Tag: interactive whiteboard

Alternative ways of presenting content and information to pupils

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Powerpoint and other slideshow-based forms of presentation can be useful. They certainly have a place in my teaching. But variation is the spice of life and certainly helps in terms of pupils being able to remember important information they may need for examinations, etc.

If you just want cool ways of jazzing up your exisiting Powerpoint, then you could try CoolIris or Rich Chart Live. If, however, you’d like a different way of presenting, keep reading!

In what follows I’d like to take you through three tools that should help liven up your presentations. They are:

  1. Glogster
  2. Prezi
  3. Animoto

Glogster


glogster
The best way to describe Glogster is that it’s like an online, multimedia poster. It’s very easy to use and, as it can be made to display full-screen, making it an ideal presentational tool. You can add (hyperlinked) text as well as embedding images, video and audio. The added bonus is that it’s already online for your pupils to see when they get home! 🙂

An example of a very basic ‘glog’ is this one I created to show my pupils how it was done. They did a much better job – for example this one by Merrick S.

Prezi


prezi
At the time of writing, Prezi is currently in ‘private beta mode’, meaning you have to request a login by signing up. In practice, it only takes a couple of days before you get your account.

Like Glogster, Prezi allows you to embed multimedia objects such as images and video (in the form of .flv files – try KissYouTube.com). Describing itself as ‘the zooming presentation editor’, Prezi is like a giant canvas upon which you focus in on various parts.

Prezi can be viewed, and collaborated upon, online – but each presentation can also be downloaded for use offline. Perfect if your network connection is less than 100% guaranteed! 🙂

Here’s a very straightforward Prezi I created on the League of Nations to show you the style.

Animoto

Animoto is an easy video creation tool. It ‘feels’ your music and presents the images you upload to it in time with the beat. Animoto has recently become a lot more powerful in that you can now add text. It is therefore now useful as a story-telling tool, and especially as a ‘hook’ for pupils at the start of a lesson!

I created the above video last month to entice Year 9 to choose the new Vocational GCSE in History!

Interesting ways to use Twitter in the classroom

After a suggestion received, quite fittingly, from another Twitter user, Tom Barrett is weaving his magic again. This time, after getting educators to collaborate on ways in which Interactive Whiteboards, Google Earth, Google Docs, and Pocket Video Cameras can be used in education he’s turned his (and his network’s) sights on Twitter:

I got involved straight away – in fact mine’s the first tip on there! Get involved by contacting Tom (@tombarrett) 🙂

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Beyond boring Powerpoint presentations.

It’s easy to create a bad Powerpoint presentation. That’s because it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that because your audience is looking at something, they’re engaged with and by it. What is gained in clarity can be lost in repetition and boredom. Below are some ways to use Powerpoint more effectively and alternatives to spice up your content delivery.

First, though, here’s Don McMillan explaining some of the REALLY bad ways people use Powerpoint:

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var so = new SWFObject(“http://www.edublogs.tv/flvplayer.swf”,”mpl”,”450″,”355″,”8″);so.addParam(“allowscriptaccess”,”always”);so.addParam(“allowfullscreen”,”true”);so.addVariable(“height”,”355″);so.addVariable(“width”,”450″);so.addVariable(“file”,”http://www.edublogs.tv/uploads/xvvgpn8zukcgkwgx.flv”);so.addVariable(“searchbar”,”false”);so.write(“player”);

5 quick tips if you MUST use Powerpoint…

  1. Never use a font size smaller than 24pt. If you have a large classroom, you may need to go even bigger than this. Stand at the back and check!
  2. Limit the number of words you have per slide. Don’t use them as an aid to remind you what to say. They should enhance what you are talking about, not repeat it! A great way is to limit yourself to 5 words and 5 bullet points. Alternatively, just use an image to represent your idea/concept/instruction.
  3. Find graphics that represent things you do frequently in lessons (perhaps from clipart) and always use these when doing a similar activity. For example, a pen writing for when it’s time to start work or two people talking for discussion/group work. These help reinforce good habits and aid classroom management.
  4. Use contrasting colours. The easiest way to do this is to choose an option from the ‘Slide Design’ menu. Otherwise, remind yourself of the colour wheel.
  5. Limit the number of different slide transitions in a presentation. One or two is classy, lots of different ones looks unprofessional.

Beyond Powerpoint…

There are lots of different tools that do a similar job to Powerpoint. For example, Keynote on the Mac and OpenOffice.org Impress (all platforms). But you don’t want to simply replicate Powerpoint’s functionality, you want to move beyond it.

Method 1 – Online presentations

Creating presentations on, or uploading presentations to, the Internet can be extremely useful. Not only does it give you access to better visual effects than Powerpoint can offer, but it makes them readily available to your students outside the lesson. The following three slides are taken from part of the very first lesson I had with Year 7 this academic year:

This is the same presentation when I uploaded it to Google Docs and tinkered slightly:

And here it is in the wonderful SlideRocket after using some of its functionality:

Zoho Show is another option. All of these are completely free or have a free basic option. I’d recommend Google Docs if you’d like to collaborate (or students to collaborate) on presentations and SlideRocket for fancy effects. The latter has a desktop version, although you have to upgrade your account to a paid-for version to be able to download it. Of course, if you just want to make your presentations available online, you could use SlideShare

Method 2 – Add interactive elements

  • Need to show some statistics and figures? Try richchartlive.com!
  • Add a short video clip to your presentation. Find it on YouTube, or another video-sharing site. Download and convert it (in this case to MOV or WMV format) via Zamzar.com. There’s an elearnr guide on how to do this here. 🙂
  • The PicLens plugin for Powerpoint 2007 means you’re not restricted to a linear presentation – and it looks cool! (see below)

Method 3 – Use a completely different approach

Ask yourself, “do I really need to use a Powerpoint-style format?”. If the answer is “perhaps not!” then check out some of these suggestions:

  • Glogster – we’ve already been through glogs on elearnr. They are a great, visual way to present as you can embed videos, audio and images quickly and easily.
  • Mindmap – why not demonstrate good practice and create a mindmap to present ideas? Students can learn organizational skills from this, and there are a number of collaborative mindmapping sites, including MindMeister, bubbl.us, Mindomo and Mind42.
  • Wiki – a wiki is a collaborative website. It’s also a great place to embed content from other websites and therefore a useful presentational tool. Your audience (i.e. students or other teachers) can also add their ideas and thoughts to it at a later date – if you want them to! I like Wikispaces, but it doesn’t seem to play nicely with our school network. I’d recommend, therefore, Google Sites, Wetpaint and PBwiki. I use Google Sites to run learning.mrbelshaw.co.uk 🙂

Finally…

Keep up-to-date with new ways and ideas for presenting ideas, concepts and content. The following are websites that can help:

Have YOU got any tips to share about good/bad practice when using Powerpoint?

How to use Google Earth more effectively.

Google Earth is a fantastic, FREE, tool for teaching and learning. There are many, many different ways of using it. It’s almost as if the whole world is a canvas!

As befits Google Earth, the following are some ideas from educators around the world as to how to use the program effectively.

Tom Barrett has created a Google Presentation to which other educators have contributed. Check it out here:

 

Further Links:

Know any other useful links not in the guide or above? Please share them! 🙂

10 ways to use your interactive whiteboard more effectively

Following on from this previous blog post detailing over 30, here are what I think are 10 really effective ways you can start to use your interactive whiteboard (IWB) like a pro. I shall be demonstrating these during the Tuesday and Thursday luncthime sessions in H14. 🙂

1. Shade your screen!

Using the Screen Shade tool you can hide part of the screen on your IWB. You can use this for starter activities where students have to guess what is in the rest of the screen or to prevent students ‘jumping ahead’ with a lesson’s learning sequence.

2. Erase lots of stuff without ‘scrubbing’

If you’ve quite a bit of writing to erase from your IWB, simply use the eraser to draw around it, then use it to press in the middle of the writing. It should then disappear! (see video)

3. Tap and drag for a more accurate IWB

It’s sometimes difficult to click exactly in the middle of the crosshairs when orienting your IWB. Instead, take one of the IWB pens, press it on the IWB near the crosshair, drag it into the middle of the crosshair, and then release. This makes the tracking on your IWB spot-on!

4. Use the SMART Lesson Activity Toolkit

In addition to the SMARTboard software, the Lesson Activity Toolkit gives you more options and flexibility with your IWB. See it in action with this four-part video: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

5. Use keyboard shortcuts

Learning these keyboard shortcuts could make using your IWB more productive and less frustrating:

  • Ctrl+G – Group objects
  • Ctrl+R – Ungroup objects
  • Ctrl+K – Lock an object
  • Ctrl+J – Unlock an object
  • Ctrl+D – Clone an object
  • Ctrl+M – Insert blank page
  • Ctrl+PgDn – Send object backward
  • Ctrl+PgUp – Bring object forward
  • Ctrl+Shift+PgDn – Send object to back
  • Ctrl+Shift+PgUp – Bring object to front

6. Record a sequence of events on your IWB

If you’re doing something procedural, it’s a good idea to record the steps you go through. Use the SMART Recorder to record what appears on your IWB. This is useful to then play on repeat whilst students are completing a task, to put on your website, or on your school’s virtual learning environment.

7. Create puzzle-image starter activities

Befuddlr takes any picture from Flickr (an image-sharing website) and makes it into a puzzle. This is great for IWB’s as students can come up and re-arrange the puzzle to make meaning. Creating your own Flickr account is easy and free, so there’s unlimited potential for all different types of puzzle. Check out Tom Barrett’s suggestions for how to use Befuddlr in various ways here.

8. Rub and Reveal

Using a pen the same colour as the background covers-up words, images – anything you choose on your IWB. If you then use the eraser it will ‘reveal’ what you have covered up!

9. Google Earth

If there’s one application that comes into its own on an IWB, it’s Google Earth! You can zoom, pan and scroll as well as discover ‘layers’ to add value to your lessons. Google themselves have put together a useful guide, and there’s a Google Earth Education Community that breaks down resources by subject. You definitely need this installed and be using it in whatever lesson you teach!

10. Get involved in the Whiteboard Challenge!

The best way to learn is with other people, either face-to-face or in an online group. That’s why the Whiteboard Challenge is such a great idea. It’s a 14-week course that began on 15 August 2008. Have a look at what’s available and get involved here: http://whiteboardchallenge.wikispaces.com

*BONUS* 11. Do the double-tap!

Don’t click-and-drag, instead put the finger of one hand on the object, then the finger of your other hand where you want to move it. The object will move half-way inbetween. Remove the first finger you put on the IWB and the object will ‘fly’ across! (see video)

I couldn’t get this one to work, which is why I didn’t include it in the original 10… 😮

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How to use your interactive whiteboard more effectively

Tom Barrett, inspirational primary teacher and Assistant Head in Nottinghamshire, England, had a great idea recently. Using the collaborative features of Google Presentations, he invited educators from around the world to contribute their tips and ideas for using your interactive whiteboard more effectively. Here’s what they’ve come up with (so far!)

View a larger version here. Do get in touch with Tom if you’ve got another tip you can share! 🙂

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I’m a published author!

It’s a red-letter day in the history of the Belshaw clan. Although our publishers didn’t tell us it was imminent, Nick Dennis* and I have finally had the first of a series published:

Oh, wait, you didn’t think it was a book, did you? Come on… this is 2008 – it’s digital, baby! :-p

*Nick’s finally started his blogging journey. Spur him on by commenting on his first post, please!

Help me write my job spec. for next year!


(The response I hope not to get come September…)

I’ve mentioned this in passing in a couple of blog posts previous to this one: from next academic year I shall be E-Learning Tutor at my school. This new post (solicited by me, it has to be said) involves me spending 50% of my time (15 periods of 50 mins) per week teaching History and a bit of ICT. The other 50% will count towards the E-Learning Tutor role.

I’ve a meeting next week with my Head to flesh out my actual role. He mentioned today that I’ll have to do some “mundane” stuff, but that I will be free to push a few aspects of my choosing and accelerate perhaps one thing I’m really interested in. As you can imagine, with my Ed.D. thesis exploring the ‘Digital Literacy’, that’s the latter taken care of. 🙂

I’m expecting the mudane activities I shall have to undertake to be things like:

  • Interactive Whiteboard training (the really basic aspects)
  • How to use the new VLE (Virtual Learning Environment)
  • Using the internal Microsoft Outlook web-based email system
  • Ways to use Powerpoint and other presentation tools in the classroom
  • How to transfer digital video from digital cameras/camcorders to staff laptops

Whereas what I really want to be pushing are things such as:

  • Creating a blog to make resources available outside the classroom (I’ve already run a couple of staff workshops on this, with some success)
  • Basic podcasting and digital storytelling for non-written assessment, leading to e-portfolios for students.
  • Communicating with other educators worldwide (i.e. getting staff initiated in the edublogosphere – perhaps through the K12 Online Conference?)
  • Giving staff the confidence to take students into the ICT suites more often to use the Internet as a publishing tool.
  • Transferring schemes of work and programmes of study into an electronic format (perhaps in a wiki-like format using Google Sites within Google Apps Team Edition or the new VLE?)

Some context to help you understand where we’re at: my school has a plethora of RM One machines, Interactive Whiteboards in almost every classroom, and relatively unrestricted access (we can access Twitter, del.icio.us, Google Video, etc. but not YouTube, Facebook or games websites, for example). There’s a real mix of what I would call ‘digital literacy’ amongst staff. We range from those, like me, who use educational technology in some way in every lesson, to those who only use their laptop to help them write reports, and who certainly haven’t turned on their Interactive Whiteboard yet… 😮

What else should I be looking to include in my responsibilities? How should my success and impact be measured, given that it’s a 1-year trial role? Suggestions in the comments section please! :-p

Image credits: Hugh McLeod @ gapingvoid.com (top one censored by me…)

Creating an Interactive Whiteboard using a Nintendo WiiMote

Before I begin, let me just say that this IS actually easy. To put things into perspective, I didn’t opt for GCSE Electronics 13 years ago because my soldering skills were so bad. I hadn’t touched another soldering iron again – until last night. Anyone with an ounce of hand-eye coordination will be fine… 😉

I was fairly gobsmacked when I came across Johnny Chung Lee’s video of how to create an Interactive Whiteboard using a Nintendo WiiMote and infra-red light pen. It came courtesy of a blog post by Mr Platts (inexplicably down at the time of writing – cached version here). The video by Johnny, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University, is here:

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Mobile-phone based interactive whiteboards using WiiMotes?

Is this all we’ll need in the future for interactive presentations?

Excited blog posts and Twitter-comments have been flying back-and-forth across the edublogosphere this week. Why? Because it’s now possible to build a cheap interactive whiteboard using the controller from a Nintendo Wii.

I first came across the idea via Mr Platts’ blog which links to the video by Johnny Chung Lee below. Since then, CoolCatTeacher Vicki Davis has done her usual high-quality synthesis job on what’s out there. As she’s a bit of a beacon, the comments section looks like it’s going to be useful.

What I think everyone’s missed, however, is the fact that mobile phones are due to have projectors built into them in the very near future. This would be an awesome system. You could roll up to do an interactive presentation with nothing but a mobile phone, WiiMote and IR pen. Even better, buy several of the latter and students could use their own phones to do the projecting! I really do think someone needs to set up a web store selling those custom-built infra-red pens. I’d buy one. 😀

Further Reading:

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