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Wordle on steroids

Written by David on June 29th, 2010.      0 comments


Remember Wordle?  The following site is like Wordle only pumped.  You can add words or link to sites or RSS feeds and you can arrange your tag cloud into a range of masks.  The example here is has been created from the resources page of my blog.  Simply go to http://www.tagxedo.com/app.html Once you have created your tag cloud you can then save your work as either a .jpg or .png for downloading and saving.  No bothersome screen dumps and image editing as was the case in Wordle.  Thanks to http://digitalgoonies.com for the link.


Design your new C21 class layout without breaking into a sweat!

Written by David on June 29th, 2010.      0 comments


If you have been inspired to have a go at changing the layout of your class in time for the start of the new term/academic year, as a result of the slideshow I highlighted in my last post then this tool might be just what you need.  Using this tool you can play with your space and the furniture within it, from the comfort of your computer and not have to get all hot bothered moving furniture until your design is just right.  http://classroom.4teachers.org/ allows you to do this.  You can create a scale model of your room (imperial units only) and once you have arrived at a design you are happy with, save it and print it off.  Let me know how you get on and share images of your new design layout and the impact it has.


What impact on learning?

Written by David on June 28th, 2010.      0 comments

Would You Want to Learn Here? from David Jakes

Have you heard the one about the C19th architecture, the C20th trained teachers and the C21st students they teach and how they are all mutually exclusive to one another? It is the, if only, argument. Teachers in old schools look enviously down the road at schools that have just been built and are therefore, in their eyes ideal C21 learning spaces. The reality is that an architect who endured 13 years of school in a box of four walls is going to be an expert on the needs of the modern education environment, right? Yeah Right! It is not necessarily true that a modern brand new school will provide the ideal space for the C21 curriculum.  The presentation above makes this point, but slide 28 says it all for me: “The right space does not guarantee success, but the wrong space can make success unlikely.”  This is a challenge for us all.  How can we adapt the physical environment that we have been endowed with to foster the right space dynamics for a classroom of the twenty first century?  Slide 36 says “School is no longer constrained to how far the bus can travel in the morning.  Schools will be the last to notice.”

Room dynamics can be changed as simply as moving desks.  Often we group and organise the furniture based on behaviour minimisation strategies.  Satisfied at our ploy of containment and suppression we then wonder why our pupils are not performing!  What would happen in your class if you designed your students’ desks arrangement around  a class philosphy of engagement, collaboration or interaction?  The last few slides are of  the same classroom, empty of all ornament except the desks and several configurations of the same desks.  You can feel the different vibes and energy from these desk arrangements, imagine the positive and negative impact the arrangement of your class is having on your students.  Over the holidays, move your desks around to create a vibe of engagement.


Delicious moments - Music

Written by David on June 28th, 2010.      0 comments


In a shameless attempt to share the ever growing list of free e-learning tools on my resources page, I thought that I would create an occasional ‘Delicious moments’ post.  The purpose of my post is to remind us all of the myriad of wonderful tools that are available for us to use.  It is also a plea to not continually follow the new, there is so much great stuff that already exists, that we could probably spend several lifetimes using all that does already.  This occasional post is also aimed at bringing awareness to my delicious account and the links that I place there, not all of those links are on my resources page, so you need to visit both.  Finally, the ‘Delicious moments’ posts are a chance for me to trawl through a range of the tools I have collected and collate them into similar groups.  This first post is music, not a strength of mine, but I am sure that there are many of you out there who will be able to make more of these tools than I ever could.

Freeplay music:  this site has thousands of tracks from different genre’s that are free for school use.  Please take the time to read their licensing page, as you can not publish their music in any capacity other than for school based activities.  Despite this, this is a great resource for schools and students to use.

Listen music:  This tool allows you to search thousands of music artists, even really obscure stuff, find their back catalogues, sample some tracks from albums and even listen to whole albums in some cases.  The site links you to the appropriate download sites to purchase the music and also has links to the biographies of the artists, album art and lyrics for every song.  A great site.

Mynah:  This is one of the suite of tools in the Aviary collection.  This tool is rather like Garageband in look and feel with pre-recorded loops for you to experiment with, multi track recording and mixing capabilities, except that this tool is on the net, enabling anywhere working and entirely platform independent.

Audiotool:  This tool must  be the best music creation tool on the net.  It allows you to create and mix your own music, generated from a range of tools that you select and plug in, complete with cables.  Each tool looks and operates like its real life counterpart, enabling great levels of control and creativity for your students.

There are many other tools for music creation and recording in my various repositories of data, I hope that this has whetted your appetite for more and to take some time to look through the lists and in the first instance spend some time with the four above.


Moving from dependence to independence

Written by David on June 24th, 2010.      0 comments

I have been working in this school since the middle of last year and in that time some tremendous changes have started to happen.  E-learning is starting to put down some strong roots and is well on the way to being an integral part of a significant number of the classrooms there.  There is still plenty of work to do, but the images above demonstrate one of the techniques that I use to foster a climate of independence in students so that they can achieve their learning goals.  To manage the different rate at which students master different tools at their disposal, I encourage the development of a class experts system.

In this particular year 2 classroom the teacher has adopted this idea and  made a wall display where students can pin their own images against a range of skills that they have mastered, it is in effect a community bulletin board of the type that you see in a supermarket.  Look at the range of skills these students have mastered in the images above.  It is a visual guide for other students who need additional support, they know who to go to, other than the teacher, to seek help.   It is an e-learning equivalent of  the”See three before me” classroom management strategy.  The bulletin board process creates a conveyor belt of skills acquisition, so what happens when everyone in class can do the same skill?  The students take a photo of themselves with ‘thumbs up’ and pin that photo by the now redundant support service on the bulletin board, this particular solution was devised by the students in this class themselves.

Running in tandem with this in class initiative, other students within the school have created their own ‘Yellow Pages” adverts and have put them into a binder.  These adverts again advertise which e-learning skills an individual student is willing to offer support for.  The key difference here is that this binder is displayed prominently in the staffroom.  These adverts are aimed directly at the staff and staff are seeking help from their students.  The benefits of this role reversal can not be underestimated where learners become teachers and teachers become learners.



Written by David on June 23rd, 2010.      0 comments

I am starting to see some of the fruits of my labours in the different range of schools that I am working in currently.  The video you see here was taken in a school recently, when a student who I have worked with a couple of times came up to me wanting to share his latest creation.  When we last met he showed me the stop motion video he had created using a webcam and some LEGO characters, it was excellent.  He had done the work in collaboration with a friend during their lunchtimes at school.  It was not part of any project related to school, it was simply something that they wanted to do.

He is the kind of student that once he has got his teeth into something, he will not let it go.  In other words he shows remarkable resilience and tenacity.  When we met again recently he showed me his LEGO NXT creation, it is in short brilliant.  He told me that it took him “…literally hours to work out the bugs in the programming.”  But he stuck at it, and the video results speak for themselves.  I have now suggested that he adapt the shooting mechanism to not fire pellets but rather to trigger a digital camera.  In other words turn the attack robot into a surveillance robot.  I have no doubt that he will do that and I look forward to my next visit to this school.

What this student has shown are many of the key statements in the NZC vision statements.  How do you plan to create situations in a classroom that engender resilience for example?  A tool such as the LEGO NXT can and does do this as do tools such as Gamemaker, which I am starting a unit on in another school this Friday.  I have long been a fan of LEGO NXT as a teaching and learning tool and have posted about it before on the Supertanker It is these kinds of scenario enabling tools that should, I believe, be given greater prominence in classes to build capacity for resilience in our students.  Not to mention the quality of thinking, collaboration, engagement and authenticity that these tools provide.


For geographers and historians an e-learning perfect storm

Written by David on June 22nd, 2010.      0 comments

hurricane 500

A couple of websites have come out recently that when combined with each other make a perfect storm of potential outcomes for geographers and historians alike.  Whilst some of them are not that old, they may be well known, but it is the combination of all three that has the greatest potential.  The first of these tools that I became aware of was http://dipity.com a grate time line tool that enables a user to create a linear set of events from pretty much any resource at their disposal on the internet.  Then came http://scribblemaps.com which enabled a user to overlay their own content onto a Google Maps page. Here the user can create shapes that might illustrate the phases of development, the alignment of troops on the battlefield overlaid on the modern topography.  In addition the user can then add their own text and images to the map.  The final tool in the triumvirate of tools is the newly launched http://historypin.com this tool encourages users to upload, link historic images of locations and places into a map and pin them to their actual location on the map.  These images can then be compared against the current Google Street view image (where possible) in order that a comparison or an evolution of images can be compared against the present.

Now using the different tools a user can not only put objects in a 2D space of a map but represent that same data in a linear time line and embed all of that information into one source such as a wiki.  Great for cause and effect and making links between information in space and time.  A perfect storm of tools.


VC into Haast

Written by David on June 21st, 2010.      0 comments

I ran a VC session into Haast School last week.  The session was aimed at community and business leaders harnessing web2.0 technology to communicate and collaborate.  The special impact here being that Haast being so remote from the rest of New Zealand has a special need to harness this kind of technology, in order to keep the community alive and connected to the rest of the world, whilst keeping the community viable and vibrant in Haast.  It was a good session and from my end was facilitated by the good guys at Gen-i in Auckland, on the 17th floor to be exact.  Once I had been set up the staff melted away and left me to it, I had the Pukeko room to myself.  Whilst there I took the liberty to run a speedtest on the network connection I was using for my Internet access, not the VC connection.  This is the result that it returned:


The speeds were stellar!  Just imagine what a school could do with that kind of bandwidth, imagine the collaboration opportunities, the multi-media rich potential of such a resource.  I went to share this information on Twitter, but was blocked.  I tried Skype, but was blocked.  I wanted to use Team Viewer, but was blocked.  What an irony, stellar internet performance in a business environment where  sending e-mails and browsing filtered internet are the norm.  By comparison look at the kind of performance a school that I work in gets on their Telecom connection 5.5km from the exchange and an apathetic at best indifferent,help desk who have taken 63 calls to get some kind of attention to the fault evident in these stats.  The school and the staff are bursting to use the Internet to its fullest potential but with this kind of connectivity find they can’t.  As the crow flies this school is 10km from Gen-i and their blistering connection.  This has all the echoes of a story I posted in 2008 http://dakinane.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/limping-along-in-the-internets-slow-lane/ How many other schools, not even in remote situations like Haast, but in urban settings like the school below, in New Zealand get results like this?






David has been a specialist in the field of elearning for over 12 years. He has presented on elearning at conferences in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. His consultancy work includes education and business clients. READ MORE


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