You may have only come back to work after loooong summer holidays, or perhaps you just popped out for Christmas Day and then jumped straight back into work. [grin] Either way, let’s ease into things a little slowly for this January edition, and work our way up to some more heavy-level thinking and planning ready for the new year ahead. Deal? [nods] OK…let’s go….
Aaah…remember Christmas Day? Uncle Charlie snoring on the sofa, the kids playing with discarded wrapping paper and boxes, Auntie Maud loudly telling everyone all the details of her latest operation. Oh, the memories. [cheeky grin] Why not keep some of those memories AND share them with the family…with Smilebox. You’ll need to download some software and sign up to Smilebox (remember to UN-tick the box to receive newsletters!!), but then the fun begins. Drag in all your photos and create scrapbooks, collages and photo albums which you can share with all your lucky family. Better still, hand it all over to the kids and you may score a relaxing weekend! Once you’ve finished you can email the final product, post or blog it, burn it to DVD, or print any page. Enjoy!
TOOLS, TOOLS AND MORE TOOLS!
Can’t start a new year without a shed/drawer/desk full of new stuff to play with and use for all those challenging tasks coming up in 2010! Perhaps you’d like to trawl through the Learning Tools Directory 2010 to see if there is something there which is just the thing you’ve been looking for. Too much? [grin] I’m inclined to agree so maybe just have a look at the VET Teacher E-learning Toolkit which breaks it all down into the ‘must-haves’ and specifies the minimum that you really need for e-learning. Send it to your IT Administrator!
They’ll be walking in the door soon…are you ready? [looks over her shoulder];-) Seriously though, even if you only teach in a classroom your students will almost definitely be using the internet in all sorts of ways for their studies so I thought the following might come in handy for those of you who are teachers and trainers. Firstly, the online quiz Test Your Safety Skills might raise their awareness of safe online practices. Also, we all know that social networking has taken off in a HUGE way…and not just for the young….so you could show them the video Protecting Reputations Online in Plain English. And now that they’re good to go, point them to How to Effectively Use the Internet for Research.
Is teaching online the same as teaching in the classroom? Does it use the same skills? Can you just tell your trainers “From now on you will be doing all your teaching online.” Hmmmm…do you think that is a good strategy? [scratches her head] Perhaps you can answer your own questions by first reading this thought-provoking blog post Characteristics of successful/effective online teachers, and then follow up with 10 Things I’ve Learned About Teaching Online. Finally, you might find What’s Different About Teaching Online a useful read. If you are already teaching online, why don’t you click the Comments link at the bottom of this page, and share your experiences. Do YOU think it’s different? How? Why?
Ooooh…can’t get into too much deep thinking this early in the year [grin] so let’s turn now to something practical. One of the many issues I am often asked to solve is sending large files around electronically. It might be a manager’s ‘you-beaut’ Powerpoint presentation with lots of images, or it might be a student’s video that they’ve done for an assessment. Either way, I’m sure you’ll find something useful here: 16 Apps That Make Sharing Large Files a Snap. I personally use Box.net and YouSendIt…but then I haven’t checked them all out so you’ll need to see which one works best for you.
“…when you give your work away, you get things back in return.” Do you agree? Or do you clutch what is yours to your chest, and never ever give anything away! [stubborn look] The above quote came from No Learning for Unauthorised Persons and is a good argument to share at least some of what you create. Why not give your ‘stuff’ a Creative Commons license to make it available to others…but with restrictions that you set. Don’t know how? First check out the video Creative Commons: What Every Educator Needs to Know and then go to the Creative Commons website to license your work. Simply choose the license which is most appropriate then click on the link next to it for further instructions. Why not get your students to license their work too!
…and why? To begin at the beginning, a browser is the program you are using to read this Newsletter online. If your IT Department made the decision then it may be Internet Explorer, but have you ever asked yourself if this is the best one for YOU? Some are faster, some are easier to use, some have lots of useful features, or better security. Maybe it is company policy and you can’t download something different, but if this isn’t the case and you can choose, why don’t you check out this Browser Review. For the record, I use Firefox…or sometimes Google Chrome. [grin]
This is a term which you will be hearing more and more, so I thought I’d explain it for those who are not quite sure what it’s about. Basically, data visualisation is “…the use of tools to represent data in the form of charts, maps, tag clouds, animations, or any graphical means that make content easier to understand.” You can read more in the document 7 Things You Should Know About Data Visualization if you are keen to delve deeper, however maybe it’s best to provide some examples. Have a look at VisuWords..it is a great way to explain language. Try entering the word ‘learning’ into the box at the top, then when the visualisation appears, ‘mouse-over’ for explanations. I’ll bet you can’t resist trying another word!! [knowing smile] When you can tear yourself away, check out Wordle..just click on Create.
TO FACEBOOK OR NOT TO FACEBOOK….
If you haven’t heard of Facebook, then you’ve been hiding under a rock! Do you use it? I’m not going to try and convince you but as a person who starts to shake if I can’t check my Facebook page at least once a day [chuckles], I can’t resist the urge to include something about this social networking tool. Firstly, if you haven’t got an account and would like to find out more about Facebook, start by downloading Getting Started on Facebook. (If your firewall blocks this site, just ask and I’ll email you a copy). I would then suggest bookmarking the article 10 New Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know as a good guide to setting your Facebook up ‘correctly’. Did you know that many educators use it with their students? Have a read of Best Practices for Educators Using Facebook , Penn State Professor Will Use Facebook.com to Teach Class and Facebook a valid educational tool, teachers told. Personally, I find it great to keep track of my kids! [laugh]
Ever wanted to create a resource with ‘bits’ from your computer screen. Maybe its part of a website that you are wanting to focus on in written material…or Powerpoint instructions on how to log on…and you want a ‘picture of the log-in bit’ of the screen. What you need is Screenpresso which is a screen-grabbing tool. What I like about it is that it has a ‘stitching mechanism’ for when the screen needs to be scrolled to fit it all in AND it has a built-in image editor to make things quick and simple. Cool. 🙂
What a great site to finish on for the first 2010 edition of this Newsletter….the ‘hot off the press’ 2010 Horizon Report. Each year, the Horizon Report describes six areas of emerging technology that will have significant impact on teaching and learning within three adoption horizons over the next one to five years, and if your job has anything to do with planning, it is a must read. In fact, I think everyone should be aware of what is on our horizon…sometimes the future is amazingly close!
That’s probably enough for a January edition [grin]. Don’t forget that if you have ANY questions about e-learning, please contact me and I will do my very best to provide an answer. If I can’t, I’ll hand-ball the question to somebody who knows more than me. [laugh] Please click the ‘Comments’ link below to offer feedback, ask questions, give your opinion or provide a suggestion. This is your Newsletter so complete the Poll and let me know what you would like.