Thing 21 Online Games and Learning tools

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I decided to try hour of code as a new experience and also review Kahoot, something I have used with my students since it became available but have lapsed in using over the past couple of years. I should mention that I have used it first as a creator and then as a student and was intrigued when my daughter came home with homework on kahoot and I knew the system better than she did (which isn’t a good thing with a teen).

First, “Hour of Code”, well. It’s excellent, well presented, informative and the training is in bite sized chunks that are not patronising and also not too complex. The system is easy to use although the progress bar/navigation through the course is a little temperamental. I was impressed with eth range of options, the quality of offerings and the end results of an hour of code. I tried a couple of the courses and was equally impressed with both. The practicality of the course seems better thought out than many of the online training options I have tried in Udemy, Coursera etc. albeit different in content the approach seems more engaging and enticing in “hour of code”. My teenage daughter even showed a little interest in what I was doing. I will be recommending this to a lot of people and be trying other things out here- Thank you 23 things for suggesting it.

I always liked kahoot as it was simple and intuitive to use as a teacher and could easily be accessed by students. I also used a plethora of other tools setting quizzes, creating flashcards, creating webquests so I often forgot which platform/tool I created what activity on. Kahoot was one of the ones that teachers I trained seemed to like to use for its simplicity for people new to using technology for teaching. Some even went on to create dozens of Kahoots for specific class types and levels. Setting mini tasks like this for students to complete and reattempt which are accessible on phones and short enough to complete when travelling to school are very valuable. It’s also a great skill for teachers to develop; creating quizzes, mini tasks online so they evaluate what they are actually asking the students to do and where weaker areas may lie.

I was amazed when looking through kahoot this time just how many times activities have been played, it is obviously something that I need to revisit and more importantly get my teachers to revisit.

Thing 20 (Anti-)Social Networks


I must admit that although I spend a huge amount of time using technology, I have had little interest or engagement in Facebook or other social networking sites over the years. I am someone who thrives on real life, face to face contact and there was a level of falsity (i.e. that is not a true reflection of reality) that these sites portrayed that made me even less engaged each year.

When LinkedIn came along, I thought it would be good to adopt a professional networking app and try to engage with peers and colleagues that I had met in real life to maintain some kind of contact. I uploaded all the information from my CV and detailed business card though even that has little perceived value in my own mind (probably a reflection of my own attitude).

I have manged to make a few new connections through LinkedIn but that is also indicative of the lack of effort I have made to engage fully with this network, although I do see its potential when job hunting, so I’ll see what unfolds.

I’ve looked into but don’t really see my energy being spent joining something else that my anti-social networking skills will undoubtedly move further down the list of priorities in everyday life, working or otherwise. I feel I could make it work, but just can’t devote the time to it I should, but that’s my choice.

Thing 19 Altmetrics


It was fascinating to see how many articles I chose in the area of ePortfolios had no altmetrics on at all. The first 48 I selected had no data at all, then number 49 mentioned there was no sharing activity on that article and it took another 30 until I found an article with data that was interesting to view.

This then led me into a spiral of looking through all the data it represented and evaluating the process, the information provided and its uses. The demographic background on the article on integrating ePortfolios into education was viewed by practitioners(5%), Scientists(5%) and members of the public(89%). I will be continuing to investigate this further as I am now engaged with what has it missed and what relevance the altmetric data provides to the authors or the citer. It seems this is one channel and there are alternatives to measure the reach an article has.

Overall, it was saddening to see how many articles of value had no scores or relatively low altmetric scores after such hard work and long hours, and as a side line how easy it would be to increase that number with a few tweets in the right places.

Thing 18 Augmented Reality


I started experimenting with augmented reality by first downloading content that you printed out and could then use your phone to make  “come alive”; I remember: an Alien, a monster, a car and a hightop trainer. You could ‘colour’ them in using your phone, something my daughter loved. Then I found one that allowed you to draw weird coloured tubes in the air in front of you when viewed through your smartphone screen. At that point I couldn’t see any application for language learning(the field I am in) so I only dabbled in it. Then I saw one app that had print out pages that became games- usually a target game but also a micro driving game, I could see this becoming more advanced for the public.  The first ‘useful’ application in real life was when I used Google glasses abroad to ‘translate’ signs in real time, that was a game changer.

Then I discovered “Aurasma” a free app that allowed you to make AR content using images and videos; you could connect an image so that when you pointed the camera lens at it(with the app) it came alive in front of you and you made the transition happen. My daughter, who I tried everything with, said it was like the newspaper in harry Potter.

I first tried to create some of the posters we had around the school, and with ones that had an image of a member of staff, I videoed them giving a short blurb  so that the students could’ listen to that member of staff as well as read information. It gave them more exposure to the language and voices of the staff. I then approached the marketing teams saying why didn’t we do this with the brochure. The team then said they’d get back to me but didn’t so I mocked up some pages for the following year and approached them again and showed them how to use it. This time they said yes but just tried the few I’d already created, it took another year before they’d really attempt to use it, and that was when Aurasma was sold to HP – becoming HP Reveal. Most things stopped working for over 4 months and there are still glitches with examples already created in Aurasma but playing through HP reveal.

I also continued to push to get teachers to record short videos on pronunciation points or single grammatical items so the students could access them anytime from posters already in classrooms. The students liked the ones they saw but most teachers were reluctant to be filmed.

I have stopped doing it for a while now- but am waiting for some people to be ready to create more content, especially as you can get the image to open an interactive form, and show a video and even  more now.

Thing 17 Geolocation tools


I can remember a friend doing this with her husband and family a couple of years ago but didn’t really get it or see the draw. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a treasure hunt as I have created many for my daughter when she was small and also in my work for my students. The one for students many years ago were purely physical with a printed list that they took out onto the city and answered questions , with each one leading to the next. Later I tried doing the quiz with QR codes that I put around the city(though many were removed each time) I then used an app called ‘Walks’ that allowed you to set up a trail and put markers with questions on the map that could only be answered with information visible at that place, this in turn made the next part of the trail visible. Then I went on  creating a ‘walk’ on google maps that had check points that students needed to get to and send information to me and the winner was those that finished the treasure hunt and got back to school in the fastest time and had all the right answers.

So yet again 23 things has made me re-evaluate past decisions and I downloaded the app and watched in amazement as my tiny village lit up with nearly 40 geocaches alone. Looking at the next villages the numbers ran into hundreds. It was exciting and also I was amazed that there were 10 geocaches on a walk around the fields of my village that I have done hundreds of times. I had to go out and look, and luckily it was a crisp winter’s day so off I went approaching the first cache.  As it was my first I ‘cheated’ and looked at the hint( I had no idea what I was looking for) it said base of tree and sure enough, there hidden under some rocks was a small waterproof canister wrapped in black gaffer tape. I carried on walking and as I approached the second cache location I decided just to search – and there it was an identical back canister at the foot of a signpost covered with rocks.

Yes this was a little exciting and I immediately started thinking how this could be used for language learning whilst still complying with the fact that caches on the app would be available to all so how to satisfy both camps?

Thing 16- One note

I have tried this before and really not found it as intuitive or shareable as google system or Evernote. Anyway, as it is part of the set of tasks, I used the opportunity to explore again and was pleasantly surprised that they had added some fluidity to some of the features. The adding audio/video had improved a lot , the screengrab was smooth. I still found it glitching on the phone and tablet and it didn’t seem to save and sync everything, either quickly or perfectly. After checking online I found I hadn’t set the phone and tablet to save to onedrive, they were saving locally, so in fact my fault, as they are now saving correctly but the synching is slow and erratic.

I still use a combination of a paper notebook, my phone, tablet and laptop to keep track of series of notebooks and although many of my colleagues love working with this on collaborative projects I still find myself opening Evernote or gdrive tools by unconscious default. I’ll preserve as I do like to give something a fair trial, but secretly I think it just doesn’t work with the way I work.

Thing 15- TUMBLR


To start with , this ‘thing’ took many months to accomplish although it was something I was already familiar, as the institution I was working for had a new security system put in place as part of the PREVENT strategy for education but the owner of the security took draconian measures, blocking all blogs that had been created by students as part of their coursework(because they weren’t monitored by her. It also wouldn’t allow access to TUMBLR on their network or on their equipment.

When I finally got round to doing it on my own equipment I found that not  all the blogs on Tumblr I had been flowing were active, one on architecture had been closed and the owner was very confused as they said,” I am not adult content, just beautiful buildings- so no idea why- I’m going back to wordpress”. This was the same for quite a few of those I had been following.

One of my go-to sites is edutech, a site that has been around for a while, not just in tumblr. It has a real mix of insightful, belligerent, thought-provoking or sometimes throwaway ideas. I’d found it through   a long time ago, end even though US centric is a great place to visit  . I am sure that most people who are doing the 23 things will already know.

How long such sites will continue is unknown, only a few seems to weather the timeline; good luck wordpress!