Developing using Studywiz

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Gabcast, RSS feeds and multi-content resources

September 9, 2007 by · No Comments · mobile devices, multi-content resource, RSS, Studywiz

I discovered Gabcast last week accidently whilst trying to find AudioBlogger for Blogger, which apparently no longer exists.Gabcast allows you to post a voice recording to your blog or the Gabcast site using a phone. There is an RSS feed for your account, so others can subscribe to your recordings.

Gabcast

Examples on the Gabcast site have people phoning in messages from trips round the world. You are provided with a phone number in the UK, and enter your account number and passkey before recording your message. It was very simple to use.

The Gabcast RSS feed can be added in Studywiz using the RSS resource. Alternatively their is a flash player for your messages than can be embedding in a multi-content resources by copying the html from your Gabcast account – both really easy to do.

Gabcast in Studywiz

Thinking as a teacher, Gabcast could be used when on Geography field trips to update parents on the events of the day whilst away. It could be used to record a learning journey, recording what a class or group has learnt during the day.

School sports teams could phone in match reports after games. Language teachers could record messages as though they were a spy for students to listen to and decipher using the target language.

It might also be an interesting way of logging homework or reminders for students.

The teacher can control the posts by ensuring they keep the passkey unknown and change it frequently to stop students phoning in their own messages. If it is just a teacher using this account it would be straight forward to maintain the security of those posting to the account.

Gabcast offers a way of sharing information with students or parents in a different way. It could be used by tutors instead of the bulletin sheet.

E-safety concerns would require students and staff using this to be aware that no student should be identifiable from the recording – so first names only.

iQuiz and iQuizMaker

September 9, 2007 by · No Comments · anywhere access, iPod, iQuiz, Studywiz

One of the great features of Studywiz is the ability to download resources and your calendar on to an iPod. As a learning platform this is in keeping with anytime, any place, any where learning that learning platforms are seeking to support.

The tests in Studywiz do not currently sync with an iPod. I did however spot in iTunes and iQuiz, an iPod quiz game. There is also a free iQuizMaker that can be used to create your own quizzes.

iQuizMaker

The quizzes are very easy to make. They are only multiple choice quizzes, but they do look good on the iPod. As a teacher I could makea quiz for my students, save it as a file resource in Studywiz and students could download this to iTunes and their iPod.

Since the software is free, a more interesting activity might be to get students to create their own quiz using iQuizMaker and upload these to a gallery for other students to download.

There is a Human Anatomy example quiz on the site that indicates some of the potential of iQuiz.

I recognise that these types of quiz don’t develop learning much further than simple recall of facts and key vocabulary.  But for some students this may offer a way of helping develop recall of these elements of low-involved learning.

Using Twitter in Studywiz

August 30, 2007 by · 1 Comment · anywhere access, RSS

I’m not convinced about the merits of Twitter yet. I don’t think I do enough interesting things to keep someone ‘following me’.

My partner works in a children’s nursery, and we’ve were discussing the use of blogs to keep parents and carers informed of what their children have been doing that day. Twitter offers an extension of this – at any point you can text a message to Twitter that will appear on the site. Using the RSS feed, this can be embedded on your blog page for parents to read. So you can add ‘We’re baking cakes’ to your page when the children a baking cakes.

The RSS feed can be added to Studywiz – as the image below shows.

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Reflecting on Twitter’s uses in secondary schools – I haven’t convinced myself that it would be particularly useful. Teachers who do not have access to a computer could use it to record key points and homework for students – for example PE staff out on the field or teachers on field trips. Students and parents could access this information through Studywiz. It may be a way of recording what is being done in a lesson – using the spirit of Twitter (What are you doing?) to record a learning journey.

I will keep an eye on other educationalists blogs to see if Twitter in schools appears. I might mention it to teachers during training and see if it inspires them or gets a reaction.

Adding multiple files to my eLocker

August 1, 2007 by · No Comments · anywhere access, eLocker, Studywiz

Below is a brief tutorial demonstrating how to set up a My Network Place for your Studywiz eLocker.

Setting up a My Network Place on a pc allows you to copy-and-paste or drag-and-drop a large number of files in to an eLocker.  The folder structure of any file movement is maintained, making it a quick and easy way to duplicate files and folder structure.

Through Internet Explorer a ‘web folder’ can be opened by visiting File>Open>Open as web-folder and entering the url of the eLocker.

Schools have been keen to use the drag-and-drop functionality with the eLocker.  However, most schools I have visited have security on their networks that have removed the My Network Places or access to the File menu in Internet Explorer, this makes them initially unable to use  the drag-and-drop capabilities without adjusting the permissions of users.

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Embedding Google gadgets in a multi-content resource

July 31, 2007 by · 3 Comments · Google gadgets, multi-content resource, Studywiz

Below is a video tutorial explaining how to find and embed a Google gadget in to a multi-content resource.

There are a multitude of these gadgets – ones that might prove more useful include a countdown to a particular date, such as an exam; a periodic table that could be included in a science course; the current sky at night that could help identify stars; french word-of-the-day that might support students developing their vocabulary; and earthquake watch which would support a geography unit on earthquakes.

All the gadgets for Google can be found in a directory of gadgets. There are many other sources of gadgets, or widgets as they are referred to outside of Goggle.  A useful place to find out more about widgets and start exploring might be Wikipedia.

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Using Google Gadgets

July 31, 2007 by · No Comments · Google gadgets, multi-content resource, Studywiz

Simon Mills’ blog suggests using Google gadgets on an interactive
whiteboard as a display when the board is not in use.

Two of the gadgets he refers to are the National Geographic Picture of the Day and the NASA Image of the Day. I created a multi-content resources using both, as the images below show.

It is possible to embed the html is eBulletins, Discussions and Messages – so students could be sent an image of the day. Adding the gadget to a discussion board could be used to stimulate student comments.

I’m a fan of embedding Google gadgets – they are popular with teachers and students, and encourage both to log in to Studywiz. There are enough gadgets to appeal to a wide audience, and with so many available there are several that are very appropriate for use with students.

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Using Word to enhance the appearnace of text in a multi-content resource

July 30, 2007 by · No Comments · anywhere access, multi-content resource, Studywiz

Studywiz is internet reliant. It is also software reliant. Teachers uploading a Word file or PowerPoint for students to access are anticipating that students have access to Word and PowerPoint. Clearly if they do not then they will be unable to access this content.

Multi-content resources offer a way of preparing content for students to access through a web browser that does not require any additional costed software, just standard web plug-ins like Flash and Quicktime.

The presentational dimension of a multi-content resource is currently lacking. In my last post I looked at how Zoho Writer could overcome the presentational issues with a multi-content resource. I have also looked at using Word to prepare content. By saving the Word document as a webpage, opening the file in a web browser and selecting View>Source and copying the html code for the Word document, this can be pasted in to the multi-content resource.

The outcome of this is improved formatting of text, centring, fonts and sizing are all configurable. It is also fairly straight forward as the tutorial video below demonstrates.

One issue is images – I was unable to get images to display through copying and pasting the html. I used images held locally and web-based using urls. Both failed to display the images. I’m sure there is a way of getting images to work if I understood html more fully or the setting Word uses when publishing to html, but for me currently Word to html is great for text but not for text and images.

Zoho Writer is one option, but I have Flash Paper available on my pc which allows me to embed my document in a multi-content resource via the media section. This also converts documents to pdf. There are many free pdf converters – pdfonline, primopdf and cutepdf – all of which provide free ways to convert many document types to pdf.

The advantage of Flash Paper over pdf is that it is embedded on the page and displayed when the resource is selected. PDFs are shown as links to be clicked-on – this introduces and extra click to view the information. Students would need to download Acrobat Reader to view pdfs, they would need to download Flash to view Flash Paper – both these software are applications students should install on their pcs.

There are many ways of creating content that students can access anywhere, unrestricted by the software on the machine they are using. Issues related to Microsoft Office can be reduced by downloading Viewers for Word and PowerPoint. The restrictions will become further reduced if Microsoft creates an online version of Office to compete with Google Docs.

Issues relating to software are diminishing, and will continue to diminish. Word documents can be opened in Zoho and ThinkFree or coverted using Zamzar – obstacles are being reduced as interoperability improves. The move to online applications will solve teachers issues that to develop anywhere access students need anywhere sotware.

Multi-content resources solve the issue of anywhere software and using html through Word allows the presentation of text to be improved.

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Using Zoho Writer to enhance a Multi-Content Resource

July 25, 2007 by · 1 Comment · multi-content resource, Studywiz, zoho

One of the qualities of a multi-content resource that could be improved is the ability to edit the appearance of text and images. I have been led to believe by colleagues that these features will soon been available through a more WYSIWYG friendly multi-content resource. In the meantime I have taken to using Zoho Writer when I need to improve my presentation.

Zoho Writer allows me to embolden text and centre my images – both request are frequently made by teachers when constructing a multi-content resource. Whilst I could use a Word document or PowerPoint presentation to improve the visual appearance of a document, this would require the student to have these software loaded on their pc. Zoho Writer provides a simple way of composing and presenting learning materials to students through a multi-content resource.

Feedback from teachers on using Zoho and Studywiz together has been positive. It has not been viewed as difficult, and the use of embedded html has not proved an obstacle.

Zoho Writer may be for some teachers a move effective tool than Word. Amendments made to the Zoho document will be present in the multi-content resource. This won’t be the case for documents created in Word – once uploaded the document will become read-only.

Although the author can change and edit the document, others can’t without the authors consent as Zoho Writer documents are protected by a username and password.

Until a more editable text and image interface for multi-content resources becomes available, I think Zoho Writer offers a great solution to those teachers who want to present information through multi-content resources.

Below is a tutorial on how to create and embed a Zoho Writer document in a multi-content resource.

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Accessing Studywiz using a PSP

July 19, 2007 by · No Comments · mobile devices, PSP, Studywiz

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I spent an hour or so last night exploring the use of my PSP to access Studywiz.

Logging on proved no problem, although the log-in screen did not display perfectly using the just-fit option on the web browser on the PSP.

There are 3 view settings for a web page, ‘normal’, ‘just-fit’ and ‘smart fit’. I used ‘just-fit’ which shrinks to page to fit the screen’s width. ‘Smart-fit’ rearranges the order of the content to make each section larger. This changes the look of the page, making it inconsistent with the version accessed via a PC. It also means more scrolling up and down pages.

I had no problem viewing text and images in galleries and multi-content resources. Video was not available, neither was a Google Map I had embedded in a multi-content resource. The message for this  multi-content resource indicated I did not have sufficient memory to display the page.

I was able to complete a test I had created for the student using the PSP. I didn’t try a game, but will try this next time I explore using the PSP. I am guessing that files won’t open as I do not have the correct software – I’ll reflect on this and consider ways of placing Microsoft Office documents online so that they can be accessed via a PSP.

How am I using this blog?

July 12, 2007 by · No Comments · Studywiz

I want to use this blog to record and share my learning in using Studywiz.

 I have been using Studywiz for several months now and have begun to develop my understanding of its potential and discover ways of developing the many resources available through Studywiz.

I have posted a number of video tutorials to Teachertube and would like to use this blog to tie these together with thoughts on how I think the tool scould be used.

 I’m fairly new to blogging and hope to use this site to develop my understanding of how to effectively construct a blog.