Tag Archives: tools

Sharing New Classroom Tools using Libguides

Today I had the opportunity to run a session with interested staff, showing them new Web based tools they could be using in their classrooms. I spent quite a bit of time over the holidays putting together a page in our Libguides site for this purpose. Some of the tools were familiar to me and are ones I’ve used in classrooms I’ve taught in, but others were new to me. I decided to try and find screencasts explaining their use wherever possible, so that staff could revisit this page after the session and refamiliarise themselves with how you go about using each tool. I had to use my limited coding skills (those of you who read regularly will be smiling at this) to change the size of the YouTube videos to try and fit the sidebar boxes. I think the staff who attended found the session useful, and I thought I’d share the link here in case there are others in schools elsewhere who will also find this a useful point of reference. To see the page, click here, or on the image below.

If you’re from a school using Libguides, you may want to use this page on your site. Like I said earlier, it took me a long time to put together. If I can save you some time on your end, then that’s a good thing in my book. :)

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Google Search Stories for classroom use

I worked with my school’s Humanities faculty this afternoon showing them some Web tools that they may like to use in their classes. They’ve had a lot of success with Glogster, and now feel like they need to look into different tools to help with demonstrating students’ understanding of the subject areas they are teaching. I’ve created a page on the wiki I use as a resource base and I shared that with them. We explored quite a few things they’d not seen such as Capzles Voicethread, timetoast, and Google Search Stories.

I’d never made a Google Search Story until this afternoon, and I found the experience incredibly easy, but enlightening too. While it’s no doubt a bit of marketing for the Google juggernaut, it could very well have a place in classrooms. The search story above deals with the recent crisis in Japan. All I had to do was go to the search story creator, type in the search terms I thought were applicable and select what kind of search I wanted for each search inquiry eg: web search, maps, news etc. It’s a way of highlighting that there are different kinds of searches you can do on Google- you aren’t limited to the home page search box. There’s the first lesson for our Google addicted students!

It got me, and the others in the group this afternoon, thinking about how it could be used in classrooms. Our International Studies teacher could see immediate application for current world events, as either something she created to hook the students in at the start of a lesson, or something they created to demonstrate their understanding of the timeline or complexity of an issue. We thought about books they’d read, and how they could tell a character’s journey via a search story. They are certainly fun to create and can be done easily within a lesson, even within ten minutes really.

The difficulty comes with uploading them to YouTube. I have an account so the process was very easy for me. All I needed to so was sign into my account from the search story creator and the video was uploaded for me. It was a very quick process. Both of my children have YouTube accounts, so if they were sitting in your classrooms you’d have no worries with them, but it’s not going to be the norm for the majority of our students. I also think we’d have a fair few parents who probably don’t want their children having an account. We were trying to work out how we’d overcome this and be able to use this in our classrooms. We thought we could create a school account on YouTube, and when it came to upload time, the teacher could input the school email and password for the account. We weren’t keen on sharing this with the students, just in case someone thought it ‘funny’ to upload something inappropriate under the school’s name. I’m not sure how we’ll proceed just yet, but I do think it’s worth following through with. If anyone reading this has any other ideas, please leave a comment and enlighten us!

It’s worth taking a look at the search stories site and looking at some of the videos there. Some are very clever, even touching, and all in 30 seconds or so. Take a look below and you’ll see what I mean.

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Jane Hart’s 100 Tools for Learning list 2010

Jane Hart compiles this list yearly. It’s based on 545 contributor’s top 10 lists of their favourite learning tools. I really like the way Jane has produced the list as a slideshare presentation. It makes it far more interesting than just a wordy list of names, and very useful for use with staff who may be very unfamiliar with a large number of these tools. Check out the rise of the juggernaut Google – their products seem to be ranking highly in people’s lists. What’s also interesting is the the majority of the top 20 tools are cloud based applications, and not software downloads. We are placing quite a bit of our trust in others to host our content it seems.

Thanks Jane for continuing to produce a list that always opens my eyes to something new.

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Google Translate- is this changing the nature of LOTE teaching?

LONDON - APRIL 13:  (FILE PHOTO) In this photo...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I was involved in a session the other day with Yr 9 students. We were exploring techniques for searching the web to find the information you need. We spent some time looking at Google Scholar and this led to an exploration of some of the other applications Google offers. When we touched on Google Translate you could see this ‘look’ appear on the students’ faces. It was like I’d uncovered their hidden secret.  

What emerged quite clearly was that the students were using Google Translate to assist them with their LOTE classes. Obviously they were under the impression that the teaching staff weren’t tuned into the wonders of Google Translate and all it offers.

If you haven’t used it yet, you should check Google Translate out. I’ve had to use it recently when I had comments in Russian left on this blog. I thought they might have been Russian spammers, but they were legitimate comments.  It helped that I work with a Russian colleague who was able to verify that the returns I was getting from Google Translate were close to the mark. I can only imagine that the students at my school have discovered this as a pretty effective tool for handling homework easily. I’m just left wondering whether the LOTE staff are onto it.

If they’re not, they should be, and so should all the LOTE teachers out there. Hopefully people are finding ways to make it an effective tool to support the learning of students. All you need to do is place text into a box, select the language you want to translate to and hit enter. Check out the screenshot below.  

Google_Translate

Using it has made me think about travel and how handy Google Translate would be if you were overseas and had an internet enabled phone. You could use this as your translation tool to navigate your way through  non- English speaking countries. I know that when Iwas in Shanghai by myself last year, I had moments where I felt completely vulnerable due to my inability to communicate.  Google translate would have been a  lifesaver, especially for those moments when I was trying to hail Taxis and have them take me to my hotel when all I had was the hotel name written in English. You can imagine the difficulties I had. All I can say is, you live and learn!  

Interestingly enough, it’s made me consider the Tower of Babel story from Genesis. When I was in my first year of Teacher’s College,  I had to write a 3000 word essay about the perception of God based on the Book of Genesis.  I had enormous difficulty finding references as I was presenting  the viewpoint that God had it in for man. I literally had to hole myself up in the State Library of Victoria for a period of time, as the only book I could find that went anywhere near supporting my viewpoint was one by Erich Fromm that was only housed there. 

How do I bring this anecdote to my discussion of Google Translate?

It’s a leveller. It enables collaboration across cultures distanced by language. And unless the almighty disables the internet to divide mankind, the use of a tool like this will help to faciliate the  abilty of cultures to work together to communicate and maybe, just maybe, work together to solve the problems that plague this planet.

In the meantime, LOTE teachers, get yourselves up to speed. The kids you teach might be just one step ahead of you. 

 

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Printer Share – interesting concept.

Now I’ve downloaded this but haven’t used it as yet so can’t report whether or not it works. It’s called PrinterShare, and according to the site you can print your documents on any printer anywhere, or you can share your printer with other people connected to the internet and enable them to print documents to your printer.  Here’s what they say;

With PrinterShare® you can print documents and photos on other people’s printers as easily as on the local one connected to your machine. No special technical knowledge is required from both – printer owner and user. It just works!

With our software you can print directly from your application such as Microsoft Word, Outlook, Photo Editor or any other program you work with to a printer connected to another computer next door or ten thousand miles away (anywhere!).

It sounds kind of amazing to me that you’d be able to do this, and like I said, I haven’t yet given it a go. I can imagine some possibilities however. You could be collaborating with a teacher in another location who has documents they want you to access. Presumably you could share the printer you have access to and enable them to print the document at your end. You could also just get them to send it to you, or better still, have them upload it to Google Docs so that you can both edit the document in real time.

Can you imagine if kids got a hold of this and got their friends to do all their printing through your school network computers? Budgets could go through the roof even quicker than they already do.

Sounds like an interesting idea and one I’ll have to try out. Be interested in hearing if anyone has used it and found that it works. Thanks very much to Jane Hart for alerting me to this.

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Wikis – Susan shows you how.

Susan Bentley is the eLibrarian at the school I work at. It’s great having her on staff – in her role she is responsible for maintaining our Library’s online presence. I first heard the word Web 2.0 from Susan I think, so I have a lot to thank her for as I now bask in this Web 2.0 world!

Susan has been busy this year creating Wikis for classroom use. We used to create pathfinders to support curriculum – these were static pages with links to web pages and items available in our Library, but no-one could add to the page other than Susan. Now we’ve moved these pathfinders over to  Wikis and have been introducing them to staff and students. Two of the best working Wikis operate at Yr 11 for Legal Studies and Literature. In these Wikis students have a page each within the Wiki and use this to post responses and upload interesting links or videos they find. I introduced the Wiki to an International studies class last week and received a wonderful reaction from one of the sudents. I could see her eyes widening as she realised the possibilities of this as a tool for learning. She came to see me the next day for some advice on how to link to her page from the home page. She had uploaded numerous YouTube videos about Rwanda and wanted to be able to share her knowledge with her peers. It was exciting to see her enthusiasm – a great reminder to me as to why these are such enabling tools that should be utilised for learning. She’d even gone home to show her Mother what was now possible. This is girl headed off to Uni next year now armed with a powerful realisation of how to use Web 2.0 for collaboration.

Susan is presenting with me next week and has uploaded a presentation to Slideshare about how to create a Wiki using PB wiki – she has lots of good ideas so take a look.     

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Jane’s 25 tools – now a professional development opportunity

A couple of week’s ago I posted about Jane Hart and an excellent article she had written about 25 Tools every Learning Professional should have in their Toolbox – and all for FREE! which is due to be published in elearning age magazine in April. Jane’s post generated much interest so she decided to take things further and has now offered a Professional Development program;

 “intended for those working in education, workplace learning or professional development who want to broaden their horizons in terms of the wide range of technologies and tools available for learning and performance support in a very practical way by getting to grips with 25 key tools. “

All of the tools that Jane has included are free and she has provided activities to help with an understanding of each tool. They include Skype, Jing, Delicious, Voicethread, Google Docs, Twitter, Slideshare and many others. You need to have a user name and password to access these activities and can sign in at Jane’s site. This is a great opportunity for educators to introduce this to their workplaces to help bring along staff who have little knowledge of Web 2.0 tools and how they can be used to support learning. I’ve applied for a user name and password as there are a couple of tools there that I haven’t used before. Jane has also set up a 25tools community where, “users can share thoughts, experiences and resources well as get help and advice from other Community members.” A great idea – one of the stumbling blocks I think people have when trying new things is not having someone to help them out when they need it. If you want to get a number of staff involved and have your own secure discussion area for your staff to use this can be done for a small fee (not disclosed at this stage). 

Jane Hart is doing wonderful things to support the introduction of Web 2.0 tools to the wider community. She is currently collating a list of the 100 top tools for learning. To do this she has asked educators to submit their top 10 lists with some explanation as to why they they find these tools useful. I’ve contributed my Top 10, as have 146 others.  Take a read of people’s top 10 tools – I’ve scanned quite a few and have discovered new and useful tools as a result. 

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Back from camp – time to tell you about Google Notebook

Returned from camp today. Had a great time with fantastic Year 7 students willing to give everything a go. I’m a huge supporter of Outdoor Education camps since I left on my first one two years ago. On that one, we paddled 60kms down Australia’s Murray River and camped on river beaches nightly for five days. HUGE learning curve for me – had to adapt very quickly and stay motivated even though I found it really difficult. At the end of the week I’d felt a shift in me – a sense of achievement and a bonding with a group unlike camp experiences I’d had before. Happens every time I do an Outdoor Ed camp – everyone grows in some way. Last night’s debrief session was wonderful – every student could articulate how they had learnt something and what they were going to take away from the experience – powerful stuff!

Something else that I think is pretty powerful and transformational for both teachers and their students is Google Notebook. At the moment I’ve got two Google Notebooks running. One I call blog ideas. What I do is open my notebook when I’m reading feeds from my Google Reader - it’s absolutely essential to get yourself a Google Reader (or other RSS feed service) if you want to subscribe to websites and receive updates that come directly to you rather than you having to go to the effort of finding the website every time you log on. My Google Reader has literally changed my life (and I’m not kidding!) Back to the point of the discussion – I open the Google Notebook called ‘blog ideas’ and what I can do is cut and paste things I’ve read into my notebook that I think might be a good idea for a blog post. It’s helping me to make sense of what I think is important and is also helping me to write posts on a frequent basis. If you remember, I’ve set myself the ridiculous target of attempting to write a blog post a day. Call me stupid -I’m already saying it to myself!

My other notebook is one that I’m using to collate ideas for a presentation I have to make with a colleague. Because we are going to have to work on this together, I have chosen the ‘Share this notebook’ option that is available to you when you use Google Notebook. This sends an invite to people you want to have access to the notebook so that you can both make contributions. It’s this collaborative potential that I think is transformational for staff and students. Teachers could use Google Notebook (or Google Docs) to work on developing ideas for units of work and students could use them for group projects. As individuals, teachers and students would find the Google Notebook valuable for collecting information from the Web for projects. I showed my notebooks to a researcher from a university in Melbourne and she could immediately see the potential this offered for the work she does.

If you haven’t seen it yet, get yourself a google account and check it out – I’m sure you’ll see ways to use this fantastic free resource immediately. Getting a google account is easy too – just register with an email address, user name and password. Dead simple and the benefits are huge.

I’m really comfortable  with my Google Reader and aren’t fussed about opening the notebook at the same time. Download Squad have just posted about a combined feed reader and blog client in one called YeahReader. Here’s how they describe how it works;

“In addition to the usual feed reader tools that let you mark items as read or unread, you can also click a “blog this” button to copy feed items into the blog client. “

They also point out this very valid point which is why I think bloggers should proceed with caution;

“Just be careful to use this power for good and not evil. In other words, if you’re going to say, write about an article you found on Download Squad, please don’t copy the whole article and pass it off as your own work. That’s what we like to call copyright infringement.”

They’re absolutely right – their article is worth a read – I’d encourage you to follow the link.

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25 learning tools you should know about!

Jane Hart writes a really handy little blog called Jane’s E learning Pick of the day that delivers little gems on a daily basis. I always learn something new when I go there. A few days ago she wrote a post called, 25 Tools every Learning Professional should have in their Toolbox – and all for FREE! which is due to be published in elearning age magazine in April.

It ‘s a great article with links to many tools I have discovered over the last six months or so. I’d highly recommend using it if you want to direct your colleagues to tools that are going to assist them with their teaching. They may be just the tools they need to move them into greater use of technology to support learning. I intend to use this article as the basis for some staff PD over the next term and explore such varied delights as Jing, del.icio.us, Google Docs, Slideshare, Flickr, Voicethread and whatever else may appear in this rapidly changing world!   
  

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