Monday, 29 April 2013

You don’t want to miss our SchoolNet conference early bird registration fee – three international speakers

SchoolNet is very excited about their upcoming Conference in Bloemfontein 2-4 July 2013. We invite you to register and also submit a proposal for a presentation  on our SchoolNet website Conference page Our early bird reduced registration fee ends at the end of April (tomorrow at midnight) so there’s a need to hurry and register! (Thank you very much to those who have already registered and submitted a presentation proposal). 

We are delighted to introduce to you our three invited international speakers:

Baldev Singh
imageBaldev Singh is from Bristol in the UK. He is the Director for Imagine Education and he will be speaking about trends in technology and their impact in the classroom, connecting classrooms and also 21st Century Learning Design through a Technology Lens. (  Baldev along with Adrian Blight has started a Hot topic on the Partners in Learning Network on Building Teacher Capacity if you would like to contribute to the conversation.The Imagine Education ‘Connected Learning’ blog can be viewed at

Naomi Harm
imageNaomi Harm is from Minnesota, USA. She is a well-known education consultant who will be speaking about Global Classroom Collaboration, Learning with Tablets and Designing blended learning for the classroom. Her blog can be viewed at Naomi is very active in social networking and has presented a number of very interesting webinars for Simple K (see the on-demand section). She also runs the new weekly online Intel Teachers Engage radio talk show titled Digital Buzz Radio Talk Show.  Naomi says about this talk show "I will be broadcasting live and offering prerecorded shows from our recording studio out of Brownsville, MN. A very special thank you to our show’s sponsor of Intel Teachers Engage, an online community for educators dedicated to transforming the K-12 classroom teaching and learning environment!  You can find Intel Teachers Engage online at" 

Frederick Kastner
imageFrédéric Kastner is from from London, UK. He is the programme manager at The Virtual School and will be speaking on how teachers can make their own educational videos;  he'll also give a global view of what is happening in the world of digital subject content. The Virtual School aims to provide access to comprehensive world-class education, free of charge, around the world. The Virtual School videos can be accessed on YouTube. Their blog can be viewed at  

The Opening Address
This will be given by the Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Enver Surty who is very well-known to South African educators.

Local educators can also submit a presentation on one of the following Themes
  • Connecting classrooms - learning activities that use technology to connect classrooms beyond the school's boundaries.
  • Learning with tablets - learning activities that are unique to the use of tablets in and beyond the classroom.
  • Learning with mobile phones - learning activities that are unique to the use of mobile phones in and beyond the classroom.
  • Innovative teaching - any teaching with technology that you feel is innovative, especially if you have entered the Microsoft Innovative Education Forum now and in the past, but not reserved for that group of teachers.
  • ICT leadership in the school - ways in which you have shown successful leadership of ICT integration activities in your school generally.
  • Curriculum delivery through digital content - how the inclusion of digital content in the curriculum has enhanced your teaching and student learning.
  • Technologies for the Foundation Phase - ways in which technology is used successfully in the Foundation Phase.
Partners in Learning Forum recognising Innovative teachers in South Africa
 The finals of this fantastic competition recognising Microsoft Expert Educators in South Africa will be held at the Conference - you will get to view them presenting winning learning activities. Why not considering entering the Forum? More information is available here

Register today and get our early bird registration fee - closes tomorrow

As you can see this has the potential of an amazing conference! So please get your early bird registration completed before the end of April (reminder - Tuesday midnight!). The URL again:

Friday, 26 April 2013

30 days of writing #5: What is Creative Commons Licensing?


How much do you know about the ins and outs of posting something you have created on the Internet? Can anyone use it and share it? Can you use and share anything someone else has posted?

Introducing Copyright on the web
The African Storybook team felt that it was important to learn about free licensing on the web right at the beginning of this course. Licensing tells others what they can and can't do with anything you put on the web. Basically, when you put something on the web it is copyright and officially no-one should use it. But if you want people to use your work in any way it you need to say something to give permission.  This applies to the stories we'll be donating to the African Storybook Project. We need to put a specific free license on them (very simple to do) to give other teachers and Grades 1-3 children in Africa permission to create a new story from them, translate them, make them easier or more difficult etc. But the original story will still be there on the web in its entirety. You will be the only one who can actually sell your story if you should want to.

Creative Commons Licensing
The licensing we are talking about is called Creative Commons licensing.  This video gives a great introduction to licensing on the web and shows six Creative Commons licenses one could choose from.

These are the six licenses. .


This is how they look in their official form – the license choice can just be copied and pasted on to something one creates and it’s done. It is as simple as that. 


An example - Using images on the web
Let’s take the example of using images on the web. Can we simply just find a picture in Google and use it as if it was our own on the web?

Generally, permission to use images ranges from pictures that are in the public domain (anyone can use them) to images that are copyright and require permission to use. Creative Commons licenses grant permission in advance. All Creative Commons licenses require 'attribution' (meaning you have to credit the person who created the item). Most images copyright online are covered by Creative Commons licensing. This means that some sites allow you to use their images but you need to give attribution to them.

How do you find out which creative works are covered by this licensing?

  • This website shows you how to use Creative Commons to find free images, audio and video for your website etc:
  • Take a look at the video below – it explains really well how to go about searching for something with a Creative Commons license. This video explains the website mentioned above -

How do you add a license to your own work?
If you open you will see a link to start the process of putting one of the licenses on to your work. As the website says, "There is no registration to use the Creative Commons licenses. Licensing a work is as simple as selecting which of the six licenses best meets your goals, and then marking your work in some way so that others know that you have chosen to release the work under the terms of that license. Our license-choosing tool can help you select the right license."

What is the public domain?
Sometimes people wish for a piece of their own work to be freely available to everyone to use with no strings attached, and put the work in the public domain. This isn't very hard to do — the copyright holder merely has to make a statement that they release all rights to the work. Once this irrevocable act is complete they no longer have any power over how the work is used since it is then owned by the public as a whole.

When it comes to the public domain, there is no catch. If a book, song, movie, or artwork is in the public domain, then it is not protected by intellectual property laws (copyright, trademark, or patent laws)—which means it’s free for you to use without permission. · This would include works and inventions whose copyright has expired due to age or lack of renewal.

Saide’s guide to using copyright
Saide (South African Institute of Distance Education) who is adminstering this project has a very good guide to licensing which they call ‘The OER Africa Copyright and licensing toolkit’. It can be found here":
Explore royalty free resources
Fortunately for us there are loads of resources that are freely available to us. Here are just a few.

  • Larry Ferlazzo - The Best Places To Get Royalty-Free Music & Sound Effects from Larry has 160,000 copyright-free images available.Larry Ferlazzo Best online sources for imagesFree clipart Phil Martin’s collection
  • Wikimedia Commons (4 million images in the public domain)
  • Free Images (6000 stock photos, and they require you to credit them as the source)
  • World Images (80,000 photos from the California State University IMAGE project, under a non-commercial  CC license)
  • ELT Pics (Images taken by teachers for teachers, collected via Twitter and stored on Flickr, under a non-commercial CC license)
  • PhotoPin (a search engine that finds Creative Commons images)
  • Wylio- Search engine for CC images for bloggers
  • PhotoeXpress- lengthy registration process but you get 10 free quality stock images a day with a search engine and you don't have to attribute.
  • Great songs, music that is Creative Commons! Just give attribution
  • FreeSound- Free sound files and clips for use!
  • Soundzabound- royalty free music library

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Webinar recording: It's time to write our stories (25/04/2013)

The webinar summary
This webinar looks at the task of writing a story for the African Storybook Project. We will look at the different parts of story writing such as audience (characteristics of a Grade 3 child), finding inspiration, getting started, story structure, elements of a story, rubric for the African Storybook story contributions, and more...

Webinar recording
It will be useful to listen to the webinar to get the full gist of what is being said about licensing. Thank you to those who attended. I am adding the 6pm webinar:

The presentation used for the webinar
SlideShare is a useful free tool for sharing PowerPoints, Keynotes or PDFs on the web. I use it constantly. I have put my presentation into Slideshare

So let’s get writing – it might not be as difficult as you think. Maybe just give it a go and see where your story takes you. If you don’t like it you can write another one!

Monday, 22 April 2013

30 days of writing #4: Have you spoken to your students about Online Safety/Digital Citizenship?

Logo Design by
Logo Design by

When practising online digital writing or digital storytelling it is useful to consider issues around online safety (or Digital Citizenship as it is called) especially when working with students. 

Digital Writing: the art and practice of preparing documents primarily by computer and often for online delivery.
Digital Storytelling
Digital Storytelling refers to using digital tools for writing stories

A consideration of online safety is always good place to start now that the world is becoming increasingly digital, and connectedness with others via social media grows.  The Internet is an incredible resource – one of the greatest inventions of mankind in my opinion -  but the main thing for anyone to realise is that once one starts working online they develop a digital footprint and an online reputation. Best is to keep it good right from the start.

So it is a good idea to now and again chat to your students about the significance of a ‘digital footprint’, including what things are appropriate to post online, how to protect your identity and ways to interact with others in an online space. 

Useful informative blog posts about online safety
1) Jacqui Murray has a whole list of useful sites for teaching Digital Citizenship to students of all ages.

2) For older students this post from Lisa Nielson has a useful infographic to look at 4 things you need to know to help your students manage their online reputation

This is really just an information post, but I would love it if you added any comments about this subject in the comment box below. 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

30 Days of Writing #3: A prompt a day from

If you have access to 1:1 computers, or if your students have computers and Internet access at home, you could introduce them to daily writing exercise using a website called Plinky (


How does Plinky work?
This is what the website says:
“Every day we provide a new prompt (like a question, or a challenge), and everyone gets a chance to answer. It's simple to add photos, maps, playlists and more. You can easily share your Plinky answers on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Tumblr, and most major blogging services. We know you've got something interesting to say. Plinky is here to help you say it in a fun and compelling way. Sign up below to get started!”


What happens when you sign up?
There is a fairly lengthy form to fill in


Whew! At last. This is quite a mission and it makes me wonder about involving younger primary school students. The daily prompt is shown as in my first illustration above, but there are a number of prompts to choose from if you don’t like the one displayed.


My conclusion
This could be a site for an older student. If one could get past the sign up process the site could be quite useful just for spontaneous writing.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Webinar recording: how do I add a free license to my digital writing? (17/04/2013)

The webinar summary:
This webinar supports our current course on digital storytelling. What is the deal when we post information online? Can anybody use it? This webinar looks at free licensing supplied by Creative Commons and shows how to apply it. It will also show the free licensing we will use for our digital stories.

Webinar recording
It will be useful to listen to the webinar to get the full gist of what is being said about licensing. Thank you to those who attended. I am adding the 6pm webinar:

The presentation used for the webinar
SlideShare is a useful free tool for sharing PowerPoints, Keynotes or PDFs on the web. I use it constantly. I have put my presentation into Slideshare, and please notice that I have pasted the same license that we will use on to the title page! That’s how easy it is to license something!

What if this is all too complicated for me?
That's how I used to think! But don't worry - all you need to get from the whole licensing issue is that we will send you a little tiny, block to paste on your story or your learners' stories (like I have done on the presentation in the webinar recording above). 

Friday, 12 April 2013

The African Storybook Project downloadable brochure

Below is a brochure about the African Storybook project that has been put out by Saide (South African Institute of Distance Education) in Johannesburg . Saide is administering this great project which aims to facilitate availability, access to, and use of sufficient good stories for early reading practice for African children ages 2 to 9. It will do this by setting up an interactive website with stories for early reading and by encouraging educators and literacy development organisations working in early literacy of young children in African countries:

  • to access openly licensed digital reading resources of various levels and types on the site
  • to translate and/or adapt the stories into a familiar language and context for the children they work with
  • to create their own stories and upload them in the templates provided,
  • to contribute already published stories and make them available under an open licence,  and
  • to use them in a variety of ways for literacy development.

Free online short course 'Digital storytelling and the African Storybook Project'
Next week (15th April) we start with a free online four week course for interested teachers around the country entitled 'Digital storytelling and the African Storybook Project'. If you would like to know more about the course and possibly sign up  please visit out SchoolNet blog on this URL:

Downloadable brochure
Here is the brochure put out by Saide on the project. This can be downloaded if desired. To download click on the image and when the e-book appears go to the bottom right and choose the icon which has an arrow pointing down. Follow the prompts. 
The African Storybook Project

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Report back on the East London TeachMeet 12th March


Submitted by Fiona Beal
Every time I attend a TeachMeet I come away feeling inspired and encouraged after experiencing the fantastic atmosphere and enthusiastic presentations delivered by teachers. I love to see the types of innovation that teachers are employing in their classrooms. On Tuesday 12th March 2013 I attended the second TeachMeet in East London. Last time it was held at Stirling Primary (organised by Claire Dean) and this time it was held at Clarendon Primary (organised by Sharon Cox). You can read the report on the first TeachMeet in East London here


But, let me start at the beginning. I left for East London in the wee hours of the morning and arrived at 8am all set to spend the morning at Stirling Primary School. I had arranged to trail their new technology integration specialist, Mary Lou Berndt as she went about her newly-created position. This is definitely the type of job that Education Departments need to introduce at all public schools to get teachers on board with technology. At Stirling the teachers in a grade are free at the same time and Mary Lou schedules a session with them. These are lively and constructive times with the aim of improving the skills of each individual teacher while also pointing the way forward for introducing technology into the daily classroom routine. I thoroughly enjoyed every session and really admire the progressive stance taken by Stirling Primary.

image image

In the afternoon after school we made our way to Clarendon Primary for the TeachMeet which was to be held from 3pm – 5pm. The two organisers, Sharon and Claire opened the TeachMeet and Pam King, principal of Clarendon Primary, welcomed everyone.

Who were the presenters?

What was shared at the TeachMeet?

1) Claire Dean: Tweetchat
Claire made a start by showing everyone how to use Tweetchat ( to follow the Twitter hashtag #ELTeachmeet and contribute more easily. A Twitter hashtag at a TeachMeet allows people to give feedback as the event progresses and enables others to follow virually.     Tweetchat is a marvelous way to follow twitter hashtags. All it takes is a set date, a topic, and a hashtag. Then you carry on a conversation at the set time with anyone using that hashtag. At the end of this post I will add the tweet archive of the afternoon.


2) Lorraine Richter – Aurasma app for the iPad
Aurasma is an iPad app that allows you to connect digital content with real-world objects. This is amazing! When the Aurasma app “sees” a picture you have selected and created an ‘aura’ with,  it triggers a video, an animation, a photo, a sound file or whatever you have connected to it.  This would be amazing to use on a classroom board display to make certain items come alive with more details; or you could use it on a worksheet to lead to further information. 



Lorraine used a video by Taylor Swift to demonstrate how this works.

3) Leana Bassett – Jib Jab
Leana got us laughing hysterically with the video she showed featuring her principal, Mr Johnson and other members of the school management, using Jib Jab. In Jib Jab you can choose one of their music videos and add a photo of a character.


STEP ONE: Open a member – it’s cheaper! Or at least persuade someone else to pay your membership fee…
STEP TWO: Sign up – It’s easy as pie!
STEP THREE: Now sign in
STEP FOUR: Choose your format, occasion, video… whatever floats your boat!


STEP FIVE: Choose your 'victims' wisely!
STEP SIX: To add more faces – just upload
STEP SEVEN: Edit your victims! (Removing wrinkles and double chins are at the discretion of the editor ;)
STEP EIGHT: Preview your masterpiece
STEP NINE: Now pay and download
STEP TEN: Hit the ‘forward’ button and enjoy!

4) Fiona Beal – Exciting Times ahead with Microsoft and SchoolNet
Fiona from SchoolNet showed how the Partners in Learning Network works and encouraged teachers to join the network to find really rich resources of all kinds. The current Partners in Learning Forum competition is open and teachers are encouraged to upload an activity to the PILNetwork to stand a chance of being selected as one of the 20 finalists for South Africa. 



The second part of her talk centred around the offerings of SchoolNet which you can be regularly updated on by becoming a member (free membership). The SchoolNet Conference is taking place in July in Bloemfontein and teachers were encouraged to register on the conference page of the SchoolNet website.


5) Fiona Beal – African Storybook Project
This is a wonderful Literacy project that is being funded by Britain and piloted in three African countries starting this year. The aim is to build up a wonderful website of stories for the Grade 1-3 children of Africa. The project is looking for stories and offers teachers a free digital storytelling and writing course starting on the 15th April.


6) Liesel Kuger – use Google Forms for assessment
Google forms are a wonderful way of creating quizzes, surveys, polls and assessments that can make a teacher’s life much easier. The form does the work. Liesel showed how using Flubaroo with these forms for more advanced grading.  You go to Tools - Script Gallery – search for and install Flubarroo. It creates a Grades tab in your spreadsheet.


7) Jenna Vorster – Khan Academy
Jenna spoke about using the acclaimed free Khan Academy to supplement Maths lessons in the classroom. This can be used as a website or as an app on the Ipad. The Khan Academy can be accessed on YouTube. Jenna demonstrated a fractions video and how useful it can be in the classroom. Jenna finds the students learn better with visuals like this. You can download the videos to you computer if necessary.


8) Sharon Cox – Class Tools
Sharon spoke about the marvelous site known as Class Tools ( It allows you to create free games, quizzes, activities and diagrams in seconds!  Sharon gave examples of the plagiarism checker and the mindmap and brainstorm tools on Class Tools.


9) Sharon Cox – Todays Meet
TodaysMeet (  is a backchannel tool that helps you and your learners to connect with others in realtime. It is almost like having a private twitter account for an activity you are doing. Students can add comments and give feedback during the lesson. You can set a time limit for the information to be available. This site is great for brainstorming. Sharon demonstrated how it all works during her presentation.


10) Rod Harris shared his Interactive Mark Book in Excel
This can save a teacher hours! He showed us how to create it and how it all works. He has aligned his markbook with the current CAPS for Intermediate Phase.


11) Sam Botcher - Audacity
Audacity is a free audio recording and editing programme that can be downloaded free from the Internet. It is very easy to use for making audio podcasts. Sam demonstrated radio adverts for chocolate made in groups using Audacity.


Sam added some sites where she found free sound effects.


11) Sam Botcher – Pixntell for the iPad
Sam showing an IPad app Pixntell for creating narrated picture stories.The free version only allows five photos. She gave lovely examples using five pictures that have added effects and voice overs. These can be uploaded to YouTube if desired.  This app is great for explaining recipes. Sam gave a step by step demonstration on how user-friendly it is. The link Sam gave to an article on how to use five photos in the classroom can be found here.


12) Mary Lou Berndt – Pinterest
Mary Lou demonstrated using Pinterest which is one of the most popular applications available currently. Teachers can use Pinterest to create different boards according to different subjects.


13) Mary Lou Berndt – Flipped Classroom
Mary Lou spoke of the different role that is required by the teacher when using the flipped classroom approach. Teacher changes from a sage on the stage to a guide on the side. Mary Lou used a prezi to demonstrate the flipped classroom. She showed the various applications one can use for the flipped classroom.


Mary Lou’s principal, Mr Johnson, was very impressed with this idea and sent a tweet saying:


14) Shailey Lucas – Talking Friends app on the iPad
Shailey Lucas showing an app called Talking Friends. You can use this app to record lessons. The little creatures that you select will repeat it. This is very cute. Shailley had us giggling as we watched her demonstration of this.

15) Drik Greef – Free degrees
Drik Greef is the Chief Education Specialist of the Eastern Cape for e-Learning. He spoke about free degrees that one can do online overseas. This hasn't reached South Africa yet. These degrees are offered by the best universities in the world. Lifehacker University is a search engine that gives the list of free degrees. 
Drik gave other examples of places to find free degrees.




16) Drik Greef – Codes for Teachers
Drik also spoke on using QR codes on worksheets. This is useful for homework. If the students scan the code on a phone they can immediately get further information relating to the task. In a Grade 1 homework worksheet they could scan and then listen to a song or say the poem for example. Drik gave some great ideas.


Spot prizes

There were a lot of spot prizes from sponsors such as Microsoft and the local PC shop – in fact there were enough for all the presenters and quite a number of people that attended. Sharon and Claire used the Random Name Picker to select the spot prizes winners.

image image image


The Twitter hashtag  #ELTeachMeet, used for the event, was summarised using Storify if you would like to view it.

Final comment

This was a superb afternoon, in fact a superb day. If you live in the East London area you won’t want to miss the next TeachMeet which will be held in September at Stirling Primary.  Watch the TeachMeet-South Africa wiki for details. Thank you for organising this wonderful professional development event, Claire and Sharon.