Blogging for teachers: links

Piano Busking, first time I

Just a few points arising from the sessions on blogging this afternoon. I’ve put these in question and answer format.

Q: How do I convert from WMA (Windows Media Audio) sound format to MP3?

A: Download the free version of the Switch Audio File Conversion Software from an Australian company called NCH. They are giving out the basic version for no cost, it is fully working software. If you want to make sound recordings on your laptop, then use the Audacity sound recorder, along with the LAME MP3 export filter to save the results in a Web friendly format. Audacity is a fully working sound recorder that can multitrack. I used it to make the market maths podcast. Use a USB microphone (the audio systems in laptops are usually very noisy) and you have a complete podcasting system.

Q: What guidance is there for employers about the use of e-mail and blogging?

A: The best source I have found is on the ACAS Web site. Have a look at their Internet and e-mail policies leaflet. I personally blog about teaching methods here or good links. If I had ‘issues’ I’d be talking to management or in very extreme circumstances with my Union. Mr Lock’s Weblog is a brave example of a school teacher blogging about his working day. He seems to have gone quiet (no posts since August). As an aside, Mr Locke is using the WordPress blogging site – more powerful than Blogger but harder to use. If anyone has more stuff on employers and Web sites, especially in the Education sector, please let me know.

Q: What is SlideShare?

A: Another one of those Web 2.0 programs I talked about (at too great a length in the first session). SlideShare allows you to upload a PowerPoint file, and then embed the resulting ‘flash’ conversion into your blog. I tend to write PPTs that I want to use on the Web especially for SlideShare as the result is quite small on the Web page and it can’t handle fancy transitions. I do a wider range of work on YouTube though as you can have a sound track. My tree diagram YouTube has been downloaded 19000 times… not bad for GCSE Maths!

Q: What advice would you give younger students about [ public ] facebook and blogging?

A: It is a big debate at present about whether students should blog under their own names or under pseudo names. I personally would suggest the latter, as the Web never forgets. I’ve used WordPress to run this Web site for four years now, before that I wrote ‘hard coded’ Web pages. A page I wrote in 1997 is still accessible, and stored on another server over which I have no control. Food for thought?

Web 2.0 in action: I uploaded the few slides I used this afternoon to SlideShare. Another SlideShare member has ‘posted’ my simple slide deck to a ‘group’ page devoted to web 2.0 tools for effective teaching. There are 1173 presentations in that group so far… I think information handling / filtering skills are going to be really important in the future!

If you have any more questions, try leaving a comment below [ I don’t normally have comments enabled on this site, and may need to switch these off again if the spammers get through the filters ] and I will answer the questions. To make a comment, either scroll down to the form if you are reading this after following the e-mail link, or click on the word ‘comment’ if you are viewing this from the front page. You fill the form in and your words of wisdom get run through a spam filter. E-mail addresses are NOT published!

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