What next for tech in teaching?

I've just finished reading an article on http://www.teachthought.com titled “What's it going to take for teachers to give up their iPads?”

I'd like to start by saying that there aren't many teachers in FE that have access to up to date equipment for their vocational area let alone iPads, but that's not the point here, other things are available.

Teachers seem to be rather fond of iPads especially in the US where some schools buy whole sets of them for their students and teachers and then they build a whole school network around their use.

This isn't the US though and we are just starting to use devices in and around college work – think task based and blended learning scenarios.

Firstly it's not about the device, because there are a wealth of devices out there that are perfectly useable for a lot of tasks, unfortunately not all of them do everything including iPads. Sorry Apple fanboys! and girls.

The important thing to consider is what you are trying to achieve with the device and what software is out there that creates the best use of the device (or devices). I mention the plural because sometimes you're not limited to one device. How would you share a PDF document with you're students that is stored on you're PC if you're students have a range of different devices like iPads, android tablets and the corresponding phones that go with them, not forgetting Blackberrys too? What software can you find that will do this across all platforms? This is the important question.

I like Evernote for doing a lot of things and I've not really scratched the surface of what its capable of. I've used Google Drive in class too as it has a whole office suite built in in the form of Google docs. These are my main go to tools that I use daily. I have the loaned iPad too which I take into class with me. On the iPad I have installed the Evernote app along with Penultimate which is part of the Evernote family. Alongside these I have installed Notability as well, which at the moment is only available on the iPad but you can send any document you create as a PDF to other services including Evernote which is the main point for me.

So just with these few services I can create documents, share documents and manage documents on almost any device.

How could you use these services?

What about using Evernote as an E-portfolio? Nicholas Provenzano aka http://www.thenerdyteacher.com has written a good book about using Evernote in Education which describes how to get the best out of it.

Does anyone else use other apps or services for this kind of stuff?

I've recently come across Socrative too, which is an online voting system for use in class. I've not used it with my students yet but hopefully I will soon.

So get tapping away and tell me what you use and why.


Styling tips: The basics

JDM equipped

EG6, Type one

Modified cars can be seen on the road on a daily bases. This is because some car owners have the desire to make modifications to their beloved vehicle. Some do it for performance gains, some do it for a more customized look or both. But with the present economy and gasoline price, some car enthusiasts may have to save and spend on living necessities rather than blowing money on car tuning. I know some of us may have this crave of doing something to the car. The wanting to make modifications, changing this and that. It’s always in the head, just not quite enough cash in the wallet to do it all at once. Remember that it’s more important to spend your money on the necessary stuff first. If any essential or mechanical part of your car needs to be replaced or fixed then do those first and you can…

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Using Skitch in teaching.

I can't count the number of ways you could use Skitch in teaching!

Skitch is part of the Evernote family, which I'm sure you've gathered by now I'm pretty fond of (being a Yorkshire man, have I told you it's free?). Its a cool app that you can use for, annotating images like this.

It's recently been updated for the iPad so it now includes capturing web pages and being able to annotate them along with annotating normal photos, drawing on maps or just a blank canvas for sketching.

Now if you don't have an iPad you can get the software on most platforms ( and it's still free) there is a windows desktop download along with iOS. Unfortunately my iPad is only on loan so it will have to be returned eventually.

Anyway what about using it in teaching? Add pictures to your moodle page that have been annotated to give the students information, for example the size of nuts or bolts to help them to pick the right spanner first time or get organised for doing a job.

Take a picture of Health and Safety issues that you notice to make them aware of later on in class, making sure there is no risk at the time. (clarify)



Descriptive writing for Motor Vehicle students.

What! yes that’s right. Get your motor vehicle students doing a bit of descriptive writing to show their understanding of a system in a vehicle.  How about what it would be like to be a molecule of fuel travelling from the fuel filler at the back of the car through the tank and fuel pump then onto the engine and injectors. Give it a try and you might be surprised by the results. This can be applied to other areas too how about a paint molecule travelling through a spray gun and onto the car to be baked in the oven, or oil travelling around the engine, or being an electron in an electrical circuit. Students can give a fantastic description of what is going on and they can be quite amusing too. Try it soon you won’t be disappointed.