In advance of the ICT Inset Day on 19th October and in line with the recurrent bee in my personal bonnet that we would all benefit from sharing our experiences in applying technology in teaching rather than ploughing our own individual furrows, here is my suggestion how we might achieve that without eating further into what time we have available by having to arrange meetings at lunchtime or whenever.
A blog – like this one – allows us to share ideas without the need for a physical meeting. I can, for instance, post a few thoughts of my own, then others can put forward alternative or better thoughts by posting a comment on that topic. These shared ideas are accessible to all. It’s better than e-mail where things get buried in the over-full inbox and it’s fully searchable through the box on the right.
It’s not an original notion, even if it’s a fairly recent one in the world of education. I came across just such a blog by a teacher on the Isle of Wight who hosts this rather spectacular creation, and that got me thinking that we could do it too.
So here’s a couple of thoughts for starters.
Favourites. Or Favorites. Or Bookmarks. We all have them, but you must have some that I don’t know about and vice versa. So let’s share them. There is an easy way to do this. Using Internet Explorer, go to File – Import and Export – Export Favorites, then click on the folder of favorites you want to choose, where you want to save it, and what you want to call it via Browse, and you then have an html document of those favorites with clickable hyperlinks. Put it on Drive T and everybody can access it. For starters, here are my MFL favourites – a bit messy and in need of re-arranging, but there might be something of interest.
PDFs. This type of file, ie the kind of thing you open in Adobe Reader, can often be much better than other types of file, especially if you want to upload it to Moodle. It’s smaller in size and more flexible than a Word document plus it looks better – no squiggly bits under the words, for example, or text boxes or images that can be moved around. It can’t be edited, though, so is not for documents you want your pupils to change or add to online. PDFs are great for replacing Powerpoints when you don’t need all the delays of animations – again, good for Moodle in lots of instances. Excellent for grammar-related stuff, for example. So how do you convert Word or PPT files into PDFs?
Good question. Well, the best way is to use Flashpaper, part of Macromedia Studio 8, which also has the latest Dreamweaver web authoring tool incorporated in it. But I see that we have yet to get that on the network, due apparently to some incompatibility with RM Connect. But since RM sell the product themselves, the problem can’t be that bad. Contact your nearest ICT helpdesk in large numbers, please. Alternatively, download something like Easy PDF Printer Driver, which is free and does the job pretty well. Yes, I know you can’t do that on your School laptop, only at home on your own PC. Another reason to badger the Helpdesk. The Favorites file linked above was created by the tool I just mentioned as an experiment. So it does work.
Courses. There’s so much to learn from others about the use of ICT in language learning. Joe Dale, mentioned earlier, is organising a course on the 20th of October. Details of the course, which looks really good and is only a ferry ride away, are here. One of us should surely take this opportunity!
Apologies if I’ve tried to teach any grandmothers to suck eggs, but I’m just trying to stimulate debate and, more importantly, sharing of ideas. Any comments on the above and suggestions for future topics gratefully received.