Friday, 17 November 2017

Useful Google in Education posts this week #120

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers (The link to previous posts can be found here

Tech Talk – by Justin Harper, MIEExpert and IT Manager at SAHETI School, a Microsoft Showcase School in Johannesburg

Justin Harper and Saheti School came into the spotlight recently in a Business Day newspaper article entitled 'Hi Tech approach to education'. We have mentioned Justin in a few blog posts before. He was one of the five teachers from South Africa selected to attend the Microsoft Global E2 Exchange in Toronto in 2016. You can read about him in the post  'Meet the five South African MIEExpert Educators attending the Microsoft E2 Education Exchange in Toronto'

In this article Justin shares what was written in the Business Day article.

"TECHNOLOGY is a way of life almost everywhere you look – and the classroom is no exception. Schools are increasingly integrating technology into all aspects of teaching to provide quality education. Some, like SAHETI School in Bedfordview, have carefully mapped out programmes to ensure learners and educators have on-going access to and a good grasp of the most effective technology available to enrich learning both at school and home. SAHETI was recently acknowledged as a forerunner in digital education when it became the fifth only South African school to be selected as a Microsoft Showcase School.

The Microsoft Showcase Schools programme is a global community of schools that recognise and amplify the use of technology to drive education and efficiencies school-wide. The announcement, in September, that SAHETI had been co-opted to the programme, followed information and communication technology (ICT) manager at the school, Justin Harper’s selection as one of five ‘innovative educator experts’ to represent South Africa at the Microsoft Education Exchange (E2) Global Forum in Toronto, Canada in March.

The E2 event brings together approximately 300 educators from around the world every year. Recognising their efforts and achievements to combine content, pedagogy and technology to enhance education, the forum provides delegates with opportunities to collaborate, create and share their experiences over three days.

Inspired to try new applications, full of fresh ideas from his peers and having participated in challenges to brainstorm ideas for future Microsoft products, Harper says he returned from Canada keener than ever to continue to drive SAHETI’s technology programme – which was already well established due (in part, at least) to the school’s bring your own device (BYOD) and training initiatives.

The BYOD plan was introduced because SAHETI believes technology introduced to learners should not only be device-agnostic, but also browser-agnostic. “Learners are encouraged to bring devices that they are familiar and comfortable with,” says Harper. “All the products we’ve introduced work on any platform at any time. We then link the educational material to learners’ devices so that they can access the content both at school and home.”

Training is central to the rollout of SAHETI’s technology programme. According to head of department of ICT at the school, Rhoda van Niekerk (who is also responsible for staff development), staff have “embraced” Microsoft Office 365 – including applications such as OneNote and Microsoft Teams – thanks largely to a comprehensive, on-going training programme. (Van Niekerk and Harper attended the Education Exchange E2 Africa Forum earlier this year, where Van Niekerk’s team emerged winner of the (video game) Minecraft group project, which involved coming up with a South African problem and then modelling a solution in a ‘Small South Africa Minecraft’ world.)

Most recently, Microsoft Office 365 was successfully used for interaction between students and teachers during SAHETI’s third term subject assessment module (SAM) project, which is a project based assessment introduced by the school for Grade 10’s as a replacement of mid-year examinations.

Applications used by the school also enable teachers to capture their ideas and to-do lists in one place wherever they are, says Harper. Microsoft Team keeps students up-to-date with assignments, announcements and grades. Technology also makes it possible for discussions to take place outside of class and gives teachers “a one-stop shop to create and grade assignments,” he says. SAHETI is equipped with more than 75 smart interactive white boards, 50 Aruba Wi-Fi access points, HP 3PAR and SAN data storage technology, and fibre break out.

The school’s approach is firmly based on the premise that correct use of technology in classrooms has the potential to enhance teaching and the student’s ability to learn.  “Creating a space for collaboration that takes learning far beyond the reach of the classroom is one of the reasons we use of technology in the classroom. Students can now easily participate in group projects even when they’re at home,” says Harper, adding that ensuring technology is in good working order and that the physical design of classrooms supports the best possible use of technology are also crucial to SAHETI’s on-going technology-driven success."

SchoolNet congratulates Justin and SAHETI School on this achievement.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #130

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week. The list is embedded below but can also be found at The link to the back-dated posts is:

Friday, 10 November 2017

Useful Google in Education posts this week #119

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers (The link to previous posts can be found here

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Screencasting with Screencast-o-Matic - a superb tool for making classroom videos

Submitted by Fiona Beal
My favourite screencasting tool, right now, is Screencast-O-Matic. Screencast-O-matic is a free, online tool to use if you want to quickly show someone how to do something on the computer. It easily creates a video of what you are doing and saying. These videos are called screencasts. If you want to create good screencasts without the hassle of downloading and installing any application on your computer then Screencast-O-Matic is the best available tool for the purpose. Screencasts are great to use in the flipped classroom.

I have written about Screencast-O-matic before, but as time has passed this application has some great new features that are well worth mentioning. It allows you to create up to 15 minute videos free of charge. 15 minutes is a long video. Mostly you will want to stick to 2 - 3 minute videos.

Get started with Screencast-o-matic
To summarise:
  1. Screencast-O-Matic is a free, online screen capture tool. 
  2. It has a free version (up to 15 mins video) and a paid Pro version
  3. You can use Screencast-O-matic to record narrated presentations or demonstrations and produce the recordings as videos for your classroom
  4. Screencast-o-matic can also be downloaded to your device and used offline.
  5. Navigate to to find Screencast-o-matic.
This video tutorial 'Screencast-O-Matic 2017 Tutorial' is excellent and it gives a step-by-step instruction on getting started with and using this great application.

Some of the great new features
There are a number of great new features some of which have tutorials

I want to mention four other features that have caught my attention.
1. Add a video of yourself presenting
You can now add a video insert of yourself presenting your screencast. You would do this by using the webcam and the screen at the same time.

2. Stock Music is now available with Screencast-O-Matic
You can now add stock music tracks to your recording directly from the Recorder. After you complete a recording, click the music icon to the right of the timeline to preview each track and then add music to your video.
With the Free Recorder, after you finish your recording Screencast-O-Matic will present you with a rotating selection of tracks for you to add to your recording. It’s easy to preview each track and then pick the one which suits your video best. Once selected, Screencast-O-Matic automatically adds ducking to the music, reducing the volume if you have recorded narration. Music will be automatically looped until the recording is finished.

With Pro Recorder you get access to all tracks and the option to add your own music. You can also use the Video Editor to adjust audio settings. Increase or decrease volume, set timing for fade in/out of music, normalizing sound tracks but using ducking and setting audio levels between music and narration and turn, looping on/off.

Screencast-O-Matics has some great tutorials where you can learn more about adding stock music:

3. Add Rich Text Annotations, Titles and callouts to your Videos
Many times your videos need additional visual aids to highlight a point. When you are narrating an explanation, having text annotations can help add important context.

4. Quickly share your published videos to Facebook, Twitter, Google Classroom and email directly from the Screen Recorder
You can now quickly share videos directly from the Recorder. As always, you can review your recording before publishing to ensure that it’s ready to share. Share options appear in the Recorder when your video is published so you can instantly share with friends or community. Teachers will love the fact that you can share your videos directly to Google Classroom.

How you can use Screencast-O-Matic in your classroom
The classroom possibilities for this tool are endless:
  1. Provide instruction for absent students and making a class video 
  2. Enhance your lessons by adding a screencast to explain a concept. You can make quick videos about anything really. 
  3. You can simply upload the file on YouTube or another platform and share the link with your students. 
  4. You can record lessons, provide demonstrations, present information to an online class, tell digital stories, and give feedback on student assignments.
  5. You can also create assignments that require students to produce a screencast. Because of its ease of use, Screencast-o-matic requires little or no training to get started.
  6. You can use captions with Screencast-o-matic 
  7. You can incorporate Screencast-O-Matic videos into Google classroom.
  8. In 1:1 environments your students can create videos  to explain their thinking using Screencast-O-Matic.
A fabulous tool, don’t you agree? Why not try it!