Thursday, October 9, 2014

Replacing a paper based workbook with an online tool

Whilst at Ulearn 14 it has been interesting connecting with educators and sharing what we are doing in our classrooms - I thought I would write about an online tool we have been using at school.

At the end of 2013, we, as a department decided to trial using an online tool instead of the traditional write on English workbooks. After some searching online we decided to go with Education Perfect, Many schools in NZ are familiar with Language Perfect for student studying a variety of language. Ed Perfect are the same company but now cater for almost all subjects.

This year my school went BYOD officially and it seemed timely to look at how the students use resources and whether going online would improve their work and knowledge. I have been able to tailor or create relevant topics for students to study at home or as starters in class.

The great thing about Education Perfect over the paper based texts is the data you can extract from behind the program. I am able to see what questions students struggled with or excelled in. I can see how many times they attempted a question and more. I am able to set the content in relation to what is happening in the class. 

It has been used successfully in the English Department and we have signed up again next year.
Some of the benefits is that all task the students do are catered for their own learning ability, they get results straight away, as a teacher I gather useful data to assist with further learning, students have a degree of control, can access anywhere anytime...

If you are interested you can sign up for a free trial here:
These are my own views based on my experience of using Education Perfect. I am not employed by the company

From the Education Perfect Website:
Key features: 

  • Multiple questioning formats: questions are presented in a variety of contexts and questioning formats. 
  • Instant feedback: scoreboard and competition aspect 
  • Lists are customisable: to suit your curriculum exactly.
  • Access from anywhere: at school, at home, on holiday etc… 
  • Available on PC, Mac

What is EducationPerfect? 
Education Perfect is an online learning and revising tool that schools around the world have been integrating into their learning programmes in all Subject areas. 
With such limited class time, Education Perfect enables students to focus learning and revising at home. This means teachers can spend more time teaching the essential concepts with students coming to class ready to apply their revised concepts in context. It also allows the teacher to closely monitor a students’ progress. 

Students gain points for every item they learn, they can therefore compete against their friends in a fun, educational and safe environment at their own pace

#Ulearn14 Day 1

This is day 1 tweets from #Ulearn14 - just some of the many tweets. Will sort a better Storify after Ulearn.

@tameey day 1 twitter feed Ulearn 14

Ulearn14 is fantastic have connected with so many teachers - really brilliant.

This is my twitter feed for day 1 of Ulearn 2014 - using storify

Friday, October 3, 2014

'What it means to be a connected educator' #blogsync

Last night as part of Connected Educators month I tuned in at 8pm to listen to Chris Waugh discuss BlogSync. Basically you sign up to is a different topic each week for Connected Educators month (check out the website for the full list). You write your blog, post a link on twitter and use the hashtag #blogsync.

Week One: 1 October - 10 October:
'What it means to be a connected educator' - my learning life online, and how being connected has affected my work in education.

To me being a connected educator means I can support my students the best way possible. It is important to me to model what it is to be a learner. That knowledge and learning needs an authentic relevant audience. That as teachers we are not fountains of knowledge but need to gather information, synthesis it and use what is relevant to us. 

My learning life online ebbs and flows depending on what is happening in my day to day life. Often I find myself catching up online during the school holidays when the demands of day to day teaching lessen. 

So, I have a twitter @tameey. I have found twitter to be an invaluable to tool for learning about what others are doing, what websites, blogs etc are worth a read. I have followed conferences that I can't attend by following hashtags and using tweetdeck to organise the viewing of the tweets. Storify is another very useful tool for gathering up relevant tweets and displaying them on blogs.

I have this blog which you are currently reading. I started it not long after I began teaching and it does show my journey through teaching and learning. I also created this blog on MLE when I undertook a personal inquiry project last year. 

I initially signed up to Twitter and had a blog because I was teaching in a country school which was quite remote. I was the only teacher of English in the high school and needed to connect with other teachers of English. The online community of educators helps me to keep relevant and up to date with my teaching and learning.

Over the past few years I have tried to pass on the idea that our learning community it not restricted to 4 walls or to the school. I have done this through blogs, skype, and other tools. Recently I have been working with another teacher David Schaumman who is HOD of English at John McGlashan in Dunedin. Trying to get our students sharing work online and developing a community outside the 4 walls of our schools. It has had its challenges - as we wanted some realtime f2f. But it is something we will continue.

So, I guess my online learning has affected my work as I try to model and make sure my students are as prepared as possible for thinking for themselves. As well as  having the skills that they can apply to as many aspects of their learning as possible. This can only be achieved by being connected to other educators. I tell my students that 2 brains are better than 1 and to share knowledge in order to build and create knowledge but I think the photo below is better:

Mark E Western @shiftparadigm posted this picture on twitter this morning. It is a great visual for what it is to be a connected educator.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Connected Educators Month

Today as I was waiting for my coffee to finish gurgling on the stove top I took a look at the latest tweets on twitter. What should I see but a link to the Adobe Connect room for a discussion on MLE as part of the Connect Educators NZ month. Now, it had been a while since I had used Adobe Connect - I had forgotten my password! I knew there was a video function and I wondered to myself - 'Would the video automatically connect?' My concern being, that at 9 am, I was still in my pj's and dressing gown - it is after all the holidays!  I decided it was not worth the risk and quickly changed into my running gear, as that was what I had planned to do after the coffee. I need not have feared  - thankfully for everyone tuned in  only the presenters were visible!

This is one of the joys of Connected Educators Month. You have the ability to sit in and chat online with minimal interruptions to your day and yes, you can even be in your pj's and no-one will know. All Adobe Connect workshops are recorded making it impossible not to get the most out of the month. You also don't need a password to access the site as it has guest login's.

After the MLE discussion I did go for a run, mulch the garden, make a yummy lunch for my kids, catch up on a MOOC course. Then I was just in time for Karen Melhuish and team to tell us how different Ulearn14 is going to be and how much more connected it will be compared to other Ulearn Conferences.  Ulearn14 will have live streaming of breakouts to name just one change.

So, my message is this: Yes in NZ it is the school holidays but get online, connect with other educators - it will improve your practice and give you ideas.
So, tonight I plan to tune into Google Hangouts at 8pm and listen to #blogsync

Important links:
Twitter: #CENZ @ConnectEduNZ #Ulearn14
Connected Educators Month Blog
Archives for events
Calender of events

Connected Educator Month, October 2014 from CORE Education Digital Media on Vimeo.