Monthly Archives: August 2008

20 ideas

I recently led a session introducing 20 ideas for using technology in the classroom in 20 minutes. This post is something of an index to those 20 ideas that are all expanded upon on this site.

Each idea has a post and you can find them by following the links below (in the order in which they were mentioned in the session) or by using the other navigation around the site. An alphabetical list of all the posts on this site can be found on the ‘list of posts’ page linked above.

Here are the 20 ideas:

  1. Using timers in lessons
  2. Wireless Keyboards
  3. PowerPoint shortcuts
  4. Downloading YouTube videos
  5. Interactive timelines – Mnemograph
  6. Easier web addresses – URL shortening
  7. Paperless planning with Teachers Personal Information Manager
  8. Webcams for showcasing work
  9. Drag and drop in PowerPoint
  10. – online mind-mapping
  11. Teachers TV – not just for teachers
  12. Live web pages in PowerPoint
  13. Create interactive games, activities & quizzes with
  14. Multiple email addresses in one
  15. Temporary web pages with Google Docs
  16. – free your bookmarks
  17. Publish a homework tasks blog easily
  18. Using sound effects in lessons
  19. Collect data with Google forms
  20. What are other teachers doing?

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What are other teachers doing?

As teachers we tend to be hidden away in our own classrooms doing our own thingĀ  a lot of the time. There are loads of great things that go on in lessons that our colleagues never get to hear about.

This is especially true in the effective use of technology in the classroom. Lots of us have tools that we use and we should be looking to share our ideas, things that have work and that haven’t, with each other. Initially this should happen with our closest colleagues in the departments we are based in, then it should extend across the whole school or college.

But even if we are sharing good practice effectively within our institution, unless we are seeking dialogue with our colleagues around the country and even in other parts of the world, then we are missing out on a wealth of knowledge and experience. The aim of this website is to do a little bit of that, to draw peoples attention to some of the tools that are out there and hopefully build some connections with people who are innovating and developing wise ways of using technology to enhance teaching and learning.

There are hundreds if not thousands of teachers around the world who now record some of their ideas on blogs and websites. This is a vast (and slightly daunting) resource that we should be trying to tap into. A good place to start is with some of the best established British teacher bloggers (or edubloggers to use the term that has sprung up to describe them). Another place to look is on the blogging site where you will find loads of teacher authored blogs.

Here are a few places you could look to get started (after looking round this site of course)

Collect data with Google Forms

Google Docs has many uses in the classroom as a tool for creating documents and for collaboration. One of the newer features that Google have introduced is the ability to create web based forms that can collect data directly into a spreadsheet.

The idea behind Google forms is simple. In the Google Docs main page you select ‘New’ and then ‘Form’ from the menu, which takes you to the form editor. There you can enter a title and opening information for your form and begin to create your questions. Google gives you the choice of six types of question and you can mix them as you want in any form.

You continue to add questions until you have finished your form. At that point you save the form. You can embed the form in a website to be completed or you can use the link at the bottom of the form creator to share the webpage of the form. You might want to use a URL shortener to make the address easier.

Here is the address of my completed form

(and the shortened version is

Here is the same form embeded in the page

You can find out more about Google Docs and Google forms at the website

Publish a homework tasks blog easily

Have you ever been frustrated when a student tells come to a lesson and tells you that they have forgotten what the homework was that you set? Wouldn’t it be good if all your students could access a record of what you set for homework from home or the library even if they have lost their homework diary or were absent when it was set?

The solution is to publish your homework tasks on the Internet so that they are always accessible. I’m not talking about lots of detail or the homework itself being online, just a note similar to what you would expect a pupil to write in their diary, but maybe more accurate. Now not every teacher has, wants or could manage a full website or blog to post homework on, but every teacher should be able to use email.

With the online tool Posterous email is the only thing you need to be able to use to create a mini website with a record of the homework tasks you set.

As it says on their website you don’t need to sign up, all you do is email and an account will be set up for you and they will email you straight back with details. The email you send will be converted into a post with the subject being the title and the body being the text. If you attach a word document or similar to the email it will be attached to the post and if you attach a picture it will be added.

You can then just send an email with each homework task and it will be posted, creating a mini website that your students can look at.

Have a look at the demo site I set up at

and have a go at starting your own by emailing

Temporary web pages with Google Docs

Google Docs is an online office suite, like a cut down version of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc). It runs in your web browser and stores your documents online making them available from any computer. Google Docs makes it easy to collaborate on and share Text documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

There are lots of applications for Google Docs in the classroom and I will discuss others in future posts. One application of the word processor part of Google Docs is to create quick and temporary web pages.

Because the word processor enables you to quickly edit documents with instructions and links you can write some instructions or information for a lesson just as you would on a worksheet, except that because you can publish it as a web page it can include links to other websites.

When you have finished your page, you can publish it (go to ‘share’, ‘publish as webpage’) and you will be given a link to your new web page. Here is one I created for this post:

This is now a webpage that you can send the students to in order to guide them through an online task. You can use a URL shortener as detailed in another post to make the address easier to share with the pupils. When I ran the above address through I got which is much easier.

When you have finished using the page with a class you can either leave it published or unpublish it, but save it in Google Docs. That way you can come back to it, ammend it and use it again.

For more information about Google Docs visit the website I will endevour to write about Google Docs in more detail soon.