Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wisdomap as an eportfolio tool?

Had a look at Wisdomap which came up via Jane Hart’s pick of the day elearning tool. I tend to use mindmaps in some of the sessions I teach. I use it especially when I have content that requires students to also have to put a structure to the content for their own learning. Therefore, the concept used my Wisdomap that allows each node to be extended by text, pictures, videos or websites will be really useful not only for students but also for teachers to organise their lesson resources into one easily accessible place.

I can also see the possibilities for using wisdomap as an ePortfolio tool. Each node in the mindmap could be one area or sub-area of the portfolios. This node can then be expanded with links to text, files that can be text, powerpoint, excel files etc., along with links to photos or videos or to social networking websites. It will be a quick & effective way of putting an ePortfolio together.

Wisdomap offers 3 mindmaps for free, after which there is a payment of £1 per month! Small biccys for unlimited number of mindmaps. The interfaces is user-friendly and it took be less than an hour to put in a ‘adult education summary’ mindmap for a class I am teaching this week. I build up the mind map with various nodes along with text inclusions. Plus also put in relevant websites and a powerpoint summary.

As more of the social networking sites become mainstream, tools like Wisdomap which allow users to link to their existing files and information found on the web will no doubt become the norm. Next item on my wish list is mobile phone compatibility.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Michael Wesch’s youtube videos for teaching anthropology

I have used Michael Wesch’s youtube video ‘the machine is us’ in a couple of presentations. The video encapsulates the promises of web 2.0 and the opportunities it opens up for the average person to put content on the web. They have been useful in informing people new to the concept of social networking about the potential of web 2.0.

Michael Wesch is a cultural anthropologist exploring the impact of new media on human interaction (and the impact of human interaction on new media). He teaches anthropology at Kansas State University. He not only researches social media but also bases his teaching on the underlying philosophies of social networking and the capabilities of technology for enhancing social networks.

Some of his work on mediated cultures is presented in the form of youtube videos. These include the ‘machine is us’ video but also another video which summarises how today’s students approach learning. This video was made by his first year anthropology class studying digital ethnography whereby the video itself was planned using a class wiki & the video shot in the lecture theatre during one of the lecture times. A really interesting concept worth exploring in other subject areas.

His students also study youtube and a series of videos, including the history of youtube have been constructed by various students from various classes over the past few years. The videos on the website are from the class of 2007 but the class of 2008 is beavering at this year’s project on their wiki.

Another project that Michael Wesch uses with his students is the world simulation project . In this project, the students become participants in a simulated world. Groups of students are divided up into ‘tribes’ who are to come up with their own cultures. Groups then interact with each other, using the rules that they have established earlier. Props like currencies, natural resources and other items that help create the world. In one of the later class sessions, the students run the simulation of ‘world history’. This is all done to provide students with the opportunity to ‘live’ the social and cultural processes that interconnect humans.

All the above make marvellous resources for social studies but also provide an example of how to engage students with a topic and to make it relevant and exciting for them.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Here’s another interesting way to set up an eportfolio. Flowgram provides an interesting method for presenting various multimedia artifacts. You set it up like a blog. Each blog can be text or linked to your usual blog, or podcast, or linked to a slideshow, which is a series of still photos or videos, overlaid with audio voiceover or sound track. It’s a concept that has been elegantly presented and tailor made for digital story telling.

The interface is very easy to use & has a very clean, minimalist feel. Have registered to have a play & will report back next week on how things went.