Xerte and HTML5

I went to the Xerte conference a couple of weeks ago and heard the great news that they are developing HTML5 pages to add to their diverse list of templates.  For those of you who don’t know  about xerte, it’s an e-learning Object development system that is designed by teaching staff in conjunction with the University of Nottingham, is freely available and is easy to use.

I’ve had a go at developing some HTML5 ‘games’ recently and have linked them in to Xerte just to show how this might work.  The integrated HTML5 pages will be along shortly, but for now, here’s some examples to be looking at:

Xerte Screen

http://www.jwhlearning.co.uk/dogs/dogs_examples/

As ever, Internet Explorer isn’t fully compliant  so the slide viewer can do a few strange things – but I’m working on it!

John Whalley

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Mathrathon

mathrathon logoHere’s a free Windows 8 App which I saw that I think is quite fun and useful for developing basic maths skills.  It’s a basic game – but addictive!

You get shown two numbers which are either added or subtracted to provide an answer.

You  click on Correct or Wrong. If you click correctly you earn 50 points, if you get it wrong you lose 100 points.  You get 60 randomly generated questions to have a go at and you also need to answer as fast as you can.

mathrathon pageYour score is; points gained x time taken x 3

– It’s a lot trickier than it looks!

Available from the Windows Store HERE

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After iGoogle ?

Well, iGoogle is going to disappear soon and I thought it was about time I started looking for an alternative for my home page.  I’ve tried several and have come up with one which ‘works for me’. – If you’ve got any better ones please let me know!

My needs are simple and so I didn’t want a page spattered with apps but one which I could add items easily as and when I wanted but wouldn’t get too cluttered.  I went for ‘Incredible Startpage’ which is a freebie and is really easy to set up.

Its available in the Chrome Webstore HERE

Incredible StartPage  put all your favorite bookmarks in a  frame that you can set the background to, either by using one of the supplied images, or by using one of your own.

The downloaded app looks like this:

Incredible Startpage - first screen

You select the theme option to customise your own background image:

My background

You can :

– Rearrange the App Order on the ‘Apps’ page
– Send tab/link to Startpage
– View “Bookmarks”, “Apps” and “Most Visited Sites” all in one tab if you wish
– Have Multiple notepads and post to Gmail/Google Calendar
– Notepad sync across computers by Chrome Sync
– Recover recently closed tabs by using the ‘Closed’ box on the left

OK – It’s not perfect – but it works quite well for me.

John Whalley

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Flash-Card Learning

GFlashProI often have 20 minutes or so to myself as I try to keep a bit fitter by walking anywhere that’s under a mile. This gives me a bit of time to study and so I download podcasts and listen to them as we go. Recently, I’ve stumbled upon a very good flashcard App – GFlashpro.

 

I use its flash-cards to help me to reinforce my learning. For example, I wanted to be able to say thankyou to all these nice, polite, Polish waiters and waitresses I come across when I’m in my local cafes so a set of reinforcing English:Polish flash cards is very useful.

As with most Apps my main criterion is ease of use and GFlashPro is spot on with this. It changes from portrait to landscape very smoothly as you tilt your phone.

You can put a short instruction at the start of the flashcard set to help the learner:

photo.PNG

You can also go  from a one card view to a two card view, allowing you to tap the second card to reveal your answer.

photo.PNG     photo.PNG

– or you can do it the other way around and guess the question for the answer!

The really good thing about gFlash Pro,is that you can also include videos, sounds, and images to make your learning a very media rich experience.

Create Your Own
From a teaching viewpoint, the big advantage is that you can easily create your own flashcards byimporting a 2 column google spreadsheet. Its very simple to do – just point at the spreadhseet and the App does the rest for you.

One ral advantage is that you can also do this to import images, sounds, or videos just by placing their URL into the spreadsheet. This, of course, means that you have to put your media up on the web first but for images you could link directly to Flickr or Picasa for instance.

Here is a flashcard set using one of my images:

photo.PNG    photo.PNG

For sound, you could easily use something like audioboo or upload your own MP3s via some other method.

The App also links to gWhiz Flashcard catalogue which has thousands of cards already created that are free to download.

All in all a really useful app which you could use with students at any level!  Its a bit pricey at £2.49 but well worth it.

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TubeChop – cut up your videos to size

You can find information about anything on YouTube these days and its a wonderful source of videos for teaching and learning.  Sometimes, however, you wish that you could show just a section of a video which is relevant to the topic you are covering and discard the rest of it.

TubeChop is a free online service which allows you to do this.  You can even embed the cut down video into PowerPoint, it will also give you an ’embed code’, so placing it into a blog, VLE or webpage is really easy as well.

TubeChop Home Page

First find your video using the search box

Selecting a video in TubeChop

A list of relevant videos is displayed.

The original video in TubeChop

Select a video and it is displayed as normal.

Chopping Down the Video

Move the sliders on the left and right of the bottom bar until you have the clip you want.  You then click on the ‘chop it’ button.

The shortened video with the 'embed code' showing

The shortened video is  displayed along with the ’embed code’ (showing at the top right) and a link URL, followed by details of the ‘chop’ you applied to the video.

The chopped video emebedded in a Moodle ' Book'

The video embed code can then be added to a Moodle as in the example above.

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iSpring Free – Powerpoint to Flash

I used iSpring Free for the first time a couple of days ago.  Its a PowerPoint add-in which converts presentations into Flash format.

This can be useful if, for example you are wanting to add a Powerpoint presentation to a Moodle topic but don’t want the students to have to download a large Powerpoint file before they can use it.

iSpring keeps the original appearance of your PowerPoint presentations regardless of how complex you make it. I produced a powerpoint presentation with several hyperlinks to other slides (and back) within it and they worked every time.

ispring example screen

Converting your presentation to Flash format makes it very compact, so it’s easier to distribute as well as share on the web and seems to work with all the Browsers I have tried.  It also doesn’t seem to have problem with working an a Mac.

Since its a Flash file, this means that it can even be viewed on computers that don’t have PowerPoint installed!

PowerPoint animation effects, slide transitions, hyperlinks, embedded Flash movies, audio, and video clips all seem to work in the Flash presentation.   The Flash movie can also be saved to a folder on your local computer – I know it shouldn’t be done, my techie friends tell me, but if, like me you don’t have the advantage of a permanent high speed broadband connection, this can be a very useful feature!

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Webquests – Zunal

I have re-visited Webquests recently as a way of getting students more involved with gathering their own information on a topic and expanding their researching skills. Webquests use the Internet to get students to understand a topic through being pointed at relevant websites and extracting information from them. If you want to make a good webquest yourself, you probably would be best to look at some ‘here’s one I created earlier’ sites.

http://www.zunal.com/ is an excellent site for this and is also a website where teachers can create WebQuests for free and share them with others. All you have to do is register yourself onto the site.

There are thousands of WebQuests listed in all subjects and grade levels. And there are easy-to-use standard tools for creating your own. You can attach unlimited files and YouTubes.  One aspect that I like is that you can customize a quest to hide or show the pages you want, limit access to designated users, and even include a discussion forum.  Another very useful feature is the ability to alter Quests that have been made by other people – a great time saver!

I have given students a topic to research in the past and they often find it hard to seek out and extract accurate information from the thousands (or millions) of sites now available to them. The advantage of a WebQuest is that you have pre-screend the sites beforehand and so you know that the pages they are viewing have ‘quality’ information on the topic. A well constructed webquest avoids the students surfing the web in an un-structured way.

Students not only seek information, but you can get them to debate issues, or participate in role plays.

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