Thursday, 3 December 2009


Need software to download video from Youtube, Teachertube, etc? You can even even convert the movie to play on an iPod or iPhone. Download now!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Simply Lamps

Simply Lamps is a quality Replacement Projector Lamp service. Schools may make significant savings over the purchase of new lamps. They have also now added a wide range of Projectors to complement this service as well. Visit their website to see the featured monthly special offers, or call their team free on 0800 043 1871 where they can discuss your projector requirements in detail.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Tikatok - Imagine a Story. Create a Book.

Tikatok is a free creative community for children under 13 where they can write, illustrate, and share their original stories, and have them printed out into real hardcover and paperback books. It was developed to encourage the imagination and creativity of children everywhere. Tikatok can be found here.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Allowing students to upload work to the school's server space

Quite a number of our schools have 'bought' their own hosting space for either their school website, their own VLE or both.  I have been asked by a number of these schools as to how their students can upload work to this web space, in particular their websites which have been created for a specific task such as their GCSE coursework or A-level coursework, in order that they can be viewed live.

I have produced a brief tutorial here which demonstrates this process.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Blogger celebrates its 10th Birthday

To celebrate its 10th birthday, Blogger has introduced some really useful new features.  The first one of note is the "Read more" link.  Back in December '08, we blogged about how it was possible to add the 'Read more ...' link by changing the HTML code in the template.  This was a bit messy and problematic. Blogger now has a build in feature that easily allows you to insert the Read more link anywhere within the article.  Details of how to set it up can be found here.

Physical Storage v Digital Storage

Recording information is an inherent part of our humanity. As we evolve, we create more efficient means of storing this information. Since the creation of computers, we have greatly increased our ability to store and access large quantities of information. Find out more about the Digital Storage Evolution by clicking here.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Findings on the impact of Web 2.0 on learning

Becta has recently published findings on the impact of Web 2.0 technologies on learning. The research was carried out on their behalf by Nottingham University and surveyed 2,600 students aged 11-16 in 27 schools.
The findings recognise that development in this area is still at an early stage however they are cautiuosly positive.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Google Translate

You want to develop links between your students and those in another country but are worried that your language skills may not be up to it? Why not try the new translation tool from Google.
Simply enter the text and choose the language that you require and hey presto! a fully translated version of your text appears that can be copied and pasted into any document including emails and discussion forums.

Website blocking

We all know about the frustration that we feel when we come across a link to a website that is blocked on the network that we are using. In a recent article on Flux - the Futurelab blog - Ben Kirkland talks about the missed opportunities associated with blocked sites and argues that although eSafety is obviously a very important issue just blocking websites may not solve the problem. Read his article to learn more - what are your views on this controversial topic?

Monday, 22 June 2009

Spezify - a great visual search tool

Spezify is a search tool presenting results from a large number of websites in different visual ways. Spezify have taken web search further, away from endless lists of blue text links and towards a more intuitive experience.

"We mix all media types and make no difference between blogs, videos, microblogs and images. Everything communicates and helps building the bigger picture.

We collect websites and are aiming to use as many relevant, free and open API:s as possible to generate extensive and diverse search results."

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Joanne wins Becta Next Generation Learning Award

Teaching Awards 2009 Winner. Joanne Murray from Cookstown Primary School has just secured 'The Becta Award for Next Generation Learning in Northern Ireland.'

Joanne Murray’s reputation precedes her. Among her many accolades are several awards for her work using technology in the classroom and her methods are to be featured in a new book about ICT in learning by an American educationist.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

WolframAlpha computational knowledge engine

Making the world's knowledge computable. Check out this exciting new search engine! Wolfram|Alpha is the first step in an ambitious, long-term project to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone. Enter your question or calculation, and Wolfram|Alpha uses its built-in algorithms and a growing collection of data to compute the answer. Based on a new kind of knowledge-based computing...

Monday, 1 June 2009

Free Moodle Hosting!!

KeytoSchool provides FREE Moodle Hosting. Once you have registered, you will have a unique domain name, 2.5 Gb of storage and 50 Gb of bandwidth. You can also:
  • enrol up to 1000 users
  • upload files up to 32Mb - standard for many Moodle installations
  • choose from a wide selection of themes and personalise them for your school
  • ftp directly

Ideas to Inspire

Are you looking for new ideas to make the learning in your classroom more exciting and engaging? If so, check out this fantastic site: The site has been set up by Mark Warner, a teacher in Kent, UK. It gives practical examples of how software, such as Voicethread, Prezi, Etherpad, Wordle and Twitter, can be used in the classroom. The list of examples is continually expanding as more and more teachers are getting involved with their own suggestions. You can also contribute any of your own ideas. Really worth checking out.

Monday, 18 May 2009

How mobile phones help learning in secondary schools

This study was commissioned by Becta through a research grant related to the UK Government's e-strategy "Harnessing Technology".

This study was commissioned by Becta through a research grant related to the UK Government's e-strategy "Harnessing Technology".

AUPs in context: Establishing safe and responsible online behaviours

This publication provides a number of prompts and action points to help schools and other children's settings develop effective AUPs within their local context and framework of wider e-safety measures.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Nintendo DS in the classroom

Is there any impact on learning when the Nintendo DS is used in the classroom? Read Merlin John's account of his visit to a Oakdale Junior School to find out more about how they are using these handheld gaming devices to extend learning. The work follows on from that begun by Learning and Teaching Scotland and has been complemented during an recent Ofsted inspection.
Click here for the full article futurelab news


Digital technology offers fantastic opportunities for children and young people throughout their lives. However, the technology can be misused and this can be very painful for those who are the targets of cyberbullying. In recent guidance from the Department for Children, Schools and Families it was stated that adults need to help children and young people prepare for the hazards whilst promoting the many learning and social opportunities available. To obtain key safety advice as well as access to resources suitable for use in school click on the following link:

Monday, 11 May 2009

Wordle - Creating Beautiful Word Clouds

Wordle is a tool that generates “word clouds” from text that you provide. It identifies the words that you have used most frequently and gives them the most prominence. You can also tweak your clouds to change the appearance. Apart from looking pretty this tool has potential use in self reflection, as an alternative means of presentation, or a pictorial summary of content.

Have a try yourself by entering some text into the web site and see what happens – I guarantee you will become addicted!

The image shows what this article looks like in Wordle. To try it out for yourself visit

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Best Embeds for Educational Wikis and Blogs

Now that you and/or your students are using wikis and blogs, are you curious what could be added to them? From animated slideshows to collaborative documents to interactive review games, many great (and free) tools are available. Have a look at this extensive list.


Kerpoof provides free multimedia software that can be used directly from any browser, on any computer with Internet access and an up-to-date Flash player. It can be used to create original artwork, animated movies, and stories, among other things.

You can select from a number of backgrounds and then add characters/props to the picture or scene. The quality of the production is exceptional. In the example below, the character actually animates.

Click here to find out more about this excellent tool.

Glogster (for educators)

Glogs are virtual posters. Glogs and can be shared with the world because they are published online. Unlike physical posters, glogs can combine text, pictures, graphics, video, and audio to create an interactive online poster. Glogs can be easily edited and changed at anytime.

Once a glog is saved, it is given a web address. A glog also has an embed code so it can be easily embedded into your website, blog, or wiki.

There are 2 versions of Glogster. The Glogster-edu version is specifically geared for education. It has the following features:

  • A web 2.0 platform that easily allows users to upload photos, videos, text, audio and more to create a unique online, interactive poster.
  • A new and creative digital outlet for educators to help keep students ENGAGED and make learning more fun!
  • A simple and easy interface designed to introduce basic concepts to students.
  • A series of teamwork mechanisms to allow users to publish and share their creations and to collaborate with other users on joint efforts.
  • A secure, private, safe platform that can be monitored directly by teachers.
  • A valuable learning tool that can be integrated with several core subjects including math, science, history, technology, art, photography, music and more.
  • A tool that fosters advancement of skills as students progress through grade levels.
  • A virtual, digital, educational platform that transcends age, gender, background, subject matter, grade level, school type, location, etc.
See here for more details. Really worth a look!


Etherpad is a unique custom in-browser text editor. It allows up to eight people to collaborate in real time. Each user is colour coded and the changes made will appear on all screens almost in an instant. For more details and a short 90 sec screencast just click on the title of this blog entry.

Sunday, 29 March 2009


I had a conversation with a teacher recently who said that a certain syllabus for GCSE stated that the students were required to use Powerpoint to produce a presentation. It was only after a few probing questions that she accepted that Powerpoint wasn't actually named. We have reached the stage where the word presentation is synonymous with Powerpoint. Teachers feel that they are expert in its use and so we get Powerpoint used everywhere, by the teachers and by the students. Using Powerpoint is not the only, and very often, not the best software for presenting ideas. Instead, we should encouraging our students to use alternatives remembering that we, the teachers, do not need to be 'trained' in its operation. The students are more than capable of working out all its nuances. Prezi is one such alternative. is a website that allow you to create dynamic presentations. You create a map of your ideas which can include text, images, videos, etc. You can then show the overview of your presentation and zoom to see all the details! It is very simple to use. Words can't do it justice! Go to the site and check out the showcases. The site also includes a manual.

For the free version, you get 100Mb of storage and the off-line editor. The small prezi logo will appear in the initial screen but it certainly doesn't interfer with the display.

To Twitter or not to Tweet

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing? I have joined Twitter and I find it really fantastic.

I joined Twitter a few months ago using the name "ballyvally". It seemed strange at first. You have no friends (or followers) and you aren't following anyone. Who do you send your tweets to?

The first thing to do is to follow people who have the same interests as yourself (you can always follow me!). If you go to to this site, you can type in the area you are interested in. From the list of Tweeters, select one and read some of their entries. If they seem interesting, you can follow them. Repeat the process.

The idea is to state what you are doing using 140 characters (letters, spaces, etc). Initially you might be thinking, who wants to know what I'm doing. Who wants to know that I have just cut the grass or am just about to take a walk along the river? But if I was attending an ICT conference somewhere in Europe, there will be numerous people who would be interested in the details of the conference, step-by-step as it is reported live. I could be reading a really interesting article from a particular website and be able to share it with my followers - did you know, for example, that pupils in the UK are to study Twitter and blogs in primary schools. This article is one of the links that was passed on to me through Twitter!

When you log into your Twitter account, you will see a list of the most recent tweets from the people you are following. I am following some great people - olliebray, mwclarkson, russeltarr, John_Howarth, to mention but a few. Every so often, I will also check who they are following, read some of the posts and again, if I like what they are saying or if they point to useful websites, I will follow them too.

The amount of really useful information I have obtained from the people I am following has been unbelievable. Here are Nine great reasons why teachers should use Twitter!

Some Tips for Twitter: a great beginner's guide for new users
Click here for 100 Tips, Apps, and Resources for Teachers on Twitter.

Join Twitter now!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Breathing Earth

At you will find a lovely simulation of the aspects of the life-cycle on Earth, including global birth and death rates, as well as CO2 emissions.

I love the organic sound effect that accompanies the visuals. And having the birth and death rates pointed out in such an obvious way really was quite shocking to me.

It indicates an exploding population, with the continuous counter on the site showing births going up at twice the rate of deaths. Given global concerns about CO2 emissions, the figure underneath those is somewhat worrying too.

You can find out the details for individual countries by hovering the mouse over them.

The aim of this site is to raise awareness of environmental issues. You can find out at the bottom of the site about the data's origin and how you can make a difference to the planet.
Article by Kate Russell (

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Mobile Moodle

I have successfully run Moodle from a USB Memory stick. So why would I want to do this?

Sometimes in a school, the Internet can become very slow and anyone trying to work on their VLE can experience anything from frustration to complete failure. Wouldn't it be great if the VLE could run on a local server during the day and then, in the evening, the VLE could be synchronised with the on-line version. This would make video and audio streaming much quicker. You could still run your VLE if the Internet 'goes down'. The VLE would be available to classrooms that don't have access to the Internet at all!

The answer to all this is MoWeS - Modular Webserver System.
  • Go to the"No thanks, take me to the download>>" link provided.
  • Select the "I do not have a MoWeS Portable II Package and want to obtain a new package" option
  • Select the appropriate packages.
This will include MoWeS Portable II Core, Apache2, MySQL and PHP5 as well as Moodle (or Wordpress, Mediawiki, etc) which are also provided.

When you download the package, you will be able to run Moodle from the 'Localhost' server directly. You can change the options so that the MoWeS Portable will automatically start Moodle up (http://localhost/moodle/).