Tuesday, 31 July 2012

30 days of Web Tools #14: Use the AMAZING Print Friendly to print any web page… and much more!

Have you ever found that you are on a website and you want to quickly print the page or a portion of the page? When it prints it is lopsided because it was meant to be on landscape, it is 16 pages long which you didn’t realise  plus you have wasted ink with a whole lot if unnecessary pictures and words (not to mention unwanted ads!)?  That has happened to me so I was delighted to come across Print Friendly (http://www.printfriendly.com/) . 


After opening Print Friendly, the first thing I did was impulsively add the little button to the browser bar so that Print Friendly is easily accessible.  After that I watched the video on how to use it! I am embedding this video below because it is very useful. 

So how does Print friendly work?

1. Find the article you want to print and copy the URL.
Paste it into Print Friendly at the designated place

print friendly

2. Look at your amazing options:
You can print, make a PDF, email, make th print bigger, remove pictures and more!

print friendly2

3. Let’s take a detailed look:
 a) Print: I tried this and it worked like a charm

b) Make a PDF: This is such a useful feature. I always do this using Google Docs but here is another way. When you click on this feature it gives you a button to download as a PDF. This could be WAY quicker than using Google Docs. 


c) Email: When you click on email it opens a window. I have emailed this article to mayself so let’s see if it arrives. WOW! it worked like a charm!


d) Increase text size: The highest seemed to be size 15 but that was okay.

e) Remove images: They all disappeared. Quite amazing. What I also discovered is that if you have say three images and you just want to include 1, you can click on the other two and they disappear.

4. This is the best - Add a Chrome extension

Being a lover of Chrome and all its extensions I used this last. It neatly added itself to my Chrome extensions on the browser bar. 



This is definitely the best option! You can do so much more. You can highlight and just click on text you don’t want to include and it disappears. (So that little bookmarklet I added to my browser when i first started will no longer be used by me – I will go for the Chrome extension! This image shows some of the benefits.

print friendly3

This is going to be a very useful tool. It will be especially important and useful for your students when they want to print something and just print bits of the page. Do try Print Friendly as soon as you can.

30 days of Web Tools #13: Use KeepVid to successfully download YouTube videos to use offline


You may run into times when you're offline and want to watch a YouTube video, or you want to share a YouTube video with your class without going online and waiting for the video to open (a problem in SA with bandwidth). In those cases, you need an actual copy of the video rather than a link to the YouTube site. You can download videos to your computer using a marvelous free online tool called KeepVid (http://keepvid.com). This post aims to give directions on how to do this if you are new to KeepVid

1. Find the video you would like to download on YouTube

For example I have chose a LEARNit-in-5 video called ‘How to use Lino’.


2. Highlight and copy the URL from YouTube

This video from LEARNit-in-5 has the following YouTube URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTLYxmrNATs&feature=channel&list=UL

3. Open http://keepvid.com/ in another window


4. Paste your copied URL from YouTube into the blue rectangle and click on Download

(Ignore any big blue and green download advertisement buttons! It is easy to click them in error) By the way you will need to have Java installed – but most computers today have Java installed in order to open a lot of web applications. It is available free online.


5. You will always get this security warning, so accept the risk and click "Run"

Your video will start the download process and suddenly the security warning appears. Accept it to continue.


6. Keepvid will give you many different options for the download.

I nearly always choose MP4 because it will play in PowerPoint if you insert it there, but .FLV is also an option. 


7. Click the download that you would like to make and save it
Save it wherever you would like to save it – probably in My Videos on your PC. If your computer just saves it without asking you, you will most likely find it in your Downloads file.
Your video will now be available to play whenever you need to. I have discovered in the past that this is the best way to go when you want to play something from YouTube for students in a class.

Further reading

1. How to Download Videos From YouTube Using KeepVid

Saturday, 28 July 2012

SchoolNet hosts Tudor Clee who is creating an amazing 'Touchable Earth' app for tablets

About Tudor

Tudor Clee is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of Newimage Zealand specializing in Criminal and Traffic law. After a series of uphill battles in New Zealand, Tudor wanted to do something to serve a greater purpose. He decided to create a Worldbook project called  'Touchable Earth'. SchoolNetSA was Tudor's host in South Africa and on the right you can see him along with Omashani Naidoo from SchoolNet. 
About the Touchable Earth project
‘Touchable Earth’ is going to be designed as an application for tablets to provide engaging, easy, hands-on information for children in countries across the world. The aim of the project is to capture children in their authentic environments to showcase indigenous culture, schooling, friends and every day facts about the participating country.
Tudor has travelled to 14 countries in less than one month and has completed video footage and photo stories from Kurdistan, Romania, China, Nepal, Brazil and this week South Africa. Two schools in South Africa were visited and these were Lakeview Full Service Primary School in Soweto, Johannesburg and Isibongo Primary in Mpophomeni, near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal.
About Lakeview Full Service Primary School
Lakeview Full Service Primary is in Dhlamini, Soweto. This school has been operational for 14 years and services the children fromimage Kliptown, Chris Hani and Slovo Park. Children walk in excess of 5 km each way and about 60% are orphaned and living with extended family. As a full service school, the Principal, Mr Victor Bilankulu (featured on the left) advocates that children with minor learning disabilities be included in mainstream learning. To assist with this task, the school has a dedicated social worker and has teachers with Remedial Education expertise.
The learners at this school have started a food garden through the Soul Buddyz initiative and are successfully growing lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, spring onions and carrots. The school has a feeding programme for all needy learners.
Making ‘Touchable Earth’ at Lakeview Full Service Primary
The day started with the principal hosting an assembly with children singing and dancing. Tudor got to work with his sidekick/tour guide and chauffeuse, Ms Omashani Naidoo of SchoolNet SA and captured the learners in class, playing with friends and then visiting a child’s home so that he could get video footage of indigenous games played outside school.

All grades stand in a semi-circular configuration during assembly - an idea shared through an exchange programme with a school in Mauritius (top left). 
Soul Buddyz club tends to the food garden (top right). The Grade 4s in their English class (left).

About Isibongo Lower Primary situated in Mpophomeni KwaZulu-Natal...

Isibongo Lower Primary School is nestled close to the rolling hills of the KZN Midlands. When entering the premises of Isibongo Lower Primary School the first impression is one of a very well cared for school with neat flower borders and clean tidy classrooms. No children were visible outside and the sounds of singing practices were emanating from inside the busy classrooms.

In the photo on the top right you can see Sibongile Mshengu – IT teacher from Mpophomeni High School, Hlengiwe Mfeka from SchoolNet SA and the principal Mrs Dudu Ndlovu. Hlengiwe and Sbongile had only been able to arrange the visit for the photo shoot by Tudor a few days prior to his arrival due to the school holidays. Fortunately Mrs Ndlovu the principal was very accommodating indeed and had met with Hlengiwe during the holidays. In this short space of time each of the classes had managed to create and polish their performances in a range of cultural dances and songs as well as traditional games and some public speeches about South Africa and Mpophomeni township itself.

Making ‘Touchable Earth’ at Isibongo Lower Primary in Mpophomeni KwaZulu-Natal

First up were these young ladies below who sang a traditional wedding song.
image    image

Then it was the turn of Siphokazi and others to explain the features of the South African flag to the camera.
image  image

Tudor had asked for boys in traditional Zulu attire so gum boot dancers came next followed by the biggest 10 year old boy in the school – the “Zulu man” who was dressed for the occasion and who spoke extremely well on camera as well as providing some traditional dance moves.
image  image 

Traditional games from the playground were up next and these ranged from skipping, hopscotch and hand-clapping games to games with stones and one with cans.
Tudor also showed some of the learners other versions of their games.  This one with stones being caught on the back of the hand was a new challenge (top left). Below on the left you can see the children drawing out a hopscotch grid. On the right below you can see them kicking  the cans then stingers from the tennis ball while Tudor videos them at play. 

Varieties of handshakes for different age groups were explored and videoed as were stories about friends. 

 In each country Tudor is filming children explaining the meaning of the symbols and colours on their flags – the children at Isibongo proved to be well versed in this knowledge and in this photograph were able to recite the name of the capitals of the country – although it did not seem logical to Tudor to have three separate capital cities. He was also surprised at the the size of the country's population and the location of their township (Mpophomeni) in Kwazulu-Natal.  

The staff at the school had prepared traditional food for Tudor. He was presented with a lunch consisting of tripe, cow’s head, Jeqe and patatas with Amawehu to drink. 

The final shoot was at the home of one of the learners – and the school had selected Siphokazi who had been the explainer of the colours behind the national flag. She is a delightful child who is very proud of her family and close to her grandmother, and she was able to express herself in English extremely well.

About the future of Touchable Earth...

Tudor is promising to have the iPad app, Touchable Earth available to the public in the next couple of months and to have it functioning with a selection of countries he has visited recently. He hopes to develop the content for the remaining countries during 2012. The really exciting outcome is that Tudor aspires to becoming the biggest donor of tablet computers to schools in Africa - we look forward to that day. You can find more photos on the SchoolNet photo gallery 

SchoolNet would like to thank the Johannesburg Central District, Ms Lizzie Shiburi, Mr Lefty Segenote, Mr Allan Manual and Mr Jabu Tsotsetsi for their assistance and support in setting up the visit to Lakeview Full Service. This is an amazing project and we look forward to see the final outcome. Please visit Tudor's Facebook page to keep up with the progress of the project - http://www.facebook.com/touchableearth

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Microsoft webinar tonight 25th July at 6.30 pm: LEAP21 series -Assessing 'Knowledge Building'

This evening 25th July (and for another three Wednesdays after that) Microsoft Partners in Learning, Johannesburg is running a LEAP21 series of webinars on assessing 21st Century skills, from 6 - 6:30 pm using their Lync webinar software. This webinar series will focus on innovative teaching and learning approaches and how the LEAP21 material supports this. It will be of special interest to teachers who wish to enter innovative projects for the Partners in Learning Forum in 2013. The webinar on the 18th was about ASSESSING COLLABORATION.  The webinar tonight on the 25th July at 6:30pm will be about assessing KNOWLEDGE-BUILDING

Previous blogpost about these webinars

I wrote a previous blogpost about these webinars a week ago when announcing the first one on Collaboration on 17 July 2012 http://schoolnetsa.blogspot.com/2012/07/join-microsoft-partners-in-learning.html

How to join the webinar
Join ALL these online meetings at this web address https://join.microsoft.com/meet/v-angels/Q6Z25RJQ.
More about tonight’s webinar on 'knowledge-building'

Big idea: Knowledge building happens when students do more than reproduce what they have learned: they go beyond knowledge reproduction to generate ideas and understandings that are new to them. Activities that require knowledge building ask students to interpret, analyse, synthesize, or evaluate information or ideas. 

What you need to do to prepare for tonight

1. Think about this question: Are students required to build knowledge? Is that knowledge interdisciplinary?

2. Make sure your system can manage the Lync by reading/downloading the following information

3. Take a look at the lesson plan worksheet

Please join us at 6pm if you are free. Presenter is Megan Rademeyer.

Monday, 23 July 2012

30 Days of Web tools: #12: Use Today’sMeet for useful backchannel discussions


Often when you are watching a presentation and you have computer access you want to make a comment on what the presenter is saying. Twitter is most often used for this. But often, if one wishes the responses to be more private a backchanneling programme like Today’s Meet is used.

What is Today’sMeet?
Today’s meet is a simple way to set up an instant live chat room. It allows participants to ‘backchannel’. This means they can get fully involved by adding their comments and thoughts for everyone to read as the presentation is being delivered. In a backchannel participants can ask questions, discuss what is being presented, share links and reflect on their learning. A backchannel is a great way to enable peer support and the beautiy of it is that you can look through it afterwards to see what to comment on or clarify.

How to create a backchannel using Today"sMeet
1. This isa web-based tool so can only be used online. Open it at http://todaysmeet.com
2. Create a ‘room’ (this is the lingo when creating a backchannel). The following graphic is taken from Nik Peachy’s blog

If you look at the image above you’ll notice that there is place to:

a) Name your room: This might be the name of the presentation, teacher, subject or whatever you choose. You’ll see that a green tick appears if the name is available. If not available, make another choice.

b) Choose when to delete your room and all the data. The time range can be anything up to one year.  

c) Set a password if you wish to.  

d) Click on “Create your Room”. You can now give out the URL to others. The URL will have a specific format starting with http://today’smeet.com/name.

How does a participant join a backchannel?

1. If you are joining a backchannel that has been creating simply type the URL into your browser.
2. You will be asked to type your name in the blue box and to click join. The following two graphics come from the Teaching Generation Now blog

3. Thereafter you will type your message in the blue box and click on ‘Say’. 


If you are using a data projector the backchannel will be displayed. At the bottom of the screen you will see the words ‘Transcript’. When you click on this you will be able to see the whole conversation.  

When would one use a backchannel in the classroom?

Students would need access to computers. The backchannel could be used:
  • for Skype calls
  • for listening to audio podcasts or watching educational videos
  • for revision classes
  • during debates
  • when listening to guest speakers
  • for oral presentations
  • when learning new skills
  • to teach students about online etiquette
Further reading

1. Backchanneling-Movie Watching-Note Taking- Information Scribes

30 days of Web Tools #11: Use Audacity for creating MP3s and podcasts


Audacity is not really a webtool as such but it is a free tool that can be downloaded from the web. It is one of those tools that you simply cannot be without as a teacher! To put it in a nutshell, Audacity is a simple sound editing programme that is used to create MP3s. 

What can Audacity be used for?

Audacity can be used across platforms from any operating system which is a big plus. It can be used to record live audio and even edit various sound files. It can export files as MP3s but for this purpose you have to also download LAME along with it. Directions for doing this can be found here

What do you need to be able to use Audacity?

1. The programme should be downloaded from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/
2. Download LAME so that Audacity can be exported as a MP3 (see below)
3. A microphone.
4. A computer

How to download LAME to use with Audacity

I’ll just copy and paste the directions for Windows since that is what I am using.
Go to the LAME download page.

  1. Under "For Audacity on Windows", left-click the link "Lame v3.99.3 for Windows.exe" and save the file anywhere on your computer. Do not right-click the link to the .exe file.
  2. Double-click "Lame v3.99.3 for Windows.exe" to launch it (you can safely ignore any warnings that the "publisher could not be verified").
  3. Follow the "Setup" instructions to install LAME for Audacity. Do not change the offered destination location of "C:\Program Files\Lame for Audacity".
  4. The first time you use the "Export as MP3" command, Audacity will ask for the location of "lame_enc.dll". Navigate to "C:\Program Files\Lame for Audacity", select "lame_enc.dll", then click "Open" and "OK".
  5. If you prefer the Zip option for the LAME download, save the zip file to anywhere on your computer, extract "lame_enc.dll" to any location, then show Audacity where to find it as in Step 5 above.
  6. In case of difficulty, please view our more detailed instructions on the Audacity Wiki.
Using Audacity for the first time

1. Once Audacity is downloaded and Lame is downloaded and installed it is A for Away! The toolbar can look rather daunting at first, but once you realise that you only need to know a few of the icons and what they do it suddenly becomes a whole lot easier.  


2. Just make sure Audacity has automatically picked up your speakers and microphone. 


3. To start recording click on the big red microphone circle. It will start recording immediately so start speaking into your microsphone right away. Your voice will appear as a long jagged line with rises every now and again like this:


4. When you are finished recording press the yellow square. If you want to test out the recording you have just made, press the green triangle.

How to save your file

You can just save the project at this stage if you wish by clicking on Save project as


Otherwise you can do what I always do and that is export the file as an MP3. 


It will then save as an MP3 and you can save this file wherever you wish on your computer. That is how easy it is to record using Audacity. Of course there are a lot more complicated things you can do with audacity but for a teacher, this is enough to go by.Here is a YouTube tutorial that can take you though those steps again.

How can Audacity be used in the classroom?
 These are some of the ways I have used Audacity:
1. You could record your students speaking and then upload to Voki to create speaking Avatars. this is useful on a bog to greet visitors. 

2. You can create podcasts of book reviews, poetry readings, book reading, orals etc. You can document reading through the year to note students’ progress. 

3. You can create sound files to go with  a PowerPoint presentation or a Windows Movie Maker Movie or Photostory.

Here is a Slideshare showing how Audacity and Photostory 3 can be used together.

4. You can upload these to an online recording service such as Vocaroo.com so that they can be embedded in a blog or wiki. Notice the upload button just under the little girl on the right in the image below. 


5. You can record messages and email them to penfriends as MP3 files.

6. You can record sound to add to Voicethreads.

So, give Audacity a try! You won’t regret it.

Further reading 

1. 10 great ways to use Audacity with your students