So, the first day back to work is in about 9 hours. I’ve already been in school for 4 days so its not really a big thing for me. Not as much as it will be for everyone else! Although I spend a lot of time engaged in exams issues over the next few days, I usually make some sort of presentation and appearance at these training sessions. This year I get to launch our ‘Moving Forward with ICT’ initiative for the year.
This year I have produced some of my key thoughts on a little prezi here
I have also created a little web site to support the learners on the day and have a little fun with my ‘Innovation Bingo’ game.
I’m looking forward to it.
I sort of stumbled on this online app a few days ago and then realised that I might have found something which will solve something I have been worrying about for a little while. As an educator and as someone who has put a lot of learning resources online over a long period of time – I was starting to get a little worried that people were just stealing my stuff to use themselves. The great thing about Youblisher is that you can use pdf documents and upload them so that they can only be read online.
This is cool – this means that some of the A level booklets that I have written can now be protected using this simple and pretty cool piece of software. Take a look here.
You might be seeing a theme running through some of my most recent posts. Over the last few weeks I have been doing some research into different online web apps that allow you to create better and more professional presentations. The thing is that in school, both me and the kids in my class get a bit bored with powerpoint all the time so you need to be on the lookout for some seriously good and free pieces of online software that will allow us to look at things in a different way.
Mybrainshark is a place that allows you to create, share and track details of the people who are following what you do. I still have to investigate the apps fully but there are a few cool things that you might want to have a go at (yes, for free)
- Add voice to Powerpoint – saves you saying the same thing over and over and over again
- Narrate a document – why not create a talking document
- Upload videos
- Make online photo albums
- Produce your very own podcast
This was a little bit of a bizarre thing to take a look at. Creaza is a suite of multimedia creativity tools that includes
Mindomo is a mind mapping/ brainstorming tool that is better than some of the free and readily available mindmap tools
Cartoonist allows you to create cartoons that you can save and look at online – good for allowing students to tell a story
Movieeditor – is an online video editing tool
Audioeditor os and online audio editor that allows recording and editing
Overall I was pretty impressed with how this works. For me the stand out piece is the cartoon. You can see what I cam up with here but this was only after about 15 mins and I am sure that you could spend a lot more time to make something a bit more professional.
There are a lot of video editing packages out there. Animoto is a pretty cool one. When you sign up you can create as many 30 second videos as you want and the online software does all the hard work for you. I just selected some photos, uploaded them, selected some music and a theme and in about 15 mins I had a full video for the kids on the trip to see.
This is a nice tool to use, easy to handle and pretty responsive and if you are looking for something that makes a snapshot video – then this is perfect.
You can link to my final video here.
If you want to upgrade for longer videos you can for £3 a month or £18 per year – but personally the free version is perfect for a quick video!
One of the things that concerns me greatly with the massive growth of social media and networking sites is the safety of students and teachers alike. I really worry about the way that some teachers and students communicate online. It can lead to lots of situations which can be a little on the worrying side. Its not just a child protection thing but also a teacher protection thing as well. You always need to be careful about what you actually put online and the permissions that you give people. My golden rule is that I never put anything online that I do not mind everyone seeing. That applies to pictures, videos, comments etc.
One of the possible solutions for schools is to maybe set up a little walled garden for communication like Socialgo. It takes about 30 minutes to set up your own site and set up the permissions the way that you want and so far I quite like it. The big question though is . . .. is there a point to setting up your own? Will kids actually bother to go online to check? The beauty of things like facebook is that you can talk to people who you know in lots of different scenarios . . . are people interested in just one?
That is something I intend to test in the near future.
I love Prezi. I was teaching a Year 10 class he other day in school and introduced them to Prezi and they liked it nearly as much as me! They loved what you could do and how you could make the presentation come alive and feel organic and smooth.
It does not take much time to learn the basics and they have even updated the software so that you can now add video and sound – which makes it even more exciting for me anyway.
http://prezi.com/ncpspsrmmjut/inspire-creative-thinking-oct-2009/ (This is a Prezi I made about ICT)
A few years ago I was challenged by Alan November to start thinking about how I could use podcasts in my teaching and learning. I took some time to think long and hard about this and started to put together a few podcasts that students could use to help them with their revision process. Back in the old days it was just a case of creating a wmv sound file and putting a link on my web site. However, whenever I bought myself a MacBook a few years ago this changed everything. The thing about Apple products is that they allow people like me who have a little knowledge of ICT to be able to use the little that they know to produce things that look cool! So, I spent some time whispering into the microphone on my computer and created a few learning/ revision podcasts for my A Level and then my GCSE classes.
What was even better was that I then started to work out how to get these podcasts onto itunes and suddenly loads of people were starting to download my podcasts. I tried to make things a little more complicated, adding music, beats, jokes etc to keep people on their toes and sometime you can see my podcasts peaking up at the top of the education K12 part of the itunes charts – especially in the run up to GCSE and A Level exams.
The podcasts can take a while to make but the value to students is great. Once done they can just continue to live on itunes for years. My most successful (and most downloaded) series is the GCSE geography podcasts – some have been downloaded over 20,000 times!
I have tried Podbean as well to see if this is an easier method (especially for those of you who are non-Mac users) and it does give pretty much the same functionality as using itunes but I find that it just is not as visible.
Take a look at some of the stuff I have done by going to Think Geography or by going to itunes and searching for either tim manson or think geography.
I am always on the lookout for new ICT related things that will help my classroom be a little different from the norm and I came across this little tool that builds upon Google Docs. I have not quite worked out a way to use it yet but am planning to in the new academic year.