Thursday, 30 August 2012

30 Days of webools #24: Create a MentorMob playlist

What is MentorMob?

It’s that word ‘curating’ that is popping up again! I found MentorMob, a curating tool,  by chance when surfing the Net and I really like this free tool. This is a great tool which allows one to put together articles, videos and blogs related to a subject of interest in a play list. The end produce has a gorgeous look in my opinion

Examples of MentorMobs

To show you what I mean
1) Take a look at this one on Blended Learning by Anna Conway
It is a mix of items - videos and articles.

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

2) Using Technology to maximise instruction by Susan Oxenvad
This one seems to concentrate on blog posts Susan has written.

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!
3) A collection of curating tools by Susan Oxenvad

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

Why should one use MentorMob?

This video gives some reasons for using MentorMob:
What is MentorMob? from mentormob on Vimeo.

How to create a MentorMob

Here are my instructions on how to create a MentorMob playlist from Slideshare

This is my created MentorMob playlist - Great tools for teachers by Fiona Beal. I have used only articles and no videos or uploads this time around!

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob!

Webinar recording
Still to be added

Classroom uses

         *It is great to use for a flipped classroom instruction post.
         *Students can collect articles for the same project in a team and then present to the
          class with a verbal explanation
         *It could allow absent students to catch up with work.
         *Provides further resources on a topic.
         *For language learning one could include reading, writing, listening and speaking resources.
         *You can use a playlist for assessment as well, as there is something called a ‘Popquizz
           that can be added where one can assess if students understood the material.
         *Professional development resources – this is a great way to create teacher training
 material instead of the bulky paper booklets/handouts.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

30 days of webtools: #23 Use Mybrainshark to create online Powerpoints with voice plus more...

Mybrainshark is a place where you can easily create videos from your PowerPoint slides...but not only from PowerPoint slides! You can also add your voice to documents, a series of photos, and even voice over to a video or else the video with its own sounds. It is a fantastic free programme! So open Mybrainshark on

My first attempt: How to make a Mybrainshark

My first attempt at a Mybrainshark was just to upload a PowerPoint on how to make a Mybrainshark and add voice to it. I just loved how easy it was and how you could read your speaker notes from the PowerPoint on screen as you narrated. 

My second attempt: How to make a blog

In my second attempt I became more ambitious:

a) I added a PowerPoint with voice on how to make a blog (in case you have come to the conclusion that you need your own blog to embed tools as you make them!)

b) After add the PowerPoint I also added a movie with its own voice which was exciting - because that meant I had added two different media.

c) Thirdly I added an attachment which was the PowerPoint I used for the webinar last night. By the way, if you hover your mouse at the top of this page you'll see the attachment - this evening's presentation!  Anyone can download the attachment by just clicking on it. How is that!!! 

Last night's webinar recording

Last night's webinar was a short 15-20 minute presentation on how to make a Mybrainshark. The recording can be located at:

Classroom uses

*Photo journal of an outing with narration
*Students can present a good project with a great mix of media
*Great for a flipped classroom experience – giving instructions via a blog with voice
*If a teacher can’t be in a class that day she can send instructions this way. 

*My brainshark is useful for listening skills lessons where just the podcast section can be 
*The fact that you can edit everything at any time means it
 also allows reflection as learners get a chance to produce, present, edit, re-present, re-appraise during a further presentation.

*Students could make a short film as part of a project and add a commentary.  They could, for example, detail information about how the film was made, where it was filmed and why they directed it in a certain way.   The original film needs to have no or minimal sound as voiceover can be added.  Background music can be added 

There must be a whole lot more uses that I haven't yet thought of.
Further reading

Monday, 27 August 2012

This week's SchoolNet webinar programme

Please consider joining Schoolnet's webinar programme this week! These webinars are short 30 minute demonstrations and you can leave any time!

a) Fiona Beal will do the first one on Tuesday which is on creating a Mybrainshark. This is such an exciting tool for adding voice to a PowerPoint, document or video online.

b) In the second webinar on Thursday we are pleased to announce that Lisa Gair from The Rock Academy will tell us how she uses a lovely vocabulary tool called Flashcard Stash at School. Fiona Beal will be presenting on an amazing free tool called Mentormob where you can create a playlist on a topic consisting of videos, articles or websites. 

Mybrainshark webinar details
Meeting Name:  Learn to use Mybrainshark
Summary: This is an exciting tool for adding voice to a PowerPoint,
document or video online - presented by Fiona Beal
When:  Tuesday 08/28/2012 6:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Length: 15-20 mins
Time Zone:  (GMT+02:00) Harare, Pretoria
To join the meeting: 

Flashcard Stash & Mentormob details
Meeting Name: Two webtools - Flashcard Stash and Mentor Mob
Summary: Lisa Gair will show how she uses a lovely vocabulary tool called Flashcard Stash at school. Fiona Beal will be presenting on an amazing free tool called Mentormob where you can create a playlist for your class consisting of videos,
articles, or websites.
Length: 30 mins in total
When: Thursday 08/30/2012 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM
To join the meeting:

Test your system
All you really need to do for an Adobe webinar is test your connection before the time if you have never tuned in before, as you might need to add an add-in:
Then on the evening just click on the link, log in as a guest and write your name. Think about joining us!

30 Days of webtools: #22 Use Edmodo or Obami as free interactive classroom management tools

What are Edmodo and Obami? 

Both Edmodo and Obami are free classroom management tools that help you as a teacher make your classroom into a community. You would use either one or the other. They provide teachers and students with a secure place to post messages, discuss classroom topics, assign and grade classwork, connect and collaborate, share content and educational applications, and access homework, grades, class discussions and notifications.

Classroom uses of Edmodu and Obami

*Both have a user-friendly interface which is easy and simple for all to use
*There are easy-to-use wizards for creating calendars, pages and managing documents
*Teachers can set up and manage small groups for students projects
*Students can post notes, files, links, and discuss.
*Teachers  can post spelling, maths, research and other homework on Edmodo so that  parents can access it
*Students can help each other with homework tasks through using Edmodo
*Reading groups could use Edmodo or Obami to role play characters in the book they are reading.
*Students can ask questions they may feel silly about voicing in the classroom.
*Students can contact the teacher and send messages about homework they might forget to ask during the day.
*Edmodo is useful for project-based learning (see Further Reading post below). This would also be the case for Obami.
*You could post a document, students could download it, complete it and send it back to you, then you could grade it right online. Students could get instant feedback on graded materials.

SchoolNet webinar on Edmodo and Obami

This is the recording for the the webinar that took place on Tuesday August 14th at 6pm. Lisa Gair from The Rock Academy spoke about how she uses Edmodo in her classroom, and Siobhan Louw from Somerset House spoke on how she uses Obami in her classroom. NO: There might be  slight gap in Siobhan’s recording as my internet dropped and I had to log in again. Apologies for that.  Here is the link:

Slideshare on Edmodo

Lisa Gair has kindly allowed me to share the PowerPoint she used with you.

Further reading

A wonderful Adobe Youth Voices media opportunity for South African teachers!


What is the Adobe Youth Voices project? 

Adobe Youth Voices (AYV) engages talented educators of middle- and high-school-age youth in a year-long professional development and support program. Educators enhance their teaching strategies, gain new skills, and collaborate with like-minded educators and youth media experts to enable young people to express themselves using digital tools and to create media with a personally meaningful purpose. Educators from participating sites join a global network and exhibit and share youth-created media projects, including videos, documentaries, photojournalism, animations, websites, and multimedia. iEARN joined the Adobe Youth Voices program as a founding partner in 2006, and now manages and supports the program in over 16 countries around the world. SchoolNet South Africa coordinates this programme and has received sponsorships for twelve teachers to participate in the 2012- 2013 year. SchoolNet has written two posts about Adobe Youth Voices participants visiting different countries in 2011:

1) What about getting involved in SchoolNet’s Adobe Youth Voices programme 

Hlengiwe Mfeka visits California with her movie project on Street Children

2) SchoolNet’sAdobe Youth Voices programme sends a team to California

The SchoolNet team visit Taiwan with Warren Sparrow's 'Super Veggie-Man' movie project
View more of these media projects on Schoolnet's YouTube Channel

Eligibility Criteria:

• Serve low-income, disadvantaged middle and high school youth (ages 13–18)
• Access to ICTs or an ability to access media production equipment and resources
• Commitment of site administrator and/or information technology department to expedite the installation of donated software on site computers as soon as it is made available 


Up to 30 Adobe software licenses for installation at the site Recognition and opportunities to exhibit the site’s AYV youth projects to regional and global audiences

Educator Selection Criteria:

Experience in facilitating or an interest in learning new strategies for project-based learning Strong belief in student-centered community and social change projects Passionate about sharing youth perspectives and voices Committed to engaging youth in rigorous investigation of topics of their own choosing that are relevant and meaningful to their lives Motivated and available to participate in AYV,without any insurmountable barriers to success

Educator Responsibilities:

Participate in an 8-week online course Develop an AYV program plan for the year, which will be drafted collaboratively during the training Launch their program plan and guide at least 25 youth over the course of the year in the creation of youth media using the digital tools provided. The youth media needs to be planned and designed to ensure youth voice is being heard. Youth should be guided to choose issues that could effect positive change in the immediate community and design a project that highlights the social issue and perhaps provide solutions as well.Complete periodic reports describing progress, sharing best practices, and evaluating the benefit of AYV for youth Participate in the AYV online community, sharing stories and program progress Work with Ms Omashani Naidoo (SchoolNet) to launch exhibition events during the program year Contribute youth media work (accompanied by required model releases and licensing agreement paperwork) to the AYV collection by end May, 2013 to be exhibited locally, online, and globally

What to do now:

If you are interested in this programme, please write to or contact our office 011 4035777 for more information or to receive an application form. Please note that teachers’ can participate in either of two sessions.
Adobe Youth Voices Online Course Session One:September 24 - Nov 19, 2012
Adobe Youth Voices Online Course Session Two: February 18 - April 15, 2013

Please note that all student media work will need to be submitted by end of May 2013 to be considered for the International Youth Festival.

Friday, 24 August 2012

30 days of webtools: #21 Get organised using a Livebinder

What is a Livebinder?

There is a lovely, free online site you may have heard of called LiveBinders ( It is a free online service for teachers that lets them gather, organize and share information. It is like an online 3-ring binder that you can put anything (that is online) into – webpages, PDF, documents, images, or videos. Everything is organized by tab and you can even have subtabs within those tabs. I really wanted to create a Livebinder myself this week, but time ran out. However when I have completed one I’ll let you know. Please let me know if you have created one!

This is what a Livebinder looks like before you open it (Ipads in Schools)

This is what a Livebinder looks like after it has been opened (An Educators Guide To Twitter)

A collection of Livebinders to look at

Livebinders has an amazing selection of Livebinders for you to  explore, all neatly categorised.  Take a look here: p://

How to create a free Livebinder

Step 1: Sign up on their online form

Step 2: You will be taken to your new unnamed binder

Click on Start a new binder.

Step 3: Fill in all the required details

Since I haven't gone any further than this yet, please take alook at this PDF giving a step-by-step tutorial to help you create your first Livebinder.

Watch a video tutorial

This tutorial demonstrates the web site LiveBinders. In the tutorial, you will learn how to set up a LiveBinder account, install the LiveBinderIt tool if you wish to, and create a LiveBinder.
Livebinder tutorial

Classroom use of Livebinders

I think a Livebinder can be a really useful classroom tool. Here are some ideas with examples.

*Use Livebinders for e-portfolios (Jackie Gerstein)
*Use it for student assignments. (Brandon's puzzle cube)
*Use it for advance preparations for lessons. (Veterans' Day resources)
*Share resources on a topic with other teachers  (Social Media and Web 2.0 Web Sites)
*Collect information on a particular web tool (Wordle)
*Categorise your useful Twitter resources in one place (Professional reading)
*Use it as a subject guide for your students and parents. (Mrs Knight's English class) (Poetry pathfinders) (Grade 4 Social Studies) (Elementary Homeroom)
*Just take a look at all the Livebinders this enthusiastic teacher has created! (2sparkely)
*Livebinders has a whole channel of resources on YouTube (

The following two posts gives 20+ superb ways that teachers can use Livebinders in the classroom

Read what Livebinders have to say about how teachers can use Livebinders in the classroom:
Livebinders for teachers

Further reading


Saturday, 18 August 2012

30 days of webtools: #20 Use Screencast-o-matic to make superb screencasts

Screencasting is an amazing programme to use if you want to quickly show someone how to do something on the computer. It easily creates a video of what you are doing and saying. These are called screencasts. If you want to create good screencasts without the hassle of downloading and installing any application on your computer then Screencast-O-Matic is the best available tool for the purpose.

Other screencasting applications

I started off using Jing, until I discovered ScreenR. I have written a blogpost on the Schoolnet blog about ScreenR These two programmes allow up to 5 minutes of recording. THEN I discovered Screencastomatic that allows 15 minutes and it is so easy to use. So it is my firm favourite right now.

What exactly is Screencast-o-matic?

Screencast-O-Matic is an online screen recorder that enables you to record and share your screencast with others. You don’t need to install anything as it all happens online. It is cross-browser as well. All you need to make sure about it having Java installed which usually happens automatically these days. You can make sure that you have recommended version of Java installed for your operating system from the Java verification page before you start.

How to record with Screencastomatic in three easy steps

1. Open Screencast-o-matic and start recording


You don’t even need to sign in, but you might get more benefits by signing in. Everything is free. Press ‘Start recording’.

2. Position your recording box

You’ll see that a box outline of dotted lines comes up. This is the control panel of your screencast where you can specify the size of your recording and the microphone volume before you start recording. You can also turn on your webcam to record yourself talking if you wish!   Position this box to the size you want to use.


Once you are happy click the red recording button found on the left bottom corner to get started with your recording. You can press pause when you need to stop and think, and then resume again. Fantastic, right? (By the way you can navigate to another site and you’ll see the box appears there in case that is the site you want to record).

3. Click done and export your video

When you are finished, click the done button and export the video. You can now upload the video to YouTube if you want to. (This might work better if you are logged in – it has always worked for me. You can also embed it in a blog or wiki, and you can just publish it to Screencast-o-matic to use whenever you wish. From this step on you’ll see all sorts of great options.

A video tutorial from YouTube

I found this tutorial on YouTube which seems to explain ow to use Screencast-o-matic very well.  I think she probably used Screencast-o-matic to make the video.

Uses in the classroom

1.    You can make quick videos about anything really. The visual cursor highlights make it easier for your students to follow the video.
2.   You can simply upload the file on YouTube and share the link with your students. This is great if someone is ill at home and you want them to know what is what!
3.   You can record lessons, provide demonstrations, present information to an online class, tell digital stories, and give feedback on student assignments.
4.   You can also create assignments that require students to produce a screencast. Because of its ease of use, Screencast-o-matic requires little or no training to get started.
5.   You can use captions with Screencast-o-matic (haven’t tried it but want to!)

Perhaps you can add ideas to these uses?

My verdict

A fabulous tool, don’t you agree? Try it!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

This week's exciting SchoolNet webinar programme

Please consider joining our SchoolNet webinar programme this week!  These are short (30 minutes) webinars and you can leave any time!  I will do the first one which is on creating a In the second one I am please to announce that we have two guest speakers. Lisa Gair from The Rock Academy will tell us how she uses Edmodo at school, and Siobhan Lowe from Somerset House will tell us how she uses Obami at school. webinar details
Meeting Name:  Get curating with
Summary: This is a demonstration on how to get started with the amazing curation programme called presented by Fiona Beal
When:  Wednesday 08/15/2012 6:00 PM - 6:30 PM (probably only about 15-20 mins)
Time Zone:  (GMT+02:00) Harare, Pretoria

Edmodo and Obami Webinar details
Meeting Name:  Learn about Edmodo and Obami
Summary: We are thrilled to have a guest webinar featuring Lisa Gair speaking on how she uses Edmodo, and Siobhan Louwe speaking on how she uses Obami. Both these free applications are amazing Learning Management Systems designed to motivate your learners and hugely enhance your classroom experience with all their benefits. Join us. 
When: Thursday 08/16/2012 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM
To join the meeting:

Test your system
All you really need to do for an Adobe webinar is test your connection before the time if you have never tuned in before, as you might need to add an add-in:
Then on the evening just click on the link, log in as a guest and write your name.

Think about joining us!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Schoolnet experiences a Mandela Day well spent - at the Sunshine Association in Johannesburg

Submitted by the Joburg staff of Schoolnet
With Mandela Day coming up the SchoolNet Johannesburg branch felt we wanted to make our 67 minute contribution to society along with the rest of South Africa.  After searching for charities that are around and near the SchoolNet offices in Braamfontein we finally decided that we would spend our 67 minutes of Mandela Day 18 July at Sunshine Association, located in the leafy suburb of Craighall, Johannesburg. This was a decision we’ll never regret making, and what a humbling experience it turned out to be! 


The history of Sunshine Association

The Sunshine Association was established in 1976, when a group of concerned mothers, headed by Sylvia Langenhoven, formed a small playgroup for their young children with disabilities. The aim of the group was to provide the children with early intervention and stimulation and to support the parents. 

Today, the Sunshine Association has 3 centres namely Craighall, Soweto/Eldorado Park and Elsburg(Germiston);  and it is committed to aiding the development of children with intellectual, development or physical disabilities and delays, working in partnership with families, communities and professionals to offer these children, their families and communities the vital services and support they require. The training programme based on normal development for the age group 0 – 7 years and can be used to identify developmental delays in children. 

The Craighall centre has a daily care programme for 70 disabled kids and an extra 7 able bodied kids which runs from 8.00AM until 1.00PM with an aftercare programme available.

Our Experience at Sunshine Association

By 8.30AM on the morning of the 18 of July our Schoolnet staff gathered at Sunshine Association and we were greeted by Shannon – the lady who runs the centre. When asked what SchoolNet should bring on the day to give the kids, Shannon’s response was we did not have to take anything just our time and assistance was enough and by the end of the morning and spending time with the kids we all understood why, as the centre caters for physically and intellectually disabled kids who just require love and a very dedicated staff that needs help. The centre is short staffed. 


Schoolnet Staff at Sunshine Association

We were placed into three groups and each group managed to participate in the various tasks.

1. Feeding the kids

The day at Sunshine starts when the kids are dropped off by the parents, guardians or oorphanages. There are also kids who come from Alexandra and it is Shannon’s wish that in the near future there will be centres in such areas so that the kids do not have to travel so far everyday. 

Feeding is the first activity and this is done around 9am. It was a wonderful and very humbling experience as we helped the caregivers feed the kids. The kids were fed with oatmeal porridge and each child has a desk with his or her name clearly marked on the table.

image image
Sonto explained how Banzi the seven year old boy who had a growth disorder and is very small for his age, would feed at a special time as he did not feed first thing in the morning as the other kids. Banzi sleeps most of the day and the caregivers now understand his requirements.

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2. Playing with the kids

Playing with the kids is done after the kids have eaten and the toys and activities depend on each child’s capability.Playtime includes giving them seeds and small objects to encourage the kids to exercise their muscles as well as to open their hands espeically for those whose hands are always closed. In order to encourage them to walk and strengthen their legs we assisted them play on indoor slides and big climbing blocks.

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3. Interacting with the kids at break time

We took a break for tea, thanks to Omashani who kindly provided muffins, cake and biscuits for everyone.As we were gathered together we just marvelled at the incredible tasks the staff at the Centre are performing. Sonto has been there for 19 years, and she has dedicated her life assisting these kids. Shannon has been there for more than ten years. Shannon explained how the Centre is short-staffed as the ideal situation is to have two teachers in a class; but due to financial constraints they only have one per class. It is a challenge when the teacher has to leave the class for example to change a nappy for one child (most of the kids are in diapers).


After we had tea we were able to interact with the kids at their break time. This is when the kids all go outside to play, with the more senior kids playing in the open garden area and the younger kids playing in a different space where they can be monitored closely.

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As much as we wanted to spend more time with these kids and assist the remarkable staff with the wonderful job at the centre we had to call it a day at 12PM as we had work to do back in the office. 

Thanks to Megan, Elias and Omashani who provided transport on the day.
As we left each person could not help but think how fortunate we are, especially those with their own kids. This is only the beginning for SchoolNet. SchoolNet looks forward to working and getting involved in future activities at Sunshine Association. It was a day well spent!