Category: tools

Everybody likes Edmodo!

It’s the start of the new school year and what a great encouragement from my Primary 3 (Grade 3) kids! The survey above is ‘Do you like to use Edmodo?’. The top 2 options selected are ‘Love it’ and ‘Like it’.  One kid commented she prefers Edmodo because it’s ‘private’. I’m sure the LMS will have lesser love this year, at least for my classes :D

Edmodo has quizzes!

Right after VoiceThread Mobile, another great news comes from the awesome Edmodo: Edmodo has quizzes! :D

In fact I have been using Edmodo with 2 classes since the start of the year. My Primary 6 pupils have been using the website frequently, whereas only some of my Primary 3 pupils are using it constructively (most of them posted one-liner responses).  Overall I have more success with Edmodo this year and I will continue to complement the school LMS next year with Edmodo :)

Anyway I just tried setting the quiz. It’s pretty simple to create and assign. I will share it with my Primary 3 kids later. I hope they will be enthused to do the quizzes as they seemed to have lost interest with the LMS quizzes :p

VoiceThread Mobile is out!

I end my 6 months hiatus with a great news: VoiceThread Mobile is out! I just installed it on my iPhone and iPad and it works wonderfully. Will experiment with some students in school soon. One slight disappointment is I wasn’t able to doodle. Did I miss anything?

Update: Doodling works :)

And Steve Jobs, without you all these couldn’t have happened. We will miss you.

ReplayNote – An iPad app for screencasting

I have been looking for a screencasting app for iPad since last year and I am glad to read about ReplayNote from IEAR. I just purchased it and have been playing with it. No decent screencast yet but I think I can start my very own Khan Academy soon :D

By the way I’m also looking forward to another interesting screencasting solution for iPad – ShowMe :)

Update: ShowMe has been released :)

First impressions of Creative PlayChinese

Being a geek I’m always keen to lay my hands on gadgets. The recently launched Creative PlayChinese ZiiO Shenbi Tablet is my latest tech purchase.

It’s actually ZiiO 7 inch tablet preinstalled with Chinese apps and repackaged as a ‘fun tool to PlayChinese‘. My first impression of the gadget itself is quite positive. The capacitive screen is very responsive and the 4 styli bundled are pretty decent. This is my first Android device and I’m quite impressed with it. The Shenbi app is essentially a Chinese character writing app which features a scoring system. The more characters you write, the higher your score is. It also has features like pronunciation of the characters and dictionary. I certainly hope they will update the app with more functions like searching characters using 汉语拼音 in the near future.

Updates: The recent software update of Shenbi has included 汉语拼音 search. It’s a great feature especially when I have any character in mind I wish to practice. That means I can easily search for any character with the Chinese language syllabus.

My first impression of the PlayChinese pedagogy is mixed bag. Creative CEO Mr Sim Wong Hoo completely eliminated the ‘learn’ part of language mastery and decided to go all out to play it. Play-based learning is great. We all know kids are always engaged when they are playing. However, to remove ‘learning’ in the process of language acquisition makes little pedagogical sense. Ironically Mr Sim calls PlayChinese a pedagogy. In my humble opinion it’s more like a marketing gimmick. Sadly, Creative’s weakest link has always been her marketing.

Another big downside of PlayChinese is the weak integration with MOE Chinese language curriculum. Mr Sim did not promise PlayChinese will improve test scores as its main learning outcome is to let kids learn master Chinese in a fun way. To me, fun might not last long when the activity is not purposeful and satisfying. Hence I’m not sure the fun of this high tech drill and practice of character writing activity will be able to sustain in the long run without complementing what the kids learn in school.

Nevertheless I am very excited to try out this gadget with some of my weaker Primary 3 pupils. I plan to let them use the tablet to practice a few characters in before the Spelling test. I will update again after the mini experiment is done :)

Mighty Mouse Mischief!

One thing for sure is that Microsoft Mouse Mischief beats IWB hands down in terms of collaborative potential, budget and simplicity.

First thing: ‘Catch’ some wireless mice. The Logitech Unifying mice came to my mind as they seemed to be the cleanest solution. Bought a couple and tried them out. Sadly they did not work with the software :(

I guess I will get the Belkin USB hub and another few wireless mice to explore further. I should be planning a simple lesson which is group work based to have some hands-on experience with this tool. Will update here again. Thanks Alvin (@alvintch) for his tips and advice! :)

Fun with Wallwisher

Wallwisher is a nice and simple tool I picked up during the ICT Mentor workshop. Great for students to brainstorm ideas, gather opinions and have some fun posting virtual sticky notes. I started 2 walls, one asking students to share their favourite school activities. Response was pretty encouraging with more than 20 stickies. Check it out here.

The second one in progress is “If there were no examinations,…” I asked students to complete the sentence. Check it out here. Initial impression is students’ mentality of the relevance of standardized testings is as deep rooted as parents and some educators.

Web 2.0 equivalent of…

I’m working out a series of Web 2.o tools training sessions for teachers and pupils next year. Right now I’m mapping the following IT applications (mostly Microsoft products) to Web 2.0 equivalents. The learning outcome will be students learning both Microsoft skills and Web 2.0 tools.

I have listed some of my ideas.

  1. Keyboarding and Word processing = Blogging and Wiki
  2. Microsoft PowerPoint = Google Docs (Presentation)
  3. Microsoft Excel = Google Docs (Spreadsheets and Forms)
  4. Microsoft Movie Maker (Slideshow) = Animoto
  5. Microsoft Movie Maker (Video) = ???
  6. Audacity = VoiceThread?

Any recommendations? Thanks!

VoiceThread: Improved support for Asian scripts

Just wanted to let you know that we just released a Beta version of our new Asian language support update to VoiceThread. Currently it only works within the text comment field but we’ll add support elsewhere soon. Please let us know your experience.

Thanks,

-Steve

Great news from VoiceThread! I just tried and it works! That means I can get my students to type comments in Chinese characters :)

Must have tools for new lab PCs?

– This post was originally posted back on 26 September 2008. –

Good news: My school is getting new PCs to replace old ones in a lab.

Bad news: I am going to write a request for funds proposal for it :P

Something new: I am working with my Edtech to come up with a list of tools/applications/software/hardware to be installed in the new PCs.

Target pupils: Primary 1 to 6 (7 years old to 12 years old)

Subjects: English, Mathematics, Science and Mother Tongue (Chinese, Malay and Tamil languages)

Objectives: E-Learning and Project Work

Any suggestion is most welcomed!

Updates:

List of tools/applications considered to be installed

1. Audacity

2. VLC media player

3. Video Codecs e.g. Xvid

4. A new lab management software. Recommendation needed.

5. A more robust web filtering application to block undesirable websites which the ministry/school network is unable to filter. Recommendation needed.

6. Firefox

7. FreeMind

8. Infraview or GIMP

9. Microsoft Office 2007 (Competition purpose)

10. Other Open Source applicatons

Recommendations by educators:

1. Jeff Utecht

Google Earth
Firefox default browser
jingproject
OpenOffice or MS OFfice

2. Tod Baker

Language teachers find software like Audacity helpful for recording voice and sound. I prefer to use GarageBand for serious work and Journler for on-the-fly work.

3. Sue Waters

Well my friend has been radical in his school – remove all standard MS software & told staff they’ll need to learn Web 2.0 tools

List of hardware considered to be purchased

1. IWB

2. Headsets

3. Better Webcams

4. Creative Vado