I’m currently at the Mirandamod Conference on “Teachers as Bloggers” – click here for the “Teachers as Bloggers” page with information and also links to communal mindmaps that are being created.

We’ve been discussing blogging all day. One point of many that resonated was how long it can take to write a blog post. So I’m taking a few minutes to see if I can write a quick post about something that has impressed me – and I’m going to go a little off topic. The conversation about blogging has been superb, the collaborative mindmap has been great fun but I’m so impressed as to how well the videoconferencing is working.

In the room at the IOE we’re all sitting around a table and at one end of a room is a projector showing a display of a flashmeeting videoconference. Currently there are 19 people joined to the flashmeeting and they are very much participants not just online but in the room. We’ve 10 in the face to face meeting and 19 online. Having attended so many presentations and conferences where the technology doesn’t work it’s great to have a solution that just works!

Credit to flashmeeting and credit to Leon Cych for doing the filming here. It’s time to get some videoconferencing working in my school.

  • ps – I got this blog written in about 15 minutes, result or rushed?

Each year for the last 4 years I’ve taught surveys and databases to my year 7 class.We used to start off by creating a spreadsheet with columns for name, age, favourite food and send all the students wandering around the classrooms to collect details from their friends.Next we went on to make a survey on paper, create a hypothesis, hand the surveys to friends to fill in, collect and type up results into a spreadsheet and then create graphs and a presentation about what they found out…It was a pretty good series of lessons that students enjoyed; but this year we kicked things up a notch with a bit of techology. Here’s how:

  1. We ditched the paper surveys for online surveys using Google Docs. Students created their surveys using the forms part of Google Docs. (We use the free Google Apps Education Edition via our own domain).
  2. Students posted the links to their surveys on a forum on our VLE. This was one of the trickier parts as most students hadn’t done this before. They could then complete their friends’ surveys. It also gave us an opportunity to discuss what makes a good or bad question or survey.
  3. Students analysed results – some downloaded their Google Spreadsheet to Excel while others did them on online. They all had to create a graph from their data.
  4. Students created a presentation to show their findings – most did this using Powerpoint though some used Google Presentations. All presentations had embedded graphs.
  5. Students uploaded their presentation to a Moodle Database and then had to view and comment on their friends’ presentations.

Students seemed to enjoy the work and interacting with their friends. Some parts had a steep learning curve but for most students it was the first time they had done anything like this before.  From a teacher’s point of view it was hard work and for a less able class I would certainly break the tasks up into smaller tasks but if you like the sound of it give it a go and let me know how it goes.