Sunday, 30 November 2014

Creating books with Book Creator

Over the course of these last few weeks I have been using Book Creator app for my studies.  Book Creator provides an easy way to create your own book on iPad or on Android. Charged with keeping a scrapbook to scribble down ideas and thoughts in preparation for my dissertation I thought carefully about how to go about this in a way that would make looking back over my work a useful and easy task.   I wanted to see how my ideas had developed over the weeks and to see a clear progression.  So whilst I liked the flexibility of linoit and padlet as online walls where I could add power points, links to videos and any other URL I wanted I had to rule them both out as they did not allow for a week by week progression.   Book Creator became my first choice app largely because of its book like quality.  Each page would represent a week of my thoughts.  Below is a selection of some of the pages I created.



created using PhotoCollage App on the iPad



You might be able to see that I have some links to websites and some recordings too.  There are plenty of  other features available too as the photo below demonstrates.   



This app has been very useful for me and I have been using it in class too.  I only have the one iPad but whilst some of my students created their postcards using Microsoft Publisher there was enough flexibility over a period of a three or four lessons to let my Year 8 students create a book using Book Creator.  There was obviously some learning to do in terms of how the app worked but really it is quite intuitive and the students quickly picked up how to copy images and paste them in and how to add conversations.  On this page below they also added a conversation about their time abroad. 


The students were totally engaged and worked well independently.  They are a motivated group of students already but this did provide a little extra motivation and the postcard task was transformed using this tool. 


This is definitely an app worth exploring some more.  In terms of sharing what you have created it is possible to send a finished product as an eBook by email. 


Have you used Book Creator before?  Let me know what you think of it?  I would be interested to hear your thoughts.  Let me know in the comment box below.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Thinglink... A good thing

With so many technology tools available it is so easy to forget about some and neglect using them. This is just what happened to me until a recent communication with @HelenCaldwel reminded me of thinglink an excellent tool which certainly should have a part to play in the modern classrooms no matter what age the student.

thinglink is an online platform for creating interactive images and videos for web. I have made good use of this for my own studies and to get an idea of what can be done click on the photo below.  Although the photo describes my thoughts on my first term of my MA it gives a very good idea of what can be achieved with this fantastic tool:





http://www.thinglink.com/scene/470185805818626050

As you can see, the picture has a variety of symbols.  This is because there are a variety of things that can be done.  You can:
  1. Add text
  2. Add another photo
  3. Add a link to another URL
  4. Add a video
These options are very easy to add with a simple click or tap on the photo depending on where you are working (on the web or on your tablet). 
 

 


I am excited to use this with my classes.  Once you have got your students to log on the permutations of what can be done are endless. Here are just four ideas to use in various areas of the school curriculum (and beyond):
  1. In another language take a photo of a town map and bring it alive with audio descriptions of different places in town.

  2. Get a photo of a famous author and add links to his or her famous works and add some text about the author.

  3. Find a picture of a volcano and add some links to video footage.  Better still make your own video and add this to your picture.
  4. Take a photo of a before and after experiment in science (use photo collage for this) and add video footage to the photo and some annotations about the experiment.
I believe thinglink is an exciting tool that can really redefine the work students are producing.  Drawing a map of your local area becomes a much more interesting task requiring many more skills. 
Have you used thinglink?  What do you think of it?  Do let me know in the comments box below.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Edmodo - a platform for telecollaboration

I have got into +Edmodo in a big way recently.  I have been exploring the possibilities of running a telecollaborative*  project and @edmodo seemed like a good place to start the process of learning how to get students from different countries to talk to each other.  However, before I got going on my exciting collaborative project I wanted to get to grips properly with Edmodo.  Last year I had used this tool to set quizzes for different classes which could then be graded and results stored in the system.  I was also able to award badges.   This all worked quite well but I was not enamoured with the results and I knew that I could exploit this tool more effectively.

So, in order to delve deeper and scratch below the surface of what edmodo can do I focused on the collaborative aspect of Edmodo.  I had noticed the ease with which students communicated with each other via the forum.  So, with this in mind and with a view to organising a telecollaborative project with a school abroad, I set up a couple of projects with different year groups.  My first project that I have set up is an in-class project with Year 9.  Initially we completed a couple of quizzes which got assessed immediately and provided me not only with students' marks but also a break down of where students went wrong.  I then allowed students to write about what they were going to do that evening with a celebrity of their choice.  There were two goals.  Firstly, to use the near future and secondly, to assess the work of another student in the class.    The students took both challenges seriously:


Some students provided their friends with clear advice on how to improve, others were not so aware of what needed to be corrected.  Thus, the results were varied in terms of quality of assessment but in terms of motivation, there were clearly no problems.  My email box filled up over the week with notifications from Edmodo that students were replying to each other's posts (this notification function can be turned off, incidentally). 

I have replied to some of the posts and encouraged the students' efforts but I am taking a back seat in this because when my students start a real collaborative exchange with students from a school in France I want to encourage fluency and intercultural understanding.  In addition, the aim is for students to correct each other's mistakes.

Incidentally, as well as the excellent eTwinning site where I have found one partner school, I have also found another partner school via an Overseas Twinning Group on Edmodo:


"[Students need to be] prepared to connect with their peers and the world by understanding both the technical and the social demands of working with web 2.0 tools".**
Essentially, this first few weeks with Edmodo have allowed me to get used to the platform and importantly for my students to acclimatise to this way of working.  I am embarking on some exciting projects.  Edmodo will be the platform for one of the projects and I know that this time preparing my students (and me) to use Edmodo effectively has been time well spent.

If you have not already done so, check out Edmodo which, incidentally, you can access on your tablet as well.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments box below - I would love to hear about your projects.








Footnotes
*“…internationally-dispersed learners in parallel language classes use Internet communication tools such as e-mail, synchronous chat, threaded discussion, and MOOs (as well as other forms of electronically mediated communication), in order to support social interaction, dialogue, debate, and intercultural exchange.”  Belz, J. A. (2003a). From the special issue editor. Language Learning & Technology, 7(2), 2-5. Retrieved July 31, 2005 from http://llt.msu.edu/vol7num2/speced.html.


** The World is Flat Lindsay & Davis (2007) See the Flat Classroom Project for more information http://www.flatclassroomproject.org/