Add This

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Virtual Worlds-Whyville

Virtual Worlds are becoming very popular in education. The offer a means of providing opportunities for students and teachers to move outside the of  the classroom and pursue learning experiences that would be difficult or even impossible to manage in the traditional classroom. Virtual worlds allow students to take virtual field trips, meet up with students from other schools from around the world, and participate in virtual classrooms. Whyville is a virtual world, which is based on educational ideas, and is safe for our younger students to get around in.

The activities in Whyville are again educationally founded and include such things as recycling, sorting, construction and design. In order to chat with others in Whyville, students must first take an internet safety test.  Students can earn clams(Whyville currency) by working or participating in games and activities and teachers are able to work with their classes in the virtual world.

Nings at School

Nings are online platforms that allow people to create social networks. Members of groups with common interests  or objectives are formed, whose members  are then able chat, share resources, collaborate on forums and reflect through blog posts. Students are drawn to Nings due to the wealth of options offered by them. In many ways the features of this social networking tool closely resemble Facebook, an application that students use regularly out of school to stay in contact with friends. As in Facebook students who join a Ning are able to customise their own pages, add applications and form groups of friends to collaborate and share with.

The potential for Nings in education is enormous as teachers and students are able to bring files, multimedia, groups and discussions together in one place. At present our students are learning how to use them in ICT lessons as part of a unit on Social Networks. Both the reflective and collaborative aspects of the Ning have been a focus in ICT as well as other subjects.

GMail and Google Docs for Project Work

Every student in KS3 now has a Gmail account. These accounts are superior in many ways to our traditional email service, and include such exciting options as video, audio and text chat. One of the many applications that comes with a Gmail account is Google Docs. Using Google Docs students can upload documents, as well as create them online. Document types include presentations, text  and spreadsheets and can be published as web pages and/or shared with others wishing to view or collaborate on them.

Just imagine the potential! A group of students must  produce a project. They are not allowed to get together outside of school in order to work on it, but can get together virtually, writing to the same document at each student's convenience, not only when it is convenient for the group. They can also chat about their work in real time with either text, audio or video chat and practice presentations in front of their groups as they run them in Google Docs and view the presenters through video chat. This is one powerful learning tool!

PS... (This is a bit Big Brotherish which is why teachers will love it) It is really easy to check and see who has done what on a project...just click on the page history and it is all there!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Teaching PowerPoint Reform

We have just completed an activity in conjunction with the PE dept. that involved investigating eating disorders and food pyramids and creating a presentation based on the findings. Talk about teachable moments, what a perfect time to introduce social bookmarking with Delicious as well as citations and note taking with Noodlebib.  We spend a lesson on each area with a week in between for further investigation and then moved on to PowerPoint reform. By the way this is the last time I use the term PowerPoint in this post.

The following presentation is a fantastic vehicle through which to grab student attention and simultanesouly model good practice in presentation construction.
View more presentations from Jeff Brenman. (tags: design crisis)

The next step was to delve a little further into presentation do's and don'ts using the following video done by Joyce's kids.

Finally, what better way to have the kids collaborate on the projects from home than to upload them to their Google Docs accounts and share the presentations with those in their groups. Using GMail's video chat option they were able to practice presenting in front of one another and collaborate on building that aspect of the presentation.