Jan 302007

This interactive world map simply pops up a climate graph as the mouse is rolled over the hotspots. How useful is that?

climate map

It’s a simple and effective idea for introducing students to climate graphs.

Guides to graph drawing with Excel (inlcuding a suggested method for producing climate graphs) can be found at Learning and Teaching Scotland.


 ICT  Comments Off on PodOmatic
Jan 212007

I’m not a podcast enthusiast, saving my ears for the likes of RJD2, however I appreciate the potential, and am probably the last to discover podOmatic, a site that hosts and even creates your podcast for you, via an online recording feature. I had a go, and agree with the site’s view that Audacity is a better recording option. PodOmatic includes a very helpful section on tips. The site does seem to offer the most straightforward option for recording a classroom activity as a podcast. When I eventually feel the urge to commit myself in this direction I’ll give PodOmatic a proper trial.

Jan 052007

I’ve been very slow off the mark in blogging for/with my own students, compared to many of my online teacher friends and colleagues. That’s set to change with a new blog:


I’m going to use the blog in three ways. Firstly to link to various online materials that could be interesting or useful to the students. Secondly, I’d like to host some examples of student work. Finally, I’m hoping that it will provide an opportunity for those dialogues that could/should take place outside the classroom but never actually materialize. For example the comments could be used to discuss matters arising from homework assignments, examinations or current affairs. I guess we shall see.

Oct 312006

I’m upgrading the resource page for my Google Earth lesson “Visualizing a Safer City”

screenshot click to enlarge

Thanks to Andrew Field whose recommendation of Wink, an excellent free screen capture program, helped me prepare a Flash-based tutorial to the project files that the lesson requires.

tutorial click to enlarge

Hopefully, more teachers will have a go at this activity, which has been thoroughly tried and tested. “Visualizing a Safer City” offers students the opportunity to understand the principles behind GIS. The visual nature of the activity appeals to all types of learners and the students will appreciate that city planners in San Francisco will be doing an identical task using similar data sets. The task demonstrates the extraordinary potential of applications such as Google Earth to achieve real and meaningful outcomes without the “tech subverting the teach” (to hack a phrase from Ewan Mackintosh thanks to Ollie Bray!)

Get the tutorials, project files, a video and a pdf guide to the resources in one folder.
I have made a short video to introduce the lesson as well as a PDF guide to the teaching resources. These are available free of charge, together with all the other resources on CD ROM or via email. Contact me if you would like them. (A small donation or a free trial of eMusic via this link or just a couple of your own resources would be nice in return)

Oct 292006

I’ve just finished an attempt at a multiple user video conference with legendary edu-blogger Doug Belshaw and South Wales based Tom Biebrach. Over the past few days Tom, Tony Cassidy and I have been thinking about using web cams and video-conferencing creatively in the classroom. We’ve established a few technical points including:

  • Google Talk offers good sound quality and simple instant messenging – however you can’t chat with more than one person at a time?
  • Festoon is a free download that adds video conferencing facilities to Google Talk but we discovered that the time-delay with more than one user renders it almost useless. Even one to one, the video is very slow. However my connection could be a limiting factor. We also need to test Festoon with Skype.

Festoon Festoon – not quite up to the job.

  • Windows Live Messenging is great for IM chatting – you can have several people in a conversation. Sound quality is not as good as Google Talk when making an audio call but video is pretty good. There’s no support for multiple users with video though.
  • Doug Belshaw poins out that if we were Mac users then iChat would probably be a good alternative, however we’re just not that trendy.

Top Ten uses for a webcam the list so far based on our discussions…

  1. Atlas Gloves. Dominate the whole earth with a web cam and a pair of illuminated ping pong balls. The ultimate prospective parents evening diversionary activity. Related post.
  2. Getting students to talk about their work. A web cam provides an instant opportunity for students to explain their ideas – giving less literate students an opportunity to shine. See this post about Year 7 students talking about their work to a mobile phone.
  3. Students act as on-site reporters for the rest of a class. For example they could report on a hazardous event and the rest of the class then respond in a desicion-making capacity. This would work well as an additional dimension to my Montserrat lesson.
  4. Debate a topic with another class / another school? Representatives present their case via the webcam to a panel of judges who rule on the outcome.
  5. Use the web cam to illustrate small scale experiments on physical processes for example meanders or waves in a flume tank, erosion in a partly cropped bed of cress to represent deforestation (SLN post by Trebor here) or earthquake shaking effects. Students can add narration via Movie Maker later.
  6. Collaborative pojects such as recording the weather simultaneously across the country by pointing the web cam out of the window at a pre-agreed time. See SLN thread started by Tony Cassidy.
  7. Opportunities for two classes to work in tandem on a project in a parallel descision-making task. The decisions made by one group could impact another group, for example a coastal management activity. Two classes could work on the same project then submit their ideas to other students for a peer assessment activity. My San Francisco / Google Earth activity would be a good candidate. Students could email each others placemarks, then debate them via the web cam in a video conference.
  8. Video-conferencing offers another way for teachers to engage with CPD. Files can be shared instantly.
  9. Develop links with a school in another country to explore a different locality. Doug Belshaw was kind enough to provide a link to Global Leap, an organization providing support for educational video conferencing in the UK.
  10. Ask questions to expert geographers. Do any Higher Ed institutions offer this facility?

The list has been devised with inputs from Tony Cassidy, Tom Biebrach and Doug Belshaw. Please feel free to add to the list by submitting a comment, or contact me to be invited into our next conference.


 ICT, Office applications, Teaching resources  Comments Off on Slideshare
Oct 282006

Thanks to Tony Cassidy for news of Slideshare, an application that allows you to share presentation files with students who may not have PowerPoint installed on their PCs. Here’s an example:

[Slideshare presentation now removed]

This presentation, and a similar one can be seen at my Slideshare space