Sunday, November 21, 2010

Teachers around the country are evaluating ebooks as an alternative to print materials; some schools have developed sound policies with regards to ebooks and adopted one or more ebook readers. There are quite a few implications of course mostly to do with copyright and related issues. For schools that need an alternative to ebooks, there is now FlexBooks from Use of the CK-12 FlexBook System and FlexBooks are subject to a Creative Commons License. At this stage, Flexbooks are available in the areas of: Science ; Technology ; Engineering and Mathematics .
The Flexbook system offers a number of ways of access; they can be displayed as pdf , through an online viewer with quite a straight forward interface and in htm format or in print format. Chapter titles link to the start page for that chapter. Additionally you can make up a completely new textbook by selecting various chapters from separate titles, combine and assembly the chapters in any order you like, add prefaces, introductions, chapters list, etc and set it up as a FlexBook.
There are number of Webinars happening soon, so visit the CK12 website for the schedule starting from Nov. 23 to Dec. 16th.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mobile Phones: Distraction or Tool in the Classroom?

According to the final version of the National Education Technology Plan (NETP) was released during the first week of November 2010, more than 75% of those between the ages of 12-17 own mobile phones (cellphones) in the United States of America.. The latest data available for Australia shows that in 2009, the number of girls who had a mobile phone was 33% compared with boys with 29%. Older children were most likely to have a mobile phone (76% for 12 to 14 year olds), while amongst the youngest group (5 to 8 year olds) only 2% of children had a mobile phone.
This seems to imply that the most widely used mode of communication for boys and girls under 17 years of age is not the desktop computer, the notebook, the netbook or the iPad. Its the mobilephone. Modern mobile phones are now cameras and audio recorders, allowing students to work on multimedia projects.
Anecdotal evidence as well as statistics like those above possibly point to the notion that mobile phones at school are a distraction. And as a result, many schools have policies - both formal and informal - that restrict mobile phone use in the classroom. But our evidence point to a different reality - kids use them a lot, in (without permission and unknowingly to the teacher of course) and out of the classroom. This raises the question: Is it about time that we re-evaluate our policies with regards to the mobile phone and argue for a change in attittudes?
Have a read of this short article by Audrey Watters here...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tools for Teachers

We all love them! collect them! Yes those tools that we think will solve all our problems with time management. I mean how many times have you stumbled on a gadget that you thought will make your preparation time easier and quicker. Problem is: you either stored it somewhere but cannot remember where or got on with the task without even a bother to think about that time-saving tool. Organising your online tools in appropriateley named folders in your "favourites" will help.

Today I'd like to share with you links to some useful tools and gadgets that hopefully will be useful in your teaching and to your students, (and stored somewhere where you can always pin-point).

1. The Ultimate Twitter Guidebook for Teachers - As the intro. announces "adopting a new communication tool is not easy. Figuring out the best way YOU can use Twitter is even harder." This updated resource lists a range of blogs, posts, web sites, etc. grouped separately for the novice, Twitter for Educators, Resources for Making the Most of Twitter, Suggestions on how to use them in class with students, Applications to Make Twitter Work for Teachers, Applications , Tweets to follow as well as Fun Twitter Experiments.

2. 15 Little-Known Ways to Google - This is an extensive reference to how Google and its many free tools can help both teachers and students. Google's Search now includes a Books Search which allows you to look for the full text in popular titles, old and out-of-print books. The powerful Geo Education site has helpful hints on using Google Earth, Maps, Sky, and Sketch Up in the K-12 classroom, empowering teachers to bring the world's geographic information to students in a compelling, fresh and fun way. Covered too in this collection of Google tools are: Google News, iGoogle - a personalised collection of content, widgets, etc. . The blog discusses in detail and extensively good search practices, Google Notebook, Blogger, Calendar, and of course Google Docs an array of of easy-to-use online tools to create word processed documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Covered too in this report are: Goggle Groups, Google Page Creator, Picasa and Google SketchUp. Finally there is a short write up about Google Apps Education Edition, which is a broad IT solution for schools.

For those interested in Moodle, Google can now be integrated with Moodle too. Back in 2008, Google sponsored twelve new Moodle developers. The end result: Google Apps and Docs are being integrated successfully in Moodle.

3. The Best Presentation Sites on the Web This collection presents some of the best online presenetation web sites around, including such popular ones as: prezi, and presentation zen.

4. Online Tools and Software to Create Charts, Graphs, Flowcharts, etc.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Web 2.0

These days, if you attend a teachers' PD event with ICT as the main theme, there is a very likely chance that Web 2.0 is going to be mentioned. The reference is sometimes incidental, at other times a Web 2.0 technology is discussed in some detail. Web 2.0 includes most of the instant messaging interenet-based applications arund as well as online learning management systems.

The other day I stumbled on Learn IT in 5, a web site owned and operated by Mark Barnes, a technology teacher, online course instructor and presenter of "The Paperless Classroom" method of instruction and Web 2.0 applications. It is basically a repository of "How tp..." videos for the teachnology classroom. If you are a teacher it might be useful to subscribe to, and bookmark the site. Some recent video postings include: Classroom Blogging , Social Media for Teachers , Classroom Video Tools , Wikis For Teachers , Classroom Podcasting , Web 2.0 Lessons , Visionary App Series .

As a teacher, (well, actually semi-retired) I find little time to browse extensively to become more Web 2.0 literate. As with many in the fraternity, what interests me most is: how do I apply or use a Web 2.0 technology with my digital natives. They will of course take to it as a fish to the water, but for those my age, being digital imigrants we need to understand and explore the technology before we apply it in our teaching. Sometimes you'll find that the work has been done for you. Take a look at this great colklection of ideas on how to use Blogs, Wikis and (Google) Docs.

I have recently been alerted to a new site which offers the facility to create free great looking online quizzes, get a widget for it and embed in your website or blog. Once you create a login name, off you go and start creating. Choose a colourful skin, decide on the widget size, name your quiz, add a tag, add an image, video, chart or none; tested one out and here is the result with only one question.

Hmmm, not too bad for a 2 minutes job. Wonder how it integrates with Moodle.

New ways to explore and employ Web 2.0 technologies are cropping up almost daily. Educators are among the first to analyse their potential and seek ways to integrate them in their teaching. Anna Maria Menezes has created an extensive list of some little known and other common Web 2.0 technologies in her report Web Tools applied to Teaching

Till next time.... sahha

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Group: eLearning in Schools

Announcing a new edna Group: eLearning in Schools

This group is designed to offer a virtual meeting room for teachers who are planning to introduce, in the middle of introducing or actively involved in online learning in schools across the country. It is intended for primary, middle and high schools as well as VET teachers. Through this virtual meeting room, to be known as the elearning in Schools Group, a Community of Practice is born and it is hoped together we act as catalysts in the development of eLearning in our schools, promote good standards, and provide a venue where group members are able to share their experiences, difficulties as well as suggestions,

In order to subscribe to this Group, you must be subscribed to edna. If you are already subscribed, log on to edna and login. Once logged in, Go to Groups at the top right of the page and click on the tab. Do one of the following to locate the group:

  1. Scroll down the list of Group Categories and select School Education. Click on
    Page 5 and scroll down to around the middle of the list to elearning in School
    and click to launch the group’s home page.
  2. Type in: elearning in Schools in the Search Groups field at the top right corner of the EdNA Groups home Page and click Go.

If you are not yet subscribed to edna, visit the edna home page, or click here and click Register and follow the prompts. The new Group is a public group, but you will need to be registered in order to participate in forums.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Social Networking for Teachers

Taking advantage of current social media technology, Teachers Network—with funding from the Ford Foundation—has introduced a new online forum for collaboration on issues affecting educators. The web site aims to bring together educators and policy makers to share ideas, suggestions, and best practices for improving teacher effectiveness and retention. Though primarily aimed at the U.S., the site includes findings from a recent survey conducted by Teachers Network, called “What Keeps Effective Teachers in the Classroom,” suggesting that effective teaching is largely the result of continued professional development, support for teacher collaboration, and opportunities for leadership.

Elluminate Inc. has expanded its role as a provider of online learning platforms and meeting spaces by launching a new social learning network for educators, called Learncentral. A free and open resource for professionals in the global education community, LearnCentral provides social networking and collaboration tools for members to find and connect with others, share content and best practices, create and maintain a portfolio of learning content, meet in real-time virtual rooms, and hold and attend virtual events. Upon joining LearnCentral, each member receives a free Elluminate vRoom, a virtual meeting room for up to three participants or locations. The network is moderated by Elluminate’s social learning consultant, Steve Hargadon, founder of Classroom 2.0 and director of the Consortium for School Networking’s K12 Open Technologies Initiative. Incidentally Elluminate are the behind the Elluminati group which resides on Learncentral.

Project lets users explore the cosmos from a PC

Microsoft and NASA have teamed up to create what they say is the largest seamless, spherical map ever made of the night sky and a high-resolution map of Mars that users can explore on their computers in 3D. It is hoped that the project will entice a new generation of students toward science and technology.

The mission is to inspire today’s students and spark interest in the
STEM fields, and it appears to be working: In studying photos of Mars taken by a NASA spacecraft, a group of seventh graders in California earlier this year discovered a previously unknown cave, as well as lava tubes that NASA scientists hadn’t noticed.
“What we’re trying to do at NASA is make our data more accessible,” said Chris Kemp, chief technology officer for NASA, in an interview with eSchool News, “and we’re doing that by connecting students in the classroom and at home to a user-friendly platform.”

Called Terapixel, the night sky project is now available for viewing with Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope, a free, web-based program that functions as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from ground and space-based telescopes to enable seamless, guided explorations of the universe. It enables seamless panning and zooming across the night sky, blending images, data, and stories from multiple sources over the internet into an immersive experience.

The night sky project, as well as the Mars 3D project, began 50 years ago as photos were taken of the night sky by ground-based survey telescopes. Over five decades, thousands of images were taken by NASA and stored with the Digitized Sky Survey. The challenge then became: How can scientists take these various images and make them into a single, unified image for exploring via computer?

The WorldWide Telescope’s Night Sky view is also available using Bing’s street view feature, allowing users to look up at the night sky from a particular area on the map. Inside Bing Maps, users first need to click on “Map Apps” and select WorldWide Telescope to enable the program.
The app is not just for identifying constellations and planets, as the menu allows users to load all data from sky surveys, the Hubble Telescope, and other astronomy data sources.

And while we are on the subject, have a look at Space Exploration - The Shuttle. If you're after some presentations for primary age staudents have a look at Space, Stars, Galaxy and Solar System.