How To Appear Really Smart

After reading a blog post from Andrew Douch who reminded me of the service www.mymiamia.com I decided to try it out for myself. The opportunity arose when one of my students asked the question below…… 

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 Now if you are unfamiliar with My Mia Mia basically, it is a service that allows you to find out the answer to any question you like by simply sending an SMS or leaving a voice message with My Mia Mia. The service is supported in a host of countries and from what I can gather costs the equivalent of a standard call or SMS. After sending your question through to My Mia Mia you simply wait and within about 5 minutes you will receive a reply SMS with the answer to the question you posed.

In this case I was almost certain that they woud be unable to answer the question that I had asked, however shortly after sending it through, I received the answer below;

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 So what does this mean for students and the classroom? Could this be used as a genuine tool for learning?  Please leave your thoughts below to complete the post.

Gathering Responses On A Field Trip

Yesterday I arrived home from an excellent outdoor & environmental studies camp in which I took my 19 year 11 students to the snow fields of Mt Buller. While relaxing on the bus after a very busy and tiring trip an idea popped into my head that immediately made me want to turn back the clock on the camp and trial it out.

The idea is simple and utilises the incredibly powerful website www.polleverywhere.com. For those of you not familiar with this service, basically it lets you create polls that can be responded via not only a computer connected to the internet, but also via a cell phone. After signing up for free account you can choose to create a ‘free text poll’ which basically lets you send in text via SMS to a unique phone number disclosed when you create the poll. The responses are then updated in real time and displayed in a PowerPoint slideshow or on the polleverywhere website.

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So why polleverywhere on a field trip or camp? Well by using the ‘free text’ option you could ask students  any sort of questions while away that would require them to respond via SMS. The students would simply submit their answers by sending a text message to the unique poll everywhere number. It could also be used as a sort of back channel during trips, that the students could use if they wanted to ask a question that could be followed up when the class returned to school. This would encourage them to think about and decode the information they were coming across during the excursion.  The benefits of using this method within a large classroom would be that it would automatically collate the students responses in a way that could be easily shared and discussed in future lessons.

With the snow trip over for the year, I will aim to try this out on our next trip to the Grampians National Park. Look forward to sharing how it turns out. (Picture created using http://picol.org/)

Dead Simple Podcast Hosting with Drop.io

One of the things that seems to hold back teachers and there efforts to podcast is indeed the hosting and distribution side which can at times prove to be a tad over the top, often requiring more than a basic level of ICT skills. Well last night, I stumbled across a simple solution that is bound to make this process much easier for teachers and students and indeed myself.

Introducing http://drop.ioa simple file storage website that requires no sign up at all. You simply choose your files in what ever format, and ‘DROP’ them to an auto generated or predetermined drop name. For example, I just recently created my own drop at http://drop.io/vceoes34 which I’m using as a simple way to send class resources to a group of my teaching colleagues via email. Anway, once you create a drop you receive a number of options on how you would like to share the ‘DROP’

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Now the really cool thing I noticed was the ability to create a ‘Dropcast’ which basically allows you to subscribe to changes to a ‘DROP’ within iTunes. This means that you could use http://drop.io to store audio and videoes created by you or your students and then have iTunes  and your subscription automatically download any changes made to the drop, to your computer and iPod.  Too Easy…..

The best thing about using Drop.io for podcast storage and distribution is that it can be achieved in as little as 5  steps.

  • Create a ‘Drop’ at http://drop.io (Choose your Drop name or have it auto generated)
  • Upload files of any format and type to your drop
  • Select the ‘Share’ option from witin your drop and then select ‘Dropcast’ 
  •  Itunes will automatically load and include the Drop in your list of podcast subscriptions
  • Have another episode or file to add? Just return to your unique drop address and upload more files

Podcast hosting couldn’t be easier with Drop.io and that’s just the start of what this nifty little service has to offer to our classrooms. Have you used Drop.io before? If so, feel free to  let me know how below.

Digital Portfolios in a Snap

There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t discover a useful/exciting website or tool. However, occasionally I come across something that gets me so excited and has the potential to become a major part of all of my teaching areas and personal life.

Today that tool is Posterous and its as simple as 3 steps……

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“Wow that’s awesome” …..is exactly what I said and immediately fired up my email client and sent a 5mb video file to the [email protected]email address. Within minutes I had received a return email with a link to a unique website that now contained my embedded video. It was so easy and incredible that I started to add and experiment with more and more file types which is handled perfect.

Still don’t believe how easy it is to use? Well….here’s some proof.

Today I decided to test it out within my Computer Graphics class as simply an easy way to create a digital portfolio online. I’m  also planning on having my Year 7 Physical Education class, who are busy learning complex gymnastics techniques, film a series of the key skills, label and then send them via email to posterous. If this was done week by week, students could witness the development of their physical skills across different sports. What an incredible resource this would prove to be at the end of a semester or unit of work….

So how do you think you could use it in your classroom?

Phys Ed, Comics and the Classroom

Now I must admit I’ve been a little slow on the uptake around exploring some of the nifty comic book creation tools online, but I’ve finally done it and thankfully I did. These tools are simply excellent and allow simple and highly effective creation of comic strips in a snap. 

After familiarising myself with the ins and outs of a few of the tools I decided I would use them to make an alternative assignment criteria sheet for my senior outdoor education class. As some of you may have experienced these sheets can be often overlooked by the students. So why not whip up your instructions in comic book form?. The kids certainly read it before launching into the assignment which is indeed a positive. You can download the worksheet I used yesterday. PAGE 1  PAGE 2

The next idea I had was to use comics as a way to do sports technique analysis within my PE classes. In a variety of my subjects we have a theoretical coaching component that requires students to analyse their own techniques, looking for room for improvement based on a number of biomechanical principles. The very nature of comics lends themselves really well to an analysis activity, as each frame can represent a key aspect of the technique and include important annotations. (See the example below) Some of the other ideas Ive had include

  • As an alternative to a report on an extra curriculular activity or as a unique addition to a school newsletter. 
  • Character development within a novel
  • Movie quote analysis for film studies?
  • For any activity that has a process, ie Home Economics/Science
  • ….the potential uses are endless…

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So if you havn’t considered comic book creation within your subject area, I strongly urge you to check out the following comic book creation tools and include it in your next class. 

www.comiclife.com – This is the premier comic creation tool, although the ownly downside is it isnt free but can be purchased very cheap (just bought a 50 seat license).  However it comes with a free 30 day full working trial that may suit your intended use.

www.toondoo.com – A very good online alternative to comic life

www.comiqs.com

http://pixton.com/uk/

www.goanimate.com

http://www.stripcreator.com/

If you have any ideas on how comics could be used in the classroom, please drop them in the comments box below. Enjoy!