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!

September 14

A Model to Transform your use of ICT

The SAMR model has been around for a while, but I think it is time for a revisit. Most of us have been working with some element or other of 1 to 1 access, but has our pedagogy – the way we use the technology to teach in our classes – changed or shifted in that time? I would like you to take some time to reflect on how you are using ICT in your classroom. Think about which level of SAMR you are at, and what steps you can take to get to the next level.

First what is SAMR? was developed by Ruben R. Puentedura  who has shared a wealth of pedagogical development resources on his website.

 Substitution and Augmentation look at keeping things basic, but enhancing the learning, while Modification and Redefinition Transform Learning opportunities for our students.

Substitution

 In substitution technology is a direct replacement for non technical/digital tools. There is no real change to how the learning occurs. Function remains the same.

Examples: Students use the Internet to search information, as they would have done with encyclopedias in the past. They write up a word document assignment, adding in images collected from web sites and print this out as evidence of their learning.

AugmentationIn Augmentation technology is a direct tool substitute, however function is improved.

 

Examples: Using Google Maps or Nearmaps (in Australia) students can view  up to date changes of global issues. Learning is supported by students being able to view multi modal learning objects, and enhancing the function of the learning. Students are able to play online maths games, and get immediate feedback on results. improving the function through the immediate feedback.

ModificationModification allows for learning tasks to be significantly redesigned through the use of technology.

Examples:  Instead of presenting a poster on a famous person students can create a multimedia presentation, or website which includes video, text and images. This transforms the learning, and students develop deeper thinking about the subject when a range of modalities are used.

RedefinitionNew tasks, previously not even thought of or possible can now be created through the use of ICT.

Example: Students with a topic of civil unrest use Twitter to follow the hashtag #Eygpt (which was the hashtag used during the 2011 and recent civil unrest). They post a question onto Twitter with the Hashtags #Eygpt #Freedom and follow the responses. They end up connecting with a woman on the streets of Cairo, who is a lawyer, and Skype chat with her about what the civil unrest in Eygpt is about. (This is based on a true story) Students can connect with others around the globe and create truly powerful transformative learning opportunities.

I think I use all elements of the SAMR Model… the most transformative in my classrooms has been using Google Drive for students working on a collaborative task to be able to edit together (they are still getting their heads around how that one works, and it is easier for them to slip back into old paper based habits, but after a miss-saved document went missing they are starting to really see the benefits.) The live blogging we are doing sharing processes and products on our blog and on YouTube are pretty exciting. And creating electronic portfolios, as they develop their work – this has been fantastic, as they are finishing off their folios, realising they didn’t take photos, but they are all available on our group Flickr page. I am giving my students the option for producing a presentation on a Fashion Designer… they can present it as a website, podcast, powerpoint or keynote, which will be presented to the class.

So… you have the tools in your classrooms, the kids have the tools in their pockets, what is stopping you from transforming the way your students learn? The most important person in the classroom should be the learner, and we all know that the most engaging learning is the deepest. We are all learners…so add a comment here, particularly those who are using iPads, netbooks and laptops, to share with us which stage(s) you are up to? How are you transforming your classroom?

August 30

Teachers are learners too

Learning really is a lifelong thing, and what a wonderful and challenging (in a good way) time we are living in as there is so much to learn. Time is such a valuable commodity however, it can be a need to know basis that learning happens, or for a subject where you have a love or passion.

For me I know I had to learn scripting and HTML a few years ago to teach my Multimedia students, I found that challenging, and my kids have a giggle when I tell them I have to put on my other “head” (left brain) when I work through Action scripting and programming (my brain is not too logical,very right brain, – and I love the creative side, very much a wysiwyg kinda gal). I had to learn it, and I did, and it still surprises me when random logical thoughts when scripting come out. I think, scarily enough, my work with the programming stuff has actually trained my brain to see more from both sides. In the Dancer test I can make it go both ways….   ahh but I digress… I found lots of reasons to avoid completing the scripting stuff I had to do, yet, when there is something I am interested in, I will find the time, currently I have been working on using essential oils as an alternative therapy for a range of stuff… and created a wiki, and create blends and research oils and so on… learning, what I want to.

Where this path of exploring and embedding new technologies has lead me, is in a role of staff ICT support across the college. This has been a challenge in that other people are not necessarily seeing learning and embedding new technologies as a priority, after all they have been teaching successfully for a number of years, why should they get involved in this new stuff? Where would they find the time? what is the motivation? Getting this motivation to explore beyond their comfort zone has lead me to suggest a project which has got the support of the principal and the major curriculum drivers at the college….. and it starts next Tuesday.

The Redback Project Redback Project

The project is based on the Learning 2.0 project, or 23 Things, developed and used by librarians in the US. A similar style has been created by Michelle Martin in her Bamboo Project. I have also seen a few other similar projects around, but none of them were just the right fit for my staff. I wanted something that would not be too intimidating, and was available at school. There are many blocked sites (both from the department and ISP) so trying to explore something like Flickr would be frustrating, as there are still a number of staff who do not have access to the internet at home.

So my challenge was to provide something very accessible and usable, and yet provide challenges for those staff who may want it. And so the Redback Project was created. Why Redback… well I didn’t want anything tech in the name, and Redbacks are beautiful and alluring in their webs. So with the aim to entice more staff into the web to see some of the beauty, fun and maybe a little silliness.

The project will be running over 10 school weeks, with the term 3 break it will be 12 weeks. We will look at blogs, wikis, image generators, RSS, social networking, social bookmarking, tags, Moodle and other stuff. Tasks will be kept achievable for basic level skills, but also issuing challenges for those wanting a bit more. And the lure…. prizes, looking at a range of tech gadgets to give to those who complete the project, as well as weekly draws for those on track and trying out the challenges or just trying something outside their comfort zone.

May 9

Change of title

OK…. my TPL is well and truly over, that and the VELS focus is now only a part of my learning and exploring. I really want to be able to explore the mobile learning in a bigger way….. access seems to always be the stumbling block…. that and hmmmmm lack of confidence to take that dive….

The staff survey was an interesting read… to try now and put it into a useable data form.

Must research using iPods in the classroom… send a few list serv emails out…. why is there so little time to play????

Now the challenge this year is to get more staff using ICT across the college