During the Spotlight Scotland Session at the Handheld Learning Festival 2009 I was given the task of talking about free tools for teachers. My role within Learning and Teaching Scotland involves quite a bit of time out on the road speaking to teachers and school leaders. When we run CPD we often speak about free web based tools as many of these tools require low bandwidth, are really simple to use and can be transformational in the classroom.
During last Wednesdays session I specifically spoke about eight groups of tools. The sides that I used in my presentation are embedded below:
Here are also some notes from the presentation and any links that I mentioned:
Generators are a really quick way for teachers to produce engaging content with very little expertise. They are a great way of building confidence. As long as you can type a few things into a website, up-load a picture and press the ‘generate’ button you are competent using this form of ICT. The biggest challenge for teachers in knowing where to find these resources in the first place.
The generator blog is the number one stop for finding generators hosted on the Internet and many of them are useful for schools.
My favorites are:
education jargon generator (its not recommended for interviews!).
2. ImagesI mentioned a few specific tools in this part of the session:
Bing – The Microsoft Bing start page is great. Every day a new high quality picture from around the world is used for the start page. The image in itself makes a great discussion topic. But also hidden within the images are clues to where the place is in the world providing an opportunity to create an interactive mystery with you class.
Flickr – in particular the slideshow function. This is a fantastically simple lesson starter or way to create some engaging content. I’ve written this up before in more detail here.
Photosynth – This programme binds together images of a location into a 3D representation of the place. There are lots of ways that Photosynth could be used to support outdoor learning and other collaborative work. But I think it also provides teachers with a great opportunity to digitally re-create their classrooms. Not only can this be used to show off all of the great classroom display work but it can also be used to aid transition between schools by allowing children to become more familiar with their new surroundings.
Deep Zoom – This programme is a way of layering pictures without loosing the overall quality. The Fairtrade example that I used in the presentations written up here and if you’re a Beetles fan you might want to have a look at this Hard Rock Café memorabilia example or check out some of Stuart Balls excellent tutorials on using Deep Zoom.
3. Sketch Up
Islay High School use Google Sketch Up to bridge the gap between outdoor learning and ICT. One of the things that they have been doing is measuring deserted settlements on the island and then remodeling them in Google Sketch up with some pretty impressive results.
Musselburgh Grammar School in East Lothian have also really taken to the programme and one student is enjoying using the software so much he has even started to re-model the whole school!
Regular readers of this website will know I am a big Google Earth fan partly because I trained as a geography teacher but also because I really think it is the ultimate cross-curricular tool. During the session at Handheld Learning I briefly mentioned a few Google Earth tips and tricks in particular spinning the globe, measuring distance and the historical imagery layer.
If you want a few more tips and tricks (including the above) for using Google Earth have a look at this short video made by Leon Cynch of my presentation at Teachmeet NE London in April this year.
Some people don’t like animoto because they say it does all of the creative work for the children. I think they have missed the point. Anomoto provide a great way to display and digitize student’s work. Recently Athelstansford Primay School in East Lothian have been doing a whole series of work on robots. There class teacher made this great Animoto video that was sent home to the parents to show them what the class had been up to and everything that they had been learning.
Another great web based resource is GoAnimate. It really is a powerful tool to inspire creativity and develop a whole new way for children to express themselves in different ways. Just like any form of animation its great for teaching and providing an output for controversial issues.
North Berwick High School in East Lothian has been using GoAnimate to work with groups of children to create numeracy stories in mathematics.
Wallwisher is again a superb and free to use resource that allows the user to place 'virtual post-it notes' onto a web page. Kenny O'Donnell a Geography teacher from Glasgow has used this in a really innovative way to support home learning by getting his class to research rainforests. Lynne Lewis soon to be acting headteacher at Dirlton Primary School in East Lothian has used wallwisher to work with parents on how families might become more environmentally friendly.
If you have any questions about the above – please get in touch. How many of these web based tools are you using / able to make use of in your schools?
Also, if you attended the Spotlight Scotland session at Handheld Learning 2009 – I would love to know what you thought of my 30 minute ramble…..