Friday, February 23, 2018

iDea - Quizlet

This is the first of a semi-regular series which will outline suggested apps/tools/technology that could help enhance learning and teaching.


After the exams last year, I asked the pupils if they used technology to help them study. Quizlet was one of the most commonly mentioned tools. At one level, Quizlet is an electronic version of good old fashioned flashcards (see Wikipedia for description of flashcards) which can be useful when trying to memorise terms and definitions. Since Quizlet is computer based, it has the potential to be much more powerful than paper based flashcards. In particular, the ability to share sets as well as being able to borrow and adapt sets that others have created could be a significant time saver.

There are two things I particularly like about Quizlet. I like the potential for collaborative work. Pupils can create and share sets; they can work together on Quizlet Live and teachers can build on and work with other educators. I also like the diagrams feature; not something I've used with a class yet, but it looks particularly promising (examples on the Learning In Hand page cover Spanish, French, Georgaphy...).

If you are unfamiliar with Quizlet, the website gives a quick introduction in the form of a Teacher FAQ. There are a set of useful links at the bottom of this post but for visual learners, here are a couple of videos:

1) Brief look at the iPad app - focus is on how pupils could use it to help them learn terms.

2) Brief look at the website - focus is on using classes to share cards with pupils including a quick look at diagrams.

If you are unfamiliar with Quizlet, here is a slideshow that takes you through the basics:

Quizlet - other links:

One stop shop: Diigo Quizlet bookmarks

Reading blog

We are in the process of setting up reading groups on the Goodreads website to use with pupils in our school. The idea is to set up reading groups, share reading lists and get children to write and publish reviews.

Sample Poster
Sample Poster
I thought it would be interesting to tie Goodreads into another school initiative - the "Currently reading" posters. All members of staff are encouraged to update a poster and display it on their door to show what they are currently reading. It's part of a campaign to create a culture of reading in the school.

I wanted to combine the posters with Goodreads. Rather than just show what I'm currently reading, I could link to Goodreads which tracks my progress, lets me publish a review when I am finished and records which books I've completed so far this year. Or at least, that was the plan...

The trick was to share links to specific sections of Goodreads. The best way I could find was to use the widgets provided by Goodreads to place the details in a blog and then share the blog posts.

The result: Mr Muir's Reading Blog. Only a few posts so far but a couple of key sections are:
Put some QR codes on the poster to link to the relevant sections and job done. At least, job done assuming anybody bothers to scan the QR codes and read the blog. 

What do you think? Daft idea? Vaguely interesting? Please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts or suggestions.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Back again!

A long overdue return to blogging...

First post for ages. Hopefully not the last.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

TeachMeet - What's in a name?

Ewan recently marked the tenth birthday of TeachMeet (Ten years on from the very first unconference for educators: TeachMeet is 10) where he shared his memories of that first meeting in the Jolly Judge. Unfortunately, I was unable to join the birthday party... but it did start me thinking about my own memories (some of which I shared on his facebook post). It also started me thinking about the name "TeachMeet", how we came to choose it and the bullet (or bullets) we dodged not choosing a different name. I have not used this blog much in recent years abut it seemed right to post about naming TeachMeet in this blog since this is where it all started for me.

Going to the pub with Will Richardson
Ewan has described the proto-TeachMeet in the Jolly Judge. He  claims he always had a "stick it to the man" agenda. That may be true for him. Me? I just thought it would be fun to go to the pub with Will Richardson. Ewan also explains that this meeting was called the "ScotEduBlogger Meetup" and states (as if it was obvious) that this name was limiting and that "TeachMeet was born..." (as if it was a painless birth). I remember the choice of the name emerging more slowly, I remember online and offline discussion, and I remember choosing just in time to get the word out for SETT (as SLF was then called).

The discussion about "What to call this thing" mostly took place on the Scotsedublog wiki. On 8 June 2006, Ewan created a page titled newtechmeet and posed the question:
We need a name. Not something too bloggy, not too techy. Suggestions?
 Later that same day, John Johnston added this as the first suggestion:
How to stop worrying and love the blog.
On 10 June 2006, I responded with the following list:
Read/Write Roundtable
Read/Write Roundup
Read/Write Rammy
Classroom 2.0
SETT 2.0
ScotEduBlog Bash
ScotEduBlog Mashup
...I made more suggestions that day (not all of them serious) and eventually posted TeachMeet as a possible name.​ Credit where credit's due. I explain on the wiki discussion page that I came up with the name after toying with variations on the newtechmeet page name. I commented, ' a wise man once said, "It's not the tech, it's the teach."' For the record, the "wise man" was Ewan McIntosh. It is something he said while at Jordanhill. I ripped it off and have been using it without accreditation ever since!

TeachMeet at SETT, 2006
Almost immediately after posting the TeachMeet suggestion, I edited it to turn it into "ScotEduBlog TeachMeet". I thought any meetup would be all about blogging. And in my defence, I wasn't the only one thinking this way. For example, on a number of occasions, John Johnston defended the inclusion of "blog" or "blogging" in the title. In retrospect, it was much better to lose the "blog" since it has allowed TeachMeet to grow and expand beyond its blogging origins.

The other mistake I made was to limit it to Scotland. I thought this was something for Scottish educators, hence my addition of the "ScotEdu" bit. I thought it was for my chums and friends of my chums. I was even more wrong about that! Thankfully, smarter people than me were in charge of picking the name!

I did have some vision though. I suggested: "What ever we call it, if we think it might become a regular event, we should stick a "2006" at the end." I thought this was something that had legs and that it would be repeated. OK, I thought it would be annual event, but nobody is perfect.

By the end of June, we had the following list of possible names and had started to vote for our favourites:
Read/Write Roundtable
Collaborative Communication Colloquium
Classroom 2.0
SETT 2.0
ScotEduBlog Bash
ScotEduBlog Mashup
ScotEduBlog TeachMeet
Bloggers Anon... and on and on
Blog on
How to stop worrying and love the blog
Mashup Impossible
You've Got eLearning
Lord of the Webrings
Hello Mr Chips/Mrs Chips
Ewan called us to order, drafted four possible logos based on the two most popular choices. (Both Ewan and I liked "EduSlam", but clearly we were outvoted!) It was down to "TeachMeet 06" and "ScotEduBlog 06". We then voted again to choose our favourite logo. On 29 June, the decision was made and this logo was added to the wikipage.

Clearly, the right name was chosen. We ended up with a name that didn't limit us to our Scottish roots. A name that allowed us to talk about more than blogging. A clear example of the wisdom of crowds! (And, it has to be said, the wisdom of Ewan, whose gentle prompting pushed us in the right direction.)

We had a name, we had a venue, all that was needed was to organise and deliver the event. As we made our plans on the wiki, I don't think any of us knew just how successful TeachMeet 06 was going to be. But that is a whole other story...

Saturday, November 07, 2015

C@SScot 15: Using SOLAR for Unit and Assignment Verification

Raymond Simpson: Using SOLAR for Unit and Assignment Verification
Live capture

Unit assessments already on SOLAR. Pupils complete answers in screen, or can upload documents that demonstrate they have completed the outcomes.

Pupils can be given an assessment record, when the pupil has the evidence, they upload it. However, don't assume SQA have access to all kinds of software - better to take and submit screenshots. {Or PDF?} Unit and course assessments for Nat 5, Higher and Advanced Higher all there on SOLAR.

C@SScot 15: A Deep analysis of N5 and H Computing Science

A Deep analysis of N5 and H Computing Science - Bill Buchanan
Live capture

 Most science graduates go into software engineering... eventually! {Stated as fact - I would be interested to see some evidence to support it! - DDM}

 The Internet of things means that the Internet is going to get bigger.

 Looking at the Bright Red Digital Zone site. Ask pupils which subjects they are studying: Computing is 6th most popular - behind French. In terms of engagement, Computing is 2nd - after Business Studies. Most logins from pupils are in January. Site designed in Visual Studio. Uses cloud services (e.g. French area uses Microsoft translation services).

C@SScot 15: Opening Keynote

C@SScotland Conference - Keynote: Dr Iain Martin, University of Dundee
How Can You Test an Autonomous Planetary Lander?
Live captured

{Biggest attendance at C@SS conference so far. Reflecting a growing interest in Computing or confidence in our subject?}

University of Dundee has a space technology centre which collects and archives loads of data. Among other things, they have a space systems research group which looks at designing autonomous planetary landers. Computational Thinking underpins their work.

Problem Analysis:
Major task and very difficult to prove you can do it. Very high stakes, many possible reasons it can fail and very expensive to try. The lander has to be able to land autonomously (time delays and limited knowledge of what you are landing on!). You have to balance amount of fuel needed for manoeuvring and landing with the sensors and science stuff you want the lander to carry. The lander will need ”a whole bunch of sensors" to detect position and hazards. Cameras are a low cost, lightweight sensor (with no moving parts - a good thing!). Need to process the images. Difficult to prove the tech works. Best Mars landing so far is MSL which still had a 6km landing eclipse - would really like to get better! One way of testing is to create simulated data. This is difficult. Comparison was made with Apollo 11 mission. Landing site was Boulder strewn but Armstrong was able to steer to a plain just beyond the crater with seconds of fuel left!

{Loads more stuff showing how Computational Thinking underpins major engineering projects like this but I occidentally deleted it. Oops!}