Category Archives: blogs

Embedding videos onto student blogs!

Students are taught how to create videos using MS LIVE Moviemaker in most ICT classes. The results can be fabulous and I have been looking for ways for students to share their videos on a blog post. Embedding the videos only seemed possible by uploading their videos to youtube, vimeo or a similar online video host, grabbing the resultant code and adding to the html code of the blog. As many students are too young to register themselves for such sites and as I queried the use of these sites for hosting the  work of especially young students.

Year 9/10 and 7 students are creating “About Me” videos using only text. Here are their instructions:-

  1. Use MS Powerpoint to add  text, colours etc, sharing what they like!
  2. Save the ppt as jpgs in file type,
  3. Add these images into MS Moviemaker.
  4. Add transitions
  5. Add music preferably from danosongs – royalty free music as long as his site is credited.
  6. Insert appropriate credits.
  7. Save as a movie
  8. Upload to your blog, under upload media

As our Education Department provides us with a blogging campus – global2 which is edublogs based, the students use edublogs. Previously students have uploaded the media which appears as a link. Visitors to the blog, then click on the link to watch the movie. To our delight, when students uploaded their videos, they could choose the embedded media player and were able to view the movie through the player on their blog. See some of the results:-

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The Phenomenon that is Blogging

Several weeks ago, I was interviewed via skype by some teachers from Kerala, India about the reasons for blogging. My friend, Sebastian Panakal setup this videoconference. That same day I caught up on my overdue reading of the Edublogger and noticed this post on Help Student Answer Questions on Blogging. Here is my response to the questions posed in that post. 

How long have you been blogging with your students?

I started blogging with students in 2007 –  5 years ago. At this time it was relatively new in schools. There was much fear in educational circles, leadership teams and parents about the potential consequences of public sharing.  However, I had been awarded a small grant to pursue podcasting and one of the conditions of that grant were to use of web2.0 tools. Blogging sounded interesting and what better way to document our e-Journey.
At the same time, the Victorian Education Department had purchased an edublogs campus. We registered  and soon my students and I started blogging with Heather Blakey a professional blogger from Soul Food Cafe as my great mentor. We set up teacher, student and class blogs. Since then, this campus has become global2
How has the educational experience for your students been transformed since you’ve been blogging with them?
Blogging has transformed teaching and learning for me. There is an authentic audience – a global audience – one that is willing to connect, share, challenge, discuss and communicate with us. This audience can provide further information, opinions, suggest resources, seek answers to questions etc which pushes the blogging further. Blogging develops a learning network. Exercise books etc need not be pushed and crumpled in school lockers only to be placed in the rubbish bins at the end of the school year, but student work is out there for their school lives. Students take pride in having an online space and attempt to keep work accurate and pleasing to the eye. It extends their learning beyond the classrooms and increases their exposure to other teachers across the globe eg the Student Blogging Challenge, Flat Classroom Projects. It gives an insight into the complexity of the students – their likes, dislikes, what they do outside school etc. I have got to know and understand students better by reading their posts. Students are no longer confined to their class groupings or teachers within a classroom.
Do you believe that blogs have benefited the education system?
Blogs are of high benefit to the education system. Blogs:
  • are personalized and customized online spaces and a source of pride.
  • enable a full range of media to be used catering for the diversity of student learning styles.
  • are a necessary 21st century digital skill and teaches many digital literacy skills
  • can be used to learn in a practical manner the following:- cyber safety, netiquette and digital citizenship
  • provide an online space for further interaction, conversations, connection and communication with others from across the globe.
  • become a digital portfolio with all their associated benefits. See SkippyRachael, Allanah, Kirsty as examples
  •  extends learning to anywhere and any time  to ie 24/7, supporting a flipped classroom approach
  • facilitates a network that is global
Do you believe that blogs will become a common way of educating people in the future?
As the uptake of technology and online tools increase, blogging will become of increasing importance but how common they will become for educating people is uncertain as MOOCs, tools such as mightybell, learning management systems eg moodle take on greater uptake. I personally believe that blogging will play a crucial role in the next decade at least.
Why has the way of teaching through technology grown dramatically?
  • It caters for a wide range of learning abilities and introduces a range of media that give added impact eg the use of video tutorials as compared to text, using images/cartoons instead of chunks of text for those who struggle with literacy.
  • if a student is struggling with learning from their own classroom teacher, they can find other educators or resources online to help them with their understanding See An uprising of learning at the grass roots.
  • technology allows learning to become accessible from any region – the remotest areas of earth, isolated rural and outback areas, hospitals, cross countries etc
  •  learning becomes efficient eg teacher professional development can be undertaken without the cost of travel, accommodation, hire of buildings etc.
  •  networking is enabled on a global scale and the collective ideas, resources,established or innovative units of teaching/learning, experiences from a combined ‘global brain’ that will push the learning and teaching to more powerful levels.
  • But most of all – it just makes sense. Our students use technology constantly outside school, so why shouldn’t we tap into that teachnology for learning within and beyond the classroom.
What is your opinion of blogging? Has it transformed learning?
I am passionate about blogging. It has transformed learning for me and my classes.

A Class Blog or Individual Student Blogs?

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This post is in response to the week 5 Global2 Blog Challenge:– When is it appropriate to use class blogs as opposed to individual student blogs?

Class blogs can be used in several ways:-

  • As a starter process to blogging, allowing a teacher who may be new to blogging to gain confidence in a structured and easily moderated manner. Class blogs allow full control by the teacher.
  • Great for classes (especially the younger ones) to showcase their work, their projects, reflections etc
  • As a connecting and communicating point with other local/national/global classes, with parents and general community members
  • As a complete learning management system lesson tasks, instructions, plans, links, resources, embedded movies/digital media/podcasts etc

Individual student blogs allow(s)

  • Ownership
  • students to have a voice
  • them to share their learning using media that suits their learning style
  • the development of digital journals
  • customization or personalization of the space
  • allows for reflective type journals on a personal basis
  • storytelling on an individual basis
  • the development of e-portfolios
  • search engines to discover the student blog if tagged and categorized appropriately

Some of the benefits of presenting and showcasing student work through individual student blogs include the following:-

  • Empowers students
  • Encourages creativity
  • Allows individual reflection on learning
  • Enables personal reflections
  • increased engagement
  • Provides for an authentic audience ? increased motivation
  • Students can choose from a wide range of media for communciation

Following are some benefits of presenting and showcasing student work through class blogs:-

  • Allows the best of student work within a class to be showcased on one space.
  • Enables group work, peer mentoring, team work
  • Class blogs may be more receptive to a wider network and wider audience
  • Global classes of a similar nature can share learning with each other
  • Enables the parents to connect, view and compare outcomes of students
  • May encourage competition amongst students ? be challenged to a higher level when students can see the work of their peers.

My experiences with presenting and showcasing through class blogging or individual student blogging:-

  • I started with a class blog until I felt confident with blogging.
  • Personal ownership is always more engaging, motivating and the blogs can be customized to individual preferences.
  • My classes are secondary classes and mostly at the senior level, therefore the work that they complete is exercise driven and mostly not appealing to a broad audience.
  • Where does a teacher stand with intellectual property, creative commons, student ownership of creativity etc if work is placed on the class blog rather than individual blogs?

There is a place for both types of blogs and each take on different purposes, but individual blogs should be supported, developed and created wherever possible. What would you add to this question? Please leave a comment and your opinion.
Cross posted on my class blog

Tech Talk Tuesdays and eT@lking – this week’s sessions

Two great webinars this week –  both on blogging. There is something for everyone!

Tech Talk Tuesdays: February 22nd 4-5pm Melbourne Australia time (gmt+11)

Topic: Educational Blogging – Teaching Commenting and Parent Participation

Presenter: Linda Yollis, Los Angeles, USA

About the session: In this session, Linda will share the way that she approaches the all important commenting element of blogging and will also discuss how to get parents involved. Linda, from Los Angeles, USA, has been an elementary school teacher for 24 years. She is committed to meaningful integration of technology in the classroom and is passionate about educational blogging. Don’t miss this exciting session!

About our Presenter: Linda was highly successful in the recent Edublogs Awards 2010:-
1. Winner of Lifetime Achievement 2010
2. First Runner Up of Best Classroom Blog 2009, 2010
Linda is responsible for a very successful and effective class blog called Mrs Yollis’ Classroomand has written guest posts for the Challenge Yourself to Blog project. Her class created the “How to Compose a Quality Commenting video”.
Here is the link to the recording

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eT@lking:– Wednesday, 23rd February, 2011, 8-9pm Melbourne Australia time (gmt +11)

Presenter: Sue Wyatt

Topic:- The Student Blogging Challenge

About this session:- Sue Wyatt who has co-organised a number of successful global student blogging challenges in conjunction with edublogs will speak about the upcoming global Student Blogging Challenge.

With more than23 classes and  600 students registered already, Sue will cyberwalk us through the challenge and explain how it all works – the nature and benefits of the challenge, the posts, pages etc . Countries involved include:-  Ireland, Colombia, Thailand, UK, NZ, Australia, Canada and USA. Hope that you can join us!

Here is the link to the session

The ‘eyes’ of the blog – Images! Kick Start Your Blog Challenge #5

#5 “Kick Start your Blog” challenge looks at the importance of images in blogs. Images tells a 1000 words. With increasing use of online spaces and easy accessability to a camera eg the mobile phone, images will increase in importance.

I am choosing the challenge to tell a “Story in 10 images” Here is the story:-

How could I use this photo gallery in class? Here are a few options:-

  1. Tell me the story of these images either in writing or use audio to develop a podcast
  2. Look at the photos above. If I were in those photos, what would I see, what would I hear, what would I smell and how would I feel. (Students could work in small groups to brainstorm using bubblus, google document, titan pad, ietherpad, wallwisher etc. It could be shared across schools with students mixed in groups from the schools brainstorming the story)
  3. Write a question to ask at at least 5 of these photos.
  4. Students take their own 3 to 9 images and tell a story in pictures
  5. Can you work out where the images were taken from? Research  online the flood disasters in Australia in January 2010. Write a post using links to the websites that you have found. If possible find videos, news reports, tweets, facebook pages, blogs etc representing many viewpoints. (for older students) etc
  6. Write a sequel to this story.
  7. What does this story say about the Australian cutlure?

How else could a story in images be used in the classroom? (And oops I cannot count as I have 11 pictures)

A Spring Clean gives my Blog Muscle

About me in a collage!

About me in a collage

The third challenge in Kick Start Your Blog required us to consider pages as opposed to posts.  Pages can be likened to muscles as  they give power, weight, flexibiliity and depth to the blog.The “About Me” page is important. I did not realise how important it was until I studied my statistics and found that apart from two of my most visited posts, the ‘about me’ page came up as the third most visited. Daily statistics also confirm that someone is always looking at that page.

Before and After a Spring Clean giving  my “About Me” Page more muscle

After considering what makes an effective post, it is only appropriate that I aim for an effective blog page. As I tend to be conservative and lack a creative writing style, my “About Me” page is quite classical in nature.

Before the spring clean!

  • too much text
  • was far too long
  • included outdated information
  • lacked multimedia
  • no detail about my background, interests outside school, details of my school

After the spring clean

  • added a caption to the image of my school
  • included a description of the school I teach at
  • Added a link to my blog post 10 questions to ask my blog which I completed for challenge #1 of Kick Start your Blog
  • generally tidied up text, added lists with bullet points and sub headings
  • Added a 1 minute video that I have just completed as part of my application for the Google Teacher Academy to letting visitors see what my classroom looks like.
  • As there was far too much text, I shifted a great chunk “How I got started” to another page. I then added this to the parent category “About Me’ and on the navigation tabs, it now comes up as a sub page. I also added a link to it within the home page. (I was rather proud of this as I had never done it before and was not sure whether it would work, but it did!)

The heartbeat of the Blog – Posts! (Kickstart Your Blog #2 – Advanced)

The second challenge in the Kick Start Your Blog Challenge (advanced) looked at writing effective blog posts. Blog posts can be likened to the heart beat of a blog. They determine the health of the blog, its status and future. It is the most important element of the blog. Therefore, those who wish to improve their blogging skills need to consider how to write effective posts. What makes an effective post? I love to learn and am therefore always looking for blog posts that help me extend my knowledge especially any that is of practical use in the classroom.
How to Compose a Quality Comment! is an effective post written by Linda Yollis. Linda’s blog came second runner up in the recent Edublogs Awards. Of even more interest was the fact that Linda was the winner of the Life Time Achievement Award. She was the winner over well known identities Steve Hargadon of classroom 2.0 fame and Sir Ken Robertson. Linda’s contribution to the blogging community was recognized by that community.
Why is this an effective post?

  1. The title is short, simple but tells me exactly what the post is about. As I am interested in blogging it captures my attention.
  2. Content:- The opening window continues to hold my attention. An interesting image summarizing the content of comments is near the opening sentences.
  3. Sub headings break up the text, allowing me to scan and browse through at will.
  4. There is variety in the content eg advice with practical examples, embedded movies, links to further resources. There is valuable information telling me how to create html code to  add to comments. This gives the  comment visual impact and active hyperlinks. Emoticon codes are also given within a table and I look forward to trying these.
  5. The post asked for some action. There is  a challenge to visit 10 blogs and leave a quality comment.
  6. Evidence of readership:- There are 84 comments from teachers, classes and students.  Some of these comments have used the html code shared in the blog post. There are reflections and evidence of learning from other classes from several countries. Linda has replied to all comments.

Would you agree? What else do you look for in an effective post?