Tonight I borrowed the Kindle Fire
HD from a colleague involved the RGC device trial. I’m actually more impressed with it than the Windows RT devices and Google Chromebook, yet at just over £120 it is by far the cheapest device.
As a teaching device it lacks a camera, but can connect to a projector via its mini HDMI cable. The books can be read out loud using the built in text to speech converter (sadly missing from the Kindle app for other devices). The 7″ screen is sharp and the selection of apps good. I was pleased to find the WordPress app for example!
The variety of office apps available make document creation on the go a breeze and I really like the Skydrive app for synchronising files with other devices. I’m about to see how many podcasts are available through Amazon’s version of android. This could be a great device for pupils to take typed notes on but without microphone or camera it isn’t going to be sufficient for staff use to augment learning and teaching.
A really nice surprise though after the frustration of Windows RT.
I’ve just updated a short VLE comparison document I created in March last year. Since then my school has moved forward with a locally hosted Sharepoint 2010 installation which, in the next few weeks, will become available to staff to allow them to populate department and extra-curricular group sites, create blogs and wikis using the built-in templates and begin to explore what opportunities Sharepoint provide to enhance learning and teaching across our junior and senior school. The Sharepoint solution also aims to improve or simplify the work processes of administrative staff but, as these features are outwith the scope of a traditional VLE , I haven’t included them in the document (or the remainder of this blog post!)
I’ve now used Edmodo for over eighteen months and, more recently, have been involved in training staff at my school in how to get started with the site. Usually I don’t have to follow up because it has proved to be a really easy system to learn and I’m happy to say that a number of my colleagues are now more adept at utilising Edmodo for their courses than I am! I’m looking forward to learning from them in the coming months as I plan how I intend to use Edmodo next session.
My worry was that when the Sharepoint installation went live we would be prevented from using Edmodo, much along the lines of some local authorities banning services which reduced teacher use of Glow. However it looks as if both services can sit nicely together – Sharepoint providing version-controlled lesson resources and a fixed entry point for each of the student’s courses and clubs, Edmodo allowing device agnostic discussion, flexible student assessment options and an achievement system that allows awarding of badges for … well, any behaviour or accomplishment the teacher wants to award a student for! I’m now looking forward to seeing how both VLEs can work together to allow student access to resources outside of the classroom, improve staff-staff, staff-student, and staff-parent communication, provide useful feedback on work submitted and enhance learning and teaching in all subject areas.
I’ve included my updated document below, just in case it is useful. Please feel free to post a comment if you think there is anything I have missed or misrepresented.