MFL teacher Joe Dale explains the value of EdTechRoundup, a podcast explaining how technology can improve learning in the classroom.
30 January 2008 at 00.00
EdTechRoundup is a new podcast produced by a growing group of UK-based teachers who are keen to share their ideas on how new technologies can be used in the classroom to enhance learning. Very much a collaborative project, contributors who include colleagues from both primary and secondary backgrounds have been using weekly Flashmeetings, the ETR wiki and Twitter to decide on and organise the look and feel of the show.
In this inaugural podcast, David and Sinclair first describe some of the ways they are using ICT in their own schools with blogs and Flashmeetings. They then go on to discuss a common frustration faced by many teachers around the UK who are not able to use certain tools such as Voki or YouTube in the classroom because they are blocked by their local authority through fear of misuse.
David mentions the excellent ScotEduBlogs which brings together posts from bloggers around Scotland as well as further afield and is a great place to catch up on the thoughts and experiences of educationalists using blogs to reflect on their own practice.
In the 'ICT buffet section' of the podcast, Sinclair tells listeners about Classtools.net which he has chosen as his 'educational tool of the week'. Classtools.net is a site which allows you to create a range of Flash exercises which you can use on an interactive whiteboard, save as a webpage or embed on a blog or site. Sinclair says how he used the Fishbone template to teach his pupils about balanced and unbalanced forces and how the History department in his school are using the Post-it template for annotating images with colour-coded notes.
Next is the 'guest interview' where I am asked to suggest five ways in which blogs can be used in class or school. Here are my top tips for educational blogging:
use a blog as a way of publishing your pupils' spoken or written work to a real audience
encourage others to leave comments for assessment for learning purposes
moblog a trip abroad with a mobile phone or USB modem
create a radio or tv station
encourage creative writing with individual learner blogs
I finish by suggesting that teachers could set up a mother blog to tie sets of individual blogs together which share a common theme.
To round up the podcast, David recommends Edublogs as a suitable blogging platform to be used in education because it is free and doesn't have a Next Blog button like Blogger which can take you to a site containing inappropriate content.
If you are are a UK educator and would like to get involved with the EdTechRoundup project, why not add your name to the ETR wiki or join one of the Sunday night Flashmeetings from 8.00-9.00? You'd be more than welcome.
To help pupils revise for the GCSE speaking exam, some language teachers are recording model questions for their pupils to download and listen to on a computer or mp3 player. Others are recording both the question and answer to make revision even easier.
This is all well and good, but of course it could be argued that it would be better to leave suitable gaps between questions so that pupils can record their own answers instead of just listening to their teacher answer for them. To do this in Audacity is easy.
First record all the model questions from a given topic and save the file in a shared area that all pupils can access. Ask them to launch this file, click on the Edit menu, Preferences and then the Audio I/O tab. Next, they need to tick the box by Play other tracks while recording new one and click OK.
That done, they can then click the play button and record their answers after each question. If they need more thinking time, they can always click the pause button. Once they've finished, they can resave the file with a different name or just export their personalised recording as a mp3 file and transfer it on to a mobile device or email it to themselves as an attachment.
Combined with a transcript of their recording as a Word document or mobile friendly eBook to images version they can choose how and where they revise, either in front of a computer or on the move. They can decide how to personalise their own learning at a time that suits them. Sound good?
You can also use this technique for speaking, singing or rapping over a backing track from a site such as Flashkit. That way, you can ensure that you keep in time with the music.
Last week, I was 'on tour' again, away from the day job and meeting a variety of MFL colleagues face to face on my travels. First up, was a Thursday visit to the new CILT headquarters conveniently positioned just one tube stop away from Waterloo at Lambeth North.
There I was taking part in preliminary discussions about some video case studies which Becta has commissioned CILT to produce on how ICT can be used to enhance 'hard to teach' topics at GCSE and KS3.
Five of us have been selected to take part in the project and have agreed to be filmed using a range of technology to enhance our language lessons. Guidance will come from Terry Cooper and Claire Dugard from CILT and Steven Fawkes from ALL. The four other teachers are:
Gemma Fordyce (Woodlands School, Basildon, Essex)
Joanne Brophy (St Julie's Catholic High School, Liverpool)
Barbara Hlavaty (Crofton School, Fareham Hampshire)
I've chosen 'er verbs' as my 'difficult to teach' topic and I plan to use software such as PowerPoint, Hot Potatoes, Teacher's Pet, and Audacity to engage the pupils and help them learn. Terry will be visiting me this Friday to plan out how to best capture these techniques on film. Looking forward to it.
Over a hundred local language teachers attended the various workshops planned for the day and I had a great time showing thirty or so of them how to publish their audio files on the net so that their pupils could subscribe to them. The excitement was palpable! Listen to their feedback here:
Finally, for the last date of the tour, I returned to London to attend the ALL London January Event at The London School of Economics. It was great seeing so many familiar faces and catching up with people's news. Thanks to Sara Sullivan, Wendy Adeniji and Jen Sutton for letting me record their inspiring sessions and for Helen Myers for organising yet another successfull ALL-London event.
Winding down in a nearby pub afterwards was an extra treat and also gave me the opportunity to go through the step by step process of creating your own podcast with interested colleagues. See images from the ALL London site to see how we got on.
The last image in this post is a record of all my mobile tweets while I was away. As you can see it was quite a life-affirming experience.
CuePrompter is a free teleprompter tool which runs through your web browser and could be a fun way of practising reading in a foreign language on the interactive whiteboard. The maximum number of characters you can include in your personalised autocue is two thousand.
You can also differentiate the reading difficulty by changing the speed and direction of the text as it appears as well as choosing the font and screen size. If you press F11 on your keyboard, you can even make CuePrompter go full screen. For more ideas on using CuePrompter have a look at this post by Nik Peachey which includes a video tutorial.
Talking of mobiles, on the Seesmic blog, there are instructions on how to use Shozu to post video straight from your phone. A nifty trick for all you mobloggers out there. See the clip below, to see Phil trying to remember exactly which part of the UK I was from. Made me smile!
By 19th March 2008, the IOW council will decide to go for one of three options for reorganisation. Unfortunately, none of them include Nodehill as the site is deemed unsuitable for the council's plan despite it having been a place of learning for the last two hundred years or so.
Suffice it to say, this decision will have huge ramifications for everyone associated with the school and marks a very sad day in its history. I fear many staff could leave the island and recruitment and retention could become a real issue.
I'll be looking at my own options in the upcoming months.