Monday, November 8, 2010

Twitter and the teaching of History #gtp2010


I've been absolutely inspired by Winchester House School's use of Twitter to make the Gunpowder plot come alive over a number of days. See http://wp.me/pLYcW-8o and http://bit.ly/9c2ujJ

This is a prime example of teachers embracing the technology to make it work for them and their learners and I'm so grateful that examples like that exist because it makes my work so much easier! Hats off to @chrisleach78 who is the brainchild of this inventive use of Twitter for History. It's worth looking at his blog for other interesting ideas. I only came across it because I follow @deputymitchell, another inspirational teacher. We have much to learn in FE when it comes to this level of creativity!

Can't wait for my next opportunity to share the use of Twitter with FE teachers and to see the light bulbs come on above their heads ;-)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Google Docs has a new fan


In the last two weeks, I have created more Google docs, forms, presentations and spreadsheets than ever before. To use an analogy I read in one of Doug Belshaw's blog posts (and I think he attributes the idea to someone else...), it's sunrise time for Google Docs in my world.
So what is the sun setting on at the same time? Etherpad. Having touted it for a while now, the various incarnations available out there (piratepad, ietherpad, typewithme) have been less and less reliable. (With the exception of PrimaryPad, probably, as it's being lovingly maintained by @johnmclear). When using Etherpad, we have also 'itched' for more functionality and that's exactly what we're getting now with Google Docs.
A year or two ago, I wouldn't have relied on Google Docs for my training events. Formatting was a nightmare on the 'Word' equivalent. The spreadsheets did funny things when you scrolled across or down it - data cells crossed over so you weren't sure what you were looking at.
Coming back to it a year later, using the Word equivalent is like using Etherpad, with the chat pane on the right hand side, only this time, we can embed pictures as well, yes!
Multiple people can edit the document directly yet you can keep this as a private document between a group of people (unlike Etherpad) or you can create a public document, turning the doc effectively into a wiki-like page.
A group of trainees and I tried this with Google Presentation too. For feedback and reflection, I asked each person to edit a slide. This helped to structure the input a little bit, compared with using a Doc or Etherpad. @tombarrett inspired the idea as he uses Google presentations to collate ideas together.
And I've gone mad on Forms. What a lovely invention. And all the lovely templates you can apply to them. :-) They are so easy to set up, with the results going into a Spreadsheet (Google of course) with instant graphing feedback. Wow. All my event evaluation forms have now gone online. Unlike the drama involved in getting people to fill in an evaluation on Moodle...but that's another story ;-)
And as I've mentioned in a previous post, goo.gl is my favourite URL shortener at the moment as having a Google account means that you have a record of all the stuff you've ever shortened. You get the Google analytics to tell you how many users access the site using one OS versus another. (Not sure why I might want that info at the moment, but might be handy in future.) My only gripe is that I need another column so I can fill in a personal reminder of what the link is!
And when you're making a Doc, Spreadsheet or Presentation shareable, why not give you a goo.gl URL in the first place? Maybe someone from Google will read this and get it implemented pronto...
I know there's loads of other Google bits that are immensely useful but they will surface in my world when it is their time.
One tutor did bring up the fact that we ought to be careful using something like that in teaching and learning - what about Google and privacy concerns? Hmmm, valid point but IMHO, it's a case of how paranoid you want to be. With the stuff that I'm doing at training events, I'm not too bothered who sees it - share and it all comes back to you manifold!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Nabaztag update

Here is a video of the Nabaztag I made a while ago. Unfortunately the audio is a bit quiet as it was late at night when I filmed it. I tried to make an updated video, but the bunny's voice was on vacation (maybe they are updating the server? Who knows?)




I have an iphone app that allows me to 'control' the rabbit in a limited way: I can get it to move its ears and I can get it to speak messages that I type on my iphone. My little girl has had conversations (somewhat stilted on the bunny's part) with the rabbit this way!

Our little white rabbit is getting a new lease of life after Violet (the original company that made them) was bought by Mindscape: http://wapedia.mobi/en/Nabaztag

The new version is called Karotz and will be available to buy from Argos from 17 Dec. Will it make it in time for Santa Claus to buy you one?

Kodak zi8


Thoughts on the Kodak zi8 camera on #molenet loan to me from Sheffield College. I was interested in trying it out after reading about it in this JISC report: goo.gl/hRTA

Plus points:
1. Lovely size, easy to work out and use.
2. Has a tripod mount
3. Has great audio recording quality
4. Crisp clear videos
5. ext mic socket, wow!
6. AV out leads (nowadays, this seems quite standard, but the zi8 has HDMI leads)
7. Build quality is excellent
8. You can take pictures with it as well.

Minus points (only small ones...)
1. You have to manually switch between macro and normal lens, which would mean a 'clicking' sound as you move the button at the top of the camera. Or you just film two shots and edit them together.
2. Not idea for filming yourself (for reflections for instance) since there is no way to tell if you have captured all of your face. Also can't start and stop the recording without going 'behind' the camera. For something like that, the Sony MHS-PM1 is better.
3. The usb connector has a rubber bit around it that is bigger than normal. Now, it's not the zi8's fault that every laptop and computer manufacturer seems to put usb connections right next to each other, leaving no room for manoeuvre.
4. File format is .mov which is not native for Windows. This works great with Macs. Not sure if Windows Movie Maker will accept .mov file extensions yet?

You need to have an SD card in it as the internal memory is minute.

For £100, you'd be hard pushed to find a camcorder that will accept an external mic so this gets the thumbs up from me :-)

QR codes update

Just followed the link on @tombarrett's tweet on QR codes and learned something new :-)
If you use a URL shortener like http://goo.gl and create a short URL, add .qr at the end of the short URL and you will get a QR code!

For bit.ly, you add .qrcode

Guess there's no need to use http://splashurl.net anymore!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

google mail

Have just discovered that you have a choice of how to view your Google mail - you can either group all related messages in a thread or choose to have a 'traditional' view of emails as they come in!

Just goes to show that it's worth playing with the settings on any accounts that you might have (email, web 2.0, social networks etc). You may find you have more control than you realised ;-)

One of the things I like most about Google mail (apart from the fact that I can access all my emails, including sent mail anywhere) is that fact that I can 'file' things under multiple 'folders' by tagging them. So if I want to file an email under 'project x' as well as 'theme y', I can! This way, the email will be seen whether I click on the tag 'project x' or the tag 'theme y'. Or you could just search your emails, I guess ;-)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ifl and RSS feeds for portfolio evidence

Just preparing for the Molenet conference on Wednesday. I was going to run a session on RSS feeds and using them, but am now running a joint session with Dave Sugden on m-assessment. RSS feeds still come into it and it's a good opportunity to show people how items from our tweets, flickr photos etc can become part and parcel of m-assessment.
What's brilliant about this is that reflection and inspired thoughts can be easily captured with twitter, ustream, ipadio etc. You can pull these into systems like Ifl's Reflect and MKM's Learning Slate (being packaged as My Showcase http://my-showcase.org) and map to competency statements, action plans etc. This is a nicely organic way of recording evidence. The evidence is much more naturally formed and more likely to show ability than a learner sitting down and filling in a form field about how they have fulfilled the requirements of a competency statement.
We'll see what people say about the ideas on Wednesday!

Oh, and just for the record, this is how you add an RSS feed into your assets in Ifl's Reflect:

In Reflect, click on Tools > Manage Assets and scroll to the bottom. Click on Import from RSS feed and you can check and uncheck certain options from there. You can even filter the items that you want to import.

Once imported, each post, tweet, video or audio becomes an asset that you can link to your portfolio. Watch the screencast to see how to do this:
http://screenr.com/uwG

Friday, June 18, 2010

camcorder comparisons

Good to know that there are some models of cheaper camcorders out there that have a line-in for external microphone:
http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/blog/entry/side-by-side-comparison-of-kodak-zi8-sony-z5-and-flip/

Good job JISC digital media!

http://tinyurl.com/lskodakzi8 for the Kodak Zi8 recommended by JISC. Not enough suppliers clearly state that their camcorders can record ext mic input. And very few of them tell you what format the video is recorded to. The Kodak's record to .mov and software is included with the camcorder to convert to wmv or avi to edit using Windows Movie Maker on a PC.

The Flips record to mp4 and these also need conversion for editing on a Windows PC.

For those who prefer to use it, there's Super which is a free converter and works with many formats:
(http://www.erightsoft.com/S6Kg1.html, scroll to the bottom and download)

The PSP with a camera attachment records surprisingly good video and has external mic socket. I would actually recommend this over all others simply because the swivel lens allows you to easily record reflections as well as being used as a normal camcorder or camera. And it captures AVI which can be edited using Windows Movie Maker. (need to actually test this - should be fine in theory!) And as James Clay said in a comment on another post, reviewing the video on the PSPs is much better with its bigger screen compared to the Flip.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Flash quiz on PSP continued...

Well, I guess I'm going to have to get an online software written to allow people to upload a list of multiple choice questions and output a swf file that will play on the PSP. It's a gap in the market! However, along the way, I've learned a lot of interesting stuff and come across some very useful links.

In terms of putting files on the PSP, if you add them to the /COMMON folder on the PSP, this site has a nice web page that allows you to list all the files in that folder and select it.
http://psponme.com/download.asp?show=1&gname=Calc&glink=calc.swf
The site also has some useful educational Flash games (and some less useful but fun games) that will work on the PSP.

Sums Online, needless to say, are the number one for providing lots of useful Maths and Language activities for mobile devices, including the PSP:
http://www.sums.co.uk/playground.htm
You can play some free games online and you can also purchase them for offline use on the PSPs.

Adventure Maker is brilliant! There is a lot of potential - asking the learners to create own 'games' for the PSP would extend learning tremendously.
http://www.digitalarena.co.uk/game_creation/adventure_maker.htm
and http://www.cunniman.net/?tag=adventure-maker

This last one will no doubt now take up a lot of my time inventing ways of using it in FE! I'm thinking a tour of the kitchens, car workshops, etc...

While researching stuff for the PSP, I've had to install Windows (7) on my Mac using Parallels, only to find I should have tried boot camp that comes free with Snow Leopard. Ah well. And now having to fork out nearly £100 for extra RAM for the Mac. Would it have been just as cheap to just get a netbook with Windows 7, lol?


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Flash quiz on PSP - myth or reality?

I think I'm hunting down the Holy Grail here: you would have thought by now, that somewhere out there, someone would have created an online site that allows you to create a multiple choice quiz for the PSP. After all, there's web sites to do almost anything these days! But no, seems I've hit on the one gap and the question is, is there a market for it?
I guess if I can get enough colleges/schools interested, then I'd get it commissioned. Not sure if the new MoLeSys tool will have the functionality to create a quiz for the PSP? Something else to ponder, but in the mean time, I'm stuck without a quiz on the PSP unless someone out there volunteers to save a damsel in distress...(ps my pc with my copy of Flash has gone to heaven, and I'm too Yorkshire to get a copy for my Mac...)

Friday, May 21, 2010

creating effective videos on iPhone

videoNow that we have Moletvshoot (available via iTunes) for the iPhone, we can shoot and upload to Moletv quickly and easily! The only downside is the flood of long, one scene videos that are going to appear.
The answer to creating roughly edited videos is to also download Qik Video Pro for 59p for the iPhone. This allows you to pause your video recording so you can move the camera to a different angle or move to another nearby location to continue filming the next scene.
For those into animation, I would recommend iMotion. Next up, I'll need to explore a simple video editing tool on the iPhone so we can pull clips together before sending to Moletvshare.
Enjoy.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Enhanced podcasts

This has been niggling me for a while now, but at last I have some answers thanks to the brilliant Twitter community coming to my rescue.

Despite attending an event where I was shown how to create an enhanced podcast and watching Di Dawson's moletv video on it, I still couldn't get the podcast from Garageband into the podcast section of iTunes. I can understand why (podcasts need an rss feed), but I think my tutors have skipped a few vital steps and the missing links have puzzled me for months!

Basically, I thought that using Garageband to create an enhanced 'podcast' would mean that I could do it all offline - without getting RSS involved. Unfortunately, the file just won't play as an enhanced podcast on my iPhone - I only get the audio channel. The mystery of how to get pictures playing as well has remained a mystery until today (when I should have been working on another project, but that's life for you...)

See my other blog post http://lsmacblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/feeling-podcastically-stupid.html

And here's the answer: http://is.gd/b2keO

Thanks very much to @mrmackenzie and @damoward for their help!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This blog has moved


This blog is now located at http://lilian-mlearning.blogspot.com/.
You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here.

For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to
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Converting m4a to mp3

Have discovered an easy way to convert m4a to mp3. I already have dwhelper installed on Firefox on the Mac, so after making a voice memo on the iphone, I email it to a blog account that will host it (I used Posterous.com in this case) and used dwhelper to download it as an mp3. Great stuff!
http://liliansoon.posterous.com/lia-singing-in-french-0

Friday, March 12, 2010

MMS on iPhone, t-mobile

At last! I have MMS enabled on my iPhone with t-mobile.
Here are the settings in case anyone else needs them:

Pop your new T-Mobile SIM card into your iPhone (the tool to do this is in the box!)

1.) Tap Settings on the Home screen 
2.) Tap General
3.) Tap Network
4.) Tap Cellular Data Network 
5.) In the Cellular Data section please tap each field and enter the following settings:

Instructions for saving Picture messaging settings:

Pop your new T-Mobile SIM card into your iPhone (the tool to do this is in the box!)

1.) Tap Settings on the Home screen
2.) Tap General
3.) Tap Network
4.) Tap Cellular Data Network
5.) In the Cellular Data section please tap each field and enter the following settings:

In the MMS section please tap each field and enter the following settings:

APN general.t-mobile.uk
Username t-mobile
Password tm
MMSC http://mmsc.t-mobile.co.uk:8002
MMSC Proxy 149.254.201.135:8080

6.) Finally, turn your iPhone off and then back on again by holding the power key and following the instructions on the screen

7.) Once you have setup MMS you will need to send a message from your iPhone before it will be fully
configured to receive MMS messages


Monday, March 1, 2010

Some interesting Web 2.0 tools, Flips and PSPs

I've gathered some PDAs together 'oop north' and have learned quite a few interesting things from them which I am just going to drop into this blog post:

1. @juecov has shown me http://www.memiary.com/ which is also available as an iPhone app. Seems to me this might make a good mini-reflective blog if used on projects. We've often suggested that Twitter could be used like this, but memiary can keep things private and the fact that it prompts you to think of 5 things is a nice way to encourage reflective practice.

2. @GraemeBoxwell has given us a whirl on prezi.com, blabberize.com (create great talking heads), dipity.com (create timelines with your imported media) and xtranormal.com (create a movie with characters simply by adding text). And for a laugh, talkingpets.org

We've looked at recording videos with the PSP and @juecov has changed her order of Flip cameras to PSPs instead as a result of seeing them today. Watching me struggle with the buttons didn't put her off! I had to call up the manual to remind myself how to play back a video we had recorded. I guess I just don't use one often enough.

The two other PDAs are making a start at recording their case studies using a dictaphone and Flip camera, but will then use Prezi or Voicethread to present the case study. The advantage of using Voicethread for this is that the PDAs can continue to reflect on their progress and encourage their staff to add to it as well, even after the case study has been posted up to the online learning space.

Some interesting Web 2.0 tools, Flips and PSPs

I've gathered some PDAs together 'oop north' and have learned quite a few interesting things from them which I am just going to drop into this blog post:

1. @juecov has shown me http://www.memiary.com/ which is also available as an iPhone app. Seems to me this might make a good mini-reflective blog if used on projects. We've often suggested that Twitter could be used like this, but memiary can keep things private and the fact that it prompts you to think of 5 things is a nice way to encourage reflective practice.

2. @GraemeBoxwell has given us a whirl on prezi.com, blabberize.com (create great talking heads), dipity.com (create timelines with your imported  media) and xtranormal.com (create a movie with characters simply by adding text).

We've looked at recording videos with the PSP and @juecov has changed her order of Flip cameras to PSPs instead as a result of seeing them today. Watching me struggle with the buttons didn't put her off! I had to call up the manual to remind myself how to play back a video we had recorded. I guess I just don't use one often enough.

The two other PDAs are making a start at recording their case studies using a dictaphone and Flip camera, but will then use Prezi or Voicethread to present the case study. The advantage of using Voicethread for this is that the PDAs can continue to reflect on their progress and encourage their staff to add to it as well, even after the case study has been posted up to the online learning space.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blogging with the iTouch part 1

At an Apple event organised by the Sheffield College on 26 Nov 2009 and sponsored by http://www.krcs.co.uk, I was lucky enough to learn a lot more about using Macs generally (Dave Foster's session was particularly good. He's the manager of the Leeds West CLC) and some new things about the iTouch that I didn't know about as a newcomer to these devices.

Quite a few of my eCPD PDAs and MoLeNET projects are using or going to use iTouches so I thought I'd mention a couple of useful things here.

First of all, if you buy a small mic for your iTouch, you can use it as a voice recorder. Better still, set up an Audioboo.fm account and you can create podcasts on the fly. Here's my first audioboo: http://audioboo.fm/boos/92908-mic-for-itouch

The first mic I saw for the iTouch was the thumb tack-like mic at the Sheffield event: http://tinyurl.com/ybptuge
This is nice and small (and easily mistaken for a real thumb tack!) and works simply by inserting it in the headphone socket of the iTouch. However, the disadvantage is that you have to remove the mic in order to hear the recording (since you have inserted it in the headphone socket, the iTouch will try to play it back through the mic).

I went on Amazon.co.uk and bought this one instead: http://tinyurl.com/y8vcn9a
This is much bigger than the thumb tack so less aesthetically pleasing, but
allows you to simply record and then playback without having to remove it from the headphone socket. There is a slightly different model on Amazon and if anyone has any other models and experiences, it would be good to find out what you think to your mic for the iTouch.

The iTouch does not have a camera which makes it somewhat limited in capturing what you see. I learned to do a screen grab of the iTouch screen by clicking the on/off button at the top and the button below the screen at the same time. Whatever you are viewing at the time is then added to the camera roll and you can use the image in your blog or podcast. You can browse to a picture using Safari on the iTouch and screen capture it (ensure you are staying legal in terms of copyright, of course).

Other ways of getting photos to your iTouch without having to sync to iTunes would be to email pictures to yourself. Tap the picture in the email and a menu comes up with options to save your image.

Thanks to Dave Foster and James Clay for their ideas and introductions to the hardware/software.