Monday, August 23, 2010

NZ taking lead in classrooms of the future

TV NZ had a news clip on recently about classrooms of the future which is well worth watching.

Classrooms without pens and paper, and lessons given online, could soon be the classrooms of the future. This is already starting in some NZ schools.

A Ministry of Education pilot programme at Howick College has allowed students to use their cellphones in the classroom.

This style, called mobile learning, was moving the learning out of the classroom and into the family and community. Teaching and learning is no longer confined to the classroom but is also outside the four walls. Many classrooms have their own blogs and wikis.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More on e-portfolios

As I am part of a group talking about our experiences with e-portfolios I have been thinking a lot about things that I have found this year.

One of the things I have always found is that you can not assume that everyone has the ICT skills at the start. Scaffolding must be put in place for students which will also help them to become independent learners. Someone this year produced tutorials with a lot of information on a page. Our students became confused and would ring/email or come and see me for extra help. I used 'just in time learning' and produced a small book of how to tutorials which were placed in our online learning environment. What students liked with these was that there was only one concept for each tutorial so that they didn't become confused.

Our students use Mahara as do a lot of schools here in NZ. They do not share their e-portfolios with each other although the option is there. I personally would like to see them sharing and giving each other constructive feedback.

I certainly agree with Ewan McIntosh's comment that e-portfolios should be:

for the whole, open web: otherwise we set ourselves up for nearly only
introspective learning with people who share our viewpoints, cultural biases and
outlook on learning and life.
I found that a lot of students wanted feedback from me throughout the course - how much better to get feedback from their peers as well as others from completely different backgrounds.

At an intermediate school in Auckland children have been developing their e-portfolios for some time. A long time ago I discussed Jess's eportfolio on this blog:

I find this e-portfolio inspiring as I can see how Jess developed this over the three years. You can see the growth in her learning as well as how she is also a ‘guide on the side’ to other’s learning (through discussion areas she has on her wiki, tutorials or videos she has developed for the learning ).

This e-portfolio was started in 2007 by Jess and developed through 2008 and 2009. It uses a range of Web 2 tools to demonstrate her personal growth and learning and is fully public as she uses several wikis and blogs. She has done blogs which include reflections about her learning for example there are different blogs for her science inquiries. In her wiki she has a page where she asked her parent’s opinions on what they would like to see in her e-portfolio. This was recorded and put into her wiki. She has developed an area for her own ‘voice’ where she talks about Web 2 tools and 21st century learning.

Jess gets feedback from all over the world – this is authentic and meaningful for her. It is interesting to see how these comments were continuing through 2009 and that Jess was still developing her e-portfolio then – becoming a life-long learner (although no longer being at the school). It is also interesting that the high school she goes to does not continue these on.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


We have been using e-portfolios with our students as part of their first year programme. These are to be continued throughout their training and hopefully beyond. I have made a small video to explain about the stages of the portfolio process and how the technology can enhance a portfolio - i.e. e-portfolio.

E-portfolios are being used in many New Zealand schools so it is important that our students understand them for when they are teaching themselves. We are using Mahara which has been developed here in New Zealand.

It is interesting that Mahara and other LMS are for private use or just with a small community of peers for example. I really like the way some children in Auckland used wikis and blogs to make their e-portfolios. Jess made this one back in 2008. You see some real value in her e-portfolio when you read all the comments that have been made. This is what other e-portfolios lack.

I have also made a Prezi about e-portfolios for anyone interested.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Tate Movie Project

The Tate Movie Project is a great Web 2 site for schools.

The project is for schools in the UK however there is no reason why other children cannot use the site. I set up an account to check it out. You design your avatar and then visit the studio where you become involved with making the movie. As you complete each step you get an award.

In this site the children design characters, write their story and make the storyboard. They use animation and sound in their movies. I can see this site being a great hit with children and would really motivate reluctant writers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I have just been reading Terry Freedman's post on spreadsheets.

I was so pleased to see someone voicing my thoughts.

The spreadsheet above was used for children to check their tables, there are different worksheets for each one.
I love spreadsheets for all sorts of things - I make many that can be used in all sorts of ways.

This idea is simple and can be used in any curriculum area. It uses a if/then statement, it changes the red sad face to a smiling green one and gives the user their score.

In this example the user has to solve the problems in order to uncover the hidden graphic.

I have found some ideas like this to be really useful and fun to use in the classroom. Many children then want to learn to make these themselves - learning in an authentic and meaningful context.
In our pre-service teacher training we do not use spreadsheets with our students in any way. It is such a shame I think as they are so great and versatile for the classroom. The thinking by many people is that 'spreadsheets are old hat, no one uses them any more'. I wonder if others agree with this?

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Another great Web 2 tool for the classroom is Creaza. This site has several different parts to it requiring one login.

Mindomo: With this tool you can make mindmaps for visual learning, developing creativity and problem solving. You can organise and present your ideas visually.

Cartoonist: with this tool you can create your own cartoons. You can use their professional backgrounds, characters, props, images and text. You can also create title cards, speech balloons, thought balloons, or scream balloons. You can also combine all this with your own images.

MovieEditor: MovieEditor is an online video editor to create movies, complete with professional-looking titles, transitions, effects, animation, music, and narration. It is a timeline-based video editor, similar to traditional desktop-based video editing tools. The difference - MovieEditor is web-based and a web browser with Adobe Flash gives you instant access! You can export the result to your favourite media player, or directly to YouTube or Facebook.

AudioEditor: AudioEditor is an online audio editor for recording, slicing, and mixing audio. It is useful if you want to publish the finished sound clip as a podcast.

This tool follows established conventions for sound editing, allowing you to place sound files along a timeline, across several channels.

You can also record sound and add it as a track on top of your final edit.