Friday, December 19, 2008


This will be my last post before Christmas so I will take the opportunity to share a tool I enjoy using when I have some spare time.

StumbleUpon takes you to random web sites based on your interests (these might be educational or personal interest). When you sign up for an account, you have the opportunity to register your interests and when looking at websites you are taken to you can vote on whether you like the site - Stumbleupon's engine learns what you like, and it will also save those you vote for so you can go back later.

I wish you a very happy Christmas and will be back blogging on 5th January 2009.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Visual Search Engines

If you are prefer information presented as images rather than text you may find one of these new types of search engine useful.

Searchme presents the web pages as search results rather than just some text from the webpage. When you enter your search term, categories appear that relate to your search term. You can select a category to narrow down your search. Then you review the web pages by flicking through them as they appear on the Internet rather than just textual information taken from the pages.

Search-cube is a different visual search engine that shows the web search results as web pages each presented as small squares in a larger 3 dimensional cube shape. Although reviewing the search results on this search engine might seem less intuitive ( you have to flip the cube to see the images on different sides) it does make searching feel more like a game of exploration.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mind Maps is an easy to use, free web application that lets you brainstorm online. You can use it to create your own mind map or to share it with others online.

There is a helpful video showing how to use this created by Tech Bites.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Crossword and Hangman Puzzles - Online

The Linguaspectrum website enables you to create crossword and hangman puzzles which can be completed online. It is easy to use. To do this you need to register and then enter your answers and clues for the puzzle. Once you have completed this you need to submit it for publishing and wait for a confirmation email with link (it took less than 24 hours for mine to be published online. You can have a look at ones I created yesterday: You can find my puzzle here and my hangman game here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Creating Puzzles

Today, a change from subject focused websites.

Puzzlemaker from Discovery Education enables you to create and print a range of word games.

When you access the site, you will see the option to purchase a CD OR to create the free puzzles.

To create the free puzzles, be sure to select the type of puzzle you want to create on the left then follow instructions.

To print the puzzles you will need to copy the puzzle and paste it to a word or similar document which you can then print off and use for your teaching.

Friday, December 12, 2008


ThinkAnatomy website was the idea of Vanessa Ruiz and developed from her studies for her Master’s in Biomedical Visualization at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Having found lots of useful resources, she decided to make these available to others through this website.

Rather than wasting time searching for good anatomy resources online, Vanessa has shared her collection of links to some of the best anatomy resources on the Internet.

The site contains: dissection manuals and videos, games, illustrations, lectures, podcasts, quizes, study guides and much more.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Livemocha - learning languages

Livemocha is another language learning website, offering interactive lessons and exercises and the opportunity to participate in an online community of other language learners, native speakers and tutors.

You will need to register to access all the facilities but once you have, you can learn at your own pace on a range of different activities to learn or develop your English, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Hindi, Italian, Russian, or Japanese.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Virtual Careers

Have you ever wanted to know more about some careers? Virtual Work Experience is a website that provides careers information and allows you to go into 6 different virtual worlds and try out different jobs online.

Customer contact centre - Explore the range of careers within the Customer contact centre environment.
Food and drink production - Explore the range of careers within the Food and drink production environment.
Hair, beauty and nails - Explore the range of careers within the Hair, beauty and nails salon environment.
NHS - Explore the range of careers within the NHS environment.
Passenger transport - Explore the range of careers within the Passenger transport environment.
Retail - Explore the range of careers within the Retail environment.

A fun website to explore or recommend to students unsure of possible career options.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Babbel - learning languages

The friendsabroad social networking website introduced language learners to native speakers of other languages enabling them to support each other's language learning and build up relationships.

This site as now been taken over by Babbel another language learning site. Babbel a multimedia learning resource. In addition to the learning packages, Babbel facilitates interactions with native speakers or learning partners which enables members to practice and develop their linguistic skills. Languages supported are English, Spanish, French, German and Italian.

This is worth trying if you want to learn a language or if you teach languages.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Instant Anatomy

Instant Anatomy is a specialised website aimed originally at medical students and created by Robert Whitaker, a retired surgeon and lecturer at Cambridge University. Based on his own notes, this insightful website provides detailed diagrams, tips, mnemonics, lectures, podcasts, questions and answers about human anatomy. This site will be useful to anyone teaching or learning medical, biological and anatomical subject areas or those with an interest in anatomy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Compulsive Traveller

If you want to access videos about travel, the Compulsive Traveller website is worth investigating. This site provides videos from around the world and provides an outlet for the videos taken by self confessed compulsive travellers with an option for users to add new ones. The videos can be found under themes such as people, places, great chefs of the world and funny videos and the site provides additional information about the featured destinations.

This site might be useful for projects about countries or tourism or in preperation for student residential visits, planning a holiday or just for interest.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Free Images

Finding appropriate images and photographs for teaching resources or for personal use can be quite time consuming. Windows on our world provides over 5,000 royalty free online images with a geographical theme. The site receives support from the Royal Geographical Society. The images are divided into a subject categories or can be found using the search tool. The site also welcomes comtributions of new images from readers.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Email College - Short courses

Ever felt you really wanted to learn more about a topic but do not have the time to go to a class? Email college might have the answer for you. This site offers free courses: from advertising to listening skills, from mystery shopping to childrens story writing, from how to complain to starting an ebay business. In short there are so many courses here you are almost certain to find one that interests you! The courses are done by email and last an average of 8 days. There might even be a course that you think is worth recommending to your students.

The site also provides a wide range of additional resources for when you want an instant answer to your problem rather than a mini course. These include publications and web links covering running or starting a business, information skills, work skills, self development, finding a job, or making an extra income.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Show World - visual maps

Show®World was launched in May 2008 by Mapping Worlds. The website provides a new way to look at the world by resizing countries on a map according to different data sets. For example, if you select the data for rural populations North America shrinks and India, China and Bangladesh grow. If you select data for Soybean crops USA, Brazil and Argentina grow and other countries shrink. Although the map is visual, running the mouse over countries shows the country name and data relating to it. The site allows users to download and share the datasets, maps and animations.

This may be an interesting starting point for discussions or even a fun way to learn more about the world.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Create your own Newspaper clippings

Sometimes just a different way to present information can create an additional level of interest.

The image in this blog was created using You can decide on a name for your newspaper and type in your own content.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Innovation - use of mobile phones / videos in the classroom

Today's post is a reflection on two different stories I have heard - in both cases the story was the very similar...

A lecturer noticed that one of the students had their mobile phone out during the lecture and appeared to be playing with it. Rather than telling the student to put it away the lecturer engaged with the student and asked what he was doing. The student explained that he was videoing the lecture and the reason for this was that he had a problem taking detailed notes and particularly relating to the complex diagrams the lecturer used to support his lesson so the video was something he could watch at a later point and go over the things he was unclear about.

I am not sure how many of us would feel if we found out we were being filmed without our permission but the brave lecturer took on board this idea and decided that if it was useful, he could do the videoing himself and organised for a video camera to be set up in his class for the following week. After the lesson he uploaded it to the colleage learning environment system. This proved very popular and did not reduce attendance significantly as had been expected. Rather students who had already attended the lecture were reviewing the videos after the lecture for more detail. So popular was this that lecturers in other subject areas started to do this too.

To read more about the benefits and drawbacks of using videos in lectures, click on the link.

I am not suggesting that all lectures should be videoed (or even taped) but there might be a value in this in some instances. For example some of my students tape my lectures (with a digital recorded) because they have learning problems that mean memory or note-taking are difficult.

What I am suggesting is that we should remain open to new approaches and ideas.... Any comments on this are welcome!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Using technology to teach

Have you noticed the increase in in technological gadgets that students are carrying around and using - ipods, mp3 players, laptops, mobile phones ....

We may be able to get their attention if we make use of some of these technologies in our teaching. Technology gives us the opportunity to engage with students where they are using tools they are familiar with. If we might be able to succeed in getting students to learn using these tools is it worth the time to investigate the possibilities? I do not propose that we throw away all we have used before but that we consider if there are any new applications. I will come back to this again over the next few weeks and explore some possibilities.

In the meantime have a look at what this video has to say on the matter.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Yesterday's post was about the cultural etiquette of different countries. Today's site is an opportunity to learn more or share your travel experiences.

Travelpod is a free travel blog lets you plot trips on a map, share photos and videos, and stay in touch while you travel.

One section of this site provides a Travellers IQ Challenge Here you will find several different quizes to test your knowledge or that of your students. The quizes are under the following under the headings:
World North America Europe World Capitals
Canada Asia UNESCO Sites Africa
Latin America Oceania/Australasia Flags of the World Photos of the World
USA Challenge Amazing Race

Monday, November 24, 2008

Geography & Culture

If you want to know more about different cultures, you could have a look at the World guide to cross-cultural etiquette. This may be particularly useful if you teach a travel or tourism subject.

The site also provides some tools for understanding your own culture, by exploring the values, communications styles and other elements that guide actions, interactions and reactions.

This site offers the chance to ask questions, read reviews, test your cutlural knowledge with weekly quizes and access useful resources for travel.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Donate Rice with

Want to test your knowledge (and that your students) and donate to those in need at the same time. FreeRice is a great site to try out.

The site has two goals - to provide a free education to everyone while at the same time helping end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

You can choose a topic from art, chemistry, geography, English and maths (they are working on adding more topics) and the website will ask multiple choice questions about your topic. For each correct answer, the site will donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

United Nations have reported that about 25,000 people die each day from hunger or hunger-related causes. According to their website, FreeRice has generated enough rice to feed more than two million people since it started in October 2007.

Start donating today!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Videojug is a website that makes use of videos to provide information on countless subjects - including food & drink, beauty & style, sport & fitness, health, leisure, technology, DIY, education, careers, environment, travel and much more!

The site was launched in 2006 and claims to have grown into "the world’s most comprehensive library of free factual video content online".

I checked this out by searching for videos related to "tourism" "holiday" and "travel" and got quite a selection of alternatives. So if you are searching for possible teaching resources, or for expert advice on how to put up shelves, or information about the latest trends ...or pretty much anything...check this out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Control and Access to Internet websites

This is a topic that has been part of much discussion in educational circles over the last few years - balancing the access and restrictions to internet sites by educational institutions. This is a thorny issue and one that has not been resloved yet.

Clearly educational institutions want to encourage appropriate use of computers and so those who misuse the Internet access should be prevented. In addition there are sites that may cause problems from a technical perspective and so these too need to be restricted. The issue then becomes how useful are some of the websites for education and do any of these need to be unblocked. In discussions at conferences and online forums the debate continues with the IT/technical staff explaining the need to control access (for many good reasons) and the teaching staff and students pointing out the value of some blocked sites (again with valid justification).

Not an easy issue to resolve but one that will require communication between all parties!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


A WebQuest is an Internet based lesson & activity tool. These can be set up to encourage the user to engage with resources and information mainly from the internet and to use these to complete a set task.

A very basic example from my teaching can be found here. This was created originally in Word then converted using Course Genie to the web page format.

You can also look at the UKWebQuest site for more information.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Attract students to get their attention

Speaking from personal experience, when I look at any website I have 3 thoughts in my the back of my mind

Do I need this information?
Can I see what I need to find easily?
Is it interesting?

It is important if we want students to use our website/online resources that they are clearly laid out / structured and also that there is something that encourages students to return soon. This may be amusing facts or regular updates/notices.

I was thinking of adding here as an entertaining site but then I reflected that as well as getting people onto the Internet some sites can distract too much! There is so much on this site the user can get distracted from the educational use of the internet.

Perhaps something like a thought for the day like the anecdote on this blog would be better. Alternatively using online polls/surveys where users get instant feedback might draw their attention.

Friday, November 14, 2008

PowerPoint - how not to use it

When I started teaching, PowerPoint was seen by many as the way to make a lecture interesting. I remember numerous discussions between staff who were being encouraged to improve their teaching using this.

Although things have moved on in the last few years and there are now a vast range of possible tools we can use, many people have stayed faithful to PowerPoint.

So for all the PowerPoint users out there - this video is a humourous look at bad practice - how not to use PowerPoint.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Where does the time go? So much to find so little time to do it in!!

This week I have spent many hours looking at Internet sites in search of useful resources for my teaching and the most striking thing I have noticed is that this in itself could be a full-time job!

Google has many different facilities to offer and despite being aware of this my search identified several I was not aware of - have a look around for yourself - from the google site, go to More then to Even More.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Designing online resources

I have just given a presentation about one of the online resources I have provided for students and while I was thinking about what I should say there were a number of points which were crystalised in my thinking.

The use of IT should only be to enhance teaching or learning support and it is not an end in itself. If what I produce does not add to the learner experience then it is pointless.

Research and student feedback is therefore a very important aspect of my planning and this ultimately informs what I do.

There are hundreds of elearning tools and resources available but they should be used with careful thought not just for fun or because they are available.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

DimDim - Online meeting space

DimDim allows you hold online meetings with colleagues, students or friends. You have the facility to see each other if you have webcams, to hear each other if you have microphones or to type messages to each other if not.

The advantage of DimDim over Yahoo or MSN is that you can also share a whiteboard, make a Powerpoint presentation or share your desktop in the meeting. It is possible to schedule meetings in advance and send links by email for up to 20 participants (more if you are willing to pay).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Education, Fun and Blogging

I have spent sime time today looking at other people's blogs. What a wealth of information there is available to us just from these! I have found an etch-a-sketch website which reminded me of my youth and a site offering to teach me mandarin.

I have also found the first Chinese 3D Virtual Tourism Site - Virtual Forbidden Palace, and a game to test my skill as a supermarket manager.

There is so much more out there so why not try searching google for topics of interest. But make sure you have some spare time before you start!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Language Learning

I tried this language learning site and liked offers 12 different languages - you may want to try it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Computers can be confusing....

When we first start to use computers it can seem very complicated and difficult to understand but after a while everything can be second nature and we forget how it felt.

Youtube has an amusing video about the demands on support staff sometimes made by new users - it may not be IT support but it does sound very familiar!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Teacher Tube

Teacher Tube is the educational version of You Tube - a website which enables you to upload and share (educational) videos. There are lots of interesting videos here and it is well worth a look if you need some animated resources to support your lectures or some inspiration.

If you have videos that you want to share or are looking for videos you can use, this is worth investigating.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


SlideShare is website which enables you to upload and share presentations. You can share with others or keep your slides private.You can even embed slideshows in a blog or website.

If you have presentations that you want to share or are looking for slideshows you can use, this is worth investigating.


Have a look at this to see what it can do....
SlideShare in 5 slides
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: slideshare powerpoint)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Welcome to my first Blog!

There is so much information out there about how IT can be used in education that I have decided to try to keep track of useful sites I come across and am happy to share this with you.