Turned over the calendar yesterday and realised that it is February already! Aaarrgh! What happened to January!! This year seems to be going faster than last year! So that means this is the 2nd edition of the Newsletter already for this year, and I guess we’d better get into it…fast! 🙂
A SIMPLE IMAGE SHARING TOOL
I love things that are simple. Something that you can just use…without having to sign up, or read reams of instructions. That’s why I liked CoSketch when I saw it. In a nutshell, CoSketch is a “…multi-user online whiteboard designed to give you the ability to quickly visualize and share your ideas as images.” If you were at a table with friends or colleagues you would just grab a bit of paper to sketch out your idea…or flowchart…or diagram etc. With CoSketch you just start a new sketch then email the others who will be able to see your drawing/diagram happening in real time. Takes only a couple of minutes to check it out. Go on…. [flaps her hands]… 😉
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE GRANTS???
I’m sure you must know about them already, but just in case January was a bit of a blur for you, [grin] the national training system’s e-learning strategy, the Australian Flexible Learning Framework (Framework) is allocating E-learning Innovations funding on a pro-rata basis to each state and territory…including South Australia. Drop me a line if you’re interested and I’d be happy to explain what it’s all about. If you were looking for something a bit more national and ‘bigger picture’, then I’d suggest you check out the Industry Integration grant.
TEACHING ONLINE – A POWERFUL MESSAGE
I just had to pass on this link to the video Online Student Experience, as it is a very powerful piece of media. Watch it to the end as it is a video created to show the frustration that online students feel at having online courses that are not engaging or interactive. It makes you think. Unfortunately I could only find it on YouTube so apologies to all who have this site blocked…I would strongly recommend checking out the video when you are outside of the firewalls. Almost brings a tear to one’s eye!
ONLINE NETWORKING – WITH NING
If you are keen to build a strong sense of community…whether between colleagues or for your students….I would highly recommend a close look at Ning. What is Ning? Basically it’s a platform for creating your own social network, and unlike public platforms like Facebook, it’s all yours! I was going to create a ‘How To’ resource to get you started, but then I came across An Educator’s Guide to Ning, and I thought “well, why not just point you to this one!” [grin] Ning integrates well with Learning Management Systems – here is a video which describes integration with Blackboard but of course the same applies to Moodle, Janison etc. If you would like to experience being a member of a Ning before launching in to creating one yourself, a good place to start is the Ning in Education group. If you are a member of a Ning (or run one), click on the Comments link below and tell us about it.
GOOGLE DOCS – GETTING SMARTER WITH DOCUMENTS
Create and share documents online…with Google Docs. This is my very unofficial take on Google Docs [cheeky grin], but if you know how to create Word docs and Excel spreadsheets, then you will pick up Google Docs without too much trouble. The difference is that the documents (while they can be downloaded to your computer) actually live online which means they are available everywhere and you can share and collaborate with others, even in real time. Why not investigate this further by checking out the video Google Docs in Plain English and then you could take the Google Docs tour. Once you’re on your way, check out GoogleDocs for Educators or you might want to browse through 100 Great Google Docs Tips for Students & Educators. And if you’re already a user, 5 things you probably didn’t know you could do in Google Docs & Spreadsheets might be interesting.
ABOUT E-BOOKS AND KINDLES…
I must admit that I’m beginning to cast envious glances at anyone who has a Kindle. One of these people is Kerrie Smith who has recently written Kindling along: an update of my Kindle experiences and this has inspired me to surreptitiously add this item to my ‘possible birthday presents’ list on the fridge at home. Heh, heh… I’m a reader you see, and one of the comments on How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read & Write says “Amazon’s early data suggest that Kindle users buy significantly more books than they did before owning the device, and it’s not hard to understand why. The bookstore is now following you around wherever you go.” If you are looking for some FREE e-Books, you could try the Book Depository, ManyBooks.net or FreeKindleBooks.org.
YOUNG PEOPLE AND TECHNOLOGY
If you work with youth, you may get insight from reading Hanging out, Messing around, Geeking out. According to the author “…the framework offered gets us beyond talk of ‘digital natives’ to an understanding that there are many different patterns and levels of youth engagement with the Internet.” It’s too easy to jump to conclusions that all young people like using technology, yet case study reports such as Using Gen Y social networking tools to engage apprentices in learning seem to give a different story: “…when given the opportunity to use the same tools that they seem to love using to interact socially, they chose not to do so. They do not seem ready to use their social networking tools as learning tools.” What is your experience? A new research report is currently underway for this year, so email Annie at the Framework’s Benchmarking & Research to offer your views…they would be thrilled to hear from you!
JUST MOODLING ALONG
Do you use Moodle? It seems to be the Learning Management System (LMS) of choice for so many training organisations and educators, possibly because it is free to download and easy to use. Gee…I sound like a salesperson, don’t I! [laugh] South Australians are lucky because there is so much help with setting up a Moodle LMS, that it isn’t difficult to get started. You may want to start small and just get a single ‘classroom’ to experiment with, and you can do this at the VETSA site. If you are a TAFEie, they have set up something similar on the TAFE Moodle site. In both cases you just request your own space and you are on your way! You might also want to look at 2 Minute Moodles which are short instructional videos. If you are looking for some demonstration sites, check out Moodle for Dummies or this Moodle Demonstration site. Oh, and Moodle workshops are run throughout the year (details here) – just call 8348 4069 or 8348 4070 to get your name onto the waiting list for the next ones which should be coming up soon.
USING TWITTER TO GET WHAT YOU WANT
“Twitter can be confusing at best, and downright intimidating to many newcomers.” You might think this isn’t the best way to interest you in using Twitter [grin] but this quote comes from a useful article called The Complete Guide to Getting the Most Out of Twitter. I’ve posted about Twitter before but this time I would like to focus on the fact that Twitter can be great for your business! But…ooooh….don’t think that all you have to do is sign up with Twitter and then send out 140 character ‘ads’ about your business or training offerings. Won’t work, trust me [shakes her head]. I’d suggest you read Twitter 101 for Business which explains how to get started and even has case studies…you’d be surprised who is using Twitter as a business/marketing strategy! And just for a bit of fun, find out what ‘type’ of Twitterer you are with The Six Twitter Types.
GIVING STUDENTS MORE CONTROL
“What if we took all the bookmarked web 2.0 tools we’ve been meaning to learn and let each student pick one to teach the class?” This is just ONE of the ideas offered in ‘Goal: Give Students Reign‘ which addresses the challenge of giving students more control over their learning. There are other examples of where trainers and teachers have given more control to their students – such as Assessing with video: giving students control. Do you give your students control over their learning? Click the comment link below and tell us how you do that.
THE LATEST GADGET – APPLE’S iPAD
You probably know that Apple have just released their latest gizmo, the iPad, as it was splashed all over the mainstream News on the telly. 🙂 So what, you might say? Just another gadget for the geeks? Well I thought I’d look into it all a bit deeper and I came across this article ‘Apple’s iPad: What does it offer for e-Learning?‘ Not everyone is excited though which is explained at Apple iPad Disappoints eLearning Industry. Hmmm…I think I might wait until the dust settles before offering an opinion. If you have put this little item on YOUR birthday list though [grin], you might want to read through Apple iPad: A Comprehensive Guide which will tell you all you need to know. For those who get their hot little hands on one, let me know what you think! 🙂 By the way, if you read the article above about the Kindle, you may be wondering how they differ – all is revealed at iPad vs the Kindle.
FIRST POWERPOINT…AND NOW PREZI
Let me introduce you to Prezi. “Have you ever wondered about presenting your thoughts as free as they come? Ever got tired of creating a slideshow?” Prezi is “...visualization and storytelling without slides” and if you feel a bit limited by Powerpoint, I urge you to check out Prezi. You won’t need me to write up a ‘How To’ as they have already created mini-lessons to get you started, and there are more guides at Using Prezi as a Presentation Tool. There are plenty of examples on the site to check out, but let me be clever and link this (surreptitiously, of course) to my previous paragraph on Twitter. Heh, heh… So here is a Prezi presentation on using Twitter! There are lots of resources on using Prezi…how about Eight Interesting Ways to use Prezi in the Classroom, or a Selection of Great Reusable Prezis. I’d be keen to know what everyone thinks about Prezi…click the Comments link below and pop in your opinions.
Whew! I’ve reached my even dozen (articles) and I’ve run out of steam. [grin] I hope you found something that inspired you to look deeper though, and remember that even if you improve just one teeny, tiny thing about the way you teach, train or conduct your business, you are moving forward and getting better and better at what you do. Please let me know if I can help…and that’s not just an empty promise. 🙂