Below is our latest staff e-learning newsletter that was supposed to get sent out in the last week of term but got caught in the chaos of the snow! It’s been slightly edited for privacy reasons.

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Here’s what in this newsletter

1. Reminder of how to get on the VLE
2. It’s Google Time
3. VLE Teacher of the month
4. VLE teacher targets
5. Online tool of the month
6. Reminder about Nintendo DS Consoles
7. 10 Great online tools with tips on how to use them in class

1. Reminder of how to get on the VLE –
Just log in at www.rickypedia.org using your eportal username and password. A helpsheet is available for students but all KS3 students should know how to log on from their ICT lessons.

2. It’s Google Time
Regular Rickypedia users may have noticed the new google icons on the top right of the page when you log in. Click on them and have a try, all students and teachers have accounts for Google Apps and once you have logged into Rickypedia you don’t need to log in again just click on the shortcuts.
Here’s a few things you can do with Google Apps
Make on online survey with a few clicks – results go into a spreadsheet
Have upto 20 students working a single presentation simultaneously
Share a document with a student and put your feedback directly on it.
I’ve you want some tutorial videos just ask me, there are plenty around!

3. VLE Teacher of The Month
November saw great new courses from Geography, RE, History, Science and ICT but the winner this month is Mr. White and his PE Course.
Although Mr. White hasn’t used millions of fancy features his course is a great example of how to lay out a simple and attractive course that students can use to find resources and homework in lessons and at home.
I’ve attached a file with 2 pages of his course (I had to cut it at bit as it went to 7 pages!) Mr White A2 Exercise Physiology
This kind of course will be especially useful to students come revision time as it has all the work neatly organised for them!

4. VLE Teacher Targets
Not many people have been to see me to pick up their gold stars for meeting a target!
Beginner: Create a new course and add something to it.
Intermediate: Add a picture to your course
Advanced: Set up a glossary for students to add in their keywords.
If you finish a challenge come and see me and I’ll give you a ‘well done’ sticker, 3 stickers and you can have a certificate!

5. Online tool of the Month
If you like mindmapping, brainstorming or for the overly political correct thought showering try out these 2 website.
http://bubbl.us a great simple tool – click start brainstorming and you’re away – you don’t need to register but if you do it lets you save your diagrams online – if not then you can save your diagrams as pictures on your PC
www.mindmeister.com – a more complex and sophisticated tool. You need to register – this lets you attach files or links to websites in your brainstorms, it also lets you invite other people (or students to collaborate with you)

6. Nintendo DS Consoles
Another reminder about them! They are great for lessons but also really great for filling long form periods. They are a great reward for students that get planners signed – you’ll never get an unsigned planner again!

7.Nic Peachy is a language teacher into his online stuff. He shares many great resources including this one with 10 web tools and 10 ways you can use them in your classroom
http://nikpeachey.blogspot.com/2009/11/10-teacher-development-task-for-web-20.html

Wishing You a great Christmas Holiday

Staff E-learning Newsletter

Posted on November 9th, 2009 in moodle, rickypedia, VLE | 2 Comments »

Last week I sent out this staff e-learning newsletter to try and keep staff informed and enthused about e-learning and our VLE. The response so far has been excellent, we’ve had three new teachers start using the VLE in a week. See the newsletter below, I’ve slightly amended it to remove some personal details but most of it is still there.

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Dear Staff,
 
In an attempt to avoid unecessary meetings or announcements in shout I’ve been working on this mini newsletter to keep you updated on e-learning and the VLE. I’m hoping I can keep up a monthly newsletter throughout the year. Take a look, have a read, let me know what you think.
 
Here’s what in this newsletter
1. Reminder of how to get on the VLE
2. Resources and tutorials to help you, where to get help
3. VLE Teacher of the month
4. VLE teacher targets
5. Simple Videoconferencing in the classroom
6. Inspirational Videos for the classroom.
7. Reminder about Nintendo DS Consoles
 
1. Reminder of how to get on the VLE
It may have been a while so here’s how you log on…
Visit www.rickypedia.org and login – to log in use your eportal username and password. Once you are logged on if you click your name in the top right corner you can change your password and your profile details.
 
For students their username is…(removed for privacy)  I have attached a helpsheet that you can print out for students. (not attached to blog post)
 
2. Resources and tutorials to help you, where to get help.
If you get stuck with Rickypedia please come and ask myself or Julie. If you want to book a mini training session with me I can come and visit you during registration for a 10 or 20 minute slot, if you need we can probably get cover for your registration. For password resets or anything urgent you’ll probably find Julie easier to find, she’s in the quiet room every day except Friday, I’m around usually in the staffroom or LI6 on Monday and Wednesday mornings. If you need either of us Julie is at (removed e-mail from blog post) and I’m at (removed e-mail from blog post)
A few resources to help out:
On Rickypedia are a few resources – once you’re logged in, on the list of subjects click on “staff” and then choose “Tutorial videos” for basic videos on how to create and build up courses.
Also in the “staff” – section is a course called e-learning training which has a sheet for pupils explaining how they log on.
A group of very good online and short (2 minute) training videos are at http://www.vimeo.com/channels/44004 I think these work at school but can’t promise so you may need to look at home!
 
3. VLE Teacher of the month
The aim of this bit is to show you how different teachers have used the VLE. This time we’re going to visit Sophia in the History department.
 
I have attached some screenshots of Sophia’s courses with this e-mail
 Example uses in History department (pdf)
The history department are using the VLE as an interactive resource to enhance teaching and learning. In a year 9 module there is a unit on life in the 19th Century. The first resource in the course is a link to an interactive resource on the Manchester Art Gallery website looking at a painting of the times. The next resource is a discussion forum where students have to discuss various questions on the painting. It is amazing seeing students building up their knowledge and responding to each others’ posts.
Next there is a link to a page on the national archive website on the same topic followed by a downloadable word document containing a worksheet for students to complete. A powerpoint from the lesson comes next followed by another 2 discussion forums for students to carry on answering questons online. To give you an example of how students have used it – one discussion done over 3 teaching groups has been viewed over 800 times – how often does that happen with a student’s work in an exercise book?
 
4. VLE Teacher Targets
Some people like a challenge or a target to meet – here are some for you to try and get done this month.
Beginner: Create a new course and add something to it.
Intermediate: Create an online poll (it’s called ‘choices’ in Rickypedia)
Advanced: Set an online homework (assignment) and mark it online.
If you finish a challenge come and see me and I’ll give you a ‘well done’ sticker, 3 stickers and you can have a certificate!
 
5. Simple Videoconferencing in the classroom
Anyone wishing to try out simple videoconferencing should take a look at Flashmeeting a free tool provided by our local broadbam consortium. It now works in school!
http://flashmeeting.e2bn.net
Flashmeeting allows up to 25 people to chat using text, audio or video – you could also use it to connect just one person upto your class online even if they only have a basic webcam or microphone. Even without a webcam in your classroom you can talk to them via audio or text chat.
 
6. Inspirational Videos for the classroom.
This great presentation has links to 100 youtube videos that you could use in the classroom. Some are truly amazing.
http://www.ideastoinspire.co.uk/youtube.htm
Obviously YouTube is blocked at school to keep us safe – see this blog post about how to download these videos to bring into school. http://elearnr.org/2008/09/13/how-to-find-and-download-youtube-videos-for-use-in-the-classroom/
 
7. Reminder about Nintendo DS Consoles.
Reminder – we have 16 Nintendo DS consoles and a variety of games including maths, english, braintraining, puzzle, french and just for fun games. You can book them out for lessons or registration for your classes or forms – the sign up sheet is on the bottom of Mr. Griffith’s noticeboard in the staffroom (he hasn’t complained to me yet!) and the consoles live in a neat easy to carry box in Mr. James’ room.
For some cool ideas on how to use Nintendo DS in the classroom please check out this evolving presentation – 23 Interesting Ways and Tips to use a nintendo Ds in the classroom
http://www.ideastoinspire.co.uk/nintendodsdsi.htm
 
Enjoy and come and ask if you need a hand with anything!
Daniel

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One of the major tasks I will have this year implementing our new VLE is to train staff.

To get staff on board I will need as many staff  on my side as possible and one idea I had was to run a separate group of teachers not just learning to use the VLE but learning, playing and sharing other web tools. So I advertised for enthusiasts – didn’t push anyone to come (except offering cake) and we got a very nice turnout. (About 8 staff of 7 specialisms)

We started off playing with voki, next I got staff to have a play setting up blogs on posterous and we finished off with a flurry looking at voicethread, delicious and classtools. Okay this was a lot to fit in a 45 minute session – ideally we would look at a tool, examples of how it has been used in a subject and then work out how to do it. But I think I and the staff enjoyed a fast place and having fun after school rather than planning. I finished off by setting a little homework – to find a blogger of their subject and to report back on what they found. To help them get started I pointed staff towards Doug Belshaw’s list of edubloggers as well as the edubloggers directory

Overall it was a fun evening and we shall certainly have more. I hope by the time we have our next big ICT Inset we will have lots of examples that our staff can demonstrate of their ICT use in the classroom.

I will write a separate post on our plans for VLE training which I’m still working on – I would love to hear feedback and ideas on how to train 100 staff of different subjects with different specialisms and IT skills. I also wonder how my budget of £30 per staff member (which is probably quite generous for a school) compares to the amount that would be spent in industry?

I was going to put this in a previous post but it seemed more sensible to put it as a topic in its own right. I’m calling this part one as I hope to add more posts on this topic later.

These are a few things I’ve noticed seem to work when introducing teachers to a VLE on an individual basis. To give some background my pilot VLE Rickypedia has a handful of teachers added who have expressed an interest. I have only run a half an hour group training session for some of these teachers. Obviously this is not ideal and something I hope to have rectified next year. Everything I have read about successful use of VLEs points to the importance of good staff training. Nevertheless many of us who work in schools, or I guess most of the real world, don’t have ideal circumstances much of the time. I hope these pointers of things I have found have worked well will be useful. Please do add to the list in the comments.

5 Tips for introducing new teachers to a VLE

1. Stress the importance of experimenting and not being scared to make mistakes. It’s amazing how easy it is for a teacher to get things wrong, for example confusing a live chat with a forum and setting up the wrong one. Easy to correct, no harm done and something learned.

2. Encourage teachers to look at each others’ courses. All teachers on Rickypedia have their global (or site) role set as non-editing teacher. This means they can peep in on other teachers’ courses without being able to edit them. I have got great ideas from other teachers and I know other teachers have got ideas from me.

3. Have a staff sandbox. In programming speak a sandbox is a place where you can run code without it being able to damage your system. In a VLE a sandbox can be a course hidden from students where teachers can experiment with features and build up confidence.

4. keep an eye on teachers’ courses so you can give them feedback. Some may comment that this is being nosey or interfering, but if you follow point three above you are just practicing what you are preaching.

5. Offer help regularly. A quick, “Is there anything you need a hand with?” in the staffroom can go a long way. Doing the odd favour here and there never hurts either!