Monday, 8 December 2014

Please vote for our SchoolNet blog in the SA blog awards…before the 17th December 2014!


The public vote phase of the 2014 SA Blog Awards has now started. Hundreds of South African Bloggers have entered and are displaying the vote badges on their blogs. Blog fans are encouraged to look out for the badge and support the bloggers by voting for them.

Our SchoolNet blog is entered in the BEST EDUCATION BLOG category. If you feel our blog deserves your vote please vote for us! Go to our blog,, and look for the big, red voting badge on the right hand side. Please click on this badge and vote for us!
Many thanks!

Have you ever wondered what happens at a Google Educator Group (GEG) launch in South Africa? Get involved…

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Have you ever wondered what happens at a Google Educator Group (GEG) launch? Well they are all different but I would like to take you through a very exciting launch I attended recently, namely the Cape Town West Coast GEG which was launched at Parklands College in Cape Town.

What is a GEG group?
"Google Educator Groups (GEGs) are communities of educators who learn, share, and inspire each other to meet the needs of their students through technology solutions, both in the classroom and beyond."

Back to the GEG West Coast launch. The GEG leader who took the initiative for the launch was Tiaan Lotter from Parklands College.

The launch itself  was run by three super-enthusiastic GEG leaders in the Table View Area namely Tiaan Lotter, Lindsey Durell and Arthur Preston -  and what an inspiring, fun-filled and exciting event it proved to be - in true Google style!  The 60+ teachers who attended LOVED it.


Highlights of the afternoon
When we arrived at the brightly decorated venue we were welcomed by the GEG leaders and we chose a group to join based on our choice of colour of sunglasses.

The Elkanah House group

Tiaan introduce the GEG and the concept of GEGs plus future plans for the GEG. We then heard three SUPERB presentations. Arthur Preston spoke on ‘Úsing Google Tools in the Classroom’ and he shared his presentation with the group.

Lindsey Durell gave an excellent presentation on ‘Using Google Tools in the High School’.

Lindsay's presentation can be viewed at 

...and Anthony Peters gave a really good presentation on how he uses digital tools and Google tools in his lessons.


Highlights of the afternoon 
Another highlight of the three hour launch was getting into teams to discuss real world solutions to problems and how to tackle them in the classroom across the curriculum using Google Apps. Each team was given a different problem to tackle and plan and then followed the report back. Great ideas emerged from this.

The event closed with the energetic GEG team highlighting some of their proposed events in 2015. All the attendees were requested to fill in a form if they required training in 2015… and of course, there was a group photo! 

Embedded image permalink

So, in a nutshell, what generally happens at a launch?
  • Sharing great ideas
  • Meeting new technology friends
  • New ideas for the classroom
  • Belonging to a group that can learn together and have fun meet-ups
  • A glimpse into some of the exciting changes that are happening in teaching
  • A place to ask ‘those' questions. 
  • Learning how to collaborate with others
Why Should You Join a GEG?
"Learn. Share. Inspire. Empower. These four words represent the essence of GEGs. Educators will build relationships with other educators and gain the necessary skills to use open technology to deliver the best possible education to their students."

Join the GEG South Africa community ( and become part of the excitement in South Africa. See if there is a GEG group in your area and join up (the groups are listed in the GEG South Arica community).


Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Doodle4Google South Africa of my Dreams winner announced Doodle4GoogleSA Awards recently announced the winning Doodle in the Doodle4Google South Africa of my dreams contest. The Doodle was created by Katya Ludick, who won a R100,000 technology award for her school, Hoerskool Noordheuwel at the Doodle4GoogleSA Awards in Johannesburg.

Katya’s Doodle was displayed on the page on 3rd December. Her caption for her Doodle was ‘SA Flag is proudly represented in the Google letters. The reflection symbolises 20 years of freedom. In my South African dream there is no more poaching. We must fight for those that cant speak. Conservation is our future.’

The 20 finalist Doodles can be seen at  Look at this lovely, short video that Google created from the 20 finalists’ videos.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

What is Google+ all about?


Submitted by Fiona Beal
When Google+ came out in 2011 my immediate thought was – I simply don’t have time for another social network!  But as time has progressed I have seen that Google+ is a different kind of social network, one that you can’t really ignore! It has grown in popularity to become the second-largest social media site in the world (according to Mashable) with a monthly use by 235 million users. 

What exactly is Google Plus?
Google+ is a social network that builds off of your Google Account. If you have a Google account you have a Google+ account! All you have to do is activate your profile.  Getting involved with Google+ takes your Google account to another level. You soon find you have a few pluses that you can’t just ignore… such as a great place for storing your photos, a fresh way of communicating with others in posts of more than 140 characters or via Hangouts, and a connection to many different kinds of communities which suit your interests, and more!  A big part Google+ is connecting you to other people who are interested in your passions. Google+ is interest driven.

So in a nutshell:
Google+ is a social networking site that comes as part of your Google account and it is just waiting for you to activate it so that you can discover a whole new, exciting cyber adventure…

How to get started:

google 2Step 1: Activate your Google+ profile

There are two ways that I know of which enable one to do this.  Your profile is what people will look at to decide whether to circle you (a Google term) so make it interesting!
a) After you have signed in to your Google account go to your Google search page you’ll see a +You sign at the top. When you click on this you’ll be taken to a page where you update your Google+ profile.

imageb) After you have signed in to your Google account type in in the URL bar and you’ll be taken to the same upgrade page to activate your profile.
Once your Google+ account is activated you’ll see that the You+ on your search page or email page now has your name!
If you would like a short video tutorial on how to get started with Google+ here is a 7 minute one given by a teacher, Jamie Linton:

Step 2: Start to post in your new profile
In your post you can create a post that consists of text, images links, and videos. You don’t have to keep to 140 characters. You’ll see that you can post to an email address, to public (everyone) or to a circle of friends. That brings us to Circles which is what Step 3 is about.


Step 3: Get started with circles
Google Plus has a central feature of helping you put people into groups based on e.g. location, interests, engagement etc. These groups are called Circles and they are fundemental to Google +. At the side of your Google+ page when you click on the word HOME a drop-down menu appears and if you click on the word PEOPLE you’ll make a start with creating a circle of people. Basically you create circles with your friends and acquaintances – they will never know which circle they are in. This Slideshare gives a step by step breakdown to the way Circles work.

Let's explore Google plus! from Fiona Beal

imageStep 4: Explore Google Plus Communities
Once you have explored circles it will be worthwhile expoloring Communities. Communities are groups of people with a similar interest sharing ideas. You can find communities by clicking on the side bar and choosing the ‘green’ icon’, then you will see recommended communities as well as being able to search for them there too. If you are a teacher in South Africa why not join the Google Educator Group community called GEG South Africa

Step 5: Google Hangouts
Google Plus Hangouts are a great feature available on Google+. As well as ‘chat’, they allow you to group video chat with up to 9 other people, share links, screenshare and utilize all sorts of useful apps. You can use this link to see what hangouts you can enter: If you would like to watccch a 10 minute video on setting up and running a Google hangout here is the link:

Step 6: Store and share your photos on Google+
Google took over Picasa and has incorporated it into Google+. This is a fantastic way of storing your photos online. In fact I have set my phone and camera to automatically upload photos to Google+ when we are in a WIFI region.  Here is a 10 minute video showing you how to work with photos and Google+:

Get a custom URL for your Google+ account
You can set up a custom URL for  your Google+ account so it you can be easily found. IO did this and mine is

A  task: Get started with Google+
1. Activate Google+ byvisiting
2. Create your profile
3. Create circles. Circles are like folders to help you organise your contacts
4. Add people to your circles
5. Share some information and write a post!
6. Comment on other posts.
7. Search for what you are looking for with filters such as hashtags #
8. Enjoy!

Extreme Weather – a Grade 3 project using Microsoft Word, QR Codes and iPads

This is another guest post from Deidre Bothma who is the Digital Learning Coordinator at Elkanah House Junior Schools.  Deidre does very exciting lessons in her Grade R - 3 classes using a wide range of technology applications. Her previous guest post was entitled Grade 3 Afrikaans Quiz using PowerPoint.  In this post Deidre’s classes use Microsoft Word, QR Codes and iPads in a project-based lesson on Extreme Weather. This post also featured on Deidre’s blog Thank you for allowing us to use your post as a guest post Deidre!

“How can we ‘marry’ our IT lab work and our iPad integration?” That was the important question I asked the Grade 3 teachers during our last prep meeting with our main focus being on Project Based Learning. And just look what they came up with:

QR coding Capture

The Grade 3’s prepared and delivered a class oral with ‘Extreme Weather’ as the theme. In Creative Writing, they focused on ‘Question Words’ and brain-stormed 5 questions re: their Extreme Weather event.

Using MS Word, the kids typed and formatted their 5 sentences. In the following lesson, we searched web-pages for answers to our questions and inserted the link to these pages in

We saved our QR codes to our Documents folder and inserted them into our Word Document. We stuck our posters up around the class and the learners could use the iPads to find answers to the Extreme Weather questions.

As this is our first year of our iPad roll-out, I am extremely proud of the teachers for trying a new and exciting project! And the learners absolutely loved the challenge!

QR Mosquito Hunt: A QR Code Poetry Lesson with Grade 7s – a guest post by @MrLotter

This is another guest post from Tiaan Lotter (@MrLotter), a Google Certified Teacher and GEG Leader from South Africa. Tiaan is a very innovative Afrikaans teacher from Parklands College and he frequently presents at conferences around South Africa. Visit his website at In previous guest posts Tiaan shared about his experience at the Google Teacher Academy in London; he also contributed Gone Google? Now go Advanced...; Teaching with Twitter in #Afrikaans and Teaching Poetry with Prezi - Poetry in Motion. Thanks for sharing so freely with us Tiaan and Parklands College.

The Idea
I’ve been blessed teaching Grade 7 Afrikaans to boys for the final quarter of the year. I aim to make all my lessons fun and interactive for the boys. Seeing the success of QR treasure hunts in various posts and especially by a Parklands College colleague, Anthony Peters, I decided to use the approach to teach poetry.

The poem I set out to teach was Muskietejag (Mosquito hunt) by AD Keet, which is about a person irritated by a mosquito. He swears vengeance against the irritance of this mozzy. This is similar to the irritance of boredom I encounter when young children are being taught.

Setting the stage and hunting 
Entering the classroom, I immediately wanted to immerse the learners into the world of this irritated speaker, so I found a YouTube video containing just the sound of a mosquito buzzing around, which I used played in the background. (Find it here:

Next, I prepped a few “mosquitos” and hid them throughout the class. I attached the first level of engagement for the learners to these mosquitos: a QR code containing one line of the poem (there were as many mosquitos in the class as there were lines in the poem - 24) which they had to write down in the space provided and then translate into English.


I involved the learners in their own mosquito hunt by telling each of the four groups to hunt down 6 mosquitos. After they hunted down all the mozzies I turned off the now quite irritating sound - but it served its purpose. Individually or working together they then scanned the QR codes, wrote the sentences down and translated them.

We read through the poem as a class, line by line, every learner explaining their line that they interpreted from the QR code out loud to the class. We did a final read through and conceptualisation before getting stuck into analysing the poem and doing questions and answers.

Click on the images to be taken to the resource
image image image
Slides en Antwoorde - Muskietejag (AD Keet) QR-kodes - Muskietejag (AD Keet) Gedig en Vrae - Muskietejag (AD Keet)

SchoolNet says: Thank you very much Tiaan for this interesting guest post. We really appreciate you sharing your knowledge and innovation via the SchoolNet blog.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Microsoft Maths – get your Grade 10-12 Maths students set up for the holidays on their smart phones…

On 26 November 2014 the Nokia MoMaths name changed to Microsoft Math due to the acquisition of Nokia Devices & Services business by Microsoft. The new name for the service is Microsoft Math.

This is a great site for Grade 10-12 Maths students to use after hours either in groups or individually to revise their Maths content and get help with any queries.  Recently Microsoft Math held a competition with great prizes, and the winners were announced last month. This announcement can be found in the news section of the Nokia Mobile Maths application and also on our blog here

Advantages of the Microsoft Math programmeOne of the great advantages of this program is that learners can set up their own study groups with friends and see how they are doing or compete with each other! The program is also accessible from a PC. 

If you are a Grade 10-12 Maths teacher and your students haven't yet signed up - encourage them to do so this week since the holidays start next week. It is a good time to get the students registered in the hopes that they can revise their Maths before the new year begins.

An Android collection of apps for the classroom shared via TeachThought and Listly

This is a post that I came across on TeachThought last night called 'The Must-Have Educational Apps List For Android' by Terry Heick. There was an option to embed the list on one's own blog so I thought I would give this a try especially as there are so many teachers in South Africa that use Android Apps in the classroom.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

How to create and use a Google group in your High School classroom


Sometimes you want to send an email to a group of students for them to be able to communicate with one another. Google Groups provide a really convenient way to create online groups and email distribution lists.  This is a great way for a High School class or a Higher Education class to communicate.

Depending on the group settings, you can send a message to all members using a single email address, create a question and answer forum or post a message to the group via a web interface.  After this you and the others in your group can post messages to one another, upload files for review and collaborate on a a document etc. All your discussions can be seen by everyone in the group.

How to create a Google group
I have created a Slideshare to take you through the stages of creating a Google group.

Create a Google group for your classroom (video)
This YouTube video by Marc Dubeau takes you through the steps of creating a Google group. and how to set it up to share documents and create a paperless classroom 

Monday, 1 December 2014

SchoolNet Conference planned for July 2015 - Save the date!

SchoolNet is pleased to announce that we will be hosting our 2015 'ICT in the Classroom' conference at St Mary's School in Kloof, Kwazulu-Natal in July 2015. Here is our SAVE THE DATE flier.  More details will follow in early 2015.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Exciting news - Two TeachMeets planned in Port Elizabeth in 2015 – save the dates!

If you have ever attended a TeachMeet you will know how exciting it is to hear everybody's 3-5 minute ideas. Drik Greeff who is from the Department of Education in the Eastern Cape in the eLearning sub-directorate has sent a,essage about two TeachMeets in Port Elizabeth planned for 2015. If yyou live in that area please save these dates.

"Dear Colleagues in the Port Elizabeth and surrounding areas

We have exciting news: There will be two Teachmeet events in Port Elizabeth in 2015! Please write these two events in your diaries.

What is a Teachmeet? A Teachmeet is a forum where teachers get together and share interesting ICT experiences. It can be a website, useful software, Excel applications...any ICT related experience. It is relevant to all teachers, all subjects, all phases, etc.

More details will follow in 2015. Remember to keep these dates for the Port Elizabeth Teachmeets."


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Nokia MoMaths name changed to Microsoft Maths on 26th November…

Have you noticed? Today the name of the current Nokia Mobile Mathematics for Grade 10-12 Maths students changed due to the acquisition of Nokia Devices & Services business by Microsoft. The new name for the service is Microsoft Math

The upgrade to the website consists of simply a new landing (log-in) page, where you will see the new name, Microsoft Math, as well as a new layout including images and an introductory text about the service. Microsoft Math has also uploaded an Overview presentation and a 1-pager leaflet in PDF format which is downloadable from the landing page.


The URL of the service will also change from to - however please note that this may not happen at the same time with the visual change on the website.

Get access to quality learning content 24/7, on any device!
Microsoft Math makes the learning experience personal, engaging and exciting. Students can do math exercises, read theory, learn from examples, and take tests.
Microsoft Math adds a social dimension to education, making it possible to collaborate and compete with other students.

Teachers can use Microsoft Math to motivate, monitor, and track learning and skill levels, giving more specific and individual feedback to students. It’s a great tool for enriching the learning experience, engaging students even after school hours and outside classrooms.