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.