Ipads in the classroom

One of my favourite blogs to read on ipads in the classroom is Mr P’s ICT Blog – ipads in the classroom.  I am always inspired as to how he makes learning fun with the use of ipads and I follow the apps he is using rather than trailing through the thousands of apps that are now available.  In his recent post, he gives these 12  ipad lessons for Christmas – all of which can be used across the curriculum, adapting them to suit learner needs and ages.

One suggestion is to use the emoji keyboard on the ipad  to write a story or song, a fun engaging activity for all ages.  How to set your keyboard to use emoji and ideas for use in the classroom.


Web 2.0 in Education

Great tools are always popping up, it’s hard to keep track of them all.  Having many tools under one roof is great for the busy teacher.  Web 2.0 in Education, a  UK created wiki has everything any ICT teacher would ever need. It has over 295 tools with a review and screenshot or example of the tool as well as suggestions on how they might be used. Definitely worth a visit.

Please share it with others and send a note of thanks to its creator.

Here is a list of its contents:

  • mindmapping tools
  • website builders
  • timeline makers
  • comics and cartoons
  • drawing tools
  • photofun
  • mapping tools
  • presentations/slideshows
  • scrapbooks
  • multimedia
  • electronic books/writing
  • quizzes and games
  • video and screencasting tools
  • graphs/charts/databases
  • music tools
  • discussion/debate tools
  • surveys/polls
  • Read/Write/Think tools

Terrific Tools

Like most people who write a blog, there is never enough time to write about all the wonderful and interesting tools that are constantly evolving.  To keep this post manageable, I’m mentioning a few of the fabulous tools that I have come across in the past weeks  via the various networks that I attempt to keep up with.


StumbleUpon, a social media site that enbles users to discover and rate webpages, photos, videos, and news articles, has become a favourite plugin on my toolbar. If you haven’t tried it out, I’d encourage you to do so.  Like most networks or tools, StumbleUpon’s features are best experienced than described.  Briefly, you can identify the topics/areas you are interested in, then when you click the Stumble! button on your toolbar, it will present a site based on your selected interests.  You can then give it the thumbs up or down to refine your preferences.   Once you start using the tool, you see its wonders (and its addictiveness).  Since using it, I’ve come across some fabulous tutorials which I may not have otherwise found.   It can be used as a marketing tool, or in the case of educators, networking with other users to gain interesting and useful information.  Here are 5 power tips to get the most out of using StumbleUpon.

Information Organiser

The Personal Brain is a free downloadable visua information organiser that sits on your desktop and facilitiates keeping track of projects.  Great for a visual overview of what is going on either at work or home.  You can have as many ‘brain’ projects as you wish, or you can divide one ‘brain’ into different projects.  So it can be used for work/home.  Keep all your work related projects together and same with personal.  Notes can be added, web links, even files and images and there’s also a calendar.   It has potential in the classroom for brainstorming projects, project planning and even as a revision tool. Here’s a Youtube review of Personal Brain.

After using this tool now for several weeks, I’m quite impressed with its functioning.  It is intuitively easy to use, adding a new project is as simple as clicking on ‘Thought’ from the drop down menu > Parent Thought.  Add a sub-thought to this > Child Thought.  For a completely new brain > File > New Brain.  A paid version is available, obviously with more features. The free version has enough options to make it very usable and worthwhile.

Educational Videos

Teachers TV is certainly one of my favourites places to go when I want videos for the classroom, classroom management and personal development. Although I joined earlier this year, a mention of Teachers TV on Paul Hamilton’s site prompted me to go and take a deeper look.  As mentioned in Paul’s post, there is an incredibly rich supply of resources available on this site. What makes the site even more usable is that vidoes can be downloaded or watched directly via Quicktime or Windows medial player.  This overcomes the buffering problem that happens with watching online videos.  If you haven’t been acquainted with Teachers TV, I’d certainly encourage you to do so.

WatchKnow is an emerging  non-profit, online community that encourages everyone to collect, create, and share free, innovative, educational videos. Although not yet officially launched, it is available for beta-testing.  You just need to sign up (username and password is all that is required) to add videos.  The library is still building up.

Presentation Tools

Flowgram is Larry Ferlazzo’s No.1 site for Best Web 2.0 Applications for Education 2008. This is a great tool for presentations, tutorials, web and photo sharing; audio can be added and comments made by viewers. 

Magshow is a slide show creator alternative to my favourite slideshow creator, Smilebox (which requires a download and this proves difficult on different computers in a school setting).  Magshow enables the creating slideshows, panoramas or make your own map.

Rock You is a great new slideshow sharing site I came across via Larry Ferlazzo’s Best Web 2.0 Applications for Education 2008, rated No. 11by Larry.

Automotivator is a poster site I came across via Paul Hamilton’s site.  Create a motivational poster by uploading your own image or choosing a random image, add a quote and title, save to your computer or upload to a site.  This is an alternative to Bige Huge Labs which also has a poster feature.

Extranormal is another great tool that has potential in the classroom for students across the curriculum and across the grades.   It’s new animation tool that is so easy to use.   It claims if you can type you can create a movie.  It could be used for story making, explaining facts or concepts (either the teacher creating or students displaying their knowledge), revision topics, language students and so on.  I came across this via Paul Hamilton’s site.

ICT Tutorials

I came across ICT Teach via Patricia Donaghy’s site and it has been a minefield of wonderful free tutorials. Not only for school use but for my own personal learning.   For example, I have never found easy to understand tutorials for Photoshop and gave up on mastering its workings.  ICT teach has great simplified vidoes which enabled me to finally grasp the program.  ICT teach is aligned to UK syllabuses, nevertheless  all tutorials have universal value.  I’m continually going back there to check the resources, lesson ideas and just-in-time learning.  There is also what appears to be just about a whole syllabus set of resources on the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) which is an internationally recognised qualification which covers the key concepts of computing.  I got really excited about the prospect of this availablility in schools in my country.  It probably won’t happen, but isn’t it a wonderful concept that we could be teaching kids skills that would have universal recognition?

Image by macropolous

Edu 2.0

Edu. 2.0  is an incredible free resource centre for teaching, learning and has a 10,000 plus bank of educational resources.   It provides networking and collaboration in a secure online community.    Teachers can contribute lessons, keep track of assignments, grades, participate in groups and forums.  Plus:

  • Students can create porfolio’s of their best work
  • Conduct surveys with your students
  • Create blogs
  • Games and quizzes
  • Create and share lesson plans
  • Create custom feeds for classes


Free technology resources for teachers

Centralised locations for resources saves teachers time and energy in locating suitable material for specific subject areas.  Another innovation for k-12 educators initiated by Richard Byrne  is his proposed FreeTech4Teachers site. If you go to the site you can register your interest in its launch.  Richard’s blog Free Technology for Teachers hosts a rich supply of k-12 resources and ideas for integrating them into education and will form the basis for the new site.    Additionally, it proposes to host a multi-media sharing component similar to “teacher tube” but with file sharing options.


Edutagger (created by Mark Schumann) is a new kid on the social bookmarking block for K-12 learners and educators for the storing and sharing of web links.  Del.icio.us works for many educators and there is talk of creating an import facility from it into edutagger.     Once you register to become an edutagger, you will have access to submit links.      Users will be able to tag links.  The most popular tags will reside on the front page.  The aim of edutagger is to provide a means for learners and educators to benefit from the many quality resources in a central location.

Blogging for learning

Blogging offers so many opportunites for learners of all ages.  After reading Anne Mirtschin’s 20 reasons why students should blog any educator would be convinced to introduce it into the classroom.  It improves literacy skills,  develops deeper thinking and because it has a wider audience than the traditional teacher-student exchange, promotes self-esteem and confidence plus a whole host of other learning.    Hopefully more and more schools will take it on board across the curriculum.

Ipods for Learning

Ipods are the new learning tool in higher education: downloaded lectures, storing files, learning languages and a whole array of other uses are described in Ipods for learning and teaching.

I read an article which described how a teacher downloaded lesson files to help students of lesser abilities to prepare for tests. The students felt less self-conscious listening to their lessons on ipods and their test scores increased considerably.

This brings up the issue of digital divide: not all students own an ipod.  Who provides the ipods for educational purposes? Whereas most higher education students are likely to own an ipod, this is not the case with all school students.   Similarly, some students will have computers at home and others will not.  This imbalance is an issue that needs to be addressed for equity of learning.

Making Changes

I recently came across an article by Dale Spender “What’s a good education” (about embracing technology in schools).  Although this article was written in 2002, it refers to bringing education up to 21st century standards.   Why are some schools lagging behind 21st century standards and others embracing it?  I think the answer is that where school leadership is strong and supportive and where teachers are embracing change themselves, it will spread through the school.

Consider  the ICT culture in your school.  What is the attitude towards ICT integration – is it supportive or reticent?  If ICT is to be successful in schools there needs to be a strong commitment in the values, beliefs and norms towards it.  There is no denying the way that computers are transforming the work and lifestyles of people in society today.     In order to fully integrate ICT in schools, this may require some major mindset changes towards learning and teaching.    A key factor to promote change is a strong culture supporting the necessary implementation and changes it will bring about.  Without this, changes in the classroom will not occur.    However, despite external government policy expectations, in reality, is ICT being fully embraced?   

Despite an overall belief by teachers that ICT is beneficial for learning, there remains a degree of uncertainty (in its application) which can only be diffused by teachers being given the opportunity to realise the potential it has for enhancing learning and obstacles related to implementation minimised.  In order for practice to meet policy, change includes a paradigm shift in learning and teaching practices; teaching via ICT is not suited to the traditional didactic form of delivery.     A pedagogical overhaul is required to facilitate ICT integration; school policies need to reflect new demands of learning. 

Today’s Generation X and Y communicate, learn, access information differently (to previous generations) and multi task (listen to music, surfing the net and doing their homework!).   Without school-based changes, ICT will not be fully embraced or utilised.  The school curriculum needs to drive the technology, not that technology is used as an add-on to existing curricula.  Across the board new changes need to include learning outcomes reflecting ICT integration and ICT competencies need to be linked to educational outcomes.    If primary measuring tools remain unchanged, teachers will resist ICT.   To not adapt to change, is inhibiting the potential of learners today and not fully equipping them for the future society.  

We are faced with living in a continuously changing society and just like other areas of our lives have been revolutionised by technology, education needs to be at the forefront of change to enable schools to deliver the highest possible standards to the knowledge generation.   Change in schools will not occur overnight but overcoming the culture shock is a step in the right direction.  Hooray to all those teachers who are already blogging, wiki-ing and twittering!