Creative Technologies

Creative Technologies was the title given to a series of fun and interactive websites for kids as presented by Amy. The first was ker-poof.com and this resource was designed to help kids to make stories and movies on an interactive media based website. This also provided lesson plans and the choice of using your own pictures (a good opportunity to incorporate your online photo sharing perhaps). The second we looked at was pikikids.com which was based on the idea of comic strips and allowing children to create their own using all of the typical components found in a comic. The third was fotoll.com which was a ‘create your own’ polling site. Which allowed you to upload two photos and get people to vote or pose a political question and see what people’s opinions were. This innovation was quite different to all of the others we have looked at so far and there are so many out there to be explored. Obviously these sites are ‘learning in disguise’ as the kids are thoroughly engaged in what appears to be simply a fun activity. I would use ‘creative technologies’ as something to do during sessions on the computers or as ‘filler’ lessons.

 

Google Earth

Surprisingly I had given Google Earth very little thought before as a classroom resource, but I am swiftly becoming very interested in its potential use in learning. As shown in this weeks presentation, Google Earth has a strong link to the Society & Environment Learning area with a specific focus on geography. So the kids can do fun activities like finding their home, finding their school and from this some maths could be incorporated by plotting the distance between the two locations. A fantastic new feature is the street view that is available which allows you to switch from a birds-eye view to a ground level view as if you were on the street looking at things as you would normally see them (eg the front of your house etc). However, something I didn’t realise is that Google Earth has an Education Centre which has ready made lessons available at your fingertips. Imagine when it is used in conjunction with an interactive whiteboard…your teaching a lesson on the Colosseum so you locate it using Google Earth but then in the education centre there is a wealth of information readily supplied on the Colosseum’s history, construction, purpose etc. The Sky and Earth feature is one of my favourites as it performs similar operations to the standard Google Earth but with the universe, so you can explore the solar system and the many stars and moons in different constellations. Once again there is plentiful information (including virtual tours, guide to the galaxy and star formation) available and this provides an invaluable resource astronomy lessons. The final aspect that I will make mention of is the flight simulator which would be particularly engaging for the boys in the class allows you to choose your destinations and fly to them. This could also be useful on lessons about distance, flight or just as a fun activity for the students to take part in. I have really gained a lot from this presentation and am really looking forward to exploring Google Earth in greater detail for myself so that I can maximise its effectiveness in the classroom.

Turning Point (Clickers)

Unfortunately the lesson in which this innovation was presented, I was unable to attend due to sickness. Therefore, from what I can gather from Rob and Chris’ wiki page, Turning Point allows users to use a personal remote device to respond to quizzes that are created using software used in conjunction with a variety of Microsoft Office programs.  As you can imagine this allows for a vast range of applications from here including; comparing results (among class standard or against that of other states etc), reporting, statistics, ability to create a picture poll, incorporate video, competition and teams (can facilitate independent and collaborative work), data slicing (catagorise results according to specified criteria) and much, much more. I imagine this would be an engaging way to learn and as stated by the presenters in the wiki page, this would be a great way encourage students to be prepared before they come to class, assess if homework has been completed, track results to encourage academic achievement, provide both teachers and students alike with instantaneous results which access their understanding and they promote participation. As much as I think Clickers would be an asset to any classroom, I do feel as though they are an unnecessary addition and there would be other, less sophisticated methods that would suffice. That said, I would be interested in trailing their use in the classroom and seeing the way Turning Point as an innovation has an impact on student learning.

Search Engines

In order to blog about this innovation I have had to extensively read through the wiki page to obtain the appropriate information, as I was away for their presentation. Presenters Kym and Tracy came across Kidzui and Zoeybot through using Web 2.0. Both Kidzui and Zoeybot are web browsers specifically designed for kids. They are safe, educational and often interactive offering some of the best sites, videos, tutorials and articles available to kids. One of the best things about Kidzui is that it isn’t a search engine which blocks unsafe sites, but rather an ‘information bank’ with over a million hand picked sites selected by teachers and parents. While still performing a similar role, Zoeybot, is still in the developmental stages and has some limitations in its capabilities. One of the features of Zoeybot is that kids can talk to the virtual desktop to help them with their searches. Zoeybot is a free resource that is readily available to anyone who has an internet connection, similarly the basic version of Kidzui is also free for kids but if you want to have access to the many additional features a membership fee applies. I didn’t realize that such an innovation existed and in the past I have had to bookmark appropriate websites on the internet for my students on prac. This would be the ideal way to allow students to explore the internet at their leisure with minimal supervision for the best results.  

iPods & MP3s

I have a been using MP3s and iPods for years but would not have thought to use them as a learning tool. Denise (and Hayley who was unwell) managed to highlight several potential uses for the classroom. Although commonly thought to be restricted to music files, iPods and MP3s are becoming increasingly versatile in their features now sporting the capacity to store and play audio, video, photos, games, scheduling whilst also acting as an external hard drive. They are ideal for classroom use because they are compact and so many children are already familiar with them, they require minimal instruction on their uses. Something that Denise showed us that I hadn’t realised was that you can connect a microphone onto an iPod and record your voice straight onto it. Some examples of uses of this feature that were given to us included recording instructions for students to follow, recording students observations during specific tasks (as an alternative to notetaking), record students speaking to allow them to hear themselves and to improve their linguistic skills, read or listen to stories or to facilitate orienteering activities. I really think this innovation is great for application with the multiple intelligences and more than anything would provide an exciting and new learning experience for students. Again this an example of an innovation I already knew about but had never contemplated incorporating into a schooling environment.

Online Photo Sharing

Justin did a great job of showing us the applications of online photo sharing which are more diverse than I expected. It allows people to publish their photos online which enables them to share them with others. Some do it purely to get their images out there for the public to see, others create private accounts so that only family and friends can access them. Online photo sharing if nothing else provides a place to store photos as a way of backing them up online. There are a number of popular photo sharing sites which are free to use upon signup, among them is Photobucket. When we look to the classroom it is undeniable that children using computers as a tool for their work is the way of the future. For myself I envisage online photo sharing as an opportunity to create a private class album or a ‘photo bank’ into which students can upload photos that may be useful for assignment use and to store photos taken throughout the year on class excursions or of significant events. It could be useful for parent teacher nights to create a slideshow which encapsulates a snapshot of the year. Photos could be uploaded at school and then made readily available to the students for their use at home. I really like this concept and I would see it as a valuable innovation that could be useful in the classroom.

Podcasts

Up until recently I had heard of but never encountered Podcasting. Podcasting is where the ‘iPod’ meets ‘broadcasting’ meaning that various TV or radio shows are made available online for download onto your computer, iPod or various other portable devices including MP3s etc. They can come in the form of audio files or video files and are available on iTunes or other podcasting sites. I like the idea of encouraging greater auditory learning opportunities as it encourages vocabulary expansion, linguistic growth, improvements in reading and much more. It is another means by which children could obtain information and is an effective communication tool. Another feature of podcasts which I think would be an exciting learning experience for the kids is creating their own podcasts. Programs such as Audacity and GarageBand make recording your own podcasts really simple and fun. I am yet to feel confident in my own use of this innovation, however I can see the potential for learning that Podcasting creates and I would like to learn more. Christina and Sarah did a really good job with their presentation.

 

Google Docs

Google Docs is an innovation which I have actually never heard of before. They used a fantastic video to illustrate the application of Google Docs and it explains that it is an innovation which allows you to share documents online without having to email them back and forth. This innovatin means that classes can collaborate worldwide on a variety of projects. It can be used as a means for completing homework whereby kids can share their documents online and be working on the same thing at the same time. Google Docs also provides a variety of templates (calendars, tables etc), which can be used in the creation of documents. There is an additional chat feature that allows the students or teachers alike to be able to talk and comment on the document which they are working on.

 

I felt that in theory this is would be a wonderful innovation to be incorporated into the classroom, however as the girls shared, there is still a lot of refinement that will need to take place before I would ask kids to use it. At this stage I would say that it would have more value for the teachers and administration staff than the students themselves as there still a few technical hitches that need to be smoothed out before students could be asked to use it.

MySpace & Facebook

This was a very interesting lesson for me as I was the only member of the class who doesn’t have a Facebook or a Myspace account. When this was made very obvious to the class, I felt very much on the outer but at the same time it made me realize what a significant impact these two social networking websites have had in our society, and how little it bothered me that I wasn’t a part of it. It’s not that I have anything against either innovations, it is just that I actually have no time to maintain or utilize either resource and I would much prefer to spend time with people in person than spend time with them online. I have seen what a hold these networks have on my friends, as they struggle to go a day without checking their accounts, and I don’t want that for me.

 

However, setting aside my preconceptions, I was very impressed with today’s presentation. The girls provided a lot of background on these innovations and we had the opportunity to create our own fictional MySpace account. I learnt a lot about the security and privacy policy that I had not previously been aware of, which was cause for concern.  I think it was difficult for the presenters to shed new light on a technology that has already been mastered by so many, and seems to have such little educational value in my eyes. I would not personally use this innovation in the classroom as I feel it has little relevance to the curriculum and it would just encourage them to be getting involved with this kind of social networking at such a young age.

 

YouTube & Teachers TV

Well today’s presentation really set the bar for the rest of the class. Matt and Simon, shared their expertise on YouTube and Teachers TV with us and offered practical suggestions for their implementation into the classroom. I already had some existing knowledge and experience with YouTube, and had never really considered it to be something that I would integrate into a learning experience, however today’s presentation has changed this mindset. I think that YouTube is a great, easily accessible, free resource that opens up a world of visual learning possibilities at the click of a mouse. If the right video is found it will often communicate the same information that a teacher would, but in a far more engaging and interactive manner. Something I learnt, that I found interesting, was that you can open up your own YouTube account, which is like a personalised YouTube homepage. It allows you to select and view any of your own videos, and it even has a directory that shows how many people have viewed your videos etc.

 

The other resource that was discussed was Teachers TV, which I now have my own login for. I had never heard of Teachers TV before, but I think this is definitely a resource that I will have to explore some more. It is this multifaceted website that has everything a teacher could need from videos on behaviour management, to pod casts to even lesson plans. Despite the fact that it is a British resource, I still feel there is a lot to be gained from what this site has to offer. If the coming presentations are as enlightening as the first, by the end of this unit we are going to come away with a far broader knowledge of available technologies than when we started.