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    e-Learning Stuff – Top Ten Blog Posts of 2013

    January 24th, 2014

    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.


    Experimentation and Exploration – ocTEL

    April 9th, 2013

    Google+

    Activity 0.3 of the ocTEL MOOC asks

    Experiment with and/or reflect on different ways of communicating with fellow ocTEL participants.

    I have been using most (if not all) the different ways to communicate and chat with fellow ocTEL participants. I have posted and responded using the ocTEL JISCMail e-mail mailing list. I have posted to the Twitter and replied to other participants. Similarly I have done the same with the ocTEL forums. I have posted links and discussed using Google+. Finally I have posted blog posts to my blog (this one) and responded to blog postings from other participants.

    What forms of reflection, challenge and learning do each of these do best?

    How do they support relationship forming and community building? Is that important for learning?

    Which do you prefer and why?

    Each form of communication for me meets different needs.

    For me the blog is an ideal place for reflection, well more posting my reflective thoughts. I actually do most of my writing in a word processor (Pages) on my Mac and then copy and paste into the blog. I have also made an effort to add an image to my blog posts. Partly so they stand out when linked to from in Google+ (and Facebook) but also so they add a visual identifier to those reading the blog posts and then trying to find it again.

    I wonder if the ocTEL course reader would pick up the images in a similar manner to Google+ and Facebook.

    Though people can post comments to the blog, one of the reasons I have posted the links to Google+ is that I find the discussion on Google+ is much more of a level playing field. My blog is mine and as a result I see it as a one to many form of communication. It’s not a place for community discussions, its a place for me to share my thoughts with others. What Google+ allows is a many to many communication. The Google+ community that was formed (sorry not sure who did that) makes it much easier to manage.

    I have never felt Twitter is an ideal tool for conversations, it’s so much more of a broadcast medium. However it has worked for me as a discover tool using the #ocTEL hashtag. It is possible to have a chat with Twitter, but the 140 character limit makes more meaningful conversations much more of a challenge. This is where Google+ comes in, as there is no character limit.

    As an active member of the ILT Champions mailing list and ALT-Member list, I would have anticipated that the ocTEL JISCMail e-mail mailing list would have been an ideal mechanism, and it would feed direct into my e-mail client. However the huge influx of e-mail to the list resulted in lots of people complaining and asking to be removed from the mailing list. The fact they were adding to the problem was completely missed by them! I found so many of the postings were “complaints” that in the end I stopped reading the mailing list. I am hoping that after the dust has settled that it becomes more useful.

    I think one of the real challenges is using any form of communication tool to build a community. Very often the 1% rule comes into play. I am seeing similar engagement on this MOOC.

    From my initial observation the rule does seem to be applying on the ocTEL course. The tools are been used, but not by most of the course participants. Will that impact on their learning? Well they will certainly lose a lot of the value that the interaction and engagement that these tools bring to learning, which will be a pity.

    I am disappointed that we’re not making more use of video and audio, we’re not seeing participants creating short videos or podcasts.

    Of all of the tools I use, I much prefer using the blog for posting and sharing information, however for conversations the winner for me is Google+, it works and is much more useful and flexible than the Twitter.


    e-Learning Stuff – Top Ten Blog Posts of 2012

    January 1st, 2013

    A somewhat quieter year this year with just over 100 blog posts posted to the blog.

    As I did in 2011, 2010 and 2009 here are the top ten blog posts according to views for this year. Interestingly, the VLE is Dead – The Movie blog post which was number one last year and number two for the previous years, does not appear in the top ten , it was the 15th most viewed post.

    10. Keynote – iPad App of the Week

    The tenth most viewed post was my in-depth review of the Keynote app for the iPad. I wrote this review more for myself, to get a my head around what the app was capable of. Whilst writing the blog post, I was very impressed with the functionality and capability of the app, it was a lot more powerful and flexible than my first impressions of it.

    Keynote opening screen

    9. ebrary – iPad App of the Week

    I spent some time trying out the various mobile ways of accessing our college’s ebook collection which is on the ebrary platform. This was a review of the iPad app, I was both impressed and disappointed. It was much better than using the web browser on the iPad, but was less impressed with the complex authentication process which involved a Facebook connection and a Adobe Digital Edtions ID. Very complicated and as a result less than useful for learners. Though it has to be said once the book was downloaded it did work much better than accessing it through the browser. The only real issue is you have to remember to return the books before they expire!

    8. MindGenius – iPad App of the Week

    MindGenius is not the best mind mapping app for the iPad, that has to go to iThoughtsHD however if you have MindGenius for the desktop then this app is an ideal companion for starting mind maps on the iPad and finishing them off on the computer.

     7. iBooks Author

    In January of 2012, Apple had one of their presentations in which they announced iBooks 2, iBooks Author and an iTunes U app that built on the iTunes U service in iTunes. At the time I wrote three blog posts about those three announcements. All three of those blog posts are in the top ten, the one on iBooks Author was the seventh most popular blog post in 2012. It looked at the new app. I’ve certainly not given it the time I thought I would, maybe I will in 2013.

    6. A few of my favourite things…

    Over the last few years of owning the iPad, I have downloaded lots of different apps, some of which were free and a fair few that cost hard cash! At a JISC RSC SW TurboTEL event in Taunton I delivered a ten minute presentation on my favourite iPad apps. The sixth most popular blog post of 2012 embedded a copy of that presentation and I also provided a comment on each of the apps.

    5. 100 ways to use a VLE – #89 Embedding a Comic Strip

    The fifth most popular post this year was 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 made it into the top ten. It was number eight last year and tyhis year was even more popular.

     4. I love you, but you’re boring

    This blog post was the first in a series of blog posts looking at Moodle and how the default behaviour of the standard system results in problems for learners and staff.

     3. “Reinventing” Textbooks, I don’t think so!

    In January of 2012, Apple had one of their presentations in which they announced iBooks 2, iBooks Author and an iTunes U app that built on the iTunes U service in iTunes. There was a lot of commentary on iBooks and how it would reinvent the textbook. Looking back I think I was right to be a little sceptical on this one. Maybe in a few years time, we will see e-textbooks that change the way in which learners use textbooks.

    2. Thinking about iTunes U

    The blog post on iTunes U, which followed posts on iBooks 2 and iBooks Author, is the second most viewed blog post this year. 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. Every Presentation Ever

    Back in January I posted a humourour video about making presentations, this was the most popular blog post of mine in 2012.

    It reminds us of all the mistakes we can make when making presentations.

    So that was the top ten posts of 2012, which of my posts was your favourite, or made you think differently?

     


    One month later…

    June 28th, 2012

    I recently noticed that I’ve not posted to the blog for a while, nearly a month!

    It’s not that I’ve had nothing to say, much more I have been busy doing other things, holiday, mainly work, but also moving house. June is also a busy month in terms of events and I have been out and about a bit too.

    I have posted to my other blogs, notably on my technical blog.

    Voice Dictation – trying out Apple’s voice dictation.

    Lost my Fibre – having moved house I lost my FTTC connection.

    Music, books, movies and tan slacks – YouTube’s speech-to-text transcription can sometimes result in amusing closed captions.

    In terms of events I went to the RSC Turbo TEL event where I presented four ten minute sessions on various learning technologies.

    I also blogged at Anglia Ruskin’s Learning and Teaching Conference in Cambridge. I particularly enjoyed the keynote session from Bob Duke.

    Lord Ashcroft Building #ltaconf

    I have also delivered two webinars as part of an LSIS project on learner owned devices which was useful and interesting.

    Yesterday I attended the RSC SW Learning Resources Forum, a really useful opportunity to share ideas and issues with colleagues who do a similar role in other colleges.

    So hopefully not long now before I write another blog post.


    You’ve been quiet!

    November 27th, 2010

    Regular readers of the blog will have noticed that things have been a little quieter than usual with me posting a lot less.

    The main reason for this is that I have for the last week been attending the JISC Innovating e-Learning Online Conference 2010 which has been taking place in… well online as you might expect. I am going to write a more evaluative piece on the conference later.

    I was the conference blogger at the conference so as a result I was posting a lot of blog entries there instead of here… Most of the blog entries on the conference blog (which is not available to non-delegates) were about the conference itself, however some were on more general web and e-learning issues. These will be expanded upon and published later on this blog – so you won’t miss out.

    Running a conference blog has been fun, if exhausting, but I’ve had a lot of nice positive comments back from people, so well worthwhile.

    A conference blog is something that you sometimes you see at other conferences, but I certainly would recommend that other conference organisers think about having a conference blog for their conferences.