Web Two Telegraph – A Collaborative Web 2.0 Environment

Archive for December, 2007

My top 10 Web 2.0 sites for 2007

Posted by murcha on December 29, 2007

Being an absolute beginner at web 2.0 until June, 2007, I am going to reflect on the 10 web 2.0 sites that I have enjoyed using most this year. I am following the lead of my friend Chrissy, Teaching Sagitarrian who helped start me on this amazing journey. See her favourite 5 web 2.0 in the classroom.

Mine are as follows but not necessarily in order of popularity:-

  1. http://del.icio.us.com this was where I started
  2. www.bubbl.us used widely for brainstorming
  3. blogs at www.wordpress.com with a lot of help and encouragement from Heather Blakey and Jess of technolote
  4. www.wikispaces.com used for classroom use and also for summarizing my ejourneys with the students.
  5. docs.google.com for online sharing of documents and spreadsheets with classes in other countries.
  6. www.skype.com – videoconferencing with powerful learning applications, used with NZ and Korea
  7. www.voki.com for fun, user protected podcast applications
  8. www.podomatic.com for hosting our student podcasts
  9. www.teachertube.com for hosting our videos
  10. www.surveymonkey.com for easily created online surveys

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Web 2.0 Classrooms, Web 2.0 Resources | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Feeding a web2.0 appetite

Posted by murcha on December 23, 2007

Looking forward to each new day of the wonderful advent calendar of Heather’s at the following address:- http://www.dailywriting.net/Wild%20Gardeners%20eLearning/Advent2007.htm, many people may wonder how they can keep up with all the new entries from their favourite blog authors, news headlines or podcasts.

Web 2.0 has provided another wonderful feature in the form of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that’s easier than checking them manually. RSS content can be read using software called an “RSS reader”, “feed reader” or an “aggregator“. A subscribscription is made to a feed by entering the feed’s link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader checks the user’s subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds. You will know if your favourite blog allows RSS as it has a small orange module with 3 white curved lines and RSS written above it.

Some possible readers include the following:-

My reader of choice is google.reader.com Time has not permitted me to use iGoogle fully yet but as I subscribe to some yahoo groups, myahoo will allow me similar functions.
If wishing to use google reader, become a member and click on the link add subscription on the left hand side. In the resultant window, enter the web address you want to subscribe to and hey presto, you will be notified when new entries become available.

In yahoo, click on the link to my yahoo on the opening window. Just click to add the module and follow the instructions on the page. Just choose where to display the module on your page and you’ve got an RSS newsreader in just a few simple clicks.

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Web 2.0 Classrooms, Web 2.0 Resources | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Virtual Worlds for the young

Posted by murcha on December 21, 2007

In 2007, each IT class was given a different project in the use of web 2.0 The grade 3/4 class was one of our school’s larger ones with up to 30 students. techno patch After searching for a suitable global project, we applied for them to join the kinzexchange project established by a Canadian teacher. This involved buying a webkinz pet and maintaining a shared blog – assuming it was like the teddy bear project. Despite the huge popularity in USA and Canada, no shop in Australia sold webkinz.

We enrolled for the project, only to find out that we had to buy a webkinz which no shop in Australia sold yet. Searching ebay produced some private sellers in Australia so we duly bid for and were successful in buying Patch – a dear little dalmation puppy. Patch came with a computer code that once entered into the webkinz site, gave him a birth certificate, personal likes and dislikes etc and allowed entry into a virtual world. Students are then reponsible for his health and wellbeing and need to provide him with necessities, including food, exercise, shelter etc. Patch starts with a certain amount of money, but as money is spent, students can gain more money through games like activities. That world can also include other webkinz pets. The arrival and stay of Patch has caused much excitement amongst both students and staff. It has provided talking points amongst the students, given them motivation to maintain written journals and a focus of care and responsibility. Students have taken him home on weeknights and weekends. Students who normally would not join in classroom discussion or talk to many others become quite animated and willing to say what Patch has been up to. The classroom teacher of grade 3/4 has now taken on the project and that has provided her with new technological skills.

It has allowed our students to learn more about Canada. Terms like “fall”, “thanksgiving” and monarch have appeared on the blogs. The project is actually run by a teacher who has a younger grade but the grade 4 teacher at that school emailed us asking whether we would like to become pen pals (via snail mail). So the students have now exchanged letters and Christmas cards. The Canadian school does not have ready access to computers yet, but a computer technician has now been employed and it is hoped that we can videoconference with them and try other web 2.0 activities in 2008.

webkinz friendsblue tongue lizardpatch in tree

A sample journal entry:-

When I got to Nat’s house, he showed me around. I got to drive the car around the house. I met his family and then it was time to do the lambs. I fed Prince Charming. I rode Fiona and scratched the cat’s tummy. I had a great time outside but it was time to go inside.

I got chased by Dino Raptor the robot and it bit my tail. I went on the motor bike and I went fast, so fast I went overboard. Fetch was played with Scruffy and the I went sailing into the bath tub to get clean. After that we went on the play station 2 and I won. It was then time to go to bed. I wish I could go to Nat’s place again.

feeding Prince Charmingdriving carscriffy

Some security tips:-

  • only the IT and classroom teacher know the password for the website address.
  • Students have limited time each day to care for Patch online and enter his virtual world.
  • Monitor students periodically to ensure all is well.

This has been an exciting project to be involved in with these young digital natives.

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Producing online movies

Posted by murcha on December 19, 2007

Some year 8 girls were given the challenge to produce a short movie on Christmas in Australia through the eyes of a child. They independently interviewed students from prep through to grade 5 and asked these students what they wanted for Christmas or what Christmas meant to them. A cheaper, simple desktop microphone was used to record their voices directly into the software, audacity. (a free download software). After some editing, the interviews were converted into an mp3 file. (A codec needs to be downloaded from the audacity site, otherwise it will be a wav file which is far too large for online use.)

The audacity window

audacity toolbar

Photos of Christmas crafts, activities, lights and decorations around school and Hawkesdale were then taken. After careful selection, photos were imported into MS Photostory. Effects were added, and the mp3 interview file imported. The story was then made into a movie for playback on the computer.

To enable music to also play in the background, we had to use a more professional software package, called Vegas Movie Studio by Sony. This allows a number of sound tracks to be added and easier insertion of text, for headers and credit rolls. The internet was searched for “free mp3 Christmas songs” and a large number of sites were located. However, our service provider had blocked many of our first choice, so we used a couple from sites that we could access. A right click on the link to the mp3 file, allowed us to save that song into our folders and then import into Movie Studio.

Once titles, extra sound tracks and the photostory movie were imported, an mpg movie was created (in PAL format for Australian screens) and saved again on our hard drive. To allow online use, it was saved again but this time as an email (wmv version at 512 kps). Having already registered with teacher tube, it was uploaded onto teachertube following their very simple instructions.

Hints for speaking with a microphone:

Some of our student voices are not recorded well. A teaching friend has since given us these hints:-
if students hold the microphone just below their chin and put their fist on
their chest, the sound seems to work better for recording. No air flow into the
microphone and more even volume from person to person.

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Skype that Call!!

Posted by murcha on December 17, 2007

Skype has opened up a whole new world – both cyber and international worlds. Skype is VOiP (Voice over internet protocol) which allows (to put very simply) two computers to ring each other like a telephone. Such calls are then free, except for the cost of the download time.

We have two sons who live in London and skype allows us to keep in constant contact with them, either by speaking to each other, text chatting or by videoconferencing. Living in a rural community, our neighbourhood telephone lines went out of order recently and as there is no mobile phone service in our area, we were able to put credit on our skype account and ring landline telephone numbers. This allowed us to have some communication with the outside world.

Skype is wonderful and has huge potential in the educational field. It allows us to ring teachers in other countries, to share lesson plans and ideas, and to work collaboratively on setting up wikis. However, the best use for our school has been that of videoconferencing with a school in Korea. Last week, we spent five days trialling the use and impact of skype. First, we had students from each country ask impromptu questions . The second time, we had already worked out the type of questions to ask eg what are your school hours, typical foods, subjects studied, weather, where we live etc. By the fifth day we really used the technology.

One of our boys had found a blue tongued lizard. He brought it into our library and put it up against our Blue tongue lizardssmall web camera. The Korean students could actually see his little blue tongue going in and out. The Korean students then took their camera to the window and we could see their beautiful snow clad school yard right down to a man sweeping the snow away with a wooden broom. We were about to go swimming though, because our temperature was 35 deg.

They had asked us about our sports. Having worked out the potential of the camera, a year 9 boy leapt from his seat to go and get a cricket bat, ball and stumps. Our library was converted into a cricket field with demonstrations of bowling and batting displayed in front of the web camera. It was then time to bring in a meat pie because no matter how we verbally described it, they could not grasp what it was. Vegemite soon followed and with that all sorts of questions and impromptu conversations flowed. Students forgot their shyness about their language skills and we started to really learn from each other. Korean students then showed us their wonderful mobile phones and features. Finally we compared uniforms but the bell went and we had to continue on to our other subject areas.

Surely this is powerful learning!!!! Students are activating their own education and wishing to research further and learn more about each other. As a result, short videos have been added to teachertube to show what Korean students have for lunch and a brief visual tour of the school. Our students made a canteen video to show them what we can purchase for lunch.

To use skpye, you need to

  • download the software which is free,Using skype with grade 6 students
  • register with a user name and password. There are no telephone numbers, but instead a user name. You can search for other people’s usernames and add them as contacts. To ring, you simply highlight the appropriate name and press the green phone button.
  • a web camera for videoconferencing.
  • A desktop microphone gives better quality audio and headphones ensure some privacy.

Download powergramo and the conversation can be recorded. We have produced a podcast at (http://murch.podOmatic.com/rss2.xml or search for using skype – Australia and Korea students at www.podomatic.com), on our first skype session with Korea and Gail Casey, the English teacher in Korea captured it on video at their end. See it at http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=d1cef75ffbe159c1f322) Still photos can also be taken whilst in the video conference. They are automatically saved in my pictures.

Skype is only on staff laptops as security could be a real issue. Our library has an interactive whiteboard for class presentations, but a datashow would suffice. There are other providers of VOiP. Conference calls can also be set up but the video will only work between two callers. Sound can be a problem at times and calls can tend to drop out but despite this overall it works wonders. So skype that call!!

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Digital Storytelling

Posted by murcha on December 16, 2007

If “a picture paints 1000 words”, how many million words would a video, combined with sound, transitions, voiceovers and text paint???? Perhaps I could pose that question of my students. Speaking of which, one of the most used and popular software programs on our school system after MS Word and MS Powerpoint, is MS Photostory which is a free download for legal owners of Windows XP. This amazing program allows a professional finish to video and multimedia production, with a minimum of effort. Students will always choose this software if they need to complete a digital story in a short amount of time. Some of the best stories come from students who have poorer literacy skills but are quite happy to talk and tell you all about their story.

Students can tell their stories digitally by inserting still images, text, voice and background music. Open photostory 3, choose begin a new story >next>import pictures. Up to 300 pictures can be imported. (Personally, I recommend resizing the photos if they are large and of type bmp to keep the completed product to a manageable size.)

Stories have included the best times of their lives, individual achievements, school camps, class photos, their own backyard etc. Sample movies using the majority of Photostory features can be viewed at http://www.backyard.globalstudent.org.au
A tutorial guide on using MS Photostory 3

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Web 2.0 Classrooms, Web 2.0 Resources | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Sparkling Text

Posted by murcha on December 12, 2007

Students love animations and multi media. So, sometimes it is a bit of fun to add animated or sparkling text to your online sites. See a sample at http://christmas2us.wordpress.com/grade-2-christmas-musings If you goto www.sparklee.com this site allows you to choose various types of sparkling texts which can be recoloured and resized. To add animated text goto www.sparklee.com (or the site of your choice) retype and resize text appropriate to your heading, recolour if necessary. A code can be grabbed for various online sites eg facebook, myspace, wordpress, blogger etc.

Choose one and copy the appropriate code, by clicking on the code box, press control C and click on the code tab in your blog and control V to paste the code in. A search on the internet for animated text will bring up quite a number of sites.

glitter - http://www.sparklee.com

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Inserting Images | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Santa leaves presents in the strangest places

Posted by murcha on December 12, 2007

What a weird heading, you might ask!!! However, one of our grade 5 boys needed to use the bathroom and duly sought permission to leave the classroom. hawk1.jpgAfter some time, he was back to tell me that there was a chicken hawk (a gosshawk) in the boys toilets. Santa leaves the strangest presents in the strangest places!!!

The big rescue operation went into action. Phone calls were made to local native bird keepers to get nets and other gosshawkneeded gear. However, one of our teachers who is a farmer and extremely fit and agile, reached up to the high ledge and caught the terrified bird. A bevy of excited students soon surrounded the teacher and bird. After a short photographic session, the gosshawk was finally released into the great outdoors.

nb The digital camera was at the ready, and photos were taken. These were duly resized and renamed to jpg, to enable uploading online. Some of the photos have been added to this blog.

released into the air

Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Web 2.0 Classrooms | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Head-Banging and Learning Curves

Posted by Pelican1 on December 12, 2007


If you are considering a new camera, please read about my latest experience HERE.


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Movie(ing) Christmas along.

Posted by murcha on December 10, 2007

I really like the idea of putting up a stand alone Christmas blog. When Heather suggested it to me and discovering that there was a template for Christmas, my head went into 5th gear to try and work out what could be done. Half of our years 7-9 students have gone on a week long bike ride, so the rest of the year levels are split into three groups and rotated around the remaining staff.

I had my first group this afternoon. After showing them the bare Christmas template at www.christmas2us.wordpress.com, the group discussed what could be done to improve the site and the of content that might go in it. They were all set to task to create some different products to add to the blog. Fortunately, the year7s already had completed work on “Christmas through the 5 senses” (I smell, I see, I taste, I hear, I feel). Students come up with some amazing work, so they were challenged to convert their word processed documents into a mutli media or movie format.

After much thought and discussion and due to the time restraints placed upon us, most students cut and pasted their text into MS Powerpoint and added clip art or photos for improved visual impact. Powerpoint slides were then saved as jpg rather than powerpoint presentation. This converted each slide into a picture which could then be imported into MS Photostory. Students love using Photostory. It is so easy to use, allows photo editing, panning, transitions, text addition and is a free download if MS Office is purchased. It gives such a professional outcome with the minimum of effort and time. It can be saved into so many different formats for either output on the computer, email, mp4 players or playback on appropriate mobile phones.

As students completed their photostory, we did a search for free Christmas song mp3 files and many sites came up. Students chose an appropriate one for their story, right clicked on the link and saved target as into their folder. This allowed them to insert that music into one of the final slides of MS Photostory. The movie was tested and then saved for use on their hard drive. It was then converted into email format and uploaded into teachertube. (Youtube is banned in our schools in Victoria). A code then allows that movie to be embedded into the blog or wiki of your choice. Some of the older students are working on movies and some just love to write. When complete these will be added to the blog.

School is such a hive of activity. Christmas trees are going up in the classrooms, decorations are being made and craftwork completed.Upon wandering down the corridor, I noticed and read with delight the Christmas musings of the grade 2s. Their work was proudly displayed on the wall outside their classroom. So a separate page has been added for their writings on the blog. It is called Christmas musings. Out of the mouths of babes……..!!!!

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