Xinha for Web Forms

General, News, On my mind, tips Comments Off

One of the things that annoys me most is when I have to use technology that should be based on open standards but isn’t! A case in point – Microsoft’s Share Point. It’s a web based CMS very tightly tied to the Microsoft browser and Microsoft office products. It’s hard to get anything done unless you are using a PC and Internet Explorer (especially if it’s tied to Active Directory as well). You’d think a web based product would work well with different browsers and different OS’s – well, no it doesn’t!

After being told that our regional workgroup had to report fortnightly via a sharepoint wiki. I decided to to try a variety of different browsers on the Mac (No IE available). All browsers I tried didn’t know what to do with Microsoft’s proprietary text editor (see image below).

Fortunately, there are free, open source browsers like Firefox that allow developers to innovate. And the Firefox extension that came to my rescue was Xihna. It’s FireFox plugin that will allow you to use a portable rich text editor on ‘any’ web form.

The following image shows the Xihna editor in action. You can also choose to pop out the editor into it’s own window!

Xihna Editor

Virtual spaces – Thank you MySpace, Thank you Facebook!

On my mind, Web 2.0 1 Comment »

Read Write Web One of the professional action learning teams we run in the Sunraysia Mallee Schools Network is the “New Tools & New Media” team, which is basically the Web2.0 team. But if I used that term, most teachers wouldn’t know what I was on about!

This year’s team is another great group of committed teachers willing to try new learning in their classrooms. The big difference I’m noticing with this new team is that those teachers with either a Facebook or MySpace account seem to understand ‘virtual spaces’ and communicating online so much better. No surprise I suppose? But the teachers involved in this form of social networking seem to ‘grok‘ the whole ‘collaboration, connection & communication’ thing, that is so important when trying to understand the value of web2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, podcasts etc).

Teachers are comfortable commenting to a Moodle forum or a blog, adding a voice annotation to Voice thread or sharing their knowledge by uploading to a ‘team space’ on the Moodle or a wiki. It’s great, it makes my job so much easier.

So thank you MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, Ning, and the the thousands of other ‘social networking’ tools that help people understand that we live in a global community where these types of conservations can take place for both socialising and learning. I’m sure our students won’t mind being involved in more online learning with their ‘social networking’ savvy teacher.

Photo credit: Leigh Blackall

The digital educator – would you pass the test?

On my mind 3 Comments »

I’ve been thinking about one of the ideas Stephen Heppell highlighted in his keynote at this years VITTA conference.

“What ICT skills would you expect a modern day teacher to have?”

Trying to come up with your own list is a very interesting activity! This would be great for a staff meeting focusing on the discussion of teacher ICT skills. What sort of list would the teachers you work with create? You could make it harder by limiting the responses or asking for items in order of importance. Here’s mine, in no particular order ….

A digital teacher should be able to:

  1. Manage a group of students online (blog, wiki, Moodle etc)
  2. Use some web 2.0 tools or new media in the classroom for student learning
  3. Manipulate digital media eg resize and crop photos, change a sound format for use in a different piece of software
  4. Contribute to, and facilitate collaboration between their group of students and another school or outside organisation
  5. Model ethical use of digital technologies
  6. Proficient in the use of ICT for communication eg email, school intranet
  7. Perform Internet searches and check for the accuracy of information and sources
  8. Be proficient in the use of an office suite – word processor, presentation tool and spreadsheet
  9. Participate in an online community for professional learning
  10. Basic file management including backing up data and burning discs

One that didn’t quite make the list include:

  • Subscribe and follow other educators through blogs, podcasts etc (Personal learning network?)
  • Manage a collection of class photos and create a product to share and celebrate the learning
  • Use a social bookmarking service and be able to develop a ‘relevant’ network
  • Basic troubleshooting of network connections and print services

Leave a comment for things you think I’ve missed :)

RSS made simple?

General, On my mind Comments Off

I sometimes have a hard time explaining RSS to people (RSS is ‘Really Simple Syndication’ or ‘Rich Site Summary’ – see it’s getting complicated already!) It’s just that when I mention that you can subscribe to blogs, podcasts, wikis, create blog searches and a whole lot more, their eyes tend to glaze over. I know, I know, ‘keep it simple’ … well you can do just that with the help of the folks over at Common Craft. Below is their video “RSS is Plain English” and if you like this one try these: Wikis in Plain English & Social Networking in Plain English.

Video thumbnail. Click to play
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