About Me

For the last three years I've been working in an international school in Thailand teaching ICT (Information Communication Technology), prior to this I have worked for several years in software support and also taught English as a Foreign Language. I'm particularly interested in using ICT as a tool for transforming education and in the impact of open source technologies upon learning. Twitter ID @ajduckworth

Friday, July 20, 2012

Edmodo versus Student Blogs

A colleague recently asked me whether their school should be using Edmodo. After being an initial fan of Edmodo- I'm trying to move away from it to student blogs and other open solutions.. Here is my response.  


My main criticism is that Edmodo seemingly started as a microblogging tool, which it is good at, but teachers  have started using it in place of a VLE. There's nothing wrong in that per se. However it has the problem, in common with any VLE that is not based on your network in that it takes ages to download posted work, whereas if the student uses a blog, such as Posterous the work is nearly always in a format that can be viewed immediately on screen, and the whole body of the students' work can be viewed just by scrolling down the screen.. 
Of course with a blog, the work becomes viewable in the public domain. This has benefits as well as downsides.Some teachers/parents/students may feel uncomfortable about having student's work being so openly on display, but is does give the kids more motivation to do a better job and they can also peer assess work, unlike on Edmodo or a VLE and you can also bring in e-safety issues should they arise. The other nice thing is that it can become part of an online portfolio that can help show their progression as they get older. If you want a walled garden approach one local school tried using ELGG as a private blogging platform, on its own server, but for whatever reasons they now seem to use open blogs for work submissions. If you decide to go down the blogging route Matt Baker at Pattana put together a nice set of How to videos for using Posterous
I've had my Year 7s submit much of their work this year using blogs and Google Sites http://bit.ly/y7sites2012 and find it far easier to check through than using Edmodo. I tried using Google Reader to monitor submissions, which many teachers use, but found that an online spreadsheet suited me better. I still use Edmodo for posting assignments, mainly because it is easy for students to download worksheets and stuff that I may want to post, but I am think of moving to a more open website solution next year, so parents and the school have more visibility of the programme of study

Hope this helps you decide what's best for you.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Serco Training Videos




These are online at http://sercofacilitytraining.wikispaces.com/. There are separate sections for Facility and Eportal. Please let me know if you would like to see any other training videos on the site. I recorded the videos with an online tool called Screenr, recommended because of the high resolution it offers compared to other sites such as Youtube.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Teacher Training Workshops November/December 2010

Latest teacher training sessions are online at http://bit.ly/Regents_ICT_Training1
Edmodo, Wikis, Google Docs, Developing an Online PLNs, Creating Departmental Websites and more for 2011

Monday, October 4, 2010

Meaningful Homework

I was thinking of this article when a student was giving a well crafted debating competition speech on education.

"Show Us What Homework's For - Students sound off on why homework doesn't work—and how that might change. - Kathleen Cushman


Figure 1. Students Suggest Homework Alternatives


In This Learning Situation. . .

Instead of This

Try This

You introduced new material in class.

Assigning a question set so we will remember the material.

Ask us to think up a homework task that follows up on this material and to explain our choices.

You want us to read an article before a class discussion.

Making us answer questions that prove we read it.

Ask us to write down two or three questions we have after reading the article.

You want to see whether we understand a key concept (such as literary irony).

Making us complete a worksheet.

Ask us to demonstrate the concept for the class in small groups, using any medium.

You want us to see how a math procedure applies in various situations.

Assigning 10 word problems that involve this procedure.

Ask small groups to choose one word problem that applies this procedure in a real-world situation, solve it, and present it to the class.

You want us to memorize facts (such as dates in history).

Handing out a list that we will be tested on.

Ask each student to share with the class a memorization trick (such as a visual cue) that works with one item on this list.

You want us to remember what you taught last month.

Assigning a review sheet.

Give frequent short pop quizzes about earlier material. Go over each quiz, but don't count the grade.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Twitter ID

Follow me onTwitter @ajduckworth

Monday, September 27, 2010


Edmodo Rocks
I've been using Edmodo for four weeks now, and am liking the way it is streamlining homework submission. It takes a little getting used to. Most kids will need some training in uploading their first submission. The most common mistake is that they send their homeworks in messages rather than as submissions. The way the the grading is done online is neat and it's easy to export in CSV format. You can add comments to each marked piece of work but I can't see a way to review these comments once you've assigned the grades. I've previously tried Yacapaca, but the administration was more complex. With Edmodo the kids just sign up to each class, so there is no need to generate of class lists, usernames and passwords.

I came across a similar product called Soshiku which I has all the same functionality, and with a slightly cleaner interface. It also has the advantage of offering collaborative assignments. Unfortunately, unless you are happy to limit yourself to 20 assignments you will need to pay USD 5 per month.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Teacher Training Videos are at http://www.wix.com/aduckworth/tr2010
Serco, Edmodo, Wikis, Google Docs and more


www.wix.com is yet another cool site for putting together a free website quickly. One major feature is its nice flash graphics. (which is OK assuming your audience has Flash)






New Homework website is at http://site4ict.weebly.com/.
Make your own free webite with www.Weebly.com
There's an education edition too with extra features.






Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Education Weebly

I'm always on the lookout for ways to simplify the transition to making schools more accessible online and Education Weebly certainly fits in this category. I've been quite impressed with the presentation of given on the Classroom 2.0 online conference. Am hoping to give it a try out shortly. It's basically an online tool for creating online classroom websites and most of the functionality is available through drag and drop editing It includes the ability for students to submit assignments online and tro create limited sites of their own under the overall administration of the teacher. As my school has not yet quite got the funding for a VLE this seems to offer a sensible option for teachers within schools to set up their own sites. Quite whether I'll use it for assignment submission I'm not sure, currently the teacher sets up the submissions so that they come into his/her email inbox. It also seems to be more suited for primary school teachers, ie teachers with fewer students. As I have over 160 students it's important to reduce cost and administration as much as possible. Nevertheless, if you were thinking of starting a class blog or wiki, then I would say give Weebly a chance and I think you'll be impressed with the added functionaility.

Friday, October 2, 2009

School MIS - Serco Facility- getting started

Although I'm trying to keep this blog updated, work inevitably gets in the way. My school is installing a management information system (Serco Facility), formerly known as CMIS , and the first steps to this involve a mountain of data collection, data entry and checking. I made an estimate that it has taken around 200 man hours to complete this. So if your school is heading down this route, you would be well advised to plan ahead in terms of securing sufficient staff time to complete this. Additionally, the start of the academic year is probably not the best time to do it, especially if you work in a school where students are joining two or three weeks into the term, other students are still changing their mind about which subjects they want to study and new teachers are being taken on after the start of term. Such are the challenges of working in an dynamic and expanding school. So it was with some relief that I finally zipped up all the data files and sent them off to Serco for processing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Social Bookmarking

Just wanted to plug the social bookmarking tool, Diigo, that I use for recording interesting and useful sites connected with ICT, technology and education. Having tried one of the long established social bookmarking sites, del.icio.us I've found Diigo to offer much more functionality. Some people say it's more complicated, but really I found it takes only a little time to adapt. It's widely used by others in education and makes finding material and resources so much easier. The one main disadvantage I do find is that the toolbar for diigo doesn't work too well with Firefox. Diigo doesn't always seem to have compatible add ons, so you somwetimes have to switch to Internet Explorer in order to bookmark a new site. Nevertheless, as with any social networking site, it offers a good way to improve your expertise through groups and by following people with similar interests. My personal bookmarks are at http://www.diigo.com/profile/royston_vasey.

Screencasting

Screencasting is the real-time recording of screen activity. It is used largely as a means to create how to tutorial videos for software. I use screencasting to produce tutorials for students, but it is also nice to have the students themselves create videos themselves. Camstudio is a popular option, however one of its main drawbacks is that the files are created are rather large and need to be compressed afterwards. Jing on the otherhand produces videos that are uploaded to the jing project website. Both these programs are free, however if you are more serious about producing screen tutorials then Camtasia may be your program of choice. Unfortunately, this comes with a price tag.

Update 27th September 2010
Thank's to Chris Smith I'm now a convert to Screenr. The main advantage is the high resolution and direct storage on the Web. If only more tutorial videos were produced at better resolutions like those made with Screenr.