Category Archives: 100 ways

e-Learning Stuff – Top Ten Blog Posts of 2013

Oxford

A little later than planned. Well 2013 was an eventful year for me, moving jobs after seven years at Gloucestershire College. I have continued with writing blog posts. There was a lot less writing on the blog this year with just 64 posts, which averages about one a week. Here are the top ten blog posts of 2013. Interestingly this year eight of the posts are from 2013. Half of the posts are app reviews from my series “App of the Week”.

10. Frame Magic – iPhone App of the Week

I wrote about Frame Magic in June and it is one of the many photographic and image apps I have used and reviewed.

9. Is the Scroll of Death Inevitable?

This article from May looked at how the default setup of a Moodle installation, the way in which we do training will inevitably result in the Moodle “scroll of death”.

8. Comic Life – iPad App of the Week

Though I have been using Comic Life on the Mac for a few years now I realised I hadn’t written much about the iPad app that I had bought back when the iPad was released. It’s a great app for creating comics and works really well with the touch interface and iPad camera.

7. 100 ways to use a VLE – #89 Embedding a Comic Strip

This is an older post from July 2011, that looked at the different comic tools out there on the web, which can be used to create comic strips that can then be embedded into the VLE.

It is from my ongoing series of ways in which to use a VLE. This particular posting was about embedding a comic strip into the VLE using free online services such as Strip Creator and Toonlet.

It is quite a lengthy post and goes into some detail about the tools you can use and how comics can be used within the VLE.

The series itself is quite popular and I am glad to see one of my favourite in the series and one of the more in-depth pieces has maintained itself in the top ten, dropping two places from last year.

6. Show what you know [Infographic] – Updated

I liked Tony Vincent’s excellent Infographic on apps that can be used for different activities. This post was showing off his updated version.

5. Keynote – iPad App of the Week

Probably one of my longest blog posts that explores the iPad presentation app from Apple. I used the post to help me to understand the app better and what it is capable of.

4. VideoScribe HD – iPad App of the Week

I talked about VideoScribe HD in July and was impressed with the power and versatility of the app for creating animated presentations.

3. Educreations – iPad App of the Week

I was introduced to this app by a colleague at Gloucestershire College in 2012 and used it and demonstrated it a lot to staff. It was great to see how they and their students used it to support their learning over the year. 2

2. Thinking about iTunes U

Maintaing its position at number two, is this blog post on iTunes U, which followed posts on iBooks 2 and iBooks Author. I discussed the merits and challenges that using iTunes U would bring to an institution. Back then I wrote, if every learner in your institution has an iPad, then iTunes U is a great way of delivering content to your learners, if every learner doesn’t… well I wouldn’t bother with iTunes U. I still stand by that, I like the concept and execution of iTunes U, but in the diverse device ecosystem most colleges and universities find themselves in, iTunes U wouldn’t be a solution, it would create more challenges than problems it would solve.

1. The iPad Pedagogy Wheel

This was my most popular blog post of the year (and if the stats are to be believed of all time on my blog). I re-posted the iPad Pedagogy Wheel as I was getting asked a fair bit, “how can I use this nice shiny iPad that you have given me to support teaching and learning?”.

It’s a really simple nice graphic that explores the different apps available and where they fit within Bloom’s Taxonomy. What I like about it is that you can start where you like, if you have an iPad app you like you can see how it fits into the pedagogy. Or you can work out which iPads apps fit into a pedagogical problem.

Allan Carrington who drew up the diagram has published a revised version, what I like about the original is the simplicity. The revised version is more complex, but as an introduction to what the iPad can do, I much prefer the simpler diagram.

100 ways to use a VLE – #59 Uploading a Powerpoint Presentation

Projector

Probably one of the tools that teachers use “too much” is Powerpoint. As a result I would suspect that there are many VLE courses out there that mainly consist of uploaded Powerpoint presentations.

I do find it interesting how embedded the use of Powerpoint is in education. In the late 1990s I was delivering lots of training sessions on how to use Powerpoint to lots of curriculum staff at the college where I worked. Back then I heard many of the “reasons” (and in many cases the excuses) why the curriculum staff couldn’t use the software, how their learners were different, how it wouldn’t work in their subject. However I did persevere in outlining the potential, the possible benefits and the longer term impact that using a tool such as Powerpoint could bring to teaching and learning.

It was nice a few years later (after I had left the college) to find that the training had had an impact and Powerpoint was well used by the curriculum teams. I was particularly impressed with Hair and Beauty who were not only creating innovative presentations, but were sharing them across the department.

Jump forward ten years and Powerpoint is extremely embedded into most colleges and often not only overused, but badly used. Though of course there are lots of positive and innovative uses of Powerpoint, so mustn’t be too negative about it. It is also often an useful starting point in getting staff to move on in their use of learning technologies.

If you do need to upload a presentation to the VLE, then my preference is to use a service such as Slideshare or Speakerdeck, this converts the presentation, and then allows you to embed the presentation into a label or page on the VLE. Slideshare even allows you to add an mp3 audio soundtrack file to run alongside the presentation. This of course implies that you are using a traditional linear presentation, if you’re not then this is not the road to travel down, as these services break any form of interactivity in a Powerpoint presentation. If you are using an interactive Powerpoint presentation, then it makes much more sense to upload the Powerpoint file, rather than convert it. You are making an assumption that the learner has access to the Powerpoint software. This, in a world of iPads, tablets and Chromebooks isn’t always a given.

Uploading Powerpoint files to a VLE, is most certainly not cutting edge in terms of using learning technologies, many of the people reading this blog probably were doing this back in the early 2000s or even earlier. However experience shows that there are still plenty of curriculum staff out there who don’t have that background or experience and for them uploading of Powerpoint files to the VLE is at the beginning of their journey into using note just the VLE, but learning technologies as well, more effectively to support and enhance learning.

100 ways to use a VLE – #27 Undertaking a Survey

clipboard

Many curriculum topics ask learners to gather and analyse data. Hospitality and Catering students may want to gather data about spending habits on eating out. Travel and Tourism students may want to gather information on the costs of tickets for attractions, opening times and discounts. Students on a Business Enterprise course may want to gather data on customer habits to help them formulate a business plan.

In addition to learners gathering data for a survey, teachers or other staff in the college may want to get data. We recently gathered information on how learners felt about the VLE and what needed to be done to make it better; we also gathered data on how they felt about tablets and their use in teaching and learning.

There are a fair few ways for learners and staff to gather data for a survey. You can of course collect responses in paper format, enter all the data and then undertake the analysis. Another option would be to use a Google Form and collect the data in that way.

Using the VLE, say for example, through the Feedback Module on Moodle, allows the learners to spread their survey across the complete college community. Once the survey is done there are some analytical tools included in the Feedback Module, or you can download all the data into an Excel file for further analysis. There is an element of consistency too, with learners using the same tool for the data collection and initial analysis.

100 ways to use a VLE – #85 Interactive Whiteboard

Blackboard

One tool which is often used in the physical learning environment is the interactive whiteboard. One tool which is used probably a lot more in a lot of physical learning environments is the traditional whiteboard. Another tool which is well used in training rooms is flip chart paper, even if a lot of the time it is the paper that is used rather than as a flip chart.

Regardless of your feelings about interactive whiteboard, the concept of a large shared working space that learners can contribute to together for writing and drawing is one that is often used in education. It is also a rather challenging concept to embed into online environments.

The easiest solution is to stop thinking about a digital whiteboard, but think about the activity and the learning outcomes and see if a different tool could meet those particular needs. For example a brainstorming activity on the meanings of different words could be undertaken using the Glossary tool in Moodle. A collaborative exercise could be done in a wiki. Drawing a concept map could be done using mind mapping software.

It’s not to say that it’s impossible to use a whiteboard in an online environment, but you would very likely need to link or embed such a tool into the VLE.

Remote delivery solutions such as Adobe Connect and Blackboard Collaborate have a digital whiteboard built in as one of the features. These online whiteboards can be used by the remote delegates to interact with the each other and the teacher. These sessions can often be recorded and then linked to from the VLE to be played back at a later date.

There are various tablet apps, such as Educreations that can be used as a portable digital whiteboard, the final output is saved to the web and can be linked to or embedded into the VLE.

There are other online tools that can be embedded into the VLE, Padlet (the service formerly known as Wallwisher) is an ideal tool that allow multiple users to post comments to a virtual wall.

The whiteboard is a cornerstone of the traditional classroom, as was the blackboard before that, it is a tool that you don’t often see in VLEs, but that’s not to say it isn’t possible to have an interactive whiteboard, just that sometimes you need to think slightly differently.

100 ways to use a VLE – #76 Learner feedback

Desks

So how was it for you?

These days if you go to any kind of coffee shop or restaurant, or buy something from a retailer on the high street, get an MOT or your tyres done, the waiter, retailer assistant or mechanic hands you a little card. The card usually offers you the chance to win an iPad, a £100 or something similar, with a web link (sometimes an QR Code) and asks you for feedback on what you’ve just done.

Now it is generally accepted that we should be asking our learners how the lesson they are in went. Asking questions such as “what went well?” and “even better if?” allow practitioners to evaluate the effectiveness of what the learners learnt, and how they learnt it.

There are many ways to do this, post it notes are an obvious one, that can then be stuck next to the door on the way out. We have practitioners using tools such as Wallwisher (now known as Padlet) for a similar virtual type activity.

As you really need to be asking for feedback at each lesson, it makes sense to have a variety of ways to collect and collate feedback. The VLE has a number of tools that can be used to collect this learner feedback.

As might be expected a tool like the Feedback block in module is designed to do just that collect and collate feedback. You can create a series of questions, or even a single question. The key is getting the learners to add their feedback and importantly for the practitioner to reflect on the feedback and ensure it feeds into their future planning.

If there is a quiz tool on the VLE then using an open-ended format quiz will work in a similar manner to the concept of a feedback module. Just make sure that it doesn’t mark the quiz and give the students a score!

Usually the data from quizzes and feedback style modules can be exported as a spreadsheet file for further analysis.

You could use a discussion forum, where this works well is if you want group feedback and for the learners to reflect and discuss their feedback, collaborating together to provide that feedback to the practitioner.

One advantage of the VLE for gathering feedback is that it is recorded and is also accessible in the future. Perfect for analysis feedback over a period of time.

I wouldn’t use the VLE every lesson for feedback, there are many ways of gathering learner feedback, however it is one tool that you can and should use.