My fondest memories of school are of the occasions on which I made stuff. When I think about what other aspects of my learning I enjoyed most, I always come back to the basic principle of creativity. Getting me involved in creative tasks that result in tangible outcomes was one of the ways my teachers ensured that I remained engaged and enjoyed the process of learning.
Working on a model of the solar system was a sure way of getting me to remember the planets (9 in those days) and our place in the universe. I was never naturally good at maths or physics, but making tracks and ramps down which to throw ball bearings gave me a much better understanding of Newtonian physics than any number of equations you might want to throw at me.
Technology today gives us the tools and the possibility to enjoy making stuff and exercise our pupil’s creativity in new ways: Now you can make stuff virtually as well as actually.
My classes and I exploit these new possibilities by regularly embarking on projects which require exercising creative skills and, in so doing, going far beyond the confines of the curriculum.
Jux is a stunning image-based alternative to what you might call ordinary blogging and allows the user to make impactful statements and delightful slideshows using their six different posting styles – slideshow, photo, block quote, photo, video, article and countdown.
Pictures can be uploaded from your own hard-drive or sourced from services such as Facebook, Flickr or Instagram.
Jux can be used by teachers to introduce or reinforce topics or, even better, by the students themselves as the culmination of a research or creative writing project.
Currently, as far as I can see, Jux only allows one Jux per user. It would be fantastic if students and teachers could have different Juxes for different topics or projects under the same main account. It would also be fabulous if individual pages from Jux could be printed out to form part of classroom displays. I wonder if Jux is listening…
Anyway, here is a Jux I made earlier using the block quote format in Jux, using quotations from my personal blog Socially Networked.
In my role as teacher of languages, I have sought to study and understand how the social aspect of Web 2.0 can be harnessed to strengthen the teaching and learning of MFL. Most interesting to me was the transformative potential of blogs, Web 2.0 applications and social networks, not only to enhance existing practice, but also to create new technology-based tasks which would have been previously inconceivable[1. PUENTEDURA, R R (2006) Transformation, Technology, and Education. (2006) Available from http://hippasus.com/resources/tte/ Accessed 11/08/2011], a process depicted below:
However, in order to assess whether learning socially online can truly have a transformative and positive impact on learning outcomes and curriculum delivery as accurately as possible, it is important to moderate any inherent positivity and open up the field of study to all viewpoints[2. SELWIN, N (2011) In praise of pessimism - the need for negativity in education technology. In British Journal of Educational Technology, Volume 42, Number 5, pp 713-718 Available from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01215.x/abstract Accessed 30/08/2011], discarding any preconceived notions that may bias the conclusions of this case study and taking care not to avoid any evidence that may be counter to those notions[3. COHEN, ., MANION, L. & MORRISON, K (2007) Research Methods in Education. London: Routledge-Falmer. Available from http://lib.leeds.ac.uk/record=b2879829 Accessed 18/04/2011].
Triptico is an excellent resource for teachers to use in conjunction with their interactive whiteboards that currently contains around 20 different interactive resources – all of which can be easily edited, adapted and saved for later use.
Because Triptico is an application that runs in your computer (it runs on Adobe Air, so it’s compatible with both Macs and PCs), it can be used with any make and model of interactive whiteboard. This and the fact that it is free makes Triptico an absolute must have for every teacher wishing to make better use of technology in the classroom to engage students and foster classroom participation.
Once you have installed and launched the application, you can explore the different activities available by scrolling from left to right in the main screen or simply by clicking on favourites, which returns an very handy navigation pane.
From there you can easily navigate to any of the different interactive activity makers and you can then customise your own activities to suit your subject and lesson. As you can see, the resources on offer are often game-show inspired and range from (relatively) simple timers, image spinners and student selectors to games, quizzes and text analysis tools. The screenshots below give you an idea of the plethora of classroom-based interactive activities available:
Voki has featured in my teaching for several years now, having proven itself a very valuable tool to encourage speaking in the foreign languages classroom.
Many other teachers have also realised that Voki can be very valuable, not only to encourage and motivate reluctant learners, but also as an assessment tool. As a result, the people at Voki, in consultation with their users and with specially designated Voki Ambassadors, are building a tool that is specifically designed for use in the classroom: Voki Classroom.
The main features of Voki Classroom will be: