Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.

Archive for February, 2008

WebNode guide and overview
February 19th, 2008

Last January I blogged about a new web publishing tool, WebNode. It is part of a new breed of web publishing tools that live entirely within the browser.

WebNode is an online tool that allows you to create functional and elegant web sites. The interesting thing about WebNode is that fact that you do not need to know the intricacies of html, css, xml or javascript in order to create the web site. You do not need to install or use any software.

Prior to the development of online tools such as WebNode users had to master web construction tools such as Dreamweaver, Microsoft Frontpage or others in order to develop a web site. Now, all the user needs to do is to put their existing ideas in order, gather together the necessary words and images and publish.

WebNode is forgiving and supported with a variety of plug-ins and widgets that together can make the job of online publishing straightforward, rewarding and fun. The construction process involves the use of templates and widgets that you can alter to meet your needs. In addition to this WebNode provides you with a rich statistics package that will help you to gain an understanding of the numbers and demographics of visitors to your site.

Recently I created a worksheet or “cheat-sheet” that provides an overview and hands-on guide for the tool. The worksheet is listed on my resources page with all of the other technology guides.

Good To Great Seminar ~ Singapore 2008
February 19th, 2008

This Sunday I am off to Singapore to participate in the Good To Great Teaching and Learning Seminar at Nanyang Technological University. The focus will be technology and how it can harness linkages between students, teachers and learning.

I have had the good fortune to attend the seminar in  20052006 and 2007. In addition to the presentations there is a sequence of concurrent sessions and full day workshops for the participants.

This year I will be conducting workshops on blogging, mashups and new tools such as WebNode. Some of the workshop materials are available here. I am still mulling over the content for the presentation yet the focus that seems to be drawing me in is the world of core tools like blogs and wikis and the role that orbiting worlds like Twitter play in forging connections. Tied in to all of this is the possibilities afforded by Yahoo Pipes for example. I shall endeavour to share, blog or twitter as often as possible during the four days.

Empathy in history
February 19th, 2008

One of the attitudinal skills that students need to pick up as part of the course in history is a knowledge and appreciation of empathy. A strategy that I have employed  is to exhibit some dramatic and iconic images from history including the Hindenburg tragedy, the 2004 Asian earthquake and tsunamiAustralian Ash Wednesday bushfires and the 1986 Challenger disaster. Still images and video are shown to the students.

The students are asked to comment and ask questions about the events and words that came up in the discussion include sympathy, shock, sadness and surprise. The students realise that the images are history. The text book has a dry old paragraph about empathy. They appreciate that history is about people. The students seemingly gain a grasp that history is about people and that people in the past have feelings, views, opinions and emotions as we do today.

Watching the video downloaded from YouTube and the images gathered via Picture Australia and Google search provided the visual resources that I needed for the lesson. The Internet proved very resourceful indeed.

I used Tooble on the Mac to download the videos from YouTube. Following download the flv files were converted on the fly into mp4 files and exported to iTunes.

Can anyone recommend a similar application for downloading and converting YouTube style embedded video files on the Windows XP or Vista platform?

The northern Illawarra coastline
February 10th, 2008

This afternoon Shao Ping and I went for a drive along the northern Illawarra coastline. We had a coffee at Oskar’s alongside the recently renovated Anita’s Theatre in Thirroul. After that we traveled further north, crossing the Sea Cliff Bridge and then up the mountain for the drive back towards home.

On the way we stopped by Sublime Point Lookout and I took a few photographs of the northern Illawarra coastline. The Illawarra is located between the mountains and the sea and as you drive further north the coastline narrows until the mountains reach the sea. The scenery is quite spectacular and many of the locals take it for granted. We need to remind ourselves from time to time just how great the coastline is along the NSW coast.




WW1 ~ The experiences of an English soldier
February 10th, 2008

This morning, one of my colleagues, Flora, alerted me to this excellent historical blog. It is the WW1 letters of William Henry Lamin. As the blog author indicates the blog itself is made up of transcripts of Harry Lamin’s letters from the first World War. The letters will be posted exactly 90 years after they were written. This is not unlike the famous Pepys Diary I have blogged about elsewhere.

The details and comments provide minute detail regarding the life of an English soldier during the Great War 1914-1918. There are two related blogs that support the blog containing Harry’s letters. One blog is concerned with readers’ comments and the other is the official War Diary of the 9th Battalion of York and Lancaster Regiment.

These three blogs comprise an excellent resource of primary source evidence for students of history anywhere. I shall certainly be sharing these blogs with my Year Nine students and my other history teaching colleagues.