorian government school… although they will open up to most schools with discussion)
Blogger (Google)

Wikis
Wikispaces
PBworks
Wetpaint

Podcast
Podomatic
Apple/iTunes
Audacity
YouTube

These are just some of the many content creation sites available…. it is worth your while checking out which will best suit your purpose!

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October 12

Exam time – review and revision strategies

That time of the year again, practical studies teachers swamped with folios to finalise assessment, teachers providing feedback on work to students, students panicking because they have left studying up until the last minute… There must be easier ways to do this! Clearly some things won’t change, as we have external assessments to prepare students for. There are ways to improve how and when we give students feedback on work, and help them to develop deeper understanding of concepts and ideas covered during coursework, without increasing our workload to the ridiculous extremes that seem to always happen at this time of year – teachers up ’til all hours marking practice tests¬†and essays so as to get the feedback promptly returned to students, students up ’til all hours writing practice essays and exam papers, then having to wait for the teacher to mark it, and then get the feedback.

By creating self correcting quizzes, or collaborative documents students can get immediate feedback, and strengthen the depth of their knowledge and understanding of topics and concepts. Yes it can take teachers some time to prepare these, but once they are done and online, just annual tweaking will reduce the workload significantly. Alternatively you can start to flip your classroom and get your students to develop the quizzes as a learning task. Win – Win in my books, developing deeper student knowledge of core concepts being taught, reducing teacher workload AND playing games – educational of course ūüôā

Where to start?

Quizstar the fantastic people who brought you Rubistar Рfor developing rubrics online also now provide access to free online game making. You can

With QuizStar you can:

– Manage classes and quizzes

– Attach multimedia files to questions

– Make quizzes in multiple languages

– Access from any Internet-connected computer

– Allow students to complete and review

You need to add students, or have them add themselves, and then you can create your quiz in a number of forms – Multiple choice, True/false and short answer (Short answer ones do not self correct). You can modify your quiz, and see your students results. You can make student accounts, they don’t need an email address, so this is great for the little ones, and also some of the big ones who may need some incentive, or lack access at home. You create “class groups” and add your students, really simple process to use, I created quizzes for my senior Textiles students very quickly. There are lots of other resources on the website too.

Kubbu is a simple to use online quiz creator. Quickly and easily create a Teacher account then you are able to create a range of different types of quiz including: Crossword, matching, catergorising and dynamic quizzes.

kubbu quiz typesYou then have the option of either creating student groups (the free account allows you to have 30 students)  or you can get a web link, which allows you to post the link onto your LMS (Moodle, Ultranet, Daymap etc), email students the link, or pop it on your facebook or Edmodo group. The data from results is anonymous in the weblink version, but if you are using it as student revision and self correction this could be helpful. Creating student groups is much like the Quizstar option. If you like this the cost per year is quite reasonable.

Wanting more control of how and wherer your quiz is shared? Perhaps Hot Potatoes is for you. The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is freeware, and you may use it for any purpose or project you like. It is not open-source.

You will need to download the application, but this also means you don’t need an internet connection to create your quizzes. It also means you have control over where they are placed and who has access to them.

This is also a great way to get kids to create their own quiz as a learning task. Get them to put Hot Potatoes onto their Netbooks or Notebook. Have them share each others games!!

Socrative I mentioned in detail not so long ago, but just to reflect on this great tool for getting instant feedback. If you have an extended test you can send yourself a spreadsheet with all of your results. You can use it as a spontaneous pop quiz, with the responses on the IWB or Data projector.

Google Docs – Google Drive Fantastic tool to get students collaborating and sharing knowledge. ast year my year 12 students loved working together to create a study sheet. They felt really well prepared for their exams, and their results reflected this. Sometimes,, just hearing one of their peers explain a concept in a slightly different way becomes the “aha” moment for them.

So…. how do you prepare your students for exams? Is it fun or arduous? Do you use ICT to improve student preparation for exams? How?? I would love to hear about how others are using these and other great tools.

 

 

 

 

 

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October 5

Holiday meanderings, Google+ and Digital Story telling

I have spent these holidays catching up with reading and getting my head around the new Google Plus… which I had an invite to a while ago, but had few people I knew using it… so it was left on the backburner as the end of term chaos consumed life.

So Google + wow… I have been using Twitter since the early days, and have loved how I can expand my professional learning network by following people whose tweets I find interesting and relevant. I have eLearning connections all over the world now as a result. The only thing is that most comments are limited to 140 characters – which can be good, a bit like a haiku, you really have to think about how you say what you want to say, to get the full meaning and context.

Facebook I have mainly kept as a friend space… not wanting to bore my non techy friends with tech stuff… and vice versa with my other pastimes. I did create a “school” facebook account this year, because with a range of other tech issues and unreliability I at least knew all of my students would be able to log in and see my reminder posts etc.

The benefits so far with what I have played with and seen on Google+ is all the great things about twitter…lots of sharing of ideas with people you allocate to circles… you can also share publicly with the world. You can share your thoughts or ideas with as many or few people as you like by simply selecting the relevant circles.

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Google+ is still in testing… but so far it’s looking very good for educators wanting to develop their skills and knowledge with educators worldwide.

One of the features is a “Hangout” where you can get together with others and have a face to face chat over the internet. At the moment I believe up to 9 people can be involve, but this can present a great range of sharing opportunities not only locally but globally.

I was luck enough to participate in viewing a hangout session about Digital storytelling.  There were educators from all over the US who shared with us how they have used Digital Storytelling to get students to develop not only their literacy, but a wide range of skills including digital citizenship.

VoiceThread allows you to collaborate via text voice or image as you and your class discusses images, either as a starting point, or analysis of an artwork. There are education versions, which allow students to post with more security http://ed.voicethread.com/

Youth Voices Youth Voices is a school-based social network that was started in 2003 by a group of¬†National Writing Project teachers.¬†They have found that there are many advantages to bringing students together in one site that lives beyond any particular class. It’s easier for individual students to read and write about their own passions, to connect with other students, comment on each others work, and create multimedia posts for each other.It’s also an opportunity for educators to develop their knowledge about curriculum and digital literacies.

Storybird is a lovely site which has artists who collaborate by providing artworks which can be used to stimulate and illustrate story creation.

Teachers Teaching Teachers check out here for the next talk

GoogleLabs is being phased out… but has an amazing set of resources… imagine 3D Google earth for the body…or the Google Art Project, giving you tours of the worlds greatest galleries…Get in quick!!

Sketchfu is an online drawing and sharing program… very easy to use, and some great artworks to stimulate ideas.

Handling the enormous amounts of information is something we have to try to help our students resolve… Where do you find reliable sources? How do you know what is reliable? Where do you store the information. The easiest way is using a social bookmarking platform such as Diigo, Delicious or Google, where you can save your bookmarks on the cloud, and always have access to them, using keywords and tags to search for them.

Another couple of apps I came across over the break have been Scoop.it and Storify both allow you to create a “feed” of information on a specific topic.

With Scoop.it you can have a tool which sits within your web browser, and allows you to scoop any relevant topics for your area of interest. You then add new links each day or week, or when ever. Others can follow your topic, and add further relevant “scoops” to your page. You can in turn follow others who are “curating” topics which interest you. The topics are wide and varied.

Storify uses a range of social media such as Twitter, facebook, Google+, YouTube etc to draw information together to form a “story” on a specific topic. This could be a unit of work you have created with your students, or it could be the information you want your students to explore.

Both of these would be great ways for students to collaborate and sift though information to create a really useful knowledgebank of information.

Whatever way you want to delve into the digital classroom of the 21st Century, don’t imagine it can just happen… it needs a lot of pre-planning and organising by the teacher to ensure students don’t get lost in the information, or the technology.

Well… some correction to get done…..

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