Category Archives: Web 2.0 Education Tools

Google Docs for College Students and Teacher’s

As a recent college graduate I remember all too well the stress and on going panic of college assignments, essays and preparing lesson plans. There were two things I depended on to get my work completed….my laptop (or computer) and my USB stick.

Our worst nightmare was having all our work complete and ready to print out when suddenly the computer screen goes blank, your work disappears and that ultimate feeling of doom and gloom sets in. You hide your head in your hands and fight back the tears. It has happened to all of us at some point throughout our college days.

If you are looking for a way to put Microsoft documents and USB sticks behind you why not try Google Docs out!

Google Docs put simply is an easy to use online version of Microsoft Office with some extra unique and exciting features! Google Docs allows you to create word documents, power point presentations and spreadsheets and store them online. This means that you can access your work on any computer that has internet access. Allowing you to eliminate any fear of your laptop or computer suddenly crashing along with all your work.

Benefits for College Students

  1. It’s free! If you are a student who has a Gmail account or a dcu.ie email address. You already have access to google docs.
  2. Prepare essays, power points and continuous assessments on google docs and access on any computer anywhere (as long as you have internet access). This is great for any students who do not own a computer or for any students who don’t fancy carrying your laptop around college all day.
  3. Saving in the Cloud: Writing important essays in Google Docs allows you to access assignments and papers from any computer, anywhere. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been stuck in the library without my laptop, or only have my smartphone handy. With Google Docs, it doesn’t matter, because all of my assignments are stored in the cloud, meaning I don’t have to be attached to my laptop to get work done. This could save your sanity if your computer crashes and luckily, there will be no need to panic, because you know your work is tucked safely in the Google Docs cloud, instead of your dying hard drive.
  4. Preparing a thesis? Instead of attaching a copy of your work in an email and receiving feedback from your lecturer in a separate email why not use Google Docs sharing features? This allows you and your supervisor to exchange notes by interacting online also enabling your supervisor to type in their own notes on your thesis allowing you to edit your work sufficiently.
  5. Group Work: Group projects in college can at times be a nightmare. Collaboration is often done through text or facebook messaging. Combining all the work together or slides on a power point before a presentation was usually frantically done at last minute. With google docs groups are able to work together on the same presentation or project simultaneuosly. The discussion feature is great for this. 
  6. Exam Time: most college students today are guilty of one thing: we don’t share enough and we don’t work together enough. Before exam time each year myself and a few friends would swap notes and work together with studying methods and sharing essays. However, this was done through email. Why not do this through real time? We tend to spend most of our time hooked to chat forums anyway so why not study using this technique too? Work with friends to take in-class notes on a single Google doc, allowing everyone to come away with a more thorough set of notes than they could have written individually. These notes can then be used to help everybody come exam time! 

Check out this video to see the easy to use discussion and online editing and collaboration tools on google docs in action:

Benefits for Teachers and Student Teachers

  1. Collaborative Writing: This allows students to prepare their work online such as essays and projects and receive immediate feedback from their teacher. There is also a built in research tool allowing students to explore the online world for information and provide links to it on their document.
  2. Collaborative Brainstorming: this gives the students an opportunity to share ideas and thoughts online and to contribute to the lesson. Students can use shapes, arrows, text, and imported images to build a visual map for any task. The revision history uses colors to highlight and tracks changes to any Google Doc, making it easy to see what each student has contributed to the big picture.
  3. Quiz: You can create a simple quiz with a Google Form.  Just create a quiz with a few multiple choice questions, take the quiz yourself to submit the correct answers, and pop a simple formula into the spreadsheet end to let the technology do the grading for you.  Immediately publish the spreadsheet of results and teach students how to use the find tool to quickly find their score and significantly raise the stakes to increase student motivation.  Please note: To avoid public humiliation and hard feelings make sure you require students to sign in with some sort of unique identifier that protects their privacy.
  4. Power point presentation and You Tube: Inserting youtube videos in a power point presentation using microsoft office usually means for most teacher inserting a link that they must press during the lesson. This link will then open an internet window and upload a clip from you tube. Google docs allows you to watch a you tube video without moving away from your power point presentation. It is very simple and a definite benefit for all teachers.

Check out this video to see the amazing ways you can create a power point presentation using google docs!

Google Docs in Education Slideshow:

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Edmodo Review: Social Networking for the classroom. Educational web 2.0 tool.

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Edmodo is a social learning platform for teachers, students and parents. As educators we are constantly looking for new ways to bring technology into the classroom. Edmodo is a social networking site developed for teachers and students to bring social media into the classroom is a secure and educational way.

Our students are growing up in a society where social media sites such as Facebook are the hot topic of any social gathering and conversation.  Edmodo is is very similiar to Facebook  which immediately appeals to students however it is a controlled, secure and safe environment for all students.

One a the main concerns of any educator when introducing web based tools into the classroom is security and safety of our students. Edmodo has a number of features to ease the minds of all teachers and parents alike.

1)    Passcode: In order to join a class, the student must have a passcode which can be provided by the teacher. This passcode can be changed by the teacher at any time. If a student shares the code outside the class, the teacher can change it, without affecting students already joined in the group. Parents can also be give a unqiue passcode that allows them to check on the work progress of their own child.

2)    Anonymous posting is not possible.

3)    Each edmodo class group is managed and controlled by the teacher.

4)    Students can only communicate to the whole class or to the teacher – private messages between students are not possible.

5)    Teachers can delete inappropriate posts.

Possible Issues may include:

  1. Students can post inappropriate posts so this will need to be monitored.
  2. Students may use this social site for social networking more than academic purposes.
  3. Students who don’t have the internet at home may be at a disadventage.

Ways to use Edmodo in the classroom:

  • Teachers can post messages for their students and students can post to the group
  • Teachers and students can share content and materials including web links and videos relating to given topic
  • Teachers can post classroom assignments, encourage discussions and track progress online.
  • Parents can track the progress of their child online.
  • Teachers can also grade assignments online providing convenient feedback for all students.
  • Enables teachers to network with other teachers to share ideas and resources.
  • Students and teachers can connect via mobile smart phones and be updated with the latest posts.
  • It has a calendar feature, which helps track assignments and events.
  • There can be co-teachers within a group, which is great if you co-teach a class and to swap ideas and resources.

Quotes from teachers using Edmodo in the classroom:

“Students love the ability to turn in assignments that can be typed without the worry or frustration of handwriting pages that may inevitably get lost.”

 

“Edmodo helps Parents or guardians to monitor achievement the children in school and help them identify ways of collaborating with teachers and student to achieve learning objectives in school.”

 

“Students submit essays and I use the comment features to score and provide feedback – so much easier than dragging a stack of papers back and forth from school to home. It’s also a fantastic resource for group projects. The group feature allows me to assign students to reading groups or to project groups, which enables them to collaborate from home and asynchronously.”

 

“It also can be accessed with an app on most smartphones so students can keep up with discussions and assignments anywhere. I have found that my students are very engaged in class discussions when using the program and helps me to “hear” from those students who don’t participate that much in class.”

 

“It also has tons of teacher communities where you can collaborate with teachers around the world who are teaching the same thing you are. You can also collaborate with classrooms.”

Useful Video to watch on Edmodo:

Padlet (Wallwisher) in the Classroom: Online Notice Board Tool

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Wallwisher aka Padlet is a free online web 2.0 application that allows you to create a bulletin board online. Here you can display information on any chosen topic. All you have to do is create an account and build your notice board. Once you have built your wallwisher you can add images, links, videos and text. It is on online tool but you can also download app’s for Android and iOS devices.

Using this in the classroom with your students can be done very easily. One feature I quite like is you have simple security features: Private, Public or moderated by you the teacher. However, there is one slight disadvantage. The safest setting is to have your bulletin board on private, yet if you would like to give your students the freedom to post on the wall you will have to make it open to comments from the public. Once the class is over making the page private again will prohibit “outsiders” from interacting with any students the online notice board. Your wall is also controlled by a password which set by you.

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Check out this link for some creative idea’s to help you incorporate Padlet/Walwisher into your classroom:

http://www.teachersfirst.com/single.cfm?id=10007

Some examples I thought of:

  • Plan events (tasks, class projects and action plans)
  • Keep notes (allow students to write notes, ideas and thoughts on the lesson up on the wall)
  • Hold a class discussion
  • Post a question and let the students respond
  • Collect feedback to a lesson, video, book
  • Add images (college made by class group)

Embed a YouTube Video into Powerpoint

For many teachers embedding a youtube video into your powerpoint might seem like a simple task. However, a lot of teacher’s still use a power point with a link to the youtube video they wish to use which means they have to open an internet explorer window and exit out of the power point. On a practical level this can disrupt the flow of a lesson and can also at times result in you loosing the attention of certain student’s.

Note: This video is a tutorial for adding Youtube Video’s in Powerpoint 2007!!

Go Animate: Make your own Video online! Teaching Resource

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Are you creative, imaginative and constantly looking for new exciting ways to engage your students? Why not try Go Animate.com. This is a web based application that allows you to create animated videos for free. It enables users to create their own animated video which is then posted online.

From my own personal experience of Go Animate the software is relatively simple to use however it is time consuming. I would hesitate to use it in a classroom with your students as the content on it is available to the public and as a result some of the video’s might not be suitable for the classroom. A good tip to remember here is that you can limit whole class activities by prohibiting access to the public section of the site. Your videos can also be made either public or private.

Video tutorials are available online to teach you how to use go animate quickly and efficiently. You can choose from a number of different templates, themes and characters.

A good idea if you have use of the computer room for a class or would like students to do a project using video animation.  You could sum up key points of a lesson, ask the class questions and provide answers using a very simple animated video there are loads of activities that can be incorporated into go animate.

Here is a quick video I made when exploring the webpage:

http://goanimate.com/videos/01CbamzMwqFY

Tagxedo: Word Clouds with style! A review for teachers. Wordle who??

Turn this: Image   into this: Image

I recently staggered upon a fun, cool and creative way to make word clouds as a teaching resource in my classroom. Wordle seemed like the place to create these fantastic word clouds, until I found Tagxedo. It is a free, online web tool that allows you as a teacher and also your students to create visually appealing and creative word clouds.

After discovering Tagxedo, Wordle became a distant memory, a website that should only be used as an introduction and beginners guide to word clouds.

Watch this quick video for a quick tutorial on how to you tagxedo:

Wordle for Teachers: A tool for creating word clouds

I am sure at times when you are browsing through images online you have stumbled upon images like these:

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These eye catching images are called word clouds. For teachers word clouds are a fantastic resource and teaching tool.

You can create these word clouds using a Wordle. Wordle is an amazing simple to use wed 2.0 website. It allows anybody to really imaginative and creative word clouds. You simply enter in a text you are using in class such as an extract from Romeo and Juliet, a page from Anne Frank’s Diary to lyrics for a song. Words that are used most frequently, or words that you have highlighted as key and important are made larger and stand out more. You can use it in your classroom, post it on twitter or on your blog.

Features I like:

If you are creative and enjoy producing new artistic resources for your classroom Wordle is the tool for you. It allows you to input your text in a few different ways. You have three options: you can type in words individually or you can copy and paste text from any source that you are using. Another way you can create a word cloud is to use a URL of any web page that has an RSS feed.

The good thing about Wordle is that it will automatically emphasis words that are repeated and increase them in size. If you would like certain words to appear together I would recommend leaving out the space between either word. Then the fun part. Once you have entered whatever text you would like to use you are given the option to customize your “word cloud” creation. Here you are given a number of options to play around with including text size, font style, color schemes, layout of words (Horizontal,  Vertical or both).

When you have created your word cloud you are given a few options. You can 1) Save it online. This makes you word cloud creation public for anyone online to see. 2) Save it as a pdf file and print it out for a poster or worksheet and 3) Embed the link into your blog or website.

I was very impressed with how simple and easy Wordle was to use. It is 100% completely free. The layout and design of the website is straightforward and painless to use.

Negatives:

One disappointing feature of Wordle is that you cannot change the size of the image. There is only one standard size. If you are looking for more flexibility Tuxedo (another word cloud website might suit you better.

When I first went on to explore Wordle I unfortunately stumbled at the first hurdle. I am a mac user. I had copied and paste my text and I hit Go to create my own personal word cloud. Yet all I could see was Blocked Plug-In.

Troubleshooting/reporting bugs

MOST COMMON PROBLEM: FIREWALL/WEB CONTENT FILTER

Many folks who see the red “X” or other symptoms of a missing Wordle applet are suffering from a misconfigured firewall or web content filter. Can you retrieve this file?

http://wordle.appspot.com/j/v1411/wordle.jar

If not, then you must either turn off your content filter, or configure it to permit JAR files (which are compressed Java ARchives). I’ve heard that some folks also need to configure their firewalls to permit resources matching the following patterns:

▪                http://wordle.appspot.com/*

▪                http://www.google.com/jsapi/*

▪                http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/*

FIREWALL OK BUT STILL NO SUCCESS?

You must ensure that Java applets are enabled in your browser.

Mac users: here are instructions for installing the latest version of Java on your machine and then ensuring that Java is enabled in your browser. Note that you cannot use Google Chrome; you must use either Firefox or Safari.

If this Java test does not work for you, then neither will Wordle.

If the Java test does work, and Wordle does not, your best bet is to search the Wordle Users Google Group to see if someone has already solved a problem similar to yours, or join that group and post your question there.

You must make sure you have an updated version of Java on your computer or Laptop before using Wordle. Although this also says you can use Safari I feel Wordle works a lot better using Firefox.

Another disadvantage is that you have to save your word cloud by publishing it online first and then you can copy and paste your URL to a word document and delete it online. Also the customizing tools are limited so don’t expect too much if you are super artistic. I also found saving my word cloud very difficult to figure out. Once you have hit publish your word cloud i available on the wordle web page under Gallery. Saving the image itself provd very difficult.

If you are looking for a simple tool to create a word cloud for in the classroom Wordle is the way to go.

Here is a sample word cloud I created highlighting key features of Wordle:

http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/7238781/Untitled