Thursday, October 15, 2009

Smart Tables

I have just been reading Tom Barrett's views on using a Smart table in his classroom. These are a very expensive piece of equipment and before spending on some of the technologies it is important to ensure that it is going to enhance the children's thinking and learning. Tom was saying that these are about £5000 in England - with the present exchange rate it makes it extremely expensive here in New Zealand. His blog discusses his own experiences and is worth reading.
I have experience with using smart boards but have only seen the smart tables demonstrated. I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who is using one of these to find out how they are using it to enhance the thinking and learning and the benefits they have found in the classroom (or not as the case may be).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How a Wiki can be used as a learning tool

How a Wiki Can Be Used as a Learning Tool
Guest article by Adrienne Carlson

If you’re almost always connected to the Internet either on your phone or your computer, you’ll know that a wiki is something that is as common as a newspaper once was. It’s where we go to look for information; it’s what we reference when we’re researching a topic; and it’s what we read when we’re trying to gain some knowledge. The enormous success of Wikipedia has demonstrated the power of collaborative effort, one that works through individual contributions that are collated as a whole and organized and cross-referenced for easy navigation. Technology has thrown up quite a few tools for pedagogy, and the wiki is one of them. To learn how the wiki can be used as an effective teaching aid and tool, read on:

  • Teachers can use wikis to publish up to date information on courses, lesson plans, syllabi, and other info that are useful for students.
  • Students in high school can use them to collaborate on projects with their classmates. The advantage of a wiki as a collaborative and sharing tool is that it facilitates online education too, so students can be far apart geographically and yet stay connected through the Internet. This helps when projects are meant to be completed during vacation or a short break from school.
  • College students can use it to collaborate on research projects
  • Wikis make great tools for the presentation and evolving of ideas in new projects
  • Teachers can use them as part of their e-portfolios to reflect their teaching ideology and methodology and the advances they have made in the personal journey as academicians.
  • Students can use it to keep record of their thoughts and ideas on lessons, using it as a notebook to jot down their interpretation of prescribed readings.
  • Wikis are a great tool for improving the knowledge of students and broadening their horizons because they provide information on anything under the sun.
  • They also provide students and teachers with opportunities to add to common knowledge by putting up wikis of their own or adding to ones that already exist.
  • Wikis help link to various resources, thus bringing them all under one page even though they are sorted and arranged according to category and type.
  • Wikis make perfect tools for writers collaborating on a project; each member of the team is responsible for editing and maintaining certain sections of the project while one person is given the responsibility of organizing the entire article into a coherent form.

This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of
accelerated online degrees . Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Web 2.0 Projects Book

Terry Freedman is updating his Web 2.0 projects book. This book has been available (free of charge) for teachers to use. I am teaching about integrating ICT into the primary classroom and often find that our students initially have very limited ideas on how to do this. We have directed our students to this book for some time now and they all find it very useful to see how teachers use these tools in so many innovative ways - many of them have never used any of these tools themselves before starting our course.
I know many of you are using Web 2.0 in your classrooms, why not contribute to this book (over 11,000 downloads of the last edition). Terry has extended the time to submit until 16th October - we have school holidays here at the moment so this is a great time to do something like this. In this way we can get the ideas to each other to use in classrooms. It is great to have the ideas in one place to look through and then adapt for our own classrooms. If you are interested go to Terry's site where you will find a link to an online form.
NEW DEADLINE: due to everything going on the new deadline is 31st October.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Open Education Resource (OER)

The Open Education Resource (OER) Foundation was officially launched on 17 September 2009 by Dr Robin Day.
This is very exciting for teachers globally and our own teachers here in New Zealand.

"The OER Foundation is a new not-for-profit organisation that will assist
education institutions in New Zealand and around the world to reduce costs
through open education resources. These are materials which educators are free
to reuse, adapt and modify without restriction."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To meet the demands of a new age

This video shows a 21st century curriculum philosophy. The message is one for all teachers; and certainly those integrating ICT and Web 2 tools in their classrooms will relate to it.

To Meet the Demands of a New Age from Steven H on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wired for the future

Mission Heights, a school here in New Zealand, featured on our TV programme, Close Up, here last Thursday night. This is well worth watching. This is a new school who have set up a learning environment for this century. I wonder how things will change in the next twenty years?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Making elearning books

I have been making an elearning book using ClassTools. You can then embed these into your blog or wiki. A big positive is that you do not need user names, passwords etc. Unfortunately the book needs to be under 10 pages. However what a great tool to use in the classroom. As well as the obvious curriculum area of literacy it could be integrated into any curriculum area. There are some really great templates such as fishbones and timelines for example - have a look. You can also create educational games and activities. These are all done using Flash. It is free!!

Click here for full screen version

Discover a great degree at accounting online

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Does the use of ICT in the classroom enhance the thinking and learning?

I have just been reading an article by Terry Freedman. He has been listening to a journalist, John Clark, at a recent conference he was at. John was obviously an interesting keynote speaker.

Terry points to four main points from the speech:

1. ICT has a number of important potential benefits for

2. The degree of hype and misplaced funding has been such that the
potential real benefits are being obscured by illusory ones.

3. After massive funding in the UK over the last decade, the research
evidence about ICT's effectiveness in raising attainment is still either
superficial or ambiguous.

4. Much of the software we laud is actually anti-educational: it
institutionalises short attention span, and provides a raucous, cacophonous
environment which is anything but conducive to learning.

These points give us, as educators some points to ponder. As he says we need good research to provide the evidence that we are enhancing the thinking and learning - not just anecdotal evidence. Is anyone out there doing some research about this? I would love to hear about it.


Monday, July 13, 2009

The future of newspapers...

Fascinating article in The Independent. This is something that we regularly discuss at home as a family member was an old fashioned sport's reporter! A neighbour recently cancelled his paper as he is now reading it online each morning.

I love these maps in the article to look at different arguments on the topic.

It is a great idea to use in the classroom as a debate topic.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pre service courses for teachers

We are currently relooking at our courses for pre-service teachers.

Any teachers in the classroom who have any ideas of what they consider important for these students to cover, in relation to the use of ICT in the classroom, while they are undertaking their preservice training please let us know.

Thanks so much for your help.

Monday, April 27, 2009


What is vlogging? As you can imagine it has something to do with blogging as well as videos! The vlog (video-blog) is a blog which mainly uses videos in each post.

This video is by Leigh Blackall and gives a good explanation of vlogging.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

New Learning

Kalantzis and Cope (2008) have an article on the Curriculum Leadership web site. This is well worth a read. They are discussing the changes that are happening in education. They ask the questions "what will learning be like and what will teachers' jobs be like?" This is something that fascinates me as I am sure that there are going to be a lot of changes in the near future but just what the classroom of tomorrow will look like I am not too sure.
They discuss eight dimensions of learning today that may help to formulate a theory and practice of New Learning. These include; locations of learning, tools of learning, outcomes of learning, balance of agency, significance of difference, relation of the new to the old and the professional role of the teacher.
Another article I have been reading on a similar vein is by Rachel Bolstad. Rachel and Jane Gilbert wrote a book Disciplining and drafting, or 21st Century Learning? Rethinking the New Zealand Senior Secondary Curriculum for the Future . They have used a series of graphics to illustrate how students 'navigate' through their secondary school life. These graphics helped me to clarify these concepts.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A learning theory for 21st century learners

Marie Sontag has written an interesting article in the latest Innovate journal.
She argues that due to students being so involved with connective technologies that this impacts on cognitive processes and that educational theory must change to accommodate these changes.
She acknowledges the need to incorporate elements from other theories that are relevant and to restructure them to meet the needs of the students.
In the article she describes a social- and cognitive- connectedness schemata (SCCS) theory and presents a study to show increases in transfer by using a model designed on this theory. In the SCCS model she discusses student behaviours as 'link, lurk and lunge' (see graphic).
This article has many ideas for us to ponder and is worth reading.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I have been playing around with PicLits. What a great idea to use this site to inspire writing in the classroom.
I can certainly see possibilies for children to work together to create these. What a shame that you appear to be unable to use your own graphics but at the moment using these ones enables children to understand the concept and then they could go on to make their own.
" is a creative writing site that matches beautiful images with
carefully selected keywords in order to inspire you. The object is to put the
right words in the right place and the right order to capture the essence,
story, and meaning of the picture."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Any Questions

Iti s great to see a New Zealand site Any Questions which is for children to have access to expert librarians between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. (NZ time) during term times. This site is for New Zealand children and provides high quality research resources.
" is a free online reference service for New Zealand school
Designed for both primary and secondary students, AnyQuestions puts
them in touch with a skilled and friendly online librarian. Using interactive
software and an agreed information literacy approach these librarians are able
to help school students identify the information they need then guide them to
quality online resources. focuses on supporting the New
Zealand curriculum. It is accessible from any internet connected computer
anywhere; school, library or home.
The service is an additional resource, to
work alongside and complement, (but not replace) existing school and public
library services - a ‘guide on the side’ at the point and time of need.
key benefits of the service lie in its safety and the help it provides for
students in finding quality assured information that’s right for their need and

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sir Ken

This is a video of a talk by Sir Ken Robinson. Although it is quite long it is well worth watching as there are great thought-provoking ideas in it.


My blog has been nominated on the Bloggers Choice Awards in the Education section. If you like to vote for my blog that would be very nice (chocolate fish!!). You do have to register (free ) in order to vote.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

eLearning Research

Sarah Jones from the Ministry of Education has created a social network on Ning for eductors interested in elearning.

The aim of this community is:

From research to practice: transforming New Zealand education through

Teachers are encouraged to share evidence about the impact elearning is having on teaching and learning. Members are invited to share research they are doing.

It is so fantastic to be able to share ideas and thoughts with others and to get their feedback.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

H. Sapiens Digital: From Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom

In the latest edition of Innovate is an interesting article by Marc Prensky (of Digital natives fame) about Homo Sapiens Digital. He discusses Digital Wisdom and how technology may enhance the homo sapiens digital. It is an interesting read and gives a lot of food for thought about the future.

"I do not think technology is wise in itself (although some day it may be) or that human thinking is no longer necessary or important. It is through the interaction of the human mind and digital technology that the digitally wise person is coming to be. I believe it is time for the emerging digitally wise among us, youth and adults
alike, to embrace digital enhancement and to encourage others to do so. With our eyes wide open to enhancement's potential harm as well as its benefits, let us bring our colleagues, students, teachers, parents, and peers to the digital wisdom of the twenty-first century."

Prensky (2009)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Typealyzer is a fun site where you can have the writing on your blog analysed!

It also shows you what parts of the brain were dominant during the writing.

Children would have a lot of fun having a look at this. I tried how it would work by using a class blog - it would be a lot of fun for children. I wonder if it would change during the year, for example when the teacher originally set up the site and then as children added to it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Science education

To help teachers develop their science programmes go to Science Learning.

This site has been set up by colleagues from Canterbury University, University of Waikato and the University of Auckland.

It is aimed to be used with Years 5-10 but there is a lot here that could be used with different levels. There are video clips of various scientists, demonstrations, animations as well as up-to-date information and data.

How wonderful is this, having so many resources to help in our classrooms?

Monday, February 9, 2009

LEARNZ - Virtual field trips

LEARNZ is a educational site for NZ teachers which offers virtual field trips for your class.

I know that many use these experiences regularly but did you know that this year it is free to register your class!
There are 22 trips planned for this year including CSO Making Music and Cool Wind Farm to Antarctica. These experiences are interactive and have a live component where they build relationships with the teachers and students.
There is a video you may like to look at which tells you about the LEARNZ tours.

"LEARNZ offers 20 virtual field trip experiences in 2008 and 20 in 2009: students stay at school but visit places they would never otherwise go to and interact with people they would never meet. Students' participation is supported by online background materials and activities, and is enabled using live audioconferencing, web board and diaries, images and videos uploaded daily.
New for 2009. All New Zealand Registered and Provisionally-Registered teachers are eligible to register free for 2009 (register once - no annual renewal required). Available Now: Teachers, once you have activated your registration, you have full access for 2009 to all field trips for your personal use. You also have access to a personalised control panel called MyLEARNZ (make sure you register first) where you can create a login for your classes and enrol them in 2000-2009 field trips, plus much more!


I would be interested in hearing about teachers experiences with LEARNZ as well as hearing from teachers in other countries about Virtual Field trips they are using.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Almanac for Virtual Worlds

FAS (The Federation of American Scientists) has a Virtual Worlds Almanac wiki for people to use. Teachers and students can to here to find information about many virtual worlds.

"We hope this will make it easier for the community to collaborate and to keep abreast of innovations and new product offerings," said FAS President Henry Kelly in a press release. "FAS is interested in the potential virtual worlds offer for education and learning."

I would be interested in hearing from teachers who are using virtual worlds, such as Second Life, in their teaching contacting me.

Monday, January 26, 2009


During the summer holidays I have been reading The Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) for Educators, Edited by The AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology.

If you have not read it here is a brief summary.
It looks at the concept and implementation of technological pedagogical content knowledge which is the knowledge and skills teachers need when they integrate technology into their classrooms in meaningful ways. Above left is a graphic to show the the TPCK framework - the complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge: CK (content knowledge), PK (pedagogical knowledge) and TK (technogical knowledge).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Science web site

Have just been reading an ESchool Newsletter about a science web site for schools.

The Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education have unveiled their new web site aiming to engage students in science education. They provide videos and hands-on activities for earth, life, and physical science to help educators turn their students into aspiring scientists.
I have been looking around the site and it is great. Teachers will find many ideas for their classrooms in here.
You need to sign up to enable you to down videos for example. They obviously think that only people from the USA are going to sign up as you need to give data about your school and give the State you reside in but just ignore those bits and the sign up goes through OK.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


A student of mine sent me a link to BibMe an easy way to store a bibliography list.

I have tried it out and found it really useful. You can quickly put in the information about your source and it will save in APA, MLA etc. A useful web site for teachers and students alike. I still like the Citation Machine as well but the beauty of this one is it will save the list for you and then you can download it when you are ready. It downloads as an RTF file to Word or another word processing programme.