Although there are alternatives, such as PhotoFlexer and Tuxpi, it is sad to see Picnik is shutting up shop in April - apparently its features are being wrapped up into Google+. The good news is that, until 19th April, all of its features, including the premium stuff, are free to use! Here's Brough Castle - well and truly Picnik-ed!
Don't know if 24 hours or so qualifies as adequate time for reflection, but I decided I'd jot down some initial thoughts about Michael Goves's BETT 2012 speech today before they got lost amongst everything else I'm doing at the moment. A quick browse though Twitter showed I was actually being quite slow of the mark with several blog posts already making some well argued points. After a quick digression into some fascinating research on coincidences, I happened upon Terry Freedman's Blog post, 'Developments in Education Technology: Reflections on the first day of BETT' and found, by coincidence(?), he was making, amongst others, the very points I wanted to make!
He writes: 'Mr Gove mentioned, as is de rigeur these days, that the current ICT curriculum is boring, and that by dropping the ICT Programme of Study children will no longer need to bored by having to learn Word and Excel. Well, given that these are not mentioned in the Programme of Study, how will dropping it have any effect? Also, given that programming IS in the Programme of Study, but is not usually adequately covered, how will dropping the POS change anything there either?''
Couldn't have put it better myself! From a primary perspective, Ofsted have been going on for years about the same old weaknesses of primary ICT: namely superficial data handling, weak control technology and poor assessment of children's abilities. Without the clear requirements of the programme of study and the assessment support in the National Curriculum (NC Action, anyone?) will these get any better? You could argue that these are not done well because of the outdated PoS, though I would assert that these areas are well covered in the PoS and the only really outdated bit is the Exchanging and Sharing Information strand.
Without the PoS to prompt them, some primary teachers (and schools?) will start to avoid the bits of ICT that are difficult and challenging for them and the children, i.e the stuff that proponents of a more 'Computer Science' approach think are important! This may be no bad thing thing - there is nothing worse than a badly taught lesson on LOGO or yet another tedious attempt to light up the clown's nose and swivel his bow tie using an aging control box! Freedom to use 'to use the amazing resources that already exist on the web' could mean lots of exciting and engaging work with Scratch* or similar. Or it could mean a drift towards pointless web-based drill and practice and tedious online painting packages?
On a lighter note, I have run Mr. Gove's speech through Tagxedo - an interesting alternative to Wordle - and also come across AnswerGarden for the first time: please give me your views (very briefly below!)
* Not a web-based tool, I know, but a free web download.
Much has already been said today about Michael Gove's speech at BETT 2012 - in the papers, online, on Twitter and in a stream of emails I have received today. Probably right now is not the time to offer opinions - some quiet reflection needed about implications, if any, for primary. Mr Gove did give a passing reference to how his preferred approach to technology in education might manifest itself in key stage 2: 'we could have 11 year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch'. The focus was mainly on 'harmful, boring and/or irrelevant' ICT in the secondary curriculum - or did he mean primary too? Anyway, as a first stab at reflection, here is the speech when viewed through the lens of Wordle - maybe all it proves is that you can't talk about technology without using the word 'technology'. Also note, hiding at the bottom is that little word .....
I have just checked and updated my list of Web 2.0 tools for teaching and learning - now over 50 tools listed with short descriptions. Although mainly tools appropriate for primary-aged children and/or their teachers, many could be used productively by older and younger children. Amongst my latest finds (though they maybe familiar to you?) are PhotoPeach (another tool for making short video sequences from images) and Primary Wall (an online 'sticky notes' board for sharing ideas). The short video below was created in Stupeflix - mentioned in my previous post.
After a slight change of direction in my recent posts - reflections on the National Curriculum Review and sharing some favourite photos - I thought I would return to the main purpose of this Blog in my first post for the new year: namely, sharing useful online resources for teaching and learning.
Stock.XCHNG, a huge gallery of free images, now owned by Getty Images. It provides a useful alternative to other free image sources, such as freeimages.co.uk or pics4learning.com, and subscription services, such as SCRAN. Organised like a paid-for stock photography site, Stock.XCHNG contains over 350,000 images that can be used freely for non-commercial purposes. As with all stock photo sites, there are some fairly mundane photos available alongside some quite striking images - do a search for images of 'London' to see what I mean!
Stupeflix is an interesting alternative to Animoto, in that it can quickly transform a set of images into a video. There are restrictions in the free version which limit its usefulness - no downloads, for example - but, it is very easy to use, has a huge range of music soundtracks (as well as the facility to use your own) and exports directly into YouTube.
Screenr is a brilliant tool for creating short videos of your computer screen and is another tool that works well with YouTube.