Etherpad – An Online Collaborative Text Editor

18 05 2009

Try out Etherpad for a fast, free, easy and really live collaboration and chat session.


Click for screencast

Etherpad is an online collaborative text editor usable by anyone with an Internet connection. There is no sign up required; you just share a unique URL (web address) with the people you want to collaborate with.

Each user has a different colour and there is a chat box. You can use the random URL assigned or make one up just by adding the name of the document to the end of the URL.

It is real time; you see the edits of the other people as they make them, and you may discuss changes as you make them in the chat box.

The potential for use in education is unlimited. This is a great web tool for collaborative writing and planning; writing reports, stories or scripts, answering questionnaires, improving writing, making lists or also discussing opinions.

It really is simple to use.

  1. Just go to Etherpad and create a new pad.
  2. Email the link for the pad to your learners.
  3. Learners click the URL and they are ready to start writing and chatting in the same pad. You can see everyone editing the document.
  4. All revisions of the etherpad can be saved at any time.
  5. It is simple to format text as well as headlines and bullet points.
  6. You may delete your etherpad

There are also loads of opportunities for using it with staff. There are many situations where we have to put a document together with just one scribe! Well now everyone can get involved in the self assessment! It could also be used for communication!



11 05 2009

 Another great web tool! Another great way of communicating. And free!


Wallwisher is an online notice board maker. You can use it to make announcements, make notes, share opinions and resources, etc … Just think of wallwisher as your virtual post-its!

It is extremely easy to use. You don’t need to register or create an account. You just have to click on write post and that’s it.

You can add images, links, videos and music to your comments or post it.

To arrange your post its, you just need to drag and drop them where you want.

Check the wallwisher I have just created to try it out with you, and please write something to play with it. To add you comment you just need to double click on the denim background.


What do you think?

I am sure you can think of some good ways of using wallwisher with your students. You can ask your learners to give opinions on something you brought up related to what you are teaching, or you can ask them to try answer a difficult question and everyone checks all the answers and can have discussions.

All you have to do is to click on build a wall, choose a URL, pick a theme, add an image (optional), enter your name and email and edit the title (here you can type in your question). Then just click on done.

To share your wall, copy the link and send it to your students. Or wallwisher will send you an email with the link and a template email that you can use to send to your students.

Have fun!

Mobile Learning

24 03 2009


Imagine teaching where your learners can access the internet, record videos and photos, create PowerPoint presentations on the go, access a digital library, read e-books, answer interactive quizzes, or produce dynamic mind maps of their project-based work in the palms of their hands anytime and anywhere.

This is the world of Mobile Learning. Using the latest handheld devices, seamless integration of technology is becoming a reality in educational establishments across the country.

With M Learning you can effectively support personalised learning styles; create learning activities with easy-to-use tools; engage your learners anytime, anywhere; choose from a varied of tried and tested learning materials for mobile devices, including topics like ESOL, numeracy, literacy, driving theory, health and safety, business, and much more; enrich your students’ experiences through online collaboration; create podcasts; interact and share ideas, resources or information such as audio, images and videos.

Mobile learning has proven to improve retention, achievement and progression in many projects that took place in different colleges in the country. It also increases flexibility of provision, extends the virtual learning environment, helps those who find it difficult to attend classes and have little or no access to IT equipment, provides learners with technology to strengthen the relationship between learning in the field and learning in the classroom, and also facilitates data recording and evidence collection.

Visit to read more about Mobile Learning.

Let me know if you are interested in knowing how to use M learning with your students. You can tie in your commitment to 30 hours CPD and log on the “research project” on ifl. You can come up with your own idea for a project (could be for example finding out the effect of M Learning has on students’ motivation), undertake training as part of the project, deliver and report back logging the whole as part of your CPD activity. If you liked the idea I am more than happy to help you with ideas, planning the project, providing training and overseeing the project.

A New Way of Providing Feedback to Your Students

23 02 2009

“Screen capture software” allows you to record the screen of your computer as if you had a video camera pointed at it. Everything you do on the screen is recorded and can be played back as a video, and if you have a microphone connected to your computer your voice will also be recorded.

This piece of software has been mostly used for IT training purposes, as for example; teaching how to animate objects in PowerPoint (PPT). Trainers simply turn on their screen capture software, begin actually to create the animation in PPT and comment on what they are doing, adding notes and call outs. The video is then saved and trainees play it back, listen and watch how to animate objects and jump from the training video to actually creating an animation themselves.

Russell Stannard, principal lecturer and Course Team leader in Multimedia /ICT at the University of Westminster, realised that  “Screen capture software” could be used as an innovative way of providing feedback to students on their written work. This method is leading to a substantial interest in the academic world. THES and Guardian have already written articles about it. Many lecturers and teachers have started using this method.

This new method is really simple and basically works like this: Your students send you their written work as Word files (or other formats), you open their work on your computer, highlight mistakes or aspects you want to bring up, turn on screen capture software and start recording yourself correcting and marking your students’ work.  Once you finish recording, send the video to the students. The learners are able to listen and watch as you talk about their work. You can also tell your students to watch and re-do their assignments according to your feedback recorded on the video.

The key factors that drew Russell Stannard to this idea of  “live video feedback” were:

  • Offers a solution to the issues around face to face contact
  • Students normally don’t understand the feedback we give them and they are unllikely to do more than quickly look over it. Video feedback provides visual and oral information and helps the learners to overcome any misunderstandings
  • Gets students more involved with the writing process. A teacher can point out problems and suggest alternatives, and learners can use the video to write up a better essay
  • Combination of  the video and audio leads to a “deeper learning”

Click here to read more about the case study and watch some screencasts.

If you want to try this new method with your groups, you can get screen recorders by googling “Screen capture software”, or you can download free software, such as Camstudio or Jing.

Drop us an email if you need a hand.

Text to Speech Tools for Students with Special Needs

21 01 2009

ICT can help meet many of the needs of learners with special needs. ICT can help our students accessing their course content by reading text to speech, increases their independence, ameliorates visual discomfort or stress, offers alternative forms of recording written information and helps them improving and practising Literacy skills.

With appropriate programs and ICT tools special needs pupils gain confidence, work independently, demonstrate what they know and can do, overcome frustration and raise self esteem and also become less tired.

Here’s a list of some good tools and tips to reduce learners visual stress:


ClaroRead is a powerful multi-sensory software solution for supportung computer users who struggle with reading and writing due to dyslexia or othe conditions. This software provides a high quality text to speech tool that is extremely easy to use.

Our learners can start writing and reading independently with the support of this software’s tools. By making the computer speak any text with a human voice, text documents can be proofed read out loud as well as web pages, emails and any other text.

There is a portable version of Clarosoftware on a USB memory stick, it speaks back text as it is typed, includes voices of over 25 languages, provides a single Check Button that combines a homophone dictionary, thesaurus, reference dictionary and spellchecker, making the checking of text and documents easier and more comprehensive.

Thunder on iBBC Player

Thunder on iBBC Player

Thunder is another screenreader talking software for people with little or no sight. Just go to and download the software for FREE! Watch Thunder users on iBBC player. 


Reading large amounts of text on screen can be difficult for those with literacy and visual impairments. Browsealoud is another piece of software that reads webpages aloud for people who find it difficult to read online.

Hope these tools are useful for everyone!

Create Your Own Podcast

11 12 2008

What is a podcast?



A podcast is a feed used to share out audio or video content, such as a weekly music show or video program. Like blogs, podcasts have many different formats and topics, from talk shows to cooking.


Podcasting has now become popular as an alternative way of providing content that can be listened to whenever, wherever and as many times as the listener wants. The idea that a podcast can be produced by just about anyone with access to the Internet has generated a lot of interest in educational circles.

The call is not only in providing supplementary listening input for students, but that students themselves can become involved in recording and producing their own podcasts.

How do you produce your own podcasts?

You can do this with a handheld MP3 with recording facilities. I have got one in my drawer, if you need it!

You can use the program Audacity on our PCs.



Using Audacity allows you to edit out the mistakes, change the order of students and add music and sound effects, creating a more professional show.

Don’t worry! Audacity is amazingly simple to use.

OR there is another extremely quick and easy way of creating your podcasts that is signing up podomatic website.

You will easily be able to make a recording, save it, find it, keep it nicely organised, embed it on EZone or send it to your students.

Signing up is completely FREE.

Once you log in, the site gives you lots of information about podcasting, you can search for podcasts on whatever topic you want, and if you go to My Podcast area you can create your own podcasts.

To produce your podcast just click on post new episode, click on Record with your webcam or microphone and hit on the record button. You can preview your recording or re-record if you are not happy with it.

After that you press on Use Recording, move on to Next Step, give your podcast a title and write a short description, you can add pictures to it, tag it and then punch the Post Episode button.

And that’s it! Really easy! Give me a shout if you need a hand.

Good podcasting! Enjoy!