Edublogs webinar overview – Exploring story makers

Introduction

This session, recorded as always was one in which we took a look at some online story making tools in one of our “quick and easy tools” explorations. These are occasional sessions where I put up a list of a few tools and each participant chooses one (preferably one unknown to them) to explore for ten minutes and then give feedback to the rest of us. The first time I did this the tools were a mixture of different functions however more recently I have chosen ones with similar purposes.

My personal rationale for “ten minutes to explore” is that if it takes too long to “pick up” the basics of using any tool then the focus of the “lesson” in which it is being used may change from the educational purpose to the tech being used. In other words we risk using “tech for tech’s sake” rather than as a tool to achieve the educational purpose.

The Session

The decision to explore story makers for exploration comes from the fact that I have been investigating story makers for use with my own students.  When looking for possible tools to explore I was surprised at how few there were that did not have a very heavy focus on using audio. I specifically wanted text and images both: to meet the needs of my adult literacy curriculum; and to keep the process simple. I find that  digital story making applications with audio can be time consuming for students to learn if they want (as they invariably do) both voice and music in the audio. So this session only looked at four tools – these were:

We started with a have you used it and to what degree on the four tools to be explored. This revealed that most of us had some awareness of, or familiarity with at least one or two of them and one participant was very familiar with two of the four.

The next step was for everyone to choose one of the story makers to explore and then investigate it for ten minutes with the following considerations in mind:

  • how easy to learn the basics
  • how engaging to use
  • a lesson/context in which to use it
  • whether they personally would use it with students

After the ten minutes everyone came back and took turns in talking about the ease of use and other features of the tool they had explored. There were also some great ideas for use in class.

We finished with some feedback and a look at our best takeaways from the session.

Conclusion

This was great session! These are always great fun and much enjoyed by all. I have recently shown Storybird to my own students who are taking part in the ELFADA project. One of their projects is an online story that they will embed in their blogs and they have been exploring some different types of stories made with applications they are already familiar with (PowerPoint/Slideshare and Toondoo) as well as Storybird which is new to them.

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday May 24th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday May 25th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic.

Edublogs webinar overview – a look at some avatar makers

Introduction

As always we recorded this session in which we took a look at some avatar making tools in one of our “quick and easy tools” explorations. These are occasional sessions where I put up a list of 5-10 tools and each participant chooses one (preferably one unknown to them) to explore for ten minutes and then give feedback to the rest of us. The first time I did this the tools were a mixture of different functions however more recently I have chosen ones with similar purposes.

My personal rationale for “ten minutes to explore” is that if it takes too long to “pick up” the basics of using any tool then the focus of the “lesson” in which it is being used may change from the educational purpose to the tech being used. In other words we risk using “tech for tech’s sake” rather than as a tool to achieve the educational purpose.

The Session

The tools explored in the session were:

We started with a have you used it and to what degree on the five tools to be explored. This revealed that most of us had some awareness of, or familiarity with at least one or two of them and a couple were reasonably familar with all.

The next step was for everyone to choose an avatar maker to explore and then explore for ten minutes with the following considerations in mind:

  • how easy to learn the basics
  • how engaging to use
  • a lesson/context in which to use it
  • whether they personally would use it with students

After the ten minutes everyone came back, added their avatars to the whiteboard and talked about the ease of use and other features of the tool they had explored. We did have someone drop out and be unable to rejoin when trying to add their avatar – the avatar is still in the composite image.

Throughout the whole session there were lots of links shared in text chat and on the whiteboards: to avatar making sites, to sites which list avatar creators and to sites which illustrate many creative ways of using them. After the session Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1) added a “My Avatars page” to his already amazing collection of pages of useful education related links.

We finished with some feedback and a look at our best takeaways from the session.

Conclusion

This was great fun! Everyone always seems to enjoy sessions like this. Those of you familiar with the webinars will know I have something of an obsession with making them as interactive and “hands on” as possible and from that perspective these tool explorations work really well. Avatars have been on my mind a lot at the moment as I have been looking for an easy to use creator that my not necessarily very techie distance students can use. I would love to give them a list and let them choose but needed to fix on one so that I could do a stepwise process as in this slideshare for them to refer to. The challenge with wholly online students is very much that the lecturer (teacher) is not there standing behind and able to coach them through the steps. I do do this individually with Application Share in BbC/Elluminate however my students are often working asynchronously so we are not in virtual class at the time they have the problem!

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday March 29th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday March 30th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic.

Edublogs webinar overview – Birdwatching with biblical binoculars

Introduction

In this excellent recorded session we learned about “Birdwatching with biblical binoculars” (@jofrei) – Jo Freitag of the Gifted Resources information service told us the story of her exciting blogging project carried out with a group of Church School attendees during 2011.

The Session

Jo started with some background on how she had come to do the project – using the subscription to EdublogsPro that she won at the Reform Symposium in 2011. She then introduced the blog that she used.

Jo moved on to tell us about the wide range of activities that the group undertook and how the “biblical binoculars were used to find biblical references to birds that illustrated the topic under study. There was some exciting “just-in-time” learning and sharing by members of the group using their mobile phones to find and access references.

The range of tools that Jo used with her group was wide – some of which are shown below.

Many links were shared via whiteboard and text both by Jo and by other participants. Some of them we visited during the session and others were saved for later :). It is very well worth catching the recording for this session both for Jo’s great presentation and for the interactivity and links that she shared.

Conclusion

An exciting sesssion! Jo’s use of such a wide range of tools and activities was awe inspiring and led to a very high degree of engagement from her group. I found this particularly helpful given my own context at the moment of preparing for a project which hopes to better engage my online literacy students through adding media to blogposts and thus generating a simple e-portfolio.

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday March 1stat 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday March 2nd at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic.

Edublogs webinar overview – What poll was that?

Introduction

In this recorded session we took a look at if, and how, we use/have used e-polling or surveys. The idea for this session was triggered when I used a poll in the overview for last week’s Serendipity and wondered about the different polling and survey tools that people use.

The Session

We started with a look at whether we had used polling/surveys either as a respondent or as an information gatherer. Then moved on to the platforms on which we have used them, finding that most of us had used polling/surveys on one or more of: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, mobile devices and of course “Other” including Learning Management Systems, Elluminate/BlackboardCollaborate and email!

Then came the most interesting part of the session where we started to look at tools we have used and/or that we know about. We began this by using a whiteboard to name those tools we have used as information gatherer, and as respondent and also those we have heard about.

Next came the best bit where members of the group shared an experience of using a poll/survey tool, We had brief looks at GoogleForms (including a quick play), Facebook, Flubaroo and PollDaddy before running out of time and moving on to our best takeaways from the session. This session flew by and we reached the end far too soon!

Conclusion

This was so interesting – I love to know what tools others are using and to hear about the contexts and purposes. I had a major takeaway in that although I was aware of GoogleForms in a vague way and had responded to polls via that tool I didn’t realise how many different question types there were. Neither had I really taken in the fact that a spreadsheet is automatically created for the answers thus making subsequent data analysis very easy.

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday January 19that 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday January 20th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic.

Edublogs Serendipity webinar overview – End of year activities!

Stop Press – last two days of voting #eddies!

We have been shortlisted for the Edublogs awards Thank you so much if you nominated us. And thank you also if you are voting for us.

ONLY TWO DAYS TO GO – deadline 11:59pm US EST Tuesday 13th December. That’s the early hours of Wednesday morning in Europe and late morning/early afternoon Wednesday here in Australia  if you would like to vote for us (Serendipity/FineFocus Webinars in Edublogs award)s click HERE to go to the site, see nominations and cast your vote.

Online End of Year/Christmas Party

We invite you to our End of Year/Christmas Party on 15th/16th December – come along with virtual “goodies” for the festive table, and if you feel inventive bring a game to share and play. Take a look at the overviews for our parties in 2009 and 2010 to see the sorts of things we do. After the party the webinars will be taking a two week break returning on 5th/6th January with the first Serendipity session of 2012!

Introduction

Apologies for the delay in posting – despite starting leave at the end of Friday I have been finishing off a variety of work “loose ends” over the weekend. My holiday begins appropriately with this post. We had a fun session – very Serendipitous and, as always, recorded (though I was a bit late starting the recording – I don’t seem to get a recording reminder in BbC11 as I did in Elluminate10) so you can catch up on what we did it if you missed it!

The Session

We started as usual by putting our topic ideas on the whiteboard and then polling to choose the topic for consideration. The winner was “End of year activities”.

Once the topic was chosen we used a whiteboard to collect some of our ideas and thoughts on this including some links. As usual ideas were also shared via text chat and audio. There were many ideas with Christmas themes around the 12 days of Christmas and collaborative activities such as drawing a snowman. This prompted the sharing of the “Drawastickman” link by Carole (@Coach_Carole).

Never one to pass up an opportunity for playing I opened the link and App Shared it so that we could play out the story collaboratively by taking control of my desktop and taking turns to complete a stage in the story. This was great fun – working via someone else’s desktop is a huge challenge because of the inevitable lag time. Drawing is particularly hard because of this lag and everyone did a great job as we finished the story.

Drawastickman is a nice toy to play with and would be even better if there were a variety of scenarios/themes leading to different stories!

Conclusion

This session definitely put me into a holiday mood! Now I have to come up with a good online game for the party next week.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session, in which we let our hair down for the “End of Year/Christmas Party” Bring “goodies for the festive table and if you feel inventive an online party game and join us on Thursday December 15th at 23:00 GMT/UTC the time for you will vary depending on your timezone (check yours here) Thursday afternoon/evening in the USA, late night Thursday in Europe, and Friday morning December 16thd in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room. Remember we have a two week break after the party and will return on 5th/6th January with the first Serendipity session of the year

Edublogs Serendipity webinar overview – “cool tools!”

Introduction

We were a small group this week, however as usual the session was  recorded, so if you missed it you can catch the recording.

The Session

The session followed the usual Serendipity format with a whiteboard for topic ideas from participants and then a poll to choose the topic for discussion. The consensus was for us to merge two topics “Tech toys for motivation” and “Cool tools” and talk about and share some of our personal favourites.

A small group means that everyone has an opportunity to talk on the microphone and this is what we did! We started with a whiteboard on which we wrote some initial tools but soon moved the taking turns to talk about personal cool tools (mainly via audio but with some textchat particularly for sharing links)

When it came to my turn rather than just talk about a tool I Application Shared Wordle – one of my personal favourite “cool and motivational tools”. Then we took turns to have control of desktop so everyone could add their own choice of cool tools. Thus we were able to build a collaborative “Cool Tools” wordle of some of our favourites.

We had time for a further “round” of sharing. Once again each briefly talking about a tool of our choice, with some Application Sharing and links shared in text chat.

Conclusion

This session was a great one to be part of! As usual with sessions where we share favourite tools there were ones new to me, so I have new tools to explore.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session, in which we take a look at the contrasting examples of Diigo and Symbaloo for online/social bookmarking in “I’m sure I saw that somewhere!”  Join us on Thursday December 1st at 23:00 GMT/UTC the time for you will vary depending on your timezone (check yours here) Thursday afternoon/evening in the USA, late night Thursday in Europe, and Friday morning December 2nd in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room

 

Three Edublogs webinar overviews!

Serendipity – Two topics UDL and information curation (13th/14th October 2011)

Apologies for not posting the last couple of overviews – pressure of work just got too heavy. I hope that doing three posts in one will get me back on track!

Introduction

In this recorded session we had two topics because we had a dead heat betweeen looking at universal design for learning and curating information. The consensus was to discuss both so we split the time between the two beginning with information curation

The Session

We initially used a whiteboard to gather some of the methods we use to manage (curate) information.

The conversation moved on using text and audio as we discussed some of these in a little more depth. There are so many tools that can be used for curating information, we all have our preferences based on the ways we think and learn. No one tools will ever be right for everyone!

We moved on to look at Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Initially we spent time clarifying our various understandings of UDL. The focus on accessiblity underpins UDL but there is some perception that it can be used as a way to make everyone conform.

Both topics are really deserving of full Fine Focus sessions – information curation probably needs as many sessions as there are tools and different ways of using them.

Conclusion

This session reinforced for me something that I already feel very strongly. That is the importance of giving learners and colleagues choice with respect to tools not just for information curation but for all aspects of their e-learning. This was particularly interesting when juxtaposed with the second half of the session on UDL which focuses on accessiblity. This sometimes seem be used as a justification for trying to make a tool or site “all things to all people” and thus removing “difference”.

“Regional Voices Crying Out To Be Heard” (20th/21st October 2011)

Introduction

In this session I told the story of Western Australia’s unique approach to participation in the national consultation for Australia’s new Foundation Skills Strategy. The session was as always recorded.

The Session

The session really was more of a story than a presentation. I shared the slides I had used in my recent workshop/presentation via Elluminate at the 34th Australian Council for Adult Literacy Conference – Literacy on the Map about how Western Australia enabled our regional voices to be heard in the by using Elluminate for their regional focus group in the national consultation for Australia’s new Foundation Skills Strategy. The recording of that session plus the slides and an approximate transcript of content are available on the conference Presentations page under “Tuesday” Session D5 Regional voices crying out to be heard! I also posted on this blog about the consultation when it happened back in April under the title “Elluminate Your Consultation Process”

Those of us who took part in the consultation felt that using Elluminate enabled us to overcome Western Australia’s tyranny of distance and thus play a significant role in that consultation process.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this session! It was very much a talk through the processes, both of:

  • presenting via Elluminate at a conference that was entirely face-to-face except for my workshop; and
  • the consultation process itself and how we met the consultants’ requirements via Elluminate

It was very satisfying to re-visit the processes in company with several experienced Elluminate users and to discuss some of the rationale behind the choices of tools and strategies.

Serendipity – Parent Education (because they seem so hostile to technology) – (27th/28th October 2011)

Introduction

In this very lively recorded Serendipity session the topic of choice was “parent education – because they seem so hostile to technology”.

The Session

A really great session! This is one of those topics where all e-minded educators seem to feel very strongly and that always gives rise to a good session.

We looked first at some possible reasons why parents give such an impression of hostility about technology in the classroom. These thoughts filled a whiteboard quickly and generated further discussion ranging into the educational “value” of some student use of technology. There were also several links in textchat relating to research in the area of parent education.

Having discussed why parents were negative we moved on to consider how they might be educated in the value of the technology in a learning context.

Again we quickly filled a whiteboard with ideas and more links both on the whiteboard and in textchat. There were some great ideas shared on the whiteboard and chat and then expanded on through audio. As always there was much serendipitous learning in the diversions into e-portfolios, blogging, QRcodes and other fascinating areas.

Conclusion

This was a buzzy session with contributions coming thick and fast. The best thing about Serendipity sessions is the unconference nature because we never know where we will go in our “e-xplorations”.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session, “Facebook won’t go away!” I take a look at Facebook – from the premise that if it won’t go away (and it won’t) we need to embrace it as a tool. Join us on Thursday November 3rd at 23:00 GMT/UTC the time for you will vary depending on your timezone (check yours here) Thursday afternoon/evening in the USA, late night Thursday in Europe, and Friday morning October 4th in Australia – in the usual virtual room

 

Edublogs webinar overview – Social Media With Students?

Introduction

This Fine Focus session was really a spin-off from last week’s Serendipity session where we touched on using Twitter with students but didn’t really have time to explore the issues. This was a great session with lots of whiteboard activity and as usual the session was recorded.

The Session

Although the session title refers to “social media” this is such a massive topic that I focussed on social networking with students and chose what are probably the two most well known and widely different from one another social networks – Twitter and Facebook. I then added in GooglePlus because although this is very new I suspect it will ultimately be extensively used with students because of the way circles can be used.

We started with some polling to find out where everyone was “coming from” on using social networks with students. Next we set the scene with a brief look at some recent items on social netwroks with students including two short videos. This led on the the quesion of whether we should use this type of tool with students – the poll result was a resounding “Yes” and we quickly filled a whiteboard with the positives and negatives.

The next considerations were the contexts and circumstances in which we might use social networking with our students. This was followed by sharing how (if we currently do) we use one or more of these with students. We finished with a poll on whether we now felt it was more likely that we would use these with students. There is also a slide with live links for the videos and some other items of interest for social networking with students.

Conclusion

This session worked well – it followed a similar pattern to most of the other discussion type topics that I facilitate in Fine Focus sessions. As is often the case I felt that I talked too much, however everyone seemed to enjoy the session. The use of video was something I don’t do often – although I have recently been showing colleagues how to incorporate it via the multimedia window. It worked fairly well although the videos did not play for one participant despite being mp4 and so likely to be playable by the majority of people. This is one of the reasons that I tend to avoid video the other is bandwidth and download time issues. Even though both videos were small files they still took considerable time to download to participants after they joined the room, so it isn’t a good idea to play videos very early in the session. However I will be trying to include more video because I feel it is something I need to become more familiar with.

Next Webinar

Our next session is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday September 15that 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday September 16th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual Elluminate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic

Edublogs webinar overview – Quick & easy online tools

Introduction

This Fine Focus session was a little different from usual! I am always trying to think of new topics and different ways we can approach these in our virtual room. As most of you know I have a permanent “bee in my bonnet” about the webinars being participative and interactive and I try very hard to avoid sessions where I talk too much! This session was (I think) very interactive as well as exciting – checkout the recording and see what you think.

The idea behind this session comes out of my desire to always have some – easy to learn, quick to use and no need to register – online tools at my fingertips. Many of my students (previously face-to-face and now online) lack motivation and engagement – they are often unwillingly in education/training – so being able to give them a task that involves using a quick to learn tool to create a visual outcome can be an effective engagement strategy.

The Session

For the session I collected together ten links to what I hoped would be small easy to learn and use online tools. Some of these I was already familiar with, some I had heard of but not used and some were completely unknown to me and found through a search for a type/function of tool.

We started with a series of quick polls to gauge familiarity with each of the ten tools. The degree of familarity ranged from some people using a particular tool quite regularly to at least one tool with no-one having any experience of its use.

The main part of the session was based on a quick exploration of a chosen tool by each participant. For this we had a table of the tools and everyone put their name beside the tool they were going to explore.  We then allowed a timed ten minutes to “play” with the tool – the rationale being that if it took much more than ten minutes to use at the most basic level then it would not be very useful with students as a quick re-engager.

The Tools – Function and links (these are in no particular order)

The “playtime” was followed by quick evaluations from individuals of their chosen tool against the following criteria: ease of use; how quick to learn; potential usefulness with students.

Conclusion

This different way of running the session was exciting for me and seemed to be very much enjoyed by everyone. I really loved the evaluations and comments from everyone on the tools they had explored. It felt like a very valid way to investigate tools that we might ask students to learn and use very quickly. I am well aware that if I can’t use the basics of a tool in 5-10 minutes then it is unreasonable of me to expect my students to do so. I think if we have a favourite tool that we use often we sometimes forget how long it took us to get started with that tool when we ask our students to come to grips with it in minutes!

Feedback on the session was very positive with suggestions that we do something similar again and also some terrific ideas for variations such as small groups evaluating a tool and feeding back or taking a tool away and then coming back to a later session with a more detailed evaluation.

Next Webinar

Our next session is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday September 1stat 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday September 2nd at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual Elluminate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic

Edublogs webinar overview – “ESL with e-stuff”

Introduction

For this session we were joined by Jane Curry, who is @parrpakala on Twitter, and a group of her students. Jane and her students talked with us about some of the “e-stuff” they use in their English language learning. The students also told us a little about their backgrounds and former school experiences.  Checkout the recording to hear and see this exciting session.

The Session

The session was informal and was very much a conversation with Jane telling us about some of the e-activities her students undertake and then the students joining the conversation and answering some of our questions about their learning.

Jane uses her “Youth Class Blog” as a thread for the activities and Web2.0 tools she uses with her students. Recent activities include a VoiceThread.

Jane also records her students and uploads the videos – fantastic for language learners to see and hear themselves speaking the language.  We watched one of these videos where Lan talks about the school she went to as a child.

This session was itself another Web2.0 experience for Jane’s students who overcame their shyness to join in, answer questions and tell us a little about their own thoughts and experiences.

Conclusion

For me this was a really exciting session! I love it when we have students involved in webinars in some way and would be delighted for it to happen more often.

Next Webinar

Our next session is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday August 18that 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday August 19th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual Elluminate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic