Posts tagged english
JISC, the UK organisation promoting the use of ICT in teaching, learning and research, recently announced the winners of the Outstanding ICT initiative of the year award. The big winner is the Teacher Training Videos site.
Some might scoff at this as being basic, but it is an effective demonstration of user-generated content. Russell is a teacher, so he created these ‘how-tos’ with other teachers in mind.
He practices what he preaches. Besides using Camtasia to create Teacher Training Videos, he also uses it to provide feedback to students about their assignments. You can view an example here. You can also see another example of this in the video embedded above. (The text is not so clear in this video.)
Camtasia is commercial software. TechSmith, the company that produces Camtasia, has basic but freely available screen recording software called Jing, which is available for Mac and PC.
CIT has a personalised startpage called Nexus. This is by no means unique. There are many startpages such as iGoogle, My Yahoo!, Pageflakes, Netvibes… the list goes on.
What is unique about Nexus – which has been positioned as a Personal Learning Environment – is that you can see your IVLE modules, NUS email and a few other NUS-only services, right from a single customisable page.
An aside about PLE: It is not so much a particular product or software as much as it is a concept about people taking charge of their learning through various connective online software and tools. I suppose a startpage could function as a PLE, but that would not be my preference.
Back to Nexus. The trouble with this positioning is that the “make of it what you will” approach leaves too much wiggle room. As much as you don’t want to restrict people’s creativity, giving them a blank slate and telling them that you can do anything with it most often results in them doing absolutely nothing with it.
(The same issue with the ‘infinite possibilities’ tack plagues wiki adoption.)
Can a startpage be used for learning then?
The answer, according to Mark Marino from the University of Southern California, is a definite yes.
He has created a course page on Pageflakes which has various widgets which his students can use in their own startpages. In effect, he has created content in different formats, which some would call learning objects, for his students to grab and paste into their own startpages.
I’m not sure I explained that clearly, so it’s best to read Mark’s post about the Topoi Pageflake.
So, Nexus can be used in a similar manner. A course tab can be created and shared with students. On the tab, the teacher can pull in various resources related to the course – RSS feeds, relevant videos, bookmark lists, etc. These individual widgets can be copied by students to their own Nexus account for their reference.
Hat tip to Wired Campus for highlighting Mark’s use of Pageflakes.
The title is a tad sensationalist, but that is Becta’s conclusion (via Ewan McIntosh). Becta is a UK government agency spearheading the effective use of technology in education. Their research has shown that among students of secondary school age:
- Web 2.0 helps to encourage student engagement and increase participation – particularly among quieter pupils, who can use it to work collaboratively online, without the anxiety of having to raise questions in front of peers in class – or by enabling expression through less traditional media such as video.
- Teachers have reported that the use of social networking technology can encourage online discussion amongst students outside school.
- Web 2.0 can be available anytime, anywhere, which encourages some individuals to extend their learning through further investigation into topics that interest them.
- Pupils feel a sense of ownership and engagement when they publish their work online and this can encourage attention to detail and an overall improved quality of work. Some teachers reported using publication of work to encourage peer assessment.
Closer to home, Brad Blackstone has been using blogs in his ES2007S classes. I had the pleasure of meeting him and other educators at the Centre for English Language Communication yesterday. I was at CELC to give a brief overview of blogs and wikis as possibilities for eLearning Week (presentation embedded below).
Brad has come to similar conclusions about blogs, which he highlighted in a short paper: Blogs in English language teaching and learning: Pedagogical uses and student responses [pdf].