Classcraft

Classcraft is a new generation online teaching and learning experience so that teachers and students can gamify their content and tasks. It is certainly worth a look. There is help on the Net and YouTube videos are starting to multiply as more people are using it. You can never say yes or no to online learning sites until you have had a chance to see what they do, what they represent and how they work with your students. Two things I know from experience :1. Students love trialling apps and software and giving constructive feedback. Nothing engages them more than to be product testers. I’ve used  customised feedback docs or Edmettle to gather feedback but you could use the Google education suite. 2. Students generally respond very enthusiastically to online learning sites especially if they are available across devices which Classcraft is.

Classcraft has been developed by a teacher and trialled by  teachers . There has been some considerable high level educational thinking and consultation which has gone into this. You can use the free version and then the premium content is very reasonably priced. It is a sound idea to allow teachers and students a chance to try before they buy. Even so, the free version appears to be very workable and may be all you need. I can see this suiting some teachers and some content better than others. It is really important for teachers to be able to experience and play with things like this. It would change delivery and classroom operation. It would support flipped learning and it would move us towards allowing people to teach and learn across time and space. We are getting rid of those borders and boundaries so that teaching and learning can just occur anywhere at anytime. The school based lessons are where you pull it all together and personalise it. People need to belong to and connect in the real world and take those skills and experiences and grow them online.

Some teachers would find this approach difficult at first because they are not gamers and not familiar with games. Nor should they be, necessarily. Other teachers will lock right into this and grow it in surprising ways. Everyone, though, should understand the pedagogy of gamifying a classroom because it is literally a game changer with the students now in schools. Like anything , though, there needs to be discussion and a balanced way of utilising and introducing new ideas and theories.

There is a review of Classcraft on edshelf.

Make a good You Tube video

With nearly 95 000 hits on this video alone and nearly 65 000 subscribers to his You Tube channel, then it is probably worth listening to what rickvanman has to say about making basic You Tube videos. My plan for 2016 is to improve my video making skills and work on my coding. Those are the next logical steps for me. Students always appreciate well made videos for learning and they value the time and skills you put into it. It also means you have a bank of resources for students who are absent for whatever reason and for students who want to fast track themselves. It is coming very much to the point where we are personalising learning. Students absorb material very quickly from moving images. The dark back drop on this one makes a point. You focus more on what is being said and it highlights there is a real person talking and sharing information with you. The tips are:

Be concise
Use good lighting
Use an external mic
Keep the music quiet so as not to distract
Avoid camera shake
Cut out the erms and ahhs
Keep it fast moving, fast paced and flowing…get on with it!

It is all practice and awareness raising. It is testing the water and building skills so you can deliver confidently.It is also questioning and assessing whether you actually want to put yourself in a video or just create content videos which are relevant.  Making a good video is something students need to learn too since theirs is very much an online sharing and collaborative world. They need to be able to have a positive, effective online image and style.

I can make videos which, from the feedback I have received, are helpful and useful to students. I want to lift myself up now and get even better at producing video content. It is the direction we are going in and no video can replace a good teacher but  videos are part and parcel of learning and teaching now because there are more and more sites which share video content. We are connected. rickvanman can teach anyone anywhere  in the world if they want to listen.

learnist

codinglearnist is a site which curates paid and unpaid content for learning and because there are ratings for the boards you can see what others like to learn. The paid content is part of the premium concept of the site. You can search for what you want to learn or you can use the topics in the left sidebar to navigate the site. learnist is another example of a site which demonstrates people like to share their knowledge but there are also plenty of people who want to learn. That concept of learning 24/7 365 days a year. There is a good review of learnist on teachthought.

Skoolbo

Skoolbo is free and runs across 4 countries

Skoolbo is free and runs across 4 countries

Hate the name of it. Total misrepresentation of spelling, meaning , vocabulary and the site itself. Good job word of mouth works and there appears to be a pretty impressive competition going on involving the four countries where Skoolbo is established. It appears to be for younger children and focussing on literacy and numeracy.it is designed to strongly support personal learning and  opportunities for collaboration I am not sure if language means English language skills or other languages. I’ll find out. I have a plan. I can see, that even if this is designed for younger students it would benefit students learning English and really encourage them to do well quickly. It is the last week of the school year and I have my year 9s last lesson tomorrow. We have been working on 3 visual presentations for French at all different language levels and they have been enjoying it. Those who want a bit of a break tomorrow can try out Skoolbo and I’ll have a look it at it tomorrow as well. I value their opinion. I have taught them how to look at data, online sites and information and make intelligent decisions about whether they are valuable or not. They have always been very honest and genuine in their approach but are also very good at looking at options and possibilities, so they are a good class to trial apps, software and ideas with. They love collaborating and they love creating something useful together whether it’s a product or an approach. Can’t wait to hear what they think of Skoolbo!

How’s the coding?

codecademy I have done about 15% of the codecademy course on Python. I plan to speed up a bit when I am on summer holidays and need to find something to do when it is really hot. I don’t suffer from the heat but you do need to stay inside and you do need things to take your mind off it sometimes. Coding is perfect because it is very absorbing. I have just completed the date/time section. I have done some syntax basics and then some strings. Coding has reminded me I have to be totally perfect ,exceedingly accurate and meticulous. There is no margin for error, no room for mistakes and it teaches me to be utterly logical and pay attention to detail. It really is all in the detail. One colon in the wrong place and it all falls apart. Confuse a colon with a full stop and it all falls apart. Codes simply will not work unless you have them perfectly accurate. Codecademy teaches that really well. At this stage I am taking small steps, am being guided and then encouraged to think for myself so I can put the learning to work. I could do with an easy look up menu to check certain aspects of coding. I need a glossary or menu so I can see quickly how to set the code. If I did it on a more regular basis some things would stick better because it is about habit and repetition. I cannot do that yet . I am happy with the fact codecademy puts each lessons in a small package so there is not too much to take on in any one sitting and it means I can still pursue it when I am busy. That is important with coding. It is easy to get swamped until you are on familiar ground and so gently getting yourself into it is a good approach in my opinion.