Category Archives: web 2.0

Online timers in blogs or online spaces

One of my largest classes  is year 8 ICT. It  has a number of challenging students. As the class is a double period of 110 minutes, a variety of tasks is usually required. To give students a sense of time management, we looked at some of the online timers that they could use to ensure they stay on task. To my delight I found that one of the timers can actually be embedded into blogs and other online spaces. Click on this link, or click on the cog, lower left hand corner of the timer.

Unfortunately, the code does not work for my in WordPress so a screen shot has been added below. To see it in operation goto my class blog page and see it in action.

online timers

Each student embedded the countdown timer into a blog post, and I have also added it to a page on my class blog for quick and easy access. If you use the ‘choose a soundtrack’ option, top middle of timer, it will play music as it counts down.

Students were happily engaged for 20 mins or so, learning how to embed code on their blogs and exploring how to make the clock work in all manner of ways. The only problem is the advertising, but maybe this teaches students to ignore the advertising surrounding them.

Have you used any online timers? If so, please share in a comment below.

Simple tools make for empowered learning

online timersI have recently presented on some of my favourite tools on a number of occasions. One very simple but effective tool that I often use is the online stopwatch or timer. The countdown timer was most frequently used but advertisements have started to appear. The site does have now have a free fun range of classroom timers which are ad free, fun and colourful. It was with some interest that I received an email from one of the participants in the online webinar to say that of the many tools shared, she tried the online timer the next day with her year 11 Business Management class.

Thank you for your webinar yesterday, it was very useful. I actually used the count down timer (bomb) this morning with year 12 accounting. That was the only technology involved in that activity. I had them playing Megabucks, the board game, to try and differentiate between cash and profit. They had thirty minutes to play the game and the timer worked to keep the game going at a faster rate and changed the nature of the play.

How can such a simple tool enhance learning:

  • gives students a time frame to work toward
  • keeps them on task (less likely to be bored)
  • forces them to work quickly
  • less chance of boredom and distractions as they know there is a time limit to the activity and there will be a a variety of activities following
  • gives realistic real life work skills – tasks have to be done within a time frame once out in the workforce
  • forces them to plan and work out strategies for completion

What would your answers be? Do you use a manual timer in class or an online timer? If so, why?

Fun with ICT – abcya animate!

abcya animate

If I am unable to take  my class, I try to leave something that would be engaging for students and something that they could learn together as the replacement teacher rarely has the ICT skills to continue on with what I normally do.

Upon googling “Fun with ICT in class”, I came across a site called abcya animate  and thought this would be good to leave for my students yesterday when I was absent. I have long been a fan of abcya website for the primary students. The task set my year 9/10 ICT students was to create a simple animation that would entertain the 5-6 year old students from Tipperary Station school. Students had to explore the tool individually and share with each other in what they discovered.

This afternoon, I scored an ‘extra’ lesson and had a year 9 group which comprises a small group of disengaged, low literacy students. We briefly talked about how an animation is created using frames and then off to work they went using the the abcya animate site and you could have heard a pin drop! They were highly engaged and worked well with most completing an animation. Here is how it works:-

  1. user friendly program – students were given no instructions on its use
  2. animations are short as students have only 100 frames to work with
  3. a palette of bright colourful backgrounds, images etc is provided.
  4. Students simply drop and drag onto the main stage
  5. no need to register
  6. animation is saved as an animated gif
  7. the animated gif is uploaded as medai into their global2 blogs (an edublogs campus) and maintains the animation (the page may need to be refreshed if it plays through once.
  8. primarily a tool for younger students but the older ones had just as much fun.


  1. when students saved their file it lacked an extension name. They right clicked on the saved file>chose rename>carefully added a .gif to the name
  2. we are trying to work out whether we can save an animation in progress, load it back into abcya animate to finish the work at a later stage. Many left their website open on their laptops and were going to try and finish it at home.

See some of the completed animations that have been embedded on the student blogs.

  1. Nikki’s My Dog and The Very Blue Fish
  2. Sarah’s The Chase
  3. Darby’s My short animation

Evaluation: A simple user friendly tool to create simple animations. A great starting point to learn the mechanics of animation. Although directed at younger students, my older students were highly engaged in using it.

How could this tool be used in maths, English and other subjects?

Diigo – the students dig it!

The educators group on diigo

The educators group on diigo

Although I use any tools to curate eg scoopit, educlipper, symbaloo, delicious etc, my favourite is still diigo. Why?

  1. It is the quickest  and easiest way for me to add  urls for future retrieval
  2. Easy to tag (categorize) and pull up the tags
  3. Has a groups function and have joined a number of educational groups eg Global Education Conferencand Educators

This morning I decided it was time to study cloud computing a little more with my year 12 students, discuss how they bookmark (they all just used favourite son their computer), get the to register for diigo, add bookmarks, tag the bookmarks, add notes and commence bookmarking some essential online sites (essential resources) for IT.

Within 15 mins of registering, they discovered the social bookmarking aspects – created a class subject group, added each other to the group, added comments, changed the images and discovered the chat.  Images can also be bookmarked and they taught me so much more. I love learning with the students, who just push software and tools in all directions and show me how even more valuable many of these tools can be.

Untangling the Web – Free Tools to Power up your Teaching – a #iste13 session

tools in a wordle1

This post is part of a series of posts sharing some of my favourite learning at the recent ISTE conference.

Why this session was chosen! – I love to learn about new tools that might be used in the classroom. Adam and Steve were highly recommended as presenters  in social networking circles prior to the conference. They have co-authored an interactive  ebook  Untangling the Web (paperback).

Two perennial popular presenters, Adam Bellow @adambellow and Steve Dembo @teach42, presented in an engaging, humourous, fast paced and action packed style. In fact my Australian ears struggled to keep up at times!  This session shared some favourite online tools to use in the classroom and beyond. See the tools and resources shared on padlet. Following are some of the tools that were stepped through and how they can be used:-

  • padlet – share resources quickly, privacy options, moderation settings. Hook to bring others in, as it enables all types of media.
  • ipiccy as a digital image editing tool is as good as picnic  Even thought it looks elementary, it is intuitive and has the power of adobe photoshop
  • thinglink – creates interactive pictures – easy to add content eg use a map of the local area and then pull in multimedia content via links
  • infogram – has its own graphics and easier to make into graphics
  • The noun project – search for great graphics – some are free but some cost. png files are transparent
  • polleverywhere – infuse learning, draw responses and questions on the fly
  • bighugelabs – easy to use but care needs to be taken with the ads. Use the teacher or educationandstudent login to remove the ads. Can create posters, trading cards, movie posters, graphics quickly
  • signgenerator – creates signs quickly
  • – a qr code generator – which is editable over time
  • qrphoria – creates beautiful qr codes
  • aurasma – augmented reality app ie creates qrcodes but without the qr codes. Easy to use
  • wevideo for collaborative mashups – could put movies in shared dropbox, then participants logon with one username and password to create video. They are developing educator accounts. Can add many videos within the one movie

See all the tools and resources shared on padlet. Great to see the variety of ways of sharing presentation resources.

What tools have you used lately to power up teaching and learning? Have you tried any of these? If so what is your opinion?

QR Codes: Engaging Students with Technology this Week!

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Jarrod Robinson presented on qr codes for eT@lking  this week. These have fascinated me, but as my iPhone’s software needs updating to download apps, and my internet access is so slow I have put the idea of using them in my classroom on ‘hold’. (Sometimes, I like to try tools before giving the task to students). However, after eT@lking, I took the plunge and trialled the codes in the second half of my year 9/10 double. Here is what it looked like.

  1. Students given 10 minutes to research qr codes – what they are, what they do and what they need to use them.
  2. Students goto my class blog post, which has a qr code with my details on it, including my blog address, and try to scan the code with their phones. All but student had a phone in their pockets. Many had seen the app on their phone but did not know what it was for.
  3. Students then create their own code kaywa without divulging any personal details.
  4. This code was then added to their blog posts, and as a widget on their personal  blog sidebar.
  5. Download a qr reader on their netbooks, so the netbook web cam can scan the code. Tried two:- quickmark and bctester
  6. Tried same activity with my year 11 students
  7. Students will be asked to add their ideas to this wall with ways in which qr codes could be used in learning and at school. (Could you add yours there too, please?)

Reflections:- What worked well!

  • Utter and pure engagement. Students love to use their phones and like to learn new ways of using them.
  • The apps were already in most phones. Those with iPhones had to download theirs.
  • Students were determined to get their phone to scan and worked their way through any issues until they succeeded. They had to try a number of apps, refused to go online (as it would cost too much), then had to line up the code within the phone screen etc

What we learned

  • The different phones used different techniques. Some phones just scanned and read the code, other phones had to be clicked to read the code
  • As I had not used them before, students all worked together to learn how to do it.
  • Some phones scanned better on a printout rather than the screen.
  • The qr code readers that we downloaded for the netbooks did not work well. Quickmark appeared to be only for -igadgets and the bctester is clunky. Students have to scan the code, save as a jpg, then load into bctester. We need a more efficient method.
  • Problems with the qr readers caused frustration amongst the students as they were keen to add it to their netbooks.
  • One of our technicians enjoyed the challenge of researching qr codes further.


  • finding an efficient qr code reader for PC netbooks
  • some students added personal details to their qr code eg phone numbers and addressess despite the many cyber safety reminders and lessons.
Further solutions: A tweet on the weekend went out for suggestions on appropriate qr code readers for PCs. Here are the responses:-
  1.  Quickmark for PC – need to revisit this one, as we had troubles downloading and technician thought it was only for i-hardware.
  2. Desktop qr readers
  3. How we use qr codes in the classroom. This blog posts has further links to great blog posts and sites relating to the use of qr codes in the classroom.

Engaging students with 5 web2.0 tools in 40 mins

This year I teach Information Technology an elective subject at year 9/10 level. In this group are a high percentage  of our school’s disengaged students. We usually survive a single lesson of 50 mins without too much drama, but I also have them for a ‘double’ class and this often proves too much for all of us.

At the recent ICTEV In Touch conference, I sat through a fast paced, action packed session called  web2.0 for the Classroom 40 tools in 40 minutes.  Starting to wonder how I could keep my full class engaged for 100 minutes I decided to use some of those tools and some from the recent Google Gathering with the class. How it would work:-

  1. 5o minutes working on spreadsheets – drawing up a budget for the upcoming school Presentation Ball
  2. 50 minutes of ‘timed’ use of 5 technology tools

Requirments: individual access to computers, external speakers attached to my laptop, a blog post with links provided to each of the sites.

The second part of the lesson:-

  1. Used kukucklock with a variety of sounds to indicate when times was up.
  2. Google squared (6 mins) Find google squared, search for Prime Ministers, describe what you can see, search for another topic you are currently studying. Discussed google labs
  3. Google timelines (6 mins) Search for Oprah Winfrey, search for another notorious sports person or actress/actor
  4. Find the google question of the day. (3 mins)
  5. Explore the global lunchbox project. Discover what students around the world are eating (5 mins)
  6. Goto sketchfu, register and draw the lunch that you will have today. Grab the code and add to a blog post. Include a text description of your lunch. (10 mins)

What worked well?

  • the timed structure of the  lesson with kukuklock
  • a variety of short, simple, snappy tasks to keep them focussed at all times, allowing little opportunity for boredom
  • the google applications worked reasonably well and exposed students to a different  format search results
  • the lunch box project was engaging and caused a lot of discussion
  • sketchfu was the winner though. Students spent more than the allocated 10 minutes this tool, and were highly engaged. Here is a great student sketchfu example of their lunch by skippy.
Constraints: Google squared did not always work well depending on the key words.

Highlight of the day: Two of my most disengaged students who become extremely restless in the final 15 mins of a double, actually stayed into their lunch hour to ensure they embedded their sketchfu file into their blogs! Students want to work with it again next week.

Challenge: How could sketchfu be used and adapted in other subject areas?

Create a word cloud with wordle

See an updated version of this post for 2018

(Please note that Wordle does not work on Google Chrome (due to its reliance on Java Script). Internet Explorer needs to be used, or Firefox or ???. You may have to ask it to run Java script. I do not update the java, simply ask it to do so later).

Some staff will be working on web2.0 tools at school today. This post will help them to make a word cloud with students.

Australia is watching cyclone Yasi as it approaches the northern coastline of Queensland. Below is a wordle created by highlighting and copying an ABC online news bulletin.

Wordle easy to use and produces effective results quickly. Follow the steps below to make attractive word clouds for use online or off line.

To make the word cloud

  1. Goto wordle
  2. Look for “create your own” and click on the link
  3. Key in the words to be used in the cloud, in the resultant window. (Tip: Key in the words in MS Word, copy and paste into the window. This will prevent any potential losses once online.)
  4. Click Go when finished
  5. A word cloud will be created. Choose randomize until you get your preferred cloud. (When feeling confident, you can use the links ef font, layout etc at the top, to manually manipulate the cloud.
  6. Wordle now allows the user to save the cloud as a png. Wordle will give html code if you save to their gallery. However, this is always quite small, so another option is to make a screen dump.
  7. If you use a PC, click on the PrtSc (Print Screen) key above the function keys. This will take a screenshot.

To create an image with your word cloud

  1. Open MS Paint, goto edit and paste
  2. Use the cropping tool to remove the sections not required
  3. Goto edit>copy
  4. Open a new MS Paint screen, do not save the old one.
  5. Goto edit and paste
  6. Save as a jpg or png and the image is now ready to be used online or elsewhere.
  7. Always acknowledge that you have used wordle.

Uses for Wordle

How do you use wordle in the classroom? What alternatives to wordle do you use?

Avatars – keeping students cybersafe

Please meet the students from my classes – they include years 7 through to years 9/10 ICT and some of my accounting students from years 11 and 12.
Can you find their names, their ages, their personal details from the pics below? No? Therefore they are really safe when using avatars as  computer identities when working online.

Students from my classes

Here are our two favourite avatar creating sites:-

  1. lego avatars with reasonably clever  (this requires a screen dump to save – see below)
  2. portrait making  with illustrator avatars – right click on completed avatar and save image as ….. in appropriate folder
  3. or you might like to use MS Paint and draw your own.

To make a screen dump:-

  • complete your avatar
  • Find the key PrtSc (on top RHS of keyboard = print screen)
  • open a drawing or image editing tool eg MS Paint
  • Click ‘paste’
  • Crop the image
  • Save as a jpg or png file

Extension activities

  1. A voki or talking avatar can then be produced and added in a text widget on the side bar or within a blog post.
  2. A  super hero can also be created. See flurogreen’s super hero. Her blog also features a lego avatar and a voki. Can you find them?
  3. The teacher could add a wallwisher, getting students to describe key features of their avatar and how it relates to their personality.

Can anyone give instructions for mac computers? What avatar creating programs do you use?


Online sticky notes

When sticky notes came in, it made organization a lot easier for me. Notes could be written and stuck on my desk reminding me of all the things that had to be done. These would include telephone messages taken by admin staff etc.

Now online tools offer  a similar service. Two that have been  used in our classrooms are:-stixy  and wallwisher. Both offer similar outcomes with a few different features.

Why use in the classroom? Students enjoy using these online tools. They are quick to complete and even the least motivated and skilled will always add something. The teacher can collect opinions, thoughts, ideas etc within 30 mins and it can be visible to all or kept private. See an examples:-



  • online notice board that will add images, music, text, video
  • nifty feature for viewing videos – although the videos are added within the note, the option to play expands the window for effective viewing.
  • user friendly
  • easy drog and drag
  • can edit at a later stage
  • easy to embed code in an online space eg wikis, blogs and presents well. Even large walls can be viewed by using the scroll bars given.
  • teacher can set up an account, provide students with link and they can add to wall without requiring a user name and password.


  • Comes with limited number of themes but cannot change colour of individual notes
  • Limited range of backgrounds
  • No options for text formatting
  • Restricted choice of compulsory images for banner
  • Publicize the link and others can add sticky notes
  • Limited to 160 characters per note



  • ability to change colours of the notes – personal customiztion
  • choice of  text formatting and other great formatting features
  • able to add links easily
  • option to sign up for a calendar
  • photos, notes, todos and documents (max size 50mb) can all be added as separate stixy notes
  • not limited to a restricted number of characters
  • ability to tag


  • cannot embed in another online space eg blogs, wikis etc
  • cannot add video
  • Requires registration by all users

Possible Classroom uses include:-

  • gain opinions quickly for simple questions eg What food should the canteen offer?
  • get quick feedback on a question eg What do you hope to achieve this term/semester
  • collaborate with other classes globally or locally to compare habits, cultures, opinions, ideas etc
  • brainstorming
  • reminders