One of the most exciting things I have been involved with since working at my current school was the organising of a one-day ICT Conference for our staff at Lorne. And one of the nicest moments I’ve experienced was standing on the podium at the end of the conference getting ready for the prize give-aways. As I looked around the room filled with more than 120 staff, they looked so happy and excited. (Although maybe this was because they were minutes away from heading home!) Throughout the day people had come to me with positive comments and you could see that there was a great “buzz” in the room at the end of a great day.
I wanted to recreate that moment of fun and appreciation for all things ICT. At a recent Professional Learning session for all staff, we decided to present “Web 2.0 Top Ten Tools…and a few more!” Staff would be asked to bring their notebook computers AND mobile phones! (Hmmm…now that could stir up things a little!)
The highlights of the session were the prize give-aways. I created a couple of Voki characters (thanks to John Pearce for that site) based on staff members and we used them to play “Who Am I?” I challenged staff to “think outside the square” and I could see heads nodding as they started to think of ways to use Voki with their students.
We had asked staff to turn on their mobile phones and write their number on a raffle ticket as they entered the auditorium. I was amazed at the number of people who came to me nervously with comments like, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t bring my phone today,” and “Lucy, you’ll probably think I’m really silly but I don’t really know how to use my phone. You’re not going to ask us to do something hard are you?” “Do you know how to receive a text message?” I asked. “That is all you need to do.” A couple of tickets were drawn throughout the session by our Director of ICT who demonstrated the use of web2msg, a free online text message service. “Congratulations,” the message read, “Please claim your prize at the end of the session.”
So how did I become a Web 2.0-holic? I have my colleague, Matt, to thank for that after he put me onto the Go 2 Web 2.0 site. This site is a complete directory of Web 2.0 Tools and is updated daily. I find myself checking this site at least a couple of times per week to see what’s new. Narrowing down the sites to show everyone was such a difficult task. I could easily run a full-day program! A long list of Web 2.0 tools are available via my delicious account and under ‘Web 2.0 Favourites’ in the right hand links list. However, these are definitely two of my favourites, perhaps because of their direct relation to mobile learning:
Poll Everywhere: This site allows you to create online multiple choice, yes/no or opinion polls. You can download a PowerPoint 2007 slide to insert in your slideshow that gives you LIVE results as staff or students submit their responses. In Australia, users can currently only submit responses to a poll via the internet. It is just a matter of providing a link to your audience. In the US however, it is also possible to submit responses via text messages. I have been in touch with the developers and begged and pleaded for this feature to be available in Australia. They are keeping me posted on the developments!
I demonstrated Poll Everywhere during the Web 2.0 presentation as we attempted to answer the age old question, “What is your opinion of Turkish Delight?” As the results came in and the slide magically changed before their eyes, it was priceless to hear the “wows” in the audience. What a fabulous way to get instant feedback during a staff presentation or with students. I hope that more Australian educators will discover Poll Everywhere and also beg and plead the developers to extend the text message feature to our country. Imagine the flexibility this would offer teachers in terms of mobile learning!
Mobile Study: I have Andrew Douch to thank for this fabulous tool. Mobile Study allows you to create quizzes that can be completed online or downloaded to a mobile phone. A mobile phone with internet capabilities is required. However, once the quiz is downloaded it is stored in the Games & Apps folder (or equivalent) and can be used over and over. What also impressed me about this tool was the way in which incorrect responses are handled. When the student gets to the end of the quiz they are then given the opportunity to redo any questions they answered incorrectly. They are basically able to do this as many times as they wish until they have answered all questions correctly. Again, imagine the possibilities in terms of mobile learning! Apart from completing quizzes in class students could complete one for homework or on a excursion.
The only drawback that I can see at this stage is not actually with Mobile Study itself but rather with the lack of satisfactory and affordable mobile phone plans that include internet access. After trialing Mobile Study with a group of students who completed a ‘Basic Aviation Flight Theory Quiz’, they expressed disappointment at the high cost of internet access via a mobile phone, unless Telstra was your service provider.
So, did anything positive come out of the session? I know that I am very fortunate to work with such wonderful staff. The day after the session I had non-stop queries about Web 2.0 tools and positive feedback. My facebook status update read, “Lucy is answering queries about Web 2.0 tools and it’s great!” Shortly after, I received a wall post from Wes, a colleague in Queensland saying, “Wow Lucy, that is great that you are getting questions about Web 2.0. I still get the same old question, ‘Do I have to save this on my USB, ’cause I’ve lost it’.” Don’t get me wrong, I still get those questions too and probably always will. However, it is nice to think that you might be helping others to take even “baby steps” in the right direction.