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)