Monday, October 31, 2011

Tundra connections Nov. 14-16

[Live cam]

Join a live, free webcast from the tundra during the peak of the polar bear migration near Churchill, Manitoba, Canada through Edmodo. Here's the information link --

News from Churchill

Link to Facebook

Link to PolarBear Cam above

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Embedding when there is no embed code

Today I'm updating my Web2.0 and math Wikispaces to prepare for an upcoming workshop. I want to have 2 projects to display on the wiki page, so readers don't have to use link away from the page in order to see them. The problem is that the sharing options o n these pages give only the URL links -- no embed code.

Embed code is a snippet of HTML software writing language. O.M.gosh! I hear you moan. Now I have to learn another language in addition to figuring out how the tools work. Well, this is kind of like learning enough French to ask how to get to the nearest cafe in Paris. Once you understand some of the basic 'catch phrases' and what they do, you can adjust heights and widths so the display works in your own wiki, blog, or class website. I found the information at WebSource.

In Wikispaces once you're in edit mode, select Widget from the menu bar and then Other HTML which is at the bottom of the list of options.

Next you need to copy and paste into the box the embed code provided by WebSource. You'll find it about half way down their page shaded in grey.

Two steps left:

(1) The given code will display a page form the WebSource website. You want your choice to show up, so you have to change the URL in 2 places. Copy it from the address bar and paste it into the code.

(2) You may have to adjust the width and height. Again, make the changes in 2 places. This may take a few tries to get them just right for your website and for the devices your students are use most often.

This worked on my wiki page, but it's created a small glitch when I want to edit the page. I now get a message that says I'm missing a plugin (which cannot be found/I'm using XP). Also when I saved, I got an error message when I'm saving.

I click 'OK' and it all seems to be working fine except for that plugin message. Ignoring it seems to be the best plan. If I solve the problem. I'll let you know. I suspect this has something to do with the pages I've embedded being interactive.

The resulting web page is too big for this blog, so I'll have to link out to it. (Sigh!)
Feedback would be appreciated.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Badges -- reward or recognition

Badges seem to be the new hot ticket in many classrooms today, but I have to say I'm not really comfortable with implementing what is essentially a points-based reward system. I'm not convinced that these kinds of extrinsic rewards pay-off with long term behaviour change, and I think the novelty wears off for children at a certain point.

I have been reading about a different use of badges that is more like the old Scout & Guides system. In this case students pick areas of special interest or talents or outside activities or things they want to learn or skills to remediate and work on them because they want to (intrinsic). The recognition of work done or learning accomplished or contribution made is a badge. The teacher and class can decide on what kinds of badges they'd like to work on, what the criteria for achievement will be, how it will be judged and by whom. The kids can be judges or you can get peer tutors involved in this. Students who feel their special talents aren't represented can ask that a new badge be created.

If one criterion of badge-earning is having to relate the work to curriculum in some way, then students can be set the problem of figuring out how to meet that expectation and this can become a platform for independent project-based learning with a real world dimension.

I'm creating a one-week Moodle learning event on SmartBoards that's due to run in the spring, and I want to introduce to it the concept of working on a badge over the week. I've figured out how to make the Moodle less linear and more website like so people can make their own connections and have even found a Moodle module that will allow the awarding of what they call 'stamps' and I'll use for badges. So far I envision an 'Explorer badge' for people who go on safari and bring back interesting files, links, and resources to the group. If I'm a bit cagey in the way I put this together they should have to cross topics to complete their badge. I hope this will accommodate those who want to create a new file, experiment with different features of their boards, become more expert at something, explore other resources and add to our collection, and so forth.

There's a movement afoot to introduce lifelong learning badges into the world, and perhaps this idea for a self-study course -- with badges that can be displayed on a blog or website somewhere else -- might have some appeal.

For more information there's a new Scoop on the topic at