Oct 31

Example Hiragana testThis is the first flash-card style web2.0 application I have seen. Recently West Australian University graduate Kyle McLuckie invited me to test his new app - Rememberize. It is quite a simple tool (in the vein of 37signals web2.0 apps) for creating and learning sets of cards. The site itself is at http://rememberize.com, and the blog post announcing it can be found at http://blog.rememberize.com.

The main occasion I’ve found flashcards of use was in learning Japanese characters. So I went ahead and created a quick test for the first line of hiragana characters - the vowels. The process is engaging in itself. The simplicity by which one can set-up the quizzes is in this sense another level of the memorisation process. Flashcards are wonderfully suited to learning foreign languages but can be applied to learning specific items in many subjects. Students of all ages could use Rememberize. The collaborative aspects built into Rememberize are unique and further this web2.0 social software trend. Kyle says:

If it’s useful enough, I think it also has the potential of being useful social software – facilitating conversations with those interested in the same subjects. If you have the time or interest, please, have a look at it. If you have any comments, I’d love to hear them.

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Oct 12

While attending the Knowledge Bank 2006 Online Conference I listened to a presentation on a teacher developed website in a Year 1/Prep class at
Clevy Keyboard
Wheelers Hill Primary School. The website is centred on developing the metacognitive abilities of the Year 1/Prep students through the use of thinking and goal setting tasks, student self and peer assessments and rubrics. Additionally, it contains samples of student work and also planning documents. One thing raised was the difficulty students had in using traditional keyboards, specifically the ability to recognise capital letters. This is a problem I have experienced too. Adding stickers to the keys can help, but they tend not to last very long! Another solution may be a keyboard designed for these young learners. I have heard there are plastic covers available but can’t find a link. A couple of keyboards I have come across are Big Keys and Clevy Keyboard which has Australian distribution. BNC Distribution claims the Clevy Keyboard:

…. essential in the education of writing and computer skills in primary schools. It anticipates on the growing interest for the development of the motor system connected to the education of handwriting. Moreover, this attractively designed keyboard stimulates young children to get acquainted with computers in an educational way.

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Oct 12

I’m having a look today at the Victorian Education Knowledge Bank 2006 Online Conference - October 11-13: Stories from Teaching in the Digital Age. They are using software call Elluminate (which is Java based) to allow attendees to take part online via audio chat, text chat etc - similar to a Skype conference. But it has a lot more features built in and works on Mac and PC. Of particular interest are live desktop sharing, video chat, ‘the ability to put ones had up’, and see a fellow participants profile. I am going to be dramatic now and say this is a groundbreaking leap for professional learning in Australian education. Anyone interested can join up. I’m particularly interested in the use of these tools to provide engaging geographically disparate professional learning. Register here and listen to the introductory welcome here. The Knowledge Bank 2006 Online Conference…

….. explores how education networks are creating and sharing knowledge. The conference features a great line up from school presenters to e-learning experts and covers topics ranging from online competencies to digital literacy, blogging and podcasting.

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Oct 05

New software called Levelator may solve the tricky fluctuating audio level issue many teachers with limited equipment face. It automatically adjusts the audio levels within a podcast to account for variations in level between speakers. Drag-and-drop any WAV or AIFF file onto The Leveler’s application window, and a few moments later you’ll find a new version which just sounds better. The application is available for Windows and OS X - it’s free (for non-commercial use). From the website:

Have you ever recorded an interview in which you and your guest ended up at different volumes? How about a panel discussion where some people were close to microphones and others were not? These are the problems the post-production engineers of Team ITC solve every day, and it used to sometimes take them hours of painstaking work with expensive and complex tools like SoundTrack Pro, Audacity, Sound Forge or Audition to solve them. Now it takes mere seconds. Seriously. The Levelator is unlike any other audio tool you’ve ever seen, heard or used. It’s magic. And it’s free.

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