Thursday, March 31, 2011

911 Writer's Block

This is a fun site for an English class. The concept itself is a hoot. The students would love to play with this as a writing tool. Lots of fun and plenty to motivate even the most reluctant writers in your class. 
"Writer’s Block can stop your creative efforts in their tracks and overcoming writer’s block is a tough task. WEbook is here to help you overcome this creative hurdle. Use our 911 Writers Block for helpful suggestions and ideas to get the creative juices flowing again."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Klimt - Beautiful Resources

This is one of the most beautifully crafted websites that I have come across in a very long time. I know that is a big claim but have a look at the way that this site is constructed. It is not just the layout, or the quality of the images or the calming music in the background, it is everything put together.

 It is the feel and eye for detail that the designer Julian Damy has produced. I want to use it as a model for all of my students that next time I get them to built websites about artists. This would be a fantastic resource for any teacher contemplating studying Gustav Klimt.

Power and Possibility of Interactive e-books

I am on a bit of a mission at the moment around the idea of interactive e-books and I came across a great article by Keith Stuart at posted Sept 2010. This is the direction I would love to see the development of textbooks and novels used as prescribed texts go. I think I have said - it would be impossible to stop them from reading with this sort of interactive and immersive experience on offer. I have also posted this over on my other blog Appsineducation because of the iPad crossover.

" What impact will digital books have on the experience of the written word – apart from the form factor, and the ability to store hundreds of works on a single ebook reader? Will the rise of gadgets like Kindle and tablet computers like iPad actually contribute to the medium in a creative way?

This is a question that design consultancy IDEO has grappled with, producing a Vimeo clip to show three possible book-reading applications for tablet computers and ebook readers: Nelson, Coupland and Alice. It's the third (from 3:03 onwards) that interests us. Alice, the narrative informs us, is "an interactive reading experience that invites the reader to engage with the story-telling process [...] Stories unfold and develop through the reader's active participation."
For example, clues could be unlocked by shaking the screen so that most of the words 'fall off' revealing hidden codes. Other narrative elements could be unveiled by opening the book while in a specific geographic location. The video also mentions the possibility of receiving text messages and emails from characters in the book. I guess Silence of the Lambs would be a bit more scary if you started getting texts from Buffalo Bill asking what your dress size is.
But these are more like reading enhancements than truly interactive narrative features. Later, the narrator talks about the reader adding to the narrative, co-developing the story, thereby gaining access to secret events, character backstories and new chapters. "In time a non-linear narrative emerges, allowing the reader to immerse themselves in the story from multiple angles." 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

CEO E-Learning Showcase 2011

I was invited to present a session at the E-learning Showcase at Randwick at Thursday. I spoke about a series of units that I wrote in collaboration with a Yr 10 class. The presentation outlined how that situation arose and the process that we used. As part of the collaborative process we decided that we needed to write our own textbook and thought we may as well make it a digital interactive text. We also decided to utilise an array of Web 2 tools, although the form of presentation of the student's tasks was actually negotiable.

I haven't included a script but I think you will get the picture.


Store and organize your research and information, accessible anywhere with an Internet connection. Share your diagrams with others or embed into an existing webpage or blog. This is a great tool for starting to get your students to present in visual ways - not all information needs to be present back to you as a piece of writing. This is a tool that enables you to introduce the notion of infographics.


Vyew allows you to meet and share content in real-time or anytime. Upload images, files, documents and videos into a room. Users can access and contribute at anytime. It is free to use because it is ad supported but great for a classroom setting or even for the students to use as a homework aid with their peers.


Survs lets your create distribute and analyse online surveys and questionaries with  friendly interface and powerful features. This is a great tools for gathering feedback. It will automatically collate the results and then lets you share them or use to work collaborative with colleagues. Looks like a great little tool for the classroom.

Interactive Books

I first saw this over at ilearntechnology by Kelly Tenkley. This is an interesting book that has had sound and video added to the conventional e-book. The best thing about a publication like this is that it opens people eyes up to the very real possibilities. This is still a simple e-book but it has started to add interactivity to the way it delivers information. This will be excellent for younger students who struggle to read, or are still learning to read, but it is just as promising for any teacher who wants to customise a text for their students.

This is very possible for anyone to do using Pages on a Mac. We could all start to produce e-books like this with cool sound effects that add to the mood of the story or text that is read allowed when a different character enters the room, or even sections of video to explain a concept or to illustrate a skill. It is as easy as dropping this media into a Pages document - many teachers are already using this technology within their classrooms. 

Have a look at a site like issuu. This is a textbook and a site that I have posted about before but is worth mentioning again in this context. Create your text, save as a PDF and upload to the site. Easy as ABC.


Flipbook! is the drawing game that allows people to create simple animations and share them with the world. You draw with your mouse on the drawing area and use the arrows to add frames or to go back to previous frames. Colors and different stroke widths have been added to give Flipbook! a wider range of expression. Another extra tool is the 'duplicate frame' button which makes the animation job a lot easier.

Friday, March 25, 2011 lets you instantly create Animated GIF online, free, right now! Just upload pictures or grab them from your Flickr. Create funny flashy slideshows with you and your friends, cartoons, previews, banners, etc. Post them anywhere you can post pictures: MySpace, Bebo, HI5 etc. No need for flash. Show them to people in our Gallery. Here one from one of my students, Morgan - nice work!

Friday, March 18, 2011

10 Fantastic Creative Video Applications

A great on line list by Aline Ohannessian at Artwave highlighting some fantastic online FREE video tools. The tools listed all give you the ability to create, edit, publish, and share your very own professional video making. 

1. Flixtime - Video Slideshow made easy

2. EmbedPlus - Real Time Reactions

3. CaptionTube - Be seen, be heard, be read

4. Jaycut - Your free online video editor

5. Pixorial - Video sharing service

6. Slideshow - Ultimate mashup slideshow

7. StupeFlix Studio - Video Production made easy

8. TunePrompter - Create your own Karaoke Videos

9. VP Factory - Online Video Platform

10. VReveal - Fix your shaky videos - for free

Pixel Icon Maker

This web application allows creation of 16x16 icons (favicons) using simple drawing tools. This is great if you want to create icons for your blog or website but it can also be used with kids. This is not as easy as it looks. but it is great for simplifying images down to their absolute basics. Imagine having to create a 16 bit self portrait or a series of emoticons. 

Their is a whole community out their that love these things.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Springnote allows you to create documents, to work on them together with your friends online, and to share files. This is also a great tool for group projects as it allows group members to easily collaborate without having to organise after school home visits.

Advanced search, numerous templates, and 2GB of free File Storage are all features. It is an internet service, meaning you can access your notes from any computer anywhere anytime.This makes sense for any family with school age kids. 

Springnote now has an iPhone app with their collaborative note taking tool.


Provide your students with an authentic audience. This is not some teacher looking at their work and giving a mark, this is a community of professionals giving real-time quality feedback on creative design, layout and content.

ReviewBasics is a powerful feedback gathering platform which allowsprofessionals accross many industries to exchange ideas, gather thoughts and review various types of creative, interactive, motion and written content. Easy to use tools allow authors to create secure workspaces, upload draft versions of their work product and invite reviewers to provide comments and feedback. Once invited, reviewers log onto a secure website and use simple click-and-drag tools to leave comments. The review process is simple, quick and does not require any software to be installed. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


This is another type of search engine. I like this for students who are researching a specific topic. It provides information from a variety of sources and then present it in a simple, straight forward manner with all the links to the full websites. It creates an easy overview of your search term and gives the user an opportunity to get a brief and comprehensive understanding of the search term.

Well worth a try, especially with students researching projects or self directed inquiry tasks.


Listphile is a powerful tool for organizing and collaborating information around a structured format. Call it a database tool for lists. Listphile was borne of curiosity, and the belief that we learn more effectively when people have a framework for collaboration and knowledge sharing.

The intention of Listphile was to have it used in ambitious and open ways: make a publicly shared database of all players in a sports team but that it could also be used for humanitarian purposes: to create a list of journalists who are currently imprisoned, or a list of peace treaties. Listphile can just as easily be used to document vintage Nike sneakers, or to create an Open Surf Atlas of all surf spots on the planet, or document all of the beers in the world.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


SpeakingImage allows you to create interactive images on online and then share them with others. You can also create groups, add wikis and set different permissions to manage collaborative work. You can set markers on the work or add lines and polygons to highlight a point or fact. This is a great tool for highlighting details in a complicated image to your students, It could be used in art, science and technology classes really easily but I can see uses for this in most subject areas.
Each of the annotation has its own wiki connected to it so your class or group can continue to add articles or further information connected to the images.