Open Thinkering


Month: July 2007

Using Google tools for student projects

Google Apps

Last week a colleague got in touch to ask my advice about improving a project his Year 8 (12-13 year old) students do each year. He was using Dreamweaver with them to produce websites, but felt that the project was overly focused on the ICT aspect than the subject-specific skills he was trying to develop.

The two options he was considering were either for each student to create their own wiki or for them each to have their own blog. After some discussion, he decided that perhaps using Wikispaces might be the best option – especially when I pointed out that they’re ad-free for educational purposes.


No, however, I’m not so sure. After stumbling upon a link via which got me thinking, I reckon that a combination of Google Docs, Google Page Creator and iGoogle could work even better. Students could even use Picasa Web Albums to show off images they have collected/taken. The process would go something like this:

  1. The teacher directs each student to create a new Google account.
  2. Students collate materials and information they are going to use via Google Docs. Each stage or page of the website they are to create could be planned here. They can also add collaborators easily for group work.
  3. Students publish their work via Google Docs and then link to it via their iGoogle customised start page.
  4. Using Google Page Creator, student use WYSIWYG online tools to create their web pages/website.
  5. Various media could be embedded in the site (videos, slides, etc.) or a series of images via Picasa Web Albums (even geotagging them as they go!)

Advanced uses of this might include using Google Notebook to collect information from relevant websites, Google Reader to keep track of relevant RSS feeds, Google Video to create documentaries, and Google Talk and GMail to collaborate with people further afield!

If you find these Google tools useful then you might want to consider Google Apps for Education for your establishment.

Has anyone done something like this? Have I missed anything out? You’d think I was paid to promote Google, wouldn’t you? Nope, just enjoy using their tools… 🙂

Deki: Wiki 3.0?

I’ve just come across MindTouch’s Deki which aims to evolve wikis to the next level. Although I haven’t had chance to install it yet – it’s only free for up to 5 users and then prohibitively expensive – Deki looks like it could be the next wiki paradigm. You can see it in action at OpenGarden, a Mindtouch-sponsored Open Source community. The main feature of Deki is its semantic web possibilities. There’s a review of Deki over at Read/Write Web if you’re interested in more details. Personally, I can’t wait for this type of web app to filter down to the free level so I can use it with my students! 🙂

Update: I’ve discovered that Deki is actually Open Source, but that it’s an ‘OSI-approved commercially supported open source wiki’. This means that the source code is available, but to use it as-is, you have to buy it. Fear not, as Mindtouch’s site will allow you to create a free wiki with a version of Deki that is a couple of releases old!

HOWTO: Nintendo DS & Orange Livebox

Nintendo DS & Orange Livebox

I didn’t even realise until this morning that you could play Nintendo DS games online. I knew you could use the wireless feature to play other people within, say, the same room, but was completely unaware of Nintendo WFC. Upon discovering this I became frustrated at my inability to connect via our Orange Livebox. What follows constitutes a solution for people experiencing similar problems…

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