Tuesday, 25 December 2012

12 Online Learning Experiences

21st Century Education

Christmas morning up and awake a bit of time before the house erupts with bouncy spaniels and excited children (some in their first childhood others in their second).  A good time to start to list some of the educational tools and VLEs I have used or become aware of over the years.  These are the most prominent, the ones that immediately spring to mind and are in no particular order.  If I miss one that is your favourite please add a comment or Google+ article or +Philip Spalding.   This links in with the ukonlinelearningcommunities project (medium term plan).  So twelve applications for Christmas!  I make no apologies for including so many Google offerings!

1. Google Plus Hangouts

Really like this application for allowing online real time collaboration.  A normal Google Plus account allows 10 users to interact.  A Google Apps for Education or a Google Apps for Business Account allows up to 15 people to interact.  That interaction can be then be streamed to a greater audience using your YouTube Channel where they can watch and listen but not join in!  Also allows the recording of the experience for future reference! 

2. SlideSpeech

A great way of converting your presentation to a learning experience that narrates the presentation.  An example I have constructed can be found at (http://slidespeech.com/s/kaTJthHeen/#slide0-slide).  More information on applications of SlideSpeech can be found by contacting +John Graves.  

3. StudyRoom

This is the study room facility used by Coursera and edX.  Our own Online Learning Community (Haverhill Online Learning Community) has secured a study room which we will be using extensively in the year as we grow our learning community.  Thanks to +Amadeus Malca for making this happen.

4. Blackboard

This is the traditional "biggy" in Virtual Learning Environments.  I have recently become an online tutor for Apricot Learning Online  who use this platform and after the training I have to say impressed with the scope of Blackboard.  Real advantages are the ability to structure personalised learning through Session Planner, speed of use and it's flexibilty.  The underlying technology is also very suitable for Safe Guarding vulnerable individuals!      

5. Moodle

This could be billed as the alternative Blackboard.  It is an opensource platform used by a few in the UK such as Oxford University for some of it's online CPD courses but has a greater following in the US.  Is best set up as a server based application, requiring downloads such as MySQL and PHP.  Personally have tried to load this to a single machine but had difficulties setting up the database first time.  Runs best on Linnux based systems, and as OpenSource is free.  Can see a lot of mileage in this one but will need to set up database properly if I am to use it in some of my commercial based activities (ie the not profit exceptions) through KritiRecharge2012.co.uk , the site is currently under construction and revision.

6. Hot Potatoes

A real old favourite of mine.  I have been using using this as long as it has been available, which must be at least 7 years.  Great for making small exercises quickly and saving as a HTML file that can either be added to a website or loaded from a machine locally.  First real application that allowed quick solutions to making child friendly exercises to support individual pupils in the classroom.  

7. Google Plus communities

What can I say? This is a staggering simple concept of the village green or local pub or coffee shop.  Really like the fact that technology behind the social interaction retreats into the background!  I have waxed a little lyrically  in the Blog post http://ukonlinelearningcommunities.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/google-plus-comunities.html .

8. Scratch

The new methodology that is going to save British Computer Programming in schools?  Remains to be seen  but great programming interface.  Even features as the introduction to edX's CS50x Introduction to Computer Science 1, which I am currently working my way through.

I have also run successfully an online summer school based on Scratch.  However, that was before I discovered all the cool tools of Google Plus (but then a lot of them were not available then).

9. Google Course Builder

The potential to be the Rolls Royce solution in a moderately tech literate teacher's hands.  Have dabbled a bit in the mechanics while particpating in +Jeannie Crowley OFLC at the Bank Street College of Education in  New York's, which has now become the Online Learning Collective.  Have great ambitions to be using Google Course Builder regularly throughout 2013.

10.  Blogger

Probably my most used and useful social media platform to track my transition from traditional teaching to entering the realms of 21st Century Learning practitioner.  Have been blogging now for 2 years.  Very surprising how things have changed even in that short space of time!

11. Google Docs

The key technology for collaborative learning and sharing.  So much of a cornerstone easy to forget how important it is the development of the Google experience when other innovations such as Google Plus have come appeared. 

12. Google Apps for Business/Education

The nemesis of the web developer who has thrived on £100+ per page fees for designing static websites? Maybe! Hopefully!  The same applies for Education (Google Apps for Education).  Great tools for reducing the hammer from a platinum plated tool an insignificant pound shop (99 cent shop) variety.  This is where the threshold to true digital working and learning starts as the entrance costs have become minimal.  Looking forward to a more educated world in the next two decades!  One where everybody has access to free basic education!

Most of the above tools are free.  The time to master them is also becoming less and a lot of the operations of the tools within the applications are similar across learning platforms.

So here's to the next two decades of freely available education! Merry Christmas! 

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