WizIQ – a free virtual classroom

I found WizIQon the Internet just now and have had a brief play.  Essentially it’s Adobe Connect, but free – which is always an endearing feature.

WizIQ 

I registered and within minutes had created my online classroom.  I was able to add documents from my desktop and annotate these.  Web-cams and microphones and chat were all present.

To add students to my classroom, I could invite students through email addresses.  They would be sent an invite and would need to register to access the lesson.  Once registered any scheduled ‘lessons’ appear in ‘My Session’.  Selecting a session and launching the session was all that was needed to get to the lesson – no software downloads, it was quick and simple.

I guess as with all these tools it really needs a thorough testing before I understand its potential - I need to try it out with half -a-dozen colleagues and see how it works.  My initial thoughts are that it is quick and easy to set-up, and no software to download makes it easy to use at home, in school or anywhere with wireless access.

Twitter for teachers? – Edmodo

I spotted an article on TechCrunch about Edmodo.  I’m relishing the idea of a Twitter for teachers.  Previous posts have highlighted the possible uses of Twitter, but I have been put of using it with teachers in schools because of the possible eSafety implications.  Whilst these implications are slight and there is an argument that students should not be unnecesarily protected from the online world, I would still rather use a tool specifically designed for use in the classroom.

New Edublogs tool to create blogs for students

I like the new feature to allow teachers to easily create blogs for students now available in Edublogs. I would have liked it even more if it were possible to put together a csv file and author a series of blogs in this way – it would make it that much quicker now that most teachers have a spreadsheet for student details in a class.

The new blog creation tool would be useful for creating a class set of blogs, let’s say 30, but I can’t see a teacher creating one for each student in the 8 classes they teach.  I’m guessing that in these instances you’ll be looking to use a class blog.  It could be a good detention punishment though.

New Year’s Resolutions

I’m not generally one for New Year resolutions but I did set one this year – to get back to using my blog.

This resolution hasn’t started so well as it’s now February and this is my first post of the New Year.  There was a reason behind the resolution. For me it serves a number of purposes.

  • Reflect – I reflect on my learning throught this blog.  This helps make ideas, knowledge and skills more memorable and helps develop links with my other experiences.  Reflection is a key skill in learning and one that unfortunately I regularly sacrifice due to not having enough time.  Consequently I fell that I don’t hold on to all my learning.  Reflecting would help develop the shallow to the deep or the deep to the profound.
  • Articulate – Working with teachers I spend a considerable amount of time explaining my thinking.  Part of the process of writing this blog gets me to turn my thinking in to words.  This can only help me explain my thinking and reasoning to others.
  • Experience – I’m not working with teachers who are blogging with their students – yet!  It’s coming.  The schools I work with are in the main not early adopters of technology, but I can seee blogging being on the horizon.  I can see teachers using it to support learners in recording their learning.  That being the case I feel I’d better get in their before them and find out how to do it, some of the skills needed and begin to reflect on what makes a good blog and how to write posts.

 So with all this in mind I intend to get blogging again.

Using Twitter with students

Read a great entry on Doug Belshaw’s blog on using Twitter with students.  I’d mentioned using this with Studywiz and the RSS Reader in Studywiz, but Doug’s post goes in to a lot more detail and suggest some learning applications for using Twitter.

Subtitling video using the web

I have discovered three websites that allow students to add subtitles to video.

These sites take video from other sites and allow students to add subtitles.  A teacher could upload a video clip to a site like YouTube or TeacherTube, and provide students with the link to this video in one of the subitile websites.

MFL teachers could use this to support students in developing a target language.  Geography teachers might use this to annotate a video of a volcano, demonstrating students understanding of a concept.  English teachers might use this to allow students to add infromation about a scene in a play.

Gabcast

I discovered Gabcast last week accidently whilst trying to find AudioBlogger for Blogger, which apparently no longer exists.

Gabcast allows you to post a voice recording to your blog or the Gabcast site using a phone.  There is an RSS feed for your account, so others can subscribe to your recordings.

Gabcast

Examples on the Gabcast site have people phoning in messages from trips round the world. You are provided with a phone number in the UK, and enter your account number and passkey before recording your message.  It was very simple to use.

Thinking as a teacher, Gabcast could be used when on Geography field trips to update parents on the events of the day whilst away.  It could be used to record a learning journey, recording what a class or group has learnt during the day.

School sports teams could phone in match reports after games.  Language teachers could record messages as though they were a spy for students to listen to and decipher using the target language.

It might also be an interesting way of logging homework or reminders for students.

The teacher can control the posts by ensuring they keep the passkey unknown and change it frequently to stop students phoning in their own messages.  If it is just a teacher using this account it would be straight forward to maintain the security of those posting to the account.

E-safety concerns would require students and staff using this to be aware that no student should be identifiable from the recording – so first names only.

Xtimeline – create timelines

Found this great timeline maker, xtimeline, on the web. I picked up the link from a podcast about Smartboards and followed the link up.

It allows you to create dynamic timelines easily, adding details, images,video and flash for each event you add.

The example below sums up what a great tool it is.

Xtimeline – History World War 1 example

As a teacher I could create these timelines to accompany topics, however, I think the true value of this website is getting students to create their own timelines.

Xtimeline is an intuitive to use, and I think most students would find it easy to use. It would be an excellent tool to support revision of chronology for a topic.

One tool that could be useful is the ability to create a timeline using an RSS feed – this might be useful when creating a timeline for something like a school trip, and presenting a diary of the vents in a slightly different way.

As a web2.0 site, xtimeline does offer potential e-safety issues, and you cannot be certain the information presented is accurate and unbiased. Encouraging students to use this to create timelines can expose them to slightly inappropriate material. It is obviously worth tackling this issue when using xtimeline, and hopefully students won’t spend too much time exploring the Heroes timeline.

It’s a pity there is not an educational version of this that removes the e-safety issues.

Windows Live Writer

It has been a while since I last posted – I’ve been busy.  Hopefully I’ll get chance to post some of the product of this busiest shortly.

Having posted last using Microsoft Word 2007, I discover that Microsoft has a free blogging tool, Microsoft Live Writer.  I’m using Live Writer for this post.

I have to admit to being rather impressed with Writer.  There are dozens of plug-ins for Writer, allowing me to add html, video, maps and links effortlessly.  I find this software, at first use, preferable to Word.  That it has been designed for blogging probably makes it easier to use for this purpose.

It can handle more than one blog, allowing me to open Writer and blog to a number of different online presences.  Being familiar with Office products helps, as the layout, tools and menus all have that Microsoft feel.

I guess I’ll use Writer to post for the time being – although at present I haven’t worked out how to add categories to my posts through Writer, something I will explore.

Posting from Word 2007

Just a test to see how easy it is to post from Word. I’ve entered my page details and log-in details. Let’s try to add a picture –

Add I’ll review how this looks. If this works the main benefits would be to input Smart Art and Shapes to blog posts.

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