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Monday, 30 November 2009

TweetCloud- What are You Tweeting?

This just came in over twitter from someone you need to follow if you aren't already doing so, Joyce Valenza.

TweetCloud is a  useful little Twitter tool  that allows you to create word clouds from your tweets, very much in the same way that Wordle creates tag clouds from text. I had a play with it and the results are below.

It would appear that my tweets for a month are a bit video-centric, not exactly what I had expected. The one below is from a year of tweets...Useful Tools and Ideas are the trend, must be all the SimplyBox-ing.

I am now working out ways I can use this tool with my students when they use Twitter  for collaborative research. They each have individual accounts through which they could generate their own clouds and display the main topics they are researching. If you have a class Twitter account it would be an interesting way of visualising the content of your Twitter stream with the students who have contributed to its growth. If you can think of any other ways to make this a part of teaching and learning, do let me know.

For now, have a play with TweetCloud. All you need is an active Twitter account.

Screen shot 2009-11-30 at 1.01.38 PM

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Wikis as Websites for Libraries-It's not just about the code, is it?

This morning we held our second Wikis as Websites session of the year for members of the Salvadoran library community and members of ABES, the Salvadoran Librarians association.

Widget Fever

It was great to see everyone again, and they were certainly revved to get back into their wikis. After a brief refresher it became all about the widgets and code. The looks of surprise and then joy on people's faces when they saw not only the variety of useful widgets and ways to embed codes from various online services, took me back about 6 months, when I too caught the widget bug. Of course fantastic websites are not just about the code, but what a hook! Code in the form of widgets is like opening a little door or window to another source or collection of ideas, in an highly engaging manner.

The sheer enormity of of widgets/gadgets/flakes and embedding code out there, for free I might add, is enough to give anyone widget fever.

Today we looked at embedding slideshows, glogs, Librarything and Shelfari book shelves, blogs and rss feeds using widgetbox, youtube videos and Twitter feeds. In the end we could have used at least one more exploratory session, but hopefully participants will maintain their momentum over the next few months.

But there is more!

During the last part of the session our Library Assistant fed back from her Guatemalan Digital Literacy conference experience using Prezi. It was her first time presenting and her first time using Prezi.

What's Prezi?

If you haven't tried Prezi are missing out on a great interactive presentation tool. Yes it's a web app and yes you can also download your work! Try teaching it to kids, what a fantastic way to get away from the ppt and enforce presentation reform guidelines!

Back to the Conference

Our conference wasjoined by others who had attended in Guatemala.  Some joined us in person and others  did so virutally using Elluminate. It was the first time I was able to use my Learn Central V-Room with anything larger than a group of friends. It was fantastic and the participants in El Salvador got to listen to and learn from  speakers in other areas of the continent as well as those physically present. This was the first such experience for most of the participants and they were thrilled by it.

I am going to break out the V-Room again this school year with our Spanish classes, enabling students and teachers to  link up and participate to student presentations in real time.

Is anyone else out there using Elluminate with their kids?

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Scratch in KS3

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 6.01.09 PM

Photo Courtesy of the Scratch Algebra Learning Network

The 7th and 8th grade are working with Scratch Programing language this school year.
Scratch, was developed by the MIT Media Lab to enable kids 8 years of age and older to create interactive stories, animations, games, music, presentations and art while learning "important mathematical and computational ideas."
When working on Scratch projects, students must use reasoning and problem solving skills while thinking creatively.
The projects can then be uploaded to the Scratch Website to be shared and remixed by others.

The students have taken to it completely. They were taught two new skills at the beginning of each lesson, after first  being introduced to the basic  needed to get started. At the same time we gave them the freedom to begin developing a project of their choice, and pursue their own interests. At some point in the 2nd lesson they had made their decisions. They began diverging from the basic skills work, choosing their own directions and constructing programs using the blocks in Scratch that they found most interesting. Some of the students are currently creating interactive games while others are working on various types of presentations. The 7th grade will be finished in another week and we look forward to sharing some of this work on the ABCICT Website.

The great thing about Scratch is that it enables kids to learn by trial and error, and analyse their work while studying problems from different angles. It requires them to break down problems by breaking down the program blocks, and enables them to utilse the work of others as models in trying to solve their own programming problems. The Scratch website is full of videos, tutorials, activity cards and projects to use as teaching resources.

My students and I are very pleased to be working with Scratch in ICT. Hats off to the great team at the  MIT Media Lab!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


The kids are really enjoying Sketchfu. It is an online app that allows them to draw a picture and then playback the process, thereby creating an online animation. These animations can be downloaded as pictures or embedded and played back. Be aware however that there are some issues regarding embedding the player in wikispaces and wordpress. You may want to opt for embedding a linked picture instead.

If you have younger kids or teach primary aged students, this may prove to be a powerful storytelling tool. An account is required however.

I am including an example below which my son did the other night.

View puppy at Sketchfu

Make your own drawings at SketchfuMore from this artist at SketchfuShare this drawing from Sketchfu
Learn how to draw cartoons, comics, and anime at Sketchfu!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Getting Hacked-Resolution

My Twitter account was hacked last week, unknown to me until I finally logged into my email and Tweetdeck. I had taken the week off for half term holidays and was unaware of the problem until 2 days ago. Since then I have changed my password twice and it is hopefully all better now, but I hate the thought of all that spam coming out of my account.

Resolution: I will not allow just any application to use my Twitter password, only the tried and trusted from now on.

My deepest apologies to anyone who was affected by this.