Tag Archives: rss

Networking, links & teachers.

Today I had a really good discussion with some other staff from school. We were discussing the best solution for pooling together the wealth of information teachers often collect individually to help facilitate a new learning context, especially web links and tools.

The discussion came about from the teachers’ use of forums, used to generate discussion around their personal goals, progress and feedback from mentors, of school and EHSAS cluster goals.

The forums are starting to be used for more than just of goals, and teachers are throwing in web links and ideas, not directly related to the forum topics. You know what it is like, throw a bunch of teachers in a room and they’ll talk shop, jumping from one idea to the next with a bit of personal news thrown in. Transfer this to a forum environment and you know what I mean.

Does this unorganised jumble of links needs to be addressed? Reorganised to allow easier access to the links? Or should we just leave it as is?

Some other questions raised:

  1. Do teachers want to have a list of elearning resources (i.e. web links) gathered for them before a context of learning is about to begin?
  2. Do teachers generally find these resources a week before they need it, when the plan it, or just in time?
  3. How do they access or find them? Word of mouth? Delicious? RSS? Googled?
  4. Should we expect teachers to understand RSS? subscribing? news readers?
  5. Do we need to teach specific skills related to the use of online forums?

Lots of questions and to be honest, we came up with no one-answer-fits-all solution, or if there even needs to be a solution.

What is important is that teachers are engaged and active with online forums to support, improve andss share their classroom practice. That is just great!

Dipity Timeline Creator

I have been having a play with Dipity an online timeline creator. I would have to say that it is pretty cool. Like most social sites, you can make your timeline public and receive comments, as well as invite other users to contribute and have editing permissions. Collaborative timeline building – not bad.

It is really easy to use and requires no tutorials or help. Just follow your instincts. Any event you add can have an associated image (either uploaded or linked) or a movie, a URL and a location. You can also insert a feed from common services like Twitter, WordPress.com, YouTube or any RSS feed. Below is the RSS feed timeline for Ewan McIntosh’s blog to give you an idea of what you can do from importing an RSS feed.

You can view the timeline full screen, select to view it by hours, days months or years, or as a flipbook or list. The flipbook view is nice and kind of cover flow iTunes’ish. The location view mashes up the data with Google Maps to give you a location based timeline, lots of uses for that. Uses in education are pretty obvious really; biographical or autobiographical information, historical events, life cycles, product development, project time management… endless potential to support learning.

One negative for me is when you add an event that spreads over time, for example from 2001 to 2003, like a 3 year contract or programme. I would expect the entry to graphically reflect this time frame and go from the beginning of 2001 on the timeline to the end of 2003. However from my initial experimentation this is not possible as each event seems to have a maximum size and starts in the correct position but ends at the end of the event. It would be nice to have the option to ‘represent events in actual time frame length’ or something.

Otherwise, cool. Try the timetube YouTube Dipity mashup, like this one on Web 2.0:

Or the flickr or digg mashups.

Make the time to have a play with Dipity.

The benefits of Web 2.0, RSS, XML, Atom, tags & categories in ePortfolios

As a follow up to my last post I have just read the following article as part of my efellow research.

This may be of interest to those of you who would like a further and much more detailed (yet easy to read) explanation of using the benefits of Web 2.0, RSS, XML, Atom, tags, categories for organising ePortfolios and promoting learning.

In the right environment the social networking potential of the learning landscape and eportfolio-related tools are features that facilitate and enhance the making of connections and the linking together of people, ideas, resources and learning… (pp. 30)

The Learning Landscape: A conceptual Framework for ePortfolios.

Chen, H., Haywood, J., Light, T., Tosh, D., & Werdmuler, B. (2006).

Available in: Handbook of research on ePortfolios. Hershey PA: Idea Group Reference, pp. 24-32.

Well worth a read if you can get hold of it. There is certainly a lot more worthwhile reading in the full handbook which contains contributions from over 100 of the world’s leading experts.

Pages v. Posts v. Categories v. Tags – ePortfolio Organisation

We are about 5 months into our ePortfolio switch from iWeb to WordPress. One of the main reasons for the decision to change was to use the features and capabilities of Web 2.0, especially the ability to comment and provide feedback and student reflections on learning as it is uploaded, from anywhere.

There is not a lot of choice in iWeb as to how to organise learning and reflections when compared to a blogging system like WordPress. Below is a screenshot of an ePortfolio page menu created in iWeb. Essentially it is a list of pages as they are created throughout the year. There are no options to nest pages hierarchically or to categorise and tag blog posts.

By using WordPress we now have more choice in how to organise and structure the layout of the learning presented.

We can have a hierarchical page list with the WordPress page parent option as captured on the left. This is the option we have chosen for presenting most of the learning for our students. The students still use the blog, for a whole variety of uses which compliment and add to their reflective cycle of learning. Each page usually has several examples of learning and thinking included, such as draft versions of work to completed versions, along with associated feedback, comments and reflections.

With this option you need to ensure that the themes you are using enable commenting on pages. Many do not. This can be overridden using these instructions, if you have access to the theme’s editor or files. Some hosted blogging services do not allow you to edit these files so it may not be applicable to use this type of organisation if you want to allow commenting on pages. I would suggest that if you do organise your eportfolio in this fashion you need to be able to comment on page. Without it you are denying the opportunity to interact, collaborate and engage in the whole feedback, feedforward, reflective cycle of learning! Check the themes!

The second option for organising the eportfolio is to have no pages except the main blog. This option utilises the ability to categorise every blog post and add tags to further describe the content just like a ‘normal’ blog. So rather than having a maths page, you would categorise a blog post with maths instead. Additionally you could tag this post with geometry, angles, protractor or anything relevant that describes the content of the post.

So rather than having a list of pages you would have a list of categories and a tag cloud which would act as your navigation. Clicking on a category or tag title takes you to the all the posts in that category or with that tag. Also, the issue of commenting as above is not relevant because the ability to comment on blog posts is always available.

So why did we (I) choose the pages option to organise the eportfolios? A couple of reasons:

  1. The teacher sand students were already familiar with organising the eportfolios using a page system in iWeb. Maintaining this meant a smooth transition into the new system.
  2. Post, tags and categories were all new concepts to the teachers and students involved in the project (fantastic teachers and students though!). Introducing a new system, new skills, new concepts could possibly have taken the emphasis away from the purpose of the eportfolios to support learning, not the learning of new skills.

On reflection, would I change what we have done? I think that either option is really workable and each has their advantages. It really depends on the knowledge of the teacher and how they, and their students, want to organise their learning. If it were me facilitating this process with my own class, then the second option would definitely be for me.