Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Evernote and Dropbox have revolutionised my life

Just a quick post to say how excited I am about the possibilities of
using Evernote and Dropbox with learners to communicate and share

Set up an Evernote ( account and download the app to your
pc, your mac, and your phone. Any note you create on your pc
automatically syncs to your phone (so reminders, to dos, directions
etc are easy to access).

So if you have an account that you have set up to share with learners,
and they use the same account details for their phone/computers, any
note that you create can be accessed on their phones. Use it to share
lesson summaries, curriculum factoids, to dos, deadlines etc. Learners
can create new notes (text, voice, photos) on their mobiles or at
their computers and these sync to the same account. At the next
lesson, you have access to rich media resources created by the
learners to explore! You can set up 'notebooks' for each learner to
help sort the notes.

Dropbox ( does the syncing thing but with files. Create an
account that you are willing to share with learners and download and
install dropbox on your pc. (Dropbox doesn't work on mobiles). It
appears as a folder in My Documents. You simply put files in there
that you want to share with learners, and if they have downloaded and
installed dropbox using the same account details, they will
automatically have the same files on their computer. Also a good way
for the learner to share files with the whole class. You can also put
files in the public folder and copy a link - this is useful if you
have a large file to share with people - instead of emailing it, put
it in a dropbox and send the link to the file.

I know tutors who are going to try this out with learners so I'll
report on their findings when we have something to report.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Making a paper box

Thanks to Dave Sugden for making the video on the spur of the moment and Di Dawson for showing me how to make the box in the first place!

Friday, September 4, 2009

One 'Web 2.0' site to rule them all

I've been on the search for one ultimate site that will do all that I want it to do, and I still haven't found it. So either someone out there can suggest something for me to try, or I'll have to create it myself!

The site has to be able to:
1. Accept email input of text, photos, videos, audio and other files like PowerPoint etc. (Posterous is good for this, will even convert ppt to iPaper)
2. Provide one or more email addresses that people can post to, regardless of their email address ( is good for this. Posterous requires you to enter all contributors' email addresses. I suppose this is good for protecting your site, but needs setting up at the start of an academic year)
3. Allow commenting on the post.
4. Be chronological
5. Allow tagging (tags are preferably added as part of the email)
6. Accept RSS feeds and display them in the same part of the window as a post to the blog (so kind of like Twitter. Blogger allows you to add RSS feeds on the side, separate to your blog posts.)
7. Option to be notified by email of contributions to the site.

I probably have a few more requirements but the above are the key ones for now. Can anyone step up to the challenge? would be my recommendation for education at the minute and although you would have to set up all your learners as contributors to the site by adding their email address (or ask them to do this themselves!), this is one way of protecting the site from 'spam'. Posterous also allows you to set up a password in order to view the site, another advantage from a teaching and learning point of view.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Using email to blog to support learning

I had a fruitful session with a placement manager at Sheffield College yesterday - we discussed what she wanted the learners to be able to do:
1. Easily upload pictures and videos that they had taken with the XDA Flints or their own phones to one place so they could view them in class or in their own time.
2. Comment on each other's pictures and videos
3. Rate them

I was going to use FriendFeed but this only allows you to upload from your own email address, rather than providing you with a generic email address that everyone can use, so we decided to go with which has a generous upload limit.

I discovered another great thing about Vox - you can generate additional email addresses to send stuff to. With each email address that you generate, you can add specific tags, so learners could email to one address and have their pictures automatically tagged with certain key words. This will become very useful if you want pictures to be searchable by assignment for instance.

Of course learners can also go online and add additional tags to the photos and videos, as well as the comments.

One thing we haven't yet worked out is the best way to socially share PowerPoint. Slideshare took its time and I wonder if anyone can point me to another good PowerPoint sharing site?

The downside to Vox is that I couldn't update it through an RSS feed. Only certain other blogs are supported.

I guess the one ultimate site that we want to use hasn't yet been invented!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

BT 1571

I used to find the BT 1571 service handy for recording to my home phone while I was out and about, then picking up the mp3 from the website (kind of like a poor man's Gabcast or Ipadio). However, on checking it recently, they've removed this feature from their website! Boo hiss!
Wonder if anyone out there knows of other phone to web recording services?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Great social use of blog sites

I'd suggested to a tutor that they set up a blog site and give out the email to blog address to the learners so they could all add photos and reflections on one blog site. We're going to try this from Sept with a group so I'll update my blog later in the year with the outcomes of this.
I was chatting to some friends in a kitchen today and people are already using this function in their everyday lives: after a wedding, the bride and groom have given out a blog/photo site email address so that everyone can upload their photos of the event to one site for everyone else to look at. That's a great idea! And the fact that this is becoming everyday practice is all the more reason for us teachers to be adopting it in teaching, don't you think?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Reflections on PSP

Video captured by PSP by Ron Mitchell and myself at a recent (MoLeNET) Sheffield College event about the use of PSPs in education.

Audio is a bit quiet, so turn up the volume.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I had a play on the DSi!

Went along to a friend's bbq last night and the little girl that was there had a DSi, so of course I pinched it and sat in a corner by myself to explore the new toy. Well, actually, I asked the 8 year old to show me how to work the camera etc because it was much faster to learn it that way.
I had a blast with the photo editing functions - you could really have fun with it. And I can see the educational possibilities too. You ask learners to point the camera and take a picture of a kitchen counter you had set up, and you ask them to indicate the areas of risk with some graffiti. If I had another DSi, I would have explored the sending of pictures back and forth. This would have enabled discussion using Pictochat on whether the learner/s had been successful in assessing the risks. That's just one example I've thought up. It's a similar type of activity to using the Wii for identifying risks (
I thought the sound recording and editing functions were equally fun - not sure how useful this is but it's great to be able to record and then slow down or speed up the sound or change the pitch. I was already impressed with my Chinese Coach game for the DS as it allowed me to record my voice and play it back together with the correct pronunciation to compare. I'm sure the DSi and future games will be even more creative. Look forward to getting a DSi!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Some new fav tools

Thanks to various colleagues who have shown me these great tools recently:
This takes the tinyurl concept and goes one further - it generates a large qr code on a web page as well so that at a presentation, people can simply point their phones at the screen to capture the url! For a recent workshop, I uploaded content onto my web space, created qr codes for them and at the workshop, people simply pointed their phones at the screen to start downloading PowerPoints and other files on to their phones. This works for video files, mp3s etc!
One way for tutors to quickly upload materials to the web and provide a url for that resource is to email it to their posterous account (

That brings me on to, which various colleagues already use. This is a blog site and then some: you can attach any type of file to your email post to the site and it will be there for others to download. It has the usual rss feed options so if a learner has subscribed to your feed, then he/she could look at their feedreader on the phone and simply click to download the resource to the phone! Wow!

That brings me on to or if you are on a mobile device. Lovely mobile feed aggregator that displays well on a small screen device.
This takes the idea of a wiki and makes it even more functional - it allows up to 8 synchronous editors, all colour-coded so you know who typed what. If you need more than 8, you can always create another etherpad and cross-reference them by urls.
AND it doesn't need logins. You simply type and a word you like at the end of the url and voila, you can create an etherpad with that url! Of course it helps to use something unique so it's harder for someone to accidentally come across your etherpad.
At a recent Digital 20/20 event, people were really excited by this tool and we started co-writing a story on the screen with hilarious results. If only they made a mobile version...this could be the new instant messaging tool.

OneNote Mobile
This is on my new Windows Mobile phone. I can type text, add a voice recording and insert a picture or take a picture and it's automatically inserted into the page on the mobile. It has great potential for gathering multimedia evidence for competencies. Haven't yet worked out how to aggregate all the files that make up the OneNote on the mobile device into one file though, but watch this space...
I started with using Notes on the phone as I could send the .pwi file to other people using the splashurl technique above. OneNote allows photos to be added to the page as well so is definitely more functional, but I need to play around with zipping up the assets that make up the OneNote file on the mobile device before we can truly exploit it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Making jpeg quizzes

For some reason, I made these videos and never blogged about them. Luckily, Dave Foord has so it saves me having to say anymore:

A tutor came across Dave's blog and ran with the idea to produce a set of 92 quiz cards. Superb!

Hope to gather more resources like this in future.

Regarding transfer of these files to a learner's mobile phone:

1. If the phone has a memory card, this is easily done through a usb memory card reader.

2. The learner may have a cable to attach the phone to a PC for file transfers

3. Bluetooth is a possibility but it would take a while to move 92 cards across, unless the phone is paired via Bluetooth with the computer.

4. If the phone has a data contract, then downloading the cards is a possibility, or even viewing them online.

With regards to doing the same thing using PowerPoint, as Dave Foord has pointed out, you have to rename the first 9 slides as slide01 (zero one) to slide09. My only worry is that people try to cram too much into a slide and so it won't work on a small screen. The beauty of Paint is that it's clunky and that keeps things in perspective, enabling the creation of jpeg quizzes that work on a small screen! If using PowerPoint, remember to change the size of the slide to better suit the portrait format of most phones. Not crucial since the learner can just turn their phone on its side, but navigation is sometimes easier when the phone is the right way up!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

my thoughts on the iPhone

At the risk of being the only person in the world not enamoured with the iPhone, I'd like to share my thoughts on my recent trial of it.
A bit of background first: I've been using a Windows-based touchscreen mobile phone since 2006 and have had mobile Internet access all this time. I am also very into Apple-based products so am not out to 'diss' it for the sake of it. I am merely making a comparison of my experience between the phones and their usability.
I can understand people's enthusiasm for browsing the web by touching the screen if they have never done this before. And of course the pinch technology to zoom in and out and navigate around the page is very nice. Plus the screen is very bright and clear (all Apple products are outstanding on this!)
What would I miss if I moved to the iPhone?
1. The use of a stylus to tap on the virtual keyboard, although you can buy them for the iPhone but there's nowhere to store it on the device. Even with my skinny fingers, I struggled to get the letters right.
2. Predictive text. This speeds up my typing immensely on my HTC phone.
3. Being able to copy and paste. This surprised and annoyed me on the iPhone, the lack of a 'clipboard' feature!
4. Not being able to select text to delete. On the iPhone, you have to move the cursor and then tap the backspace key like mad to delete text! Why?!!
5. Arrows on the keyboard to move across to edit text. Okay, the magnifying glass thingy to help you move the cursor looks nice, but it just doesn't get to the crux of what I want to do , quickly. Overdesigned, if you ask me.
6. Being able to use multiple applications at once and copy and paste between them.
7. I felt rsi coming on as I hovered my finger over the virtual keyboard. There's something less assuring about the keyboard compared to the HTC, and that's saying something since the Touch is very slow to respond, and still I prefer it! Kind of like typing on a pc keyboard; I like the keys to respond and therefore prefer typing on a full keyboard to a laptop keyboard. With the iPhone, i didn't get a sense of having pressed with the right amount of pressure...
8. Apparently the iPhone doesn't have a 'file manager' type application so you cannot choose a file to upload, for instance, if you were using Moodle or some other website and wanted to choose a picture to upload? No chance. Does anyone know any different?
9. No support for Flash on websites.
10. I turned on Bluetooth on the iPhone and on my HTC. My HTC found the iPhone. The iPhone was still searching...I had to use my HTC to prompt a pairing. Paired it, but couldn't send a photo across to the iPhone. In any case, I'm not sure what you can Bluetooth from the iPhone. I went to Pictures and looked at the options there: Use as wallpaper, email photo, assign to contact. Hmmmm. Anyone have any experience of Bluetoothing something from and to the iPhone?
11. I couldn't transfer anything to the iPhone on iTunes since it belonged to someone else and iPhones will only pair with one iTunes at a time. I didn't feel like wiping out Tim Brophy(O2)'s music library, so wasn't able to transfer files across to test things out. Windows-mobile phones allow you to guest access and to explore the files on the device. I couldn't use the iPhone as a 'usb stick'.

I guess it's all in the applications - maybe I should ask this little fella to write some for me:

Another time, I'll add a post about what I DO use the HTC phone for, maybe it will give people a few ideas for using it with other learners who are being equipped with the same...