Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Professional Writing Services: Fair Play?

This site was recommended to me by a parent who found her high school son plagiarizing and found this helpful resource to share & discuss with him. Don't be put off by the name of the site or the services offered on the homepage; it seems an unlikely place for good advice on plagiarism, but the page I'm linking you to seems quite instructive and has some good links.

Covers topics like Academic Writing Services; Cheating Goes High-Tech: Online Term Paper Mills; The Web Versus the Honor Code; Paper Mills; How to Avoid Plagiarism and Cheating; Understanding Plagiarism, What it is and how to avoid it; You Wrote It, You Quote It (Interactive tutorial). It also provides links to discussions about Potential Consequences; Facing Penalties; Legal issues of cheating and what happens when students fight colleges.

The page also links to Resources for Teachers and Professors: Cheating Prevention; Anti-Plagiarism Strategies; Glatt Plagiarism Services (software that creates a test for suspected cheaters).

Monday, March 30, 2009

9 great reasons why teachers should use Twitter

I like Laura Walker's WordPress theme for her Education-based blog; almost selected that one myself for my eventual site re-design. OK, now to the article: Ms. Walker covers some excellent points, and they're not all about teaching with twitter. They instead address the theme I've been promoting -- that all of us (not just teachers) can use Twitter for our own learning experiences + communication +more!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Games for Learning and Assessment | Edutopia

Games for Learning and Assessment: "Computer simulations are natural learning tools for a generation of video game players."
"Inventive computer sims can turn dull lessons into hyperreal experiences -- if we can get educators to use them. ...This article on computer-simulation technology is about how and why yet another technology that could be enormously powerful for our kids' learning is getting short shrift in our educational system -- despite the successes we can, in fact, find and cite. Simulation is not just another in the long line of passing fads (or short-term opportunities) in educational technology. It is, rather, a real key to helping our students understand the world."

Classpress.net: Headlines for School Subjects

A list of RSS feeds that provide daily postings for subject teachers: today's view shows Art, Design & Technology, English, Geography, History, Maths, Music, Science.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Twiddla - Painless Team Collaboration for the Web

"Painless team collaboration on the web."

"A no-setup, web-based meeting playground. Mark up websites, graphics, and photos, or start brainstorming on a blank canvas. Browse the web with your friends or make that conference call more productive than ever. No plug-ins, downloads, or firewall voodoo - it's all here, ready to go when you are. Browser-agnostic, user-friendly."
FREE features: use for meetings, document sharing, voice chat, screen capture. Other features available by upgrading to the paid version.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Resource Links You Might Have Missed

This list of Language Arts links is the sixth installment of in the "Links You Might Have Missed" series at the Free Technology for Teachers website. This set of links features Language Arts resources. The previous installments of this series featured links to resources in the areas of
  • Math
  • Science
  • Geography
  • Digital Presentations
  • Google Earth.
  • FREE textbooks: Flat World Knowledge

    "Our books are written by leading experts and are peer-reviewed, edited, and highly developed. They are supported by test banks, .ppt notes, instructor manuals, print desk copies, and knowledgeable service representatives. Instead of $100 plus, our books are FREE online. We don't even require registration! Students enter the URL they're given by their instructor and start reading. It's that easy."

    I'm just sayin'

    Put this report:

    together with this quote:
    "Every company needs to embrace and leverage Twitter before Twitter replaces them."

    Heads up, Education. And educators!

    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    Jacquim - who else?

    Jacquim - who else?
    Originally uploaded by Webbed Feat

    At Northern Voice '09 I attended a session with Laura Blankenship, Barbara Ganley and Nancy White called "Doing the Limbo: Navigating the space in between - Create relationships, not distance". We were asked to partner up and draw a person together. The rules were:

    • Don't speak.
    • Draw as much as you want, then hand you marker to your partner.
    • Continue to do this until one of you decides it is finished.
    • Then invent a name for your person, alternating letters with your partner.
    • Mutually decide when the drawing is finished.

    Alfred Ping and I drew Jacquim. I had never met Alfred. We both agreed that this drawing (and name!) was not something we would have ever come up with in isolation. It just goes to show that working together can lead to something quite different than what you might create on your own.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009


    A site chock full of neglected or abandoned words. Click to see definition; sign up to adopt a word or more. This would be a great site for people studying for a spelling bee contest. For anybody who just loves to see WORDS, words, words.

    Women in technology

    Earlier this year (or was it last year?) I pledged that on March 24th I would publish a blog post about a woman in technology whom I admire. It's called Ada Lovelace Day.

    I've had several months to think about this and it hasn't been easy. There have been several women in technology that have had a huge impact on my life. I decided to write about someone who is largely responsible for my journey into educational technology 15 years ago. By coincidence, here in British Columbia we are coming up to the 15th anniversary of the Educational Technology Users Group and as part of that celebration we are gathering stories and identifying the people in BC who have made a difference in our lives. So this acknowledgement of Linda's work fits both purposes.

    In 1994 I was working as associate registrar at (now) University of the Fraser Valley and while browsing the course offerings at Simon Fraser University for the January 1995 semester I came across a course offered through the School of Communication called Social Context of Information Technology. The 'context' for the upcoming semester was online education and the instructor was Linda Harasim. This title appealed to me. And even more attractive for someone working full time was the fact that this course would be offered mostly online. I signed up!

    The course was fascinating. We were learning about online education by experiencing it first hand. I invested in a laptop and a really long cable to attach it to a phone jack in my living room. I took full advantage of that long cable, dialing up to the internet through SFU, wandering around the house, checking in on course discussions at all hours (using First Class), searching the ERIC database for articles, using the lynx text browser, and browsing the newsgroups.

    There were a million technical problems and student cries for help. But that was all part of the learning. What I remember most was the course design. Linda expect us to collaborate. We had to work in groups. Our groups had to take turns moderating weekly discussions! I had never done group work in a university course (that I recall). With students leading these weekly discussions everyone was asking: Where is the instructor?

    But that was the interesting part. Participation counted for 30% of the grade and Linda was quietly watching us, making an appearance in the course only when she felt it was necessary. We managed on our own. We took risks (role play!). We supported one another. We shared what we learned. Not only did we lead the weekly discussions we prepared a summative evaluation of the experience. We worked out butts off!

    That course left me wanting to take more online courses, and to learn more about online education. The next year I took a leave of absence from my job and started graduate school with Linda Harasim as my interim supervisor.

    At that time Linda began a new job as network leader and CEO for the TeleLearning Network of Centres of Excellence. She continued to teach so I took a couple more courses with her. A short time later I was hired as a research associate for the Virtual-U project, which opened up a whole new world for me. Linda introduced me to so many people in her network (many women in technology!), and allowed her research team a lot of flexibility in choosing projects. Those were exciting times!

    However, Linda's proposal in 1998 to begin an online network to support TeleLearning researchers and educators was a real turning point. The Global Educators Network (GEN) was launched in November 1999 with a seminar facilitated by Linda called "The Virtual Professor: What is it really like to teach online?". Linda hired me to moderate and coordinate GEN, what we came to call an online community, even though I had moved away the Virtual-U lab and was living in a small community in the mountains of interior British Columbia...back to dial up internet! I am forever grateful for that opportunity. Ten years later I'm still coordinating online communities.

    So Linda, if you're out there reading this, THANK YOU! And happy Ada Lovelace Day!

    Twitter for Teachers: A Collaborative Effort to Teach Teachers About Twitter

    A wiki site where you can read and/or contribute your own ideas.
    "This e-book is intended for use by teachers from primary, elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools. The contents of the book are made available under an attribution, non-commercial, share-alike Creative Commons license."

    Teaching with Twitter

    Steve Wheeler shares:
    "Ever since I first began to use Twitter I have been thinking about how to harness the potential of microblogging for the benefits of my own students, and have tried out several ideas to exploit it already. Below are my 10 top uses of Twitter for education."

    Is Twitter a good tool for education?

    A description and analysis of one educator's trial run at using twitter with her students. Christine Morris talks about Setup, Did They Understand, Interface Dilemma, and more.

    Twitter for Academia

    Dave Parry explains:
    "I must admit that when I first heard about Twitter I thought it represented the apex of what concerns me about internet technology: solipsism and sound-bite communication. ...Although I am still beginning to wrap my head around all of its varied uses—I think for the most part Twitter users themselves are still figuring this out—I have been using it for over six months now and come up with some academic uses. ...Some of these ideas are general, and some are specifically from a Twittering assignment I did for a class last semester. When I first added it to the syllabus I had no idea what to expect. It was just sort of an experiment that I had planned for the end of the semester (all of the students signed up for twitter and followed each other). After using it I have to say it was one of the better things I did with that class, for reasons I will explain below."

    Can we use Twitter for educational activities?

    In short, yes! Of course! The full article is interesting, but if you're in a hurry, scroll about halfway down the article box to "Potential Educational Uses of Twitter". Excellent tips and ideas.

    21 Interesting Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom - Google Docs

    A slideshow; each slide has an excellent, fun, educational suggestion. I'm impressed by the creativity of the educators who contributed these ideas!

    I tried embedding the video here, but it was too big for my column and the right half of it disappeared.

    Sunday, March 22, 2009

    Learning in Hand - About Handhelds in Education

    A blog & website by Tony Vincent.
    "...an educator's resource for using some of the coolest technologies with students. ...Tony has documented much of what he knows about handheld computing and podcasting...you'll find useful software collections, the best webs links for handhelds, complete lesson plans, and an informative blog. ...Described by Edutopia magazine as a "tireless evangelist for the power of handhelds," Tony's specialty is creatively using handhelds for engaging activities. ...Tony is a teacher who wants to make education effective, relevant, and fun. He knows handhelds are small computers that can make a big difference in classrooms! He hopes Learning in Hand inspires and motivates teachers to use technology that students crave."

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    Joomla! - content management system

    FREE. Open Source.
    "Joomla is an award-winning content management system (CMS), which enables you to build Web sites and powerful online applications. Many aspects, including its ease-of-use and extensibility, have made Joomla the most popular Web site software available. Best of all, Joomla is an open source solution that is freely available to everyone."

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Free Technology for Teachers

    A blog that you might want to subscribe to in your feed reader. "A review of free technology resources and how teachers can use them. Ideas for technology integration in education." Winner of the EduBlog awards in 2008. I was linked to the site for a specific article and ended up staying quite a while because there were so many interesting (and helpful) topics, esp. those in the "top rated posts" column.

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    18 Twitter Professors to Follow for a Real Time Education

    ....according to Lon S. Cohen, a writer and social media strategist. He used these criteria to select his professors:
    1) Retweet really smart stuff from the people they follow;
    2) Have insightful Tweets in and of themselves (not just links);
    3) Inspire me to engage in conversation with them or with others;
    4) Write really great articles/blog posts;
    5) Expand my world experience.

    19 Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom

    How could students NOT enjoy learning if you use twitter with them?! Part of the ideas to inspire website (which has teaching resources and ideas on many topics; see my blog entry below).

    Ideas to Inspire (Teacher Resources)

    Out of the UK, this is "...a collection of Google Docs presentations, which offer a large number of ideas for engaging lesson activities in a range of curriculum areas.The presentations are a collaboration between lots of fantastic teachers around the world." Resources under headings like Interactive Maths, Incredible Science, Inspired Writing, and many more.

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Count down to 2009 Canada Moodle Moot

    Just a couple more weeks until Moodle Moot in Edmonton! This promotional video was created by Robin Popow from Vancouver Community College. It's a kick! I've been busy uploading it to youtube and blip.tv and everywhere else I can think of. Feel free to do the same.

    Registration has been good for this conference and the sessions and social activities will be really good. I'm especially looking forward to the Friday morning plenary session by Alec Couros: Knock down the Walls: Toward a Model of Open Teaching. The good folks at BCcampus (okay, I'm one of them :->) recommended Alec for a plenary speaker (good choice!) and are sponsoring his participation in the conference. In keeping with the theme: Open Spaces - Open Minds, they are also keen to offer EVERYONE an opportunity to participate. This session will be available via Elluminate so spread the word far and wide. It is scheduled to begin after the regular welcomes and conference announcements: April 3, 2009 check timeanddate.com for your time zone. (I'll come back to post the link to Elluminate when it's available)

    As we get closer to the conference you might want to follow the Canada Moot on twitter.

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    Blackboard coming to iPhone

    I haven't seen anything in the Bb site or blog, but apparently this was announced at the recent ConnectEd conference. This "unofficial apple weblog" provides a video demo and tells us about the
    "upcoming Blackboard application for iPhone and iPod touch. The application will allow you to connect to your schools Blackboard server and get important information from your account....According to the representative in the video, the application will be free when it launches."

    How to be a student

    This site is chock full of helpful stuff for your students, all entitled "The Art Of....". Like the art of learning how to think, the art of planning, the art of using Facebook, the art of staying motivated, the art of getting out of debt, and the list goes on (for pages!). Check it out!

    50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Education

    From Carol Cooper-Taylor, this covers topics like First Steps, What to Tweet, Some Sanity For You, Negatives People Will Throw at You, Positives You Can Throw Back.

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    Media File conversions

    If you haven't seen it, I have a page devoted to links to file converters (linked in my title above). I've just begun to include audio/video conversion tools on that page. Here are a couple examples:

    PRISM Video File Converter: FREE. Windows & Mac.
    "It can convert video files from avi, wmv, 3gp and more into avi, asf, wmv, mp4, 3gp and others. It can also convert DVD discs to your hard drive or compress video files to reduce size. Use this video converter software to convert video files into the formats you need to watch on TV, load to a cell phone, put on a website, create a presentation, watch on your portable device and much more. In fact, the possibilities are endless using this powerful video file converter."

    Debut Video Capture: FREE.
    "Record video from webcam, capture devices or screen. Easy to use video recorder program to capture video files directly on a PC. Debut will record video from any of the following: Webcam (eg. to record a video camera); Capture device (eg. to transfer from video input); Computer screen (eg. screen recording)."

    Please reply with a comment with you have any links to contribute to that page. (FREE applications; I don't want a bunch of retailers promoting their high-cost products here!)

    Thursday, March 5, 2009

    Effective Use of Social Software to Support Student Learning and Engagement

    A report of a study done in the UK.
    "This study provides insights about the: educational goals of using social software tools; enablers or drivers within the institution, or from external sources which positively influence the adoption of social software; benefits to the students, educators and institutions; challenges that may influence a social software initiative; and issues that need to be considered in a social software initiative. ...Our investigations have shown that social software tools support a variety of ways of learning. ...The educator’s role is changing from being a provider of information to a facilitator or moderator, which raises training needs, workload issues, and adjusting to a ‘new’ way of teaching."
    [the bold is my emphasis]

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    Twitter in Education

    You're going to get more posts from me about Twitter. I've started a new keyword label/tag for my blog. I'll try to focus my selection on articles that address Twitter's relevance for educators and students.

    Here are a couple more today:

    1. My own blog post: why I'm a fan after 1 week trial of twitter.

    2. Why You Should Be on Twitter: "Don't listen to the critics. Twitter is a great forum for communication and community building." It's a long-ish article but if you're an educator concerned about the use of twitter by students both inside and out of the classroom, please read the whole thing. "...rather than engaging in forms of unneeded media panic, we need more thoughtful, more flexible accounts of how media work."

    3. Scroll down to see my previous post: How to Present While People are Twittering

    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    iPod touch & iPhone Apps for Education

    In this example of Google Moderator*, see this page to view reader suggestions and votes for which applications work best for them. As I write, there's a list of 25, the top one being iTunes mobile.

    [* What is Google Moderator? I didn't know either. It's like a survey tool. See http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/google-moderator-launches/]

    Monday, March 2, 2009

    random.org - Integer Generator

    Generate a randome list of integers. Not being a math person, I can't imagine a use for this, but for some reason I thought this was rather a fun resource.

    I will tell you a WORD application for this site, sent my way by an editor colleague, James Harbeck. (quoting him)
    To randomize a list of words:
    1. Paste them into one column in an Excel sheet.
    2. Go to http://www.random.org/integers/ and have it generate as many numbers as you have words in one column. (It generates each one
    randomly, so there can be duplicates, but that's not a big problem for what we're doing.)
    3. Paste that into the next column.
    4. Sort the data by the column with the numbers.

    The same site also has a bunch of other fun tools, like (to name only a few)
    Coin Flipper
    Die Roller
    Playing Card Shuffler
    Lottery Quick Pick
    Keno Quick Pick
    Jazz Scale Generator
    Bitmap Generator
    Sound Generator
    Integer Generator
    Sequence Generator
    String Generator
    List Randomizer
    Possible Lessnesses (say what?)

    Sunday, March 1, 2009

    How to Present While People are Twittering

    So, you're giving a lecture, and your students are all focussed on their handhelds, twittering back and forth or to/from the world. Read this article and you'll begin to feel differently about it all. As the article points out, at least they're not falling asleep!

    The article has a very positive spin about what it calls "the backchannel". It's about people at conferences, but the positive notes and advice are something teachers ought to read and think about!

    Object Oriented CSS!!

    An open source project from Nicole Sullivan, a web developer living in California.
    "My Object Oriented CSS grids and templates are open sourced on github. They have all the functionality of YUI grids plus some important features."
    Over at github you can view a slideshow that describes OOCSS in visuals. They explain:
    "Nicole first presented Object Oriented CSS at Web Directions North in Denver. Since then, the response has been overwhelming. OOCSS allows you to write fast, maintainable, standards-based front end code. It adds much needed predictability to CSS so that even beginners can participate in writing beautiful websites."