It’s Not Over Yet

I’ve had a brilliant time completing the tasks throughout this program. I chose Slideshare to present some highlights from the last 12 weeks but sadly had no success with embedding the video’s. My plan is to trial this presentation with a variety of other tools over the next week to see if I can get some animation up and running. This isn’t the end of my blogging adventure, but now I need to step back and have a think…

I’ve discovered so many wonderful educators out there, in the blogosphere, who are creating and sharing an enormous amount of information about education. So, these thoughts have been racing around my head:

-What will be the specific focus of my blog?
-How do I create unique content that is of value to others?
-How will I attract and maintain interest in the blog?
-Do I need to reveal more about my identity in order to build genuine online relationships?
-How do I maintain my interest when I know that people are visiting but not commenting?
-How often do I need to post?…etc, etc

For the rest of this year I’m not able to use all of the wonderful Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. However, Cloud9 Tutoring has evolved as a result of the VicPLN program. I’ve only just put myself online, to voluntarily tutor students in Maths and Science. I wonder if anyone is interested to have a go?
Now that I have a PLN…I would love some feedback about my blogging questions and how to distract the hoards of students on Facebook who need to chat about Maths and Science.

Thank you so much to everyone involved in the planning and delivery of the VicPLN Program….and a special thanks to our mentor extraordinaire, Judith Way.

We’re in for a real treat this weekend…The Reform Symposium…see you there!

Reform Symposium

Seasick

Being in cars and on boats can make me feel horribly sick…now I’ve discovered that viewing too many presentations using Prezi can have the same effect. Death by PowerPoint seems like a better option to nausea by Prezi.
Much to my delight I came across this presentation by Paul Hill. Having watched this I’m going to give it another go to see if Prezi can be used without too much movement. I’d be interested to know what others think about Prezi and how to minimize the motion. Do we need to consider this when using it in the classroom?

.prezi-player { width: 450px; } .prezi-player-links { text-align: center; }http://prezi.com/bin/preziloader.swf

Web X…what next?

Would you believe it? I’ve just started to get my head around Web 2.0 and it’s educational benefits then along comes Web 3.0 and Web X.O. Now that I can, without mumbling, explain the difference between The Web and the Social Web…I have to come to terms with the Semantic Web and the Meta Web. What next I wonder?

Thankyou to Steve Wheeler for producing this slideshare about the evolving Web.

Xtranormal Ramble

Teachers can have so much fun with this program Xtranormal. I came across this post , on Shelly Terrell’s blog, which has some great ideas for it’s use. Thinking it was about making games, I had a go at it last week and discovered that it taught me so much about animation and movie making instead. Have a look at my previous post to see the mediocre “Virtual Me”. The mind boggles when it comes to thinking about the work involved in making movies, such as Avatar. To take the whole process further, into making games, is fascinating.

Students of all ages may be interested in making games and/or playing games and after last week I am now armed with some great information to spread the word. I believe we need to be cautious though, to make sure that any games used in the curriculum have educational value and controlled usage. It is so easy to become “lost” in the virtual world where time just slips away as life goes on around you. When the dishes pile up and there’s washing all over the place, I know I’ve been lost for too long.

While on the subject of animation I’ve been wanting to show you “Nature by Numbers” for some time now. When the concept of Fibonacci numbers comes up in Maths, the kids often start yawning after listening to the teacher “talk” followed by the textbook exercises. During the talk I chat about these numbers and their significance in the extraordinary beauty of art and nature. It doesn’t stop the yawning. Do they really care about the connection between geometry and art, perfect proportions, golden ratio’s, nature’s number, sunflower seeds and nautilus shells? Maybe, for the more “mature” year 7″s, the perfect proportions of the human body can be of interest.

Anyway, I’m on a bit of a ramble today, but I want to show you this stunning video, by Cristobal Vila, Eterea Studios. Perhaps, if I showed it to my students before the teacher talk on Fibonacci numbers, they may be able to link that textbook exercise to the real world. The maths is complicated in places, but I think it can be shown to students of all ages.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkGeOWYOFoA&hl=en_US&fs=1&hd=1]

Gaming for Learning

Kerry- Lee Beasley’s article Games-What exactly are kids learning? is an interesting read, pointing out that students can develop their literacy skills, creativity, critical thinking skills and social skills, through gaming. I wonder how long it will be before parents, educators and school administrators accept that carefully chosen games, included in the curriculum, can have good educational outcomes.

In his article “Why playing in the virtual world has a lot to teach children” Tom Chatfield points out that modern games don’t just offer “…a sullen and silent unreality” but players “are immersed in a world where they can experience difficulties, obligations, judgments and allegiances.” These are important experiences to be had but I wonder if young people are vulnerable to becoming too attached, or even addicted to, their games and what they have to offer.

This comment of Tom Chatfield appeals to me “A virtual world is a tremendous leveller in terms of wealth, age, appearance, ethnicity and such like – a crucial fact for anyone who isn’t in the optimum social category of being, say, attractive and affluent and aged between 20 and 35. It’s also a place where “you” are composed entirely of your words and actions…” Maybe this is what Jane McGonigal is thinking when she asks the question ” Why do we become the best version of ourselves in games?”

My only experience of “gaming” in the classroom is with using Mathletics. Students, particularly 7’s and 8’s love it. The lessons are usually noisy and the kids are excited, motivated and engaged. I have no doubt that games like Mathletics can enhance student learning learning.

I’ve really turned into a Web 2.0 junkie and want to share with you a program I found called Xtranormal. The free offerings can be accessed by downloading ” STATE” which allows you to make the movies on your computer. This has 1 scene, 2 actors and lots of sound effects. Teachers can have access to much more of the program by creating an account linked to a school. This program could be useful in the classroom for students to be creative, to understand speech and emotion in movie making, to be aware of movement in a 3D space, to learn about camera angles, script writing, story telling, IT skills….etc. Once familiar with the program perhaps they could think about designing a simple game.

I’m sure there are many more educational reasons to justify having fun with this program. I uploaded my video to Vimeo..hope it works.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=13406986&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1

Epic Win

faceI just listened to Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk “Gaming can make a better world”. I was totally captivated by the focus of her work…”Why do we become the best version of ourselves in games?” This wonderful face expresses an “epic win” according to Jane. It was shot by Phil Toledano, a photographer who wanted to capture the Emotion of Gaming. Apparently virtuoso gamers posses 4 superpowers: urgent optimism (extreme self motivation), blissful productivity, epic meaning and the ability to weave a tight social fabric. In the virtual world these gamers are “super empowered, hopeful individuals.” Jane McGonigal would like to work out how to make the real world more like a game. She has created futuristic games in which players can have epic wins. Evoke, World Without Oil and Superstruct are the games about real life as if it were true. If a person is immersed in games such as these (called epic adventures) will their thoughts and behaviors change in real life? This is an exciting prospect for education. I look forward to learning more this week.

Comparing Tools Part 2: PhotoPeach

During my search for an alternative to Animoto I came across another slideshow tool called PhotoPeach. I prefer it to Animoto as it produces the final product quickly, the images don’t move around as much and it has an added bonus of the quiz. Students using this tool can learn new technical skills to create a presentation that looks and sounds good as well as including text and a quiz to add more information. Peer to peer teaching can be really effective in the classroom.
Students end up producing something that is creative, informative and interactive. I don’t want to sound negative about Animoto, a great tool, but for this task it is really just a modern version of cut and paste.
A change in pedagogy isn’t about using any technology for the sake of it, but making sure we use the best tool we can find to encourage our students to create, collaborate and communicate. We don’t need to reinvent the whole curriculum either. There are so many tools available for us to modify most of the activities we already do in our classrooms.

http://photopeach.com/public/swf/story.swf

PhotoPeach also provides the option of presenting your pics in a spiral, but without text or the quiz.

http://photopeach.com/public/swf/spiral.swf

Comparing Tools Part 1: Animoto

Year 7 students are often asked to look back into history and find out about famous scientists and their inventions. They often present their findings as a cut and paste job onto some colored poster paper. This is an example of a task ideally suited to another presentation style, using technology.
So, I put Animoto to the test to see if it would do the job. I would expect the students to do more than find pics to show, they would have include dates and inventions as well.
This is what I came up with using Animoto.

http://animoto.com/play/1Mb0vetdwK10bGJ1Rb3NSA

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

Well, Animoto Education is so easy to use but this presentation took 21 minutes to be processed in the “cloud”……my kids would be hanging out the windows if they had to wait that long.
I like Animoto but it is limited by the amount of information that can be included as text. The pics look great but for this task I would like the students to dig a little deeper. Some interaction perhaps….I’ll see what I can find.

A Wordy Post

Being able to choose your own shape is a great feature of Tagxedo. It’s an example of technology that is not the focus of a task but a tool that allows students to add a creative and personal touch. I would use it at the beginning of a science topic by asking the students to brainstorm their prior knowledge of relevant words.

So, rather than just writing words in their exercise book I am using technology to make the task more personal and creative for my students. In this example the pedagogy rather than technology comes first. Just click on the Tagxedo if you would like to take a closer look.

21C