image from http://enhancingteaching.com/
Yesterday I started a Technology Enhanced Learning module – it’s a 10 credit Learning Innovation Network module that is being facilitated in LIT. I signed up for it back in September but for various reasons it has only started today. The module is scheduled to run for 15 weeks with 4 face to face sessions and most of the work being completed asynchronously.
After the initial introductions we were asked to examine our attitudes to learning technology and place ourselves along a continuum from ‘Enthusiastic’ to ‘Sceptic’. We then had to give our reasoning for where we placed ourselves. We had 3 clusters – enthusiastic, somewhere in the middle and sceptic. What was interesting in the discussion that followed, was that really there wasn’t much difference between those who placed ourselves in the enthusiastic cluster right down to those who were in the sceptic cluster. We all had concerns about the depth of learning, and various other issues around technology use, but we did all sign up for the module so it sounds like there are lots of interesting discussions to be had over the next couple of months
From my perspective I’m really looking forward to looking at technologies with a different eye over the course of the module and beyond. One small example that really opened my eyes today was when Liam Boyle, our facilitator, got us to use Padlet to share some of the technologies we have used in our teaching and learning. This application is basically a post-it note wall. It is such a simple technology and one that I had seen at the ICT in Education conference in the past few years. What surprised me today was that I could now see a use for it in my own class – I’m thinking of using it as a quick conversation starter around where Maths is of use in the various computing disciplines. It’s amazing how looking at things slightly differently can open up so many new possibilities This is what I’m hoping to get from this module over the next few months.
Last Thursday I was lucky enough to be involved in a Google+ hangout between my sister’s 1st class group (6/7 year olds) in Tipperary and Michael Thornton’s kindergarten group (5 year olds) in Charlottesville in Virginia. This was our second hangout – we’d had a previous one in November that also included Mary Jo Bell’s senior infants group (5/6 year olds) in Dublin. In both of the hangouts we had great fun chatting about school start and end times and uniforms or lack of them among other things.
The Irish classes taught the class in the US some Irish sayings and in the hangout last Thursday we say songs and danced. The singing was completely out of sync as the classes on both sides of the Atlantic gave their all as we sang ‘Jingle Bells’ We finished the hangout with the class in the US teaching us their morning dance. Seeing them all dancing together was an image that I held on to as I heard of the horror that had taken place in Newtown in Connecticut on Friday.
It’s really difficult to do justice to how much the classes enjoy the 15-20 minute conversations over a Google+ hangout. It’s such an easy way to connect classes across the globe or even just up the road. As a way of continuing the relationship we are looking at other ways to connect in between hangouts. We’ve begun this process by making Pixengo’s in Tipperary of Irish expressions which we’ve shared. We have another hangout planned for after the holidays and I for one am really looking forward to it
” Take a picture, record a voice message and share it together as a ‘pixengo’ in seconds… right from your iphone or ipod.” ref: http://pixengo.com/
A couple of weeks ago I saw a tweet from Paul O’Mahony in which he mentioned an app called Pixengo, which is a free app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod. I liked the look of the example Pixengo that Paul included in his tweet so I thought I’d give it a try. The idea is to take a picture and then add audio of up to 30 seconds so I thought it would be perfect for the group in the advanced Scratch room at the Limerick Coder Dojo. I got a chance to try it out last Saturday and it worked a treat. Once the app is downloaded you can create pixengos using either the camera or a picture from the camera roll. There is a photo editor which I haven’t used yet, which allows you to apply effects, change the orientation etc. Once you’re happy with the picture you can then record the audio, which can be rerecorded if necessary.
So on Saturday I spent a while taking photos of the children’s screens, showing their Scratch games, and getting them to tell me what their games were about. You can share the Pixengos using email, Facebook or Twitter. I decided to create a list on list.ly with links to the pixengos and so far the list has had almost 200 views. Have a look at the list here.
I think Pixengo would be a very useful app in a school to get children to talk about their art or some photos from a school tour and this is something I’m hoping to try out next week with my sister and her first class group.
Following on from my previous post on Screenr this post will deal with screencasting using Doceri, an iPad application that allows you to create screencasts of handwritten notes. I like the freedom of doing a voiceover as I work through a problem by hand. Downloading the desktop version of Doceri allows you to use your iPad as an interactive whiteboard but I haven’t investigated this functionality.
Once you’ve downloaded Doceri it’s easy to get started. You can choose a background from plain through various graph options, maps (mainly the continents with country borders shown) and many coloured and textured choices. As with many of these editors there are choices of pen style, pen width etc. Once you have made your choices you simply press record and away you go. I have to say I liked Doceri but I did find that I needed to use a stylus as my writing was almost illegible without it (a bit of practice is needed even with the stylus – as with many of these tools it takes a bit of getting used to). It’s worth noting that there is a Doceri stylus available which may help with precision but I haven’t used it.
To create a screencast you add new using the + button in the bottom left hand corner, choose you resolution and you’re ready to go. As mentioned above you can change the background, pen etc. When you’re ready to start the recording simply press the red record button and start writing and talking. It’s worth planning out what you want to cover to aid clarity. As I’m new to screencasting, I’m still concious of what I’m saying, and do stumble a bit over what I want to say, but I’ll get there
One of the features of Doceri that I really like is the ability to pause the recording and come back to it. You can add new slides, images, at the click of a button. It took me a while to find out how to get the recordings off the iPad – easiest way is to go into ‘My Recordings’ by clicking the red button which brings up all your recordings – from here you can publish to facebook or YouTube or email the video. Selecting the recording also gives you the option to open it in Dropbox, Evernote, USB Disk or Knowtes (I’m not sure if these optios came up because I have these applications installed or if they are standard options). For me the ability to open the screencasts in Dropbox makes it so accessible and easy to use.
Mark Glynn suggested that I have a look at some screencasting applications as I wanted to do a voiceover for a Prezi about my use of Twitter. He suggested I use Screenr or Jing. I had a look at both but chose Screenr for its ease of use – there’s no software to download so you can use it as long as you have internet access and Java. From my quick look at Jing it looks like you can do more with it but Screenr was perfect for what I needed.
You can create Screenr screencasts without an account but I chose to sign in with my twitter account so that I could save my screencasts. There’s a quick tutorial to show you how it works and this is really all you need. It is a very easy tool to use. The three steps to creating a screencast are
Resizing the frame allows you to include only that part of the screen that you want seen. As I wanted to do a voiceover of a Prezi I opened the presentation and sized the frame to fit. Next comes the actual recording. This bit I personally had a little more trouble with but practice will make perfect The technology is simple but deciding what to say isn’t! The other thing to remember is that, with the free version you only have 5 minutes to record. When I started out I thought I wouldn’t have enough to talk about for 5 minutes but it turns out I had the opposite problem – too much to say and not enough time to say it in! Who knew Condensing my thoughts on Twitter was difficult but very worthwhile as it made me focus on what I really wanted to get across. The other problem I had was that I kept fluffing my lines (aka stuttering and stumbling over what I wanted to say) but as I said above I’m hoping practice will make perfect. Lots of my early attempts ended up on the cutting room floor and the final version isn’t perfect but then neither am I Once you get to this stage it’s simply a matter of pressing done. You can then share the link to the screencast or you can choose to publish to Youtube. All in all a very easy process.
My plan for the coming year is to use screencasting to do voiceovers for some of my notes to help my students. This was one of my resolutions last year when I set up this blog. Unfortunately I didn’t achieve it during the year but I have high hopes for this year.
I came across list.ly earlier this summer through Jane Boyd and her 45 conversations project. Jane’s plan was to have 45 conversations with people, using Google+ hangouts, between July 1st and July 4th. She set up a list on list.ly and sent out the link asking people to add their details if they were interested in participating. I liked the look of list.ly and put it on the list (no pun intended ) of technologies to have a look at. As so often happens I promptly forgot about it. Not long after, Bernie Goldbach suggested crowdsourcing a list of dream keynote presenters, which will help us in our planning for future ICT in Education conferences. That too went on the mental list of things to do but didn’t really go anywhere.
That all changed last week when Catherine Cronin put out the call for her #ITWomen list. This prompted a few tweets and the #dreamkeynote list was born.
It was time to kill two birds with one stone. Using list.ly couldn’t be simpler. You can login in using your Twitter or Facebook details. When you add a list you simply give a title and description. Advanced options include adding an image, tags, credits etc. Once the list is created you simply share the link and watch it get populated. I set up the #dreamkeynote list last Saturday and 4 days later there have been 35 names added to the list by 11 curators and almost 700 views of the list. What I love about it is the ease with which you can collaborate on a simple project like our #dreamkeynote – everyone can add to it easily, you can see who has added to the list and get feedback on what items people like or dislike (in the advanced options you can remove the dislike option, customise the voting options etc.).
Have a look at our #dreamkeynote list and please add your suggestions.
I saw a post on Pam Moran’s Spaces for Learning blog a few days ago about collage making. In the spirit of Pam’s post titled ’Experimenting with Learning New Stuff Isn’t Just for Kids‘ I decided to experiment with making collages. Having recently returned from a couple of weeks in Portugal with lots of photos I had the perfect material to start with. As I mentioned in a previous post, we went to Zoomarine while we were there and had a great day, so I thought it would be nice to make a collage of some of the photos to remind us all of a great day. Like many others I take so many photos that sit on my laptop and are rarely seen. I print a handful of the hundreds of photos I take and the rest I might flick through on the odd occasion.
Pam had used ‘Collage Creator Lite’ but as I don’t have a Mac I couldn’t use this so I used Collage Maker. There are lots of different ones and to be honest I didn’t do a huge amount of research before choosing this one as I just wanted to get started. I’m not sure that I chose terribly wisely as I noticed after I created my first collage that I am on a trial and so will have to pay $29 when the 31 day trial is up if I want to continue using it. Despite this I found the application easy to use – my biggest problem was deciding which photos to include and which to leave out Once the short list had been drawn up the fiddly work began – resizing, rotating and cropping the photos before fitting them together in a way that worked for me. I got completely engrossed and stayed up until 1.30am to finish it and I’m delighted with the results as it’s an instant reminder of a great day out.
I was so impressed with how easy it was I went on to make a couple of other collages – a reminder of our holiday and of a great trip to Dublin Zoo on Sunday with my sisters and my nieces.
In her post Pam had mentioned the possibilities for children using collage making applications in education. To be honest I thought it might be suitable for older children but might be a bit fiddly for younger children like my 9 year old daughter. I completely underestimated her! After our trip to the zoo she decided she wanted to do a Glog on Chameleons but when she saw the printed collages she decided she’d like to try one. I showed her the basics of importing, rotating and moving pictures. I expected lots of questions but got none! She figured out how to put frames around her pictures and how to add text among other things. I’ve really been impressed with how well she’s taken to the various technologies we’re having a play with at the moment. Our next project is for her to create an Animoto video for our zoo trip. We have music picked – now we just have to set aside some time to make it
During our holidays in Portugal this year we went to Zoomarine - an aquatic theme park which my son and daughter loved. We went to shows with dolphins, seals, tropical birds and birds of prey, wandered through exhibition areas, watched a movie about conservation in the 4D cinema and visited the aquarium.
This turned out to be the highlight of the trip, as we saw many species of fish in various sizes of tanks from the very small, to those which had a shark swimming about, seeming to happily coexist with many other species. We spent a lot of time watching the shark in his tank and then moved on to the final tank which contained a small separate section with sea urchins, starfish and a few other species and a larger section which had rays happily swimming about. This last tank was the only one in which you could touch the fish. We spent ages at this tank during our first visit of the day to the aquarium and even longer on our second trip before we left My 9 year old daughter was very taken by the rays and made a beeline for the stuffed spotted ray in the shop before we left.
Over the following couple of days I got many questions about rays so I suggested that she could do a little project on rays when we got home. I thought no more of it but on the evening we got home my son and herself Googled pictures of Spotted rays and he showed her how to save the images. A folder was created for storing the pictures, a notebook was found and so began the research project. Over the last few days she’s been Googling more pictures and some information about the rays. She decided that she would find out what they eat, who their predators are (I didn’t even know that she knew what a predator was!) and where they live. These pieces of information were written in the notebook before being put into a Glog using Glogster. I set up a Glogster account for her and other than doing this and showing her how to add images and text to her glog I have had no other input to the project.
Seeing her work on this project has been a joy to watch. She’s been doing bits of research and writing down what she’s learned, playing with her toys and her friends and then coming back to add some of her information and images into the Glog. She asked me at 9 in the morning on Wednesday if she could go downstairs to Google the predators of the spotted ray When she started the Glog first she was very unsure of how to add the images and text but as she came back to it over the few days her confidence grew and the calls of “Mam, how do I?” dwindled until she finished the Glog on Friday. The glog has been printed and is now in pride of place in her room. You can check out the fruits of her labours here. By yesterday my 12 year old son decided he wanted to have a go at creating a Glog using Glogster so we set up an account for him and with a little help from his sister he was up and running. His chosen topic was hammerhead sharks. Have a look at his glog here.
For the past month the girls in my daughters class have been practicising their play “The Snow Queen”. Last Friday saw the girls parents and grandparents come in to the ‘halla’, to finally see what the girls had been so excited about. My daughter wouldn’t generally be the best to share what she is doing in school but this has really grabbed her attention. The first I heard about it was when the scripts came home to practice for the auditions. She really wanted to get the part of ‘Junior Crow’ and so she was thrilled to get the part that she wanted. There then followed weeks of learning the script and lots of practising in school, with a few dry runs along the way, to prepare for the day when the girls parents came in to see what they had been working so hard on. Posters and invitations were made by the girls and by Friday the excitement was at an all time high 1.30 was the appointed time so by that time mammies, daddies, grannies and grandads were all assembled and seated ready for the performance.
I got there early enough to get front row seats so I was perfectly placed to take some photos and get the full effect of the performance. I had spoken to Fiona Murnane (the girls teacher) before Friday and had offered to go in to do an Animoto greeting with the girls so that they would have a reminder of their show. I took loads of photos and even recorded some of the songs as I thought it would be nice to use the girls singing as the background to the Animoto. I’m sure most people there thought I was a very proud Mum who probably went a little bit overboard taking photos etc. of her darling daughter. What they didn’t realise was that I was taking photos etc. of all of their darling daughters I had planned to record the girls singing on another day but decided to give Voice Memos on the iPhone a go to see what the quality would be like. It may not be perfect but it’s certainly good enough for me to use.
Yesterday, I went in to the girls to produce the Animoto. They were still so excited about the show and it was lovely to be a part of that excitement. I played back the recordings of the songs and showed them the photos. Like typical 8-9 year old girls there was much giggling and embarrassment listening to themselves and seeing the photos. We had to make sure that everyone was included and that we chose the best song. Throughout the hour that I spent in the class the girls continually burst into song. It was so clear to see that the show had been a really positive experience for them all and that they really enjoyed it. As a parent watching the show, and as someone who has been in and out of their classroom over the past years and months, it was lovely to see them helping each other out with a nudge or the start of the next line etc. on the day of the show. Have a look at the Animoto created by the girls as a momento of their play “The Snow Queen”.
As regular readers of this blog will know I’ve been involved in the connected classrooms project #ccGlobal for the past few months (http://connectedclassrooms.wordpress.com/). Towards the end of November it was decided to connect the classrooms by sending holiday greetings around the globe. The plan was to create electronic greetings, create a QR code to connect to the greeting and then sent the QR code in a physical card to other classrooms participating in the project. It wasn’t prescribed how to produce the electronic greeting but Animoto was suggested as a possible tool. Animoto is a web tool that allows you to create you to create video greetings (http://animoto.com/). I’d never used Animoto before but agreed to help out with producing the greeting for my daughter’s class. We took some photos to be used in the greeting, both of the girls and of their artwork. I created an account on Animoto (this isn’t strictly necessary) and got started. With the free standard account you can create 30 second videos. Creating a video with Animoto involves just a few simple steps :
- select a style
- upload pictures or videos
- choose music
- add text
There are various styles to choose from and we chose ‘pop-up pandemonium’ which had a Christmas feel about it. Next you can upload pictures – between 10 – 15 pictures for a greeting (some styles can take more pictures and some less). You can also choose the music you want to attach to your greeting – either from the list of music pre-loaded on Animoto or you can upload your own music. Finally you can add some text which can be interspersed among the pictures. Once you have gone through all of the steps you then produce the video which can be shared. What I loved most about using Animoto was how much the girls loved their greeting – they watched their greeting every morning before they started class and were very excited to see the number of views for the greeting as it was sent around the world. Have a look at the greeting we made http://animoto.com/play/zGDxG6dcj2xr9yLzc0BD0Q. We also included their greetings on a post on the school blog which we wrote in the week before Christmas (http://conventprimarynenagh.scoilnet.ie/blog/2011/12/21/christmas-in-miss-murnanes-3rd-class/). Animoto is a great web tool which is very easy to use and produces great results.