Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Social Annotation

Social Annotation: Seamless Integration of Social Bookmarking, Web Highlighter, Sticky-Note & Clipping Annotated

learning accounting...
Originally uploaded by rnav1234
Two posts in a row about interesting web tools...

I've just discovered a web based service called diigo. (Yet another cool idea with a silly name! I would have pronounced it die-go, but apparently it is dee-go.) The site describes itself as a Social Annotation tool... which perhaps doesn't help explain much. The welcome screen adds:

Social Annotation: Seamless Integration of Social Bookmarking, Web Highlighter, Sticky-Note & Clipping

Highlight, Clip and Sticky-Note for any webpage

  • Just as you would on paper ⇒ Write on any webpage!
  • Make them private or public ⇒ Interact on any webpage
Share your online findings with your friends and colleagues
  • Complete with highlights and sticky notes
  • As lists, as blogs, as albums, as feeds, or via email
  • In groups
Still in the dark? It reminded me of the the review tools in Microsoft Word which I've used a few times with students - someone sends me a Word document and I add comments and suggested edits. The review tools can track changes I make as well as highlighting sections and adding notes in the margin. I can then send the annotated Word document back to the author and a conversation grows around the original document and our comments. When I first started using this feature of Word, I thought it would be great if you could do that with web pages. Imagine being able to get a class of students to collaborate on a web page: to highlighting sections, share their understanding, ask questions and add extra information. With diigo, that's exactly what you could do.

Add to that online social bookmarking (which can be linked to other bookmarking services such as del.icio.us), the ability to highlight any text on a page and search for it on a range of search services using a pop-up menu, to blog about a page and link non-diigo users to your annotations on that page (this blog posted was created using the diigo Blog this tool) and a host of other features ...and you have a stunningly valuable educational tool.

I think I'll be spending a lot more time on this site in the near future and I'm already plotting ways I could use it with students. What do you think? How could this service be used in the classroom?

By DavidDMuir

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Those of you who have read previous EduFlickr posts will know that one of the reasons I like Flickr is because it gives students adifferent way of telling stories (for example EduFlickr: Telling Tales). Thanks to a recent David Warlick Podcast (Episode 84: Bloggers’ Cafe at NECC 2007) I heard about a new (well new to me) web service called VoiceThread.

It looks interesting. Photos can be posted and then any number of people can add text or voice comments to the picture - they can even doodle on top of the photo to highlight or add to the information. It is therefore easy to gather a variety of views on a single event or picture. It is also possible to link a number of photos together and gather different comments on each photo.

Photos can be uploaded from your computer or imported directly from Flickr and Facebook. However, you are not just limited to threading photos together. You can upload Powerpoint documents, Adobe Documents, Word Documents, Excel Spreadsheets and videos. How useful would that be in the classroom? Post a Powerpoint presentation, or some other document and get your class to comment. Everyone gets three threads for free but teachers can apply for a free educator account.

The final trick is you can embed the thread in a blog, web page or whatever. Here are three I made earlier showing three different ways of linking to the thread: large, small and text link.

View this VoiceThread on the site.

View this VoiceThread on the site.

VoiceThread about Computer Labs.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

We all know what that looks like...

David Stow
Originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
You may or may not know that the Education Faculty of the University of Strathclyde (where I work) is going to move. The plan is to move us from the Jordanhill Campus to a new location in the town centre by 2010. It will be a shame to leave the old buildings and all the history behind when we move but it is interesting to consider what it will be like - "State of the art and fit for purpose. An education building fit for the 21st century." we are told.

There has been consultation on the design, but from where I am, it has mostly been bickering about how big our offices should be. :-) However, recently I found myself on a sub-committee looking at the AV/IT support that should be available in the new building's learning spaces. We were looking at three levels of provision for three types of rooms: rooms for small groups, rooms for medium sized groups and "lecture theatres" for large groups. We had a good first meeting talking about how the spaces could be used and the kind of activities they could support. It was good to talk about learning and teaching issues rather than just who gets what space.

However, it was a throw away comment made near the end of meeting that really started me thinking. The chair of the meeting said something like, "Lecture theatres, well we all know what they look like..." and the discussion moved swiftly on to the other types of rooms. It was only afterwards that it struck me that I know what lecture theatres look like just now, but what about a lecture theatre that's "fit for the 21st century"?

What do we want from a space that can hold hundreds of students? What should a lecture theatre look like? Can it be designed to support effective learning where there is one lecturer and hundreds of students? Can we justify dedicating such a large space to this way of learning?

Over to you. What do you think a lecture theatre should look like?

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Powered by ScribeFire.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Rush in Concert

Now, I know your thinking, "Why is he doing a concert review in an Educational blog? Didn't he say he wanted to do more about the Scottish Learning Festival?" Well, I happen to think Rush are very educational... and it's my blog, so there. :-)

I'm serious about the educational bit. I think music can have the power to engage teenagers and introduce them to a world and to ideas that they might not encounter otherwise. From my own experience, it was because of Rush that I first used an inter-library loan system. I'd been a user of the Glasgow public libraries for some time but it never occurred to me that you could borrow stuff that wasn't on the shelves. However, Rush did a song called 2112 which I heard was based on a book by Ayn Rand called Anthem. I knew nothing more than this and when I couldn't find the book on the shelves (or indeed any book by Ayn Rand) I plucked up my courage and asked a librarian. Soon I was filling in a form and within a week I had the book. To be honest, I like the song better then the book. And I didn't really buy into her philosophy, but then I don't always fully buy into Rush's philosophy either. The point is, the music of Rush introduced me to new ideas and new ways of thinking.

They still make me think. Mr W. has commented elsewhere that it was a very political gig (which it was) Neil Peart's lyrics always have been political - even in their sci-fi days. A less enlightened friend described Neil's lyrics as "pretentious twaddle" - well, if it is twaddle, it's twaddle that raises important issues. Take for example The Larger Bowl from their latest album Snakes and Arrows:

If we are so much the same, like I always hear
why such different fortunes and fates?
Some of us live in a cloud of fear.
Some live behind iron gates.

Why such different fortunes and fates?
Some are blessed and some are cursed.
Some live behind iron gates
while others only see the worst.

Some are blessed and some are cursed.
The golden one or scarred from birth
while others only see the worst.
Such a lot of pain on the earth.

The golden one or scarred from birth.
Some things can never be changed.
Such a lot of pain on this earth.
It's somehow so badly arranged.

Some things can never be changed.
Some reasons will never come clear.
It's somehow so badly arranged.
If we're so much the same, like I always hear.

Interesting stuff and even more impressive in concert where it was paired with some really powerful images on the big screens at the back of the stage. Not only do the lyrics challenge me, but also, because of this song, I now know what a pantoum is. Perhaps you already know about pantoums, but if you don't, look it up! Learn something from Rush. :-)

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

P.S. I got an email the other day from Rock Radio FM asking if they could post a couple of my Rush pictures on their website. I was happy for them to do this. :-)

The Captain posted this one and Tom Russell also used one of Alex playing Hope.