If I said that keeping up to date with technology and e-learning can be a bit of a challenge at times, I’m sure there would be howls of “What an understatement! A bit of a challenge? You’re kidding, right?” [laugh] Yeah…I agree with you as I work in this area yet I often feel like I’m drowning in too much information and lack the time to stay on top of it all. Which is why I think articles such as Top 5 Techniques for Staying Up to Date can be useful for providing some tips and ideas. Collectively, I’m sure we’ve all got our own strategies and it’s good to share, so why not mosey along to the E-learning Conversations discussion that I’ve just begun on this topic…share your own strategies and maybe pick up some ideas from others. I’ll meet you there. 🙂
SHARING GINORMOUS FILES
You want to send a file to somebody…maybe a video…but it’s quite large and email just spits the dummy and won’t send it. Thanks to a colleague in the E-learning Conversations group (thx @MargaretAspin) I heard about We-Transfer which gives you up to 2GB free file transfer (more if you’re willing to pay for it) and you don’t even need to register or open an account. You can find out more on their About page or browse through the FAQ…or just go straight to WeTransfer and move that big file outa here! 🙂 If We-Transfer isn’t quite what you need, have a browse through 15 Free Tools for Storing and Sharing Files. You’re bound to find something that does the job.
WHAT’S NEW IN MOODLE?
Embedding a YouTube video into Moodle is easy…I’ve even created a short tutorial video myself showing how simple this is. So when I heard about the ‘YouTube Anywhere for Moodle’ plug-in, I rolled my eyes and thought “big deal!” [grin] But this is different. Have you ever wanted to be able to record a video right from inside Moodle? Perhaps have a student record a video as an assessment, maybe from their iPad? YouTube Anywhere is a new plug-in for Moodle 2.4 which is in development right now. Here’s an explanation and demo (the video recording explanation is about halfway through):
An interesting aspect of the above project is that it is the first Moodle development project being funded using the crowd funding model. Which brings me to…….
GETTING $$$ FOR YOUR E-LEARNING PROJECT
The person who is developing the above Moodle plug-in is getting paid. By whom? By the people who want the plug-in. And this is the beauty of Crowd Funding…it connects the ‘doers’ with the ‘wanters’. (Hmmm…not sure wanters is a real word? [chuckles]) One of the most popular sites is Kickstarter however there are many others as listed in 10 Crowdfunding Sites to Fuel your Dream Project. In today’s tough economic times there is little point in hanging around waiting for a funding handout, however people who share your goals are often willing to invest just a little bit to see it happen, or get a copy, or share in the action. Maybe this is a way to turn your e-learning project into reality? You could put up a project and then send a (begging) email around your networks…you never know…. 😉
PUBLIC DOMAIN GRAPHICS TO DRESS UP YOUR TEXT
We all agree that slabs of text are dead-boring. Adding images and graphics is great because it breaks up the text and makes the content look more engaging….but where to get them? Many of you have been on this mailing list long enough to know that I am averse to paying for something unless I have no choice [cheeky grin] so I thought some links to public-domain sites might be useful. Public-domain means ‘free of copyright’ (although sometimes there can still be a limitation for commercial use). So let’s start with the Digital Comic Museum for some great vintage comics or FromOldBooks for those lovely old hand-drawn images. Image*After has some cool photos as does PublicDomainPictures.Net. Now, Gov.Watch is an interesting site as it’s full of links to photo libraries taken by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duty…everything from the Agriculture Research Service to the Renewable Energy Laboratory. Of course read any conditions…but most look quite open for use.
“If you steal from one author it’s plagiarism; if you steal from many it’s research.” That might be a funny quote however the reality is that plagiarism isn’t funny and educators are always on the look-out for plagiarised work from students. A resource which does a good job of explaining the term to students is the Commoncraft Plagiarism video and this Infographic might be useful to put up in the classroom (or in your online course). From a trainer’s perspective, the Plagiarism Checker is a simple online tool…just paste in some of that suspiciously academic text handed in by Freddy Bloggs and voila…it lets you know if you have anything to worry about. PaperRater is a bit more sophisticated, as it does check for plagiarism however it can also be used by students to get help with their writing eg it analyses style and word choice and does a grammar check. Oh, and before I get accused of plagiarising that quote, it was from Wilson Mizner. Heh heh
YOUR OWN WORKPLACE LEARNING
What do you think is the best way to learn workplace skills? Online courses on the company website? Job aids? External courses? Networks? Something else? Jane Hart has once again developed a short survey to ask everyone what they think…and the results might surprise you! If you complete the survey yourself (it’s very short) you will be taken to the results page, and it’s a bit of an eye-opener, especially for L & D Departments! I wonder if you can guess what comes out on the top of the list? 🙂
MAKING ANIMATED VIDEOS…EASIER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK!
I was reading one of my favourite blogs recently (FreeTech4Teachers) and found out about Wideo. It’s a fairly easy to use “online animation platform that allows you to create, edit, and share videos for free. The platform allows you to choose (or upload) the images, fonts, animations, and videos you want to use in order to create your own online video and then share.” Here’s a brief video which explains it:
You can check out what others have made or just get started yourself. Better yet…why not turn it over to your students as a project! Wideo is collaborative so several people can be given editing rights and it has a complementary Android app that your students can use to grab photos and bits of video footage to add to their Wideo project. (Oh…on a slightly different tangent….if you’re looking for a video editing tool which ‘weaves together’ bits and pieces of video, music, audio etc…try Weavly).
TURNING ONLINE INTO BLENDED…WITH WEBINARS
Blended learning is the ideal….some online…some face-to-face. But often this ideal just isn’t workable because of distance and/or other conditions, so how can you provide this very valuable ‘real-time’ connection and communication? Webinars are increasingly the answer. For those new to webinars, the word ‘webinar’ is short for web seminar – a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar which happens on the internet, instead of in a room. There are Different Types of Webinar and many businesses are Using Webinars to Grow visibility & engage on Social Media. Most of the free e-learning professional development is now done via webinar and I recently conducted a session on Web Conferencing to Engage your Learners to provide some ideas for how they can be used. As in this example trainers are using webinars to “bring the teacher back into the online classroom“. Oh…one last bit of news…Moodle recently announced the new WizIQ webinar plug-in integration which will ensure seamless movement between Moodle and webinar platform.
WHAT DO QR CODES HAVE TO DO WITH EDUCATION?
Have you seen these square bar codes in a newspaper or magazine? You scan them with a phone app, and they lead to…well….anything really. In magazines they sometimes lead to a video (maybe how to cook the recipe) or sometimes they lead to a website or further information. All good…but what does this have to do with education? Well, let’s start with 2 Simple Ways To Use QR Codes In Education for some ideas, or what about QR Treasure Hunt Generator! There’s a good explanation too (re ‘why would you?’) at Use QR codes to keep my hyperlinks in your printed learner resource. Keen to get started? Excellent..[rubs her hands with glee]. QREdu is a QR Code generator specifically for education which says they are “a technological platform for teachers of different educational levels interested in creating educational and funny activities using QR codes.” Funny? Oh well…it’s their description. [grin] Quite honestly though, many people are just using Microsoft Tag as the free account allows you to create tags, provides basic tracking reports and has a comprehensive Implementation Guide.
LET’S TALK ABOUT MATHS
Yes, I know we’re about Vocational Education and not High School, but the reality is that there is a considerable amount of numeracy involved in VET training….and some students struggle with this aspect. You possibly already know about the Kahn Academy which is filled with thousands of videos to help students grasp maths concepts – you can even embed them into your Moodle or similar LMS. If you’re keen to investigate further afield, browse through the suggestions at 10 Good Video Sources for Math Students and Teachers or the Swinburne University’s iTunes MathCasts site. For anyone training in the Construction industry area, you can’t go past the fabulous Numbers Toolbox which puts maths into a building context. Did I hear somebody say “Where’s the low-tech solution?” [grin] What about downloadable Maths Worksheets? 😉
Whew! I hope you found some information here which can help you to ‘keep up to date’. Education is changing…and technology is changing…so when you put the two together it can be a roller-coaster ride! But we’ll ride this thing together so we’ll be OK. Don’t forget to join the crowd at E-learning Conversations…let’s talk!