If you have been following my blog, you’ll know that there are a few websites and internet services upon which I’ve relied to help me deliver teaching and learning in a way which I hoped my pupils would find enthusing, appealing and, yes, unashamedly entertaining.
Some of the websites and internet services we have used this year have quickly become household names among my pupils and colleagues, and it is perhaps no coincidence that the most popular services just keep getting better and better, adding new features and functionality to an already outstanding and innovative service.
We have used Animoto this year to create stunning videos that my pupils would voice over in Spanish, this way they would practice their oral skills . When we first started using Animoto we could only upload photographs to make slideshows set to music.
We decided we could do more with the soundtrack and started using Audacity to record pupils speaking in the target language. Our quest to make foreign language learning more interesting was made easier when Animoto listened to its users and added the ability add text to the slides.
Then came the iPhone application, allowing everyone to make slide shows on the fly, and now Animoto has added a fantastic new feature: the ability to add video to your slide shows, as in the example above.
I am really looking forward to seeing what my pupils will come up with next year.
Using Edmodo is second nature for us at school. We have coined a new verb: to edmodo (eg I’ll edmodo you the homework).
Edmodo has been an essential tool for us this year (I am sorry to keep going on about it) and, in its short history, it has undergone a series of improvements which have made using it increasingly easier and more convenient. Frankly, like all good technologies, Edmodo is becoming both ubiquitous and essential.
First they included the ability to collect and grade student work through the system. Then they added a very useful calendar which allowed us to view at a glance what homework was due when and by whom. This was followed by the ability to upload, store and share files (including docs, pdf files, presentations, sound and video).
Now, Edmodo, in its latest 3.0 incarnation, comes with threaded comments, real time updating and refreshing and a very useful spotlight widget on the sidebar which quickly informs you of the latest goings on. It just keeps getting better.
Not only that, Edmodo is getting an iPhone app ready to launch before Christmas.
Posterous simplifies blogging to the extreme because, as well as being able to post through their interface, it allows users to post by simply sending text, pictures, video and sound by email. Posterous’s clever software then turns all this information automatically into a blog post without any further intervention from you.
Posterous has recently perfected the ability to autopost to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Flickr, making the the content you publish more readily accessible to your audience. Reaching your students has never been easier. Indeed it has never been easier for your students to publish content for you, each other and the world.
One last thing about Posterous is their new iPhone app which allows you to publish images to your blog on the go after only two clicks. Fantastic.
Slideshare has always, in my view, lacked the snazziness of some of the other web services I often write about. But what it lacks in glossiness it more than makes up for in usefulness.
First they added the ability to add voice over recording to the slideshows, so you could hear the presenter while viewing the presentation. It wasn’t long until you could also add YouTube videos into presentations as well as tweet them and publish them on your Facebook profile.
Now, in another Google friendly move, Slideshare has added a new feature: importing Google Docs into Slideshare. This makes it really easy now to grab all your pdf files, docs and presentations stored in Google Docs and share them with ready made communities in Slideshare.
Jonathan Feinberg had a clever idea: he decided to make a website which would take any given text and turn it into a word cloud, a condensed version of the original text showing its essence and flavour at a glance. Wordle was born.
One obstacle to educational use was that Wordle’s home page showed a random selection of word clouds, which sometimes weren’t suitable for school use. This caused Wordle to be banned and filtered out of many school networks.
In another laudable example of listening to its users, Wordle has now removed the automation from its home page which sometimes allowed inappropriate content to slip through the net. From now on, the word cloud examples in the home page are vetted and your school network has no reason whatsoever to filter or block Wordle.
You know they’re good when they keep getting better and better, and you certainly know they’re good when you stop realising you’re using them at all.