Thinglink interactive posters

Inspired by the #etmooc projects my students have just started to use with the interactive poster software . As I’m currently teaching a research module my students have been using the presentation tool to create posters that summarise their findings and share links to the sources that they have used – this has included embedding webpages and YouTube clips in to the posters.

The feedback from my students has been great. They all enjoyed using the software and have found it really easy to use so I will definitely be using this tool again. Due to the interactivity of the posters they are more suited to formative assessment rather than summative.
Thinkglink poter

To download the user guide I made for my colleagues click here.


ocTEL – My plan of attack

Yesterday I decided to participate in the Association for Learning Technology’s (ALT) Open Course in Teaching Enhanced Learning (ocTEL). After taking part in the ETMOOC earlier in the year I feel more prepared for this experience and have a plan of action for my first week. I thought it might be useful to share my plan with other participants, especially the ones new to the whole MOOC experience as it can feel extremely over whelming at first.

My first task is to plan how I can manage my time effectively by deciding which activities I can realistically complete. Due to being on annual leave, I have more free time than usual so I’m planning in participating in 2.5 induction activities, these are activities 0.1, 0.3 and parts of 0.4. One of the strengths of this course is that at the start of each activity page there is a section called ‘If you only do one thing this week..’.This section is for anyone who only has time to complete one activity that week and outlines which tasks to follow. I’m sure I’ll be using this section frequently once I’m back at work as although I am interested in the course as a whole my main objective for taking this MOOC is to develop my connections with other educators who are interested in technology enhanced learning. Although I’m part of a small community at my own institution it would be nice to develop a wider circle to bounce ideas off and discuss our interests.

Week one activity list

Week one activity list

This leads me on to the second point in my plan. As I have a ridiculously poor memory I found it difficult to keep track of the people and posts that interested me as part of the last MOOC, however before I left the course I was involved in a Twitter conversation with two participants who explained that they had been making a note of everyone they communicated with during the course as well as what they discussed with each individual so that they could continue to develop these connections after the course. This also created a kind of go to list for advice and inspiration on the different areas and software covered as part of the MOOC. So right from the start of this course I am going to comment on blog posts and join in with discussions in order to create connections I am then going to creating a list of the people I connect with, their blog addresses and twitter name so that I can start developing my personal learning network with regards to technology enhanced learning.

MOOCs, are they worth it?

Ping, I have constantly been hearing this noise all afternoon as my phone has been lit up with the excitement brought about by the start of a new MOOC. In the space of 4 hours I have received around 40 email notifications as participants have published their first task for the Association for Learning Technologies Open Course on Technology Enhanced Learning (ocTEL). Although the excitement is contagious and I’m fast becoming drawn into participating, after my first MOOC experience earlier in the year I am a little skeptical. Particularly about the ratio of time spent on the course to the amount of relevant work based knowledge that I will gain.

When I started the Educational Technology and Media MOOC (ETMOOC) in January I was like today’s participants of the ocTEL MOOC- full of excitement and raring to go, however my interest and motivation began to wain during the first module. By the second (which was a creative based module) I was more enthused but by the third module all I managed was half a webinar before admitting that I wasn’t really interested in finishing the course and I probably wouldn’t have tuned into the webinar if I hadn’t been following the speaker, Doug Belshaw’s blog for a while.

Why didn’t I fully engage with the ETMOOC?

The course started in January which was an extremely busy time for me as I had just started an undergraduate computing module with the Open University (OU). As the OU course was accredited and the MOOC wasn’t the MOOC naturally came at the bottom of my to do list. Teaching full time and studying for an undergraduate module in an area which I have no formal qualifications or experience in meant that I didn’t have much time to connect with other participants making the MOOC a very lonely experience. This feeling was made worse by the ‘massive open-ness’ of the course – there were so many new posts and status updates that it was difficult to keep up.

The positives

Although I didn’t finish the course there were a lot of positives to be drawn out of the experience.

I discovered new learning technologies which have gained the seal of approval from my students. This includes Bit Strips which is a comic book generator, Mozzila Popcorn Maker which can be used to edit audio and video clips from the web and Thing Link which is an interactive poster generator that I have been using as  a tool for an end of course assement. I re-connected with Deb Seed, who I’d previously studied with, as she mentored me during the first few weeks when I was feeling lost and over whelmed. The course has encouraged me to further promote the use of ILT at my own institution and as Deb has been using the Mozzila Popcorn Maker with her own students I’ve arranged for her to speak about this at my institutions annual teachers fair. I learnt how to better manage my use of the internet including how to use the Buffer application to schedule my tweets so that they are shared throughout the day instead of being sent out in one flurry and I also learnt how to turn my RSS feed into a personalised magazine via the use of Flipboard. Finally one of the main learning points to come out of this course was the development of realistic expectations of MOOCs in general and how much I’m going to be able to learn from them. It is going to be overwhelming at the start, as I’m not meeting up with people in a physical classroom it is going to feel lonely at times and I’m not going to manage to keep up with all of the tasks. However I am going to develop a deeper understanding of how I make connections (Twitter is my best friend for this) and I am going to learn more about what motivates me (I like creative tasks and am turned off by the traditional academic style). I am going to be inspired to try out new things and whether these work or not they are going to inspire to be more creative in my practice. So although they’re hard work, they do take a lot of energy and the chances of me completing the course are small MOOCs are still worthwhile.

Why I’ve decided to take part in the ocTEL MOOC?

Up until this afternoon I wasn’t going to participate in  the ocTEL MOOC as my last experience had left me feeling rather negative and doubting their worth, plus my situation hasn’t changed since January so my shortage of down time and the fact that, through my work I’m starting the L4 Learning Through Technology qualification at the end of the month,  I didn’t want life to be all work and no play. However the buzz and excitement of  this afternoon had me doubting my original decision and as I’ve been writing this post reflecting on my MOOC experiences so far I’ve decided to give this new MOOC a go. I’m also off work this week due to the Easter holidays so tomorrow I’m going to strap myself in and embark on the ocTEL journey.

Rocket launch


The Pirate

Task 7 of the digital literacy topic asks participants to draw an object on a piece of paper and upload it to the Internet. The participant then asks a peer to draw a related object. This drawing is then passed on to another peer who draws another related object as so on until five images have been created. Once all five drawings have been produced the task is to create a story that links the original object with the last object drawn.

Here is my image.

Pirate story

The pirate.

I’m really excited about this project and can’t wait to see what comes back. To speed the project up I’m going to give people the option of sending me a image they’ve found on the Internet in case they don’t want to draw anything. Here’s hoping I receive four images back.


Yesterday I was lucky enough to be sent all of the images that I needed to create my story, which turned out to be a poem. A big thanks goes out to @LazyPhilosopher @SusanCamp @_Daniel_Scott and @L_Hilt as without their contributions I wouldn’t of been able to finish the project.

So here are my final images and the poem that I made from them.  I hope you like it.

The pirate

The Pirate


There once was a pirate called Brute

Who had a very large chest of loot

He rowed ashore

For a cocktail or four

But was thrown out of the bar when he swore


It’s snowing again here in the UK and is absolutely freezing so the images are helping to keep me warm. I’m going to try out a few new tools later in the week to create variants of this story. If you’d like to send me additional images to include I’ll make an extended addition of the story. I’m really glad that I returned to the #etmooc in time for the digital storytelling topic as I love being creative so am really enjoying this.

My first story

Gemma gif


Digital storytelling is the second topic for the #etmooc so I decided to animated a picture for my craft blog ‘Handmade by Holty. Ever since seeing the animated picture over on Ella Master’s blog I’ve wanted one for my own so this task was the push I needed to learn how to do it. This animated gif is very basic but it is only my first go. Hopefully I’ll be able to develop it this week into something that I’m proud of to show off.


All is quiet on the #etmooc front

As I’m off work for half term I can finally take stock on how this year has been developing. To say we’re only six week’s in to the year  I’ve already achieved a lot with regards to my professional ‘ILT’ life. This includes:

  • Starting a part time BSC in Computing, IT and Design
  • Learning basic computer programming
  • Applying to return to the University of Huddersfield next year to complete the MSc in Multimedia and e-Learning
  • Creating my first video blog post and participating in my first MOOC
  • Leading my first staff development session on the use of interactive presentation tools
  • Continuing with my ‘ILT Stars’ projects

With all this going on I have struggled to feel connected with the #etmooc and apart from reading the odd blog post I haven’t really participated in the course for the last week and a half. I have struggled to keep up and feel part of the ‘community’. Due to this being the first mooc that I have participated in it has been a lot to get used to and I have felt like I’m on the edge looking in – not a great feeling to have when your participating in a connectivist course. However I am going to persevere and thanks to debseed’s blog posts dropping into my email box over the past few days I’ve been inspired to  creating my own digital stories and therefore re-connect with the course. Although it would be great to develop links with a few more participants my primary reason for starting this course was to discover new technology and as my first post outlines I’ve started to achieve this and this new technology ( a comic book generator) has already made it’s way into mine and my colleagues lessons and the students love it!

To help me feel more connected I’m going to spend an hour or so every day this week (hopefully in my pj’s as I am on holiday) reading the #etmooc google plus page on my iPad, plus as well as reading the blog feed and watching the archived elluminate sessions that I have missed, to help me feel connected and part of the course I am going to be making sure that I comment on the posts that interest me and fingers crossed others will find my own posts interesting and leave me a few comments

As this is a reflective post to finish off here’s a brief round up of what I’ve learnt from the #etmooc so far:

  • I’ve downloaded the google plus app and have started to follow the #etmooc community – I am yet to post so this is something I could try this week
  • I have downloaded the Flip It app and have added the #etmooc Twitter feed although I’m not sure I’ll get much use out of this app as I don’t find it too appealing
  • I’ve learnt how to make an animated gif in photoshop – look out for this in my next post
  • My overall awareness of the day to day impact and the power of social media has increased – there hasn’t been a day so far where I haven’t used social media as a teaching tool
  • My excitement for ILT has been given a boost and this has impacted upon my day-to-day role as I’ve introduced new technology to my own students and have trained my collegues on how to use the software in their own classes
  • By reading Sue Water’s blog I’ve started to re-develop the way that I organise and read posts from my PLN. This has included downloading the Flip It app to turn my social media feeds into a constantly updating magazine and creating a IFTTT account to make my on-line identity work smart

The Power of Social Media


Since I started to take part in the connectivist MOOC #etmooc my awareness of the way that I use technology to connect with both my peers and my learners has increased greatly. This week I have been particularly aware of the role that social media plays in supporting the progression of learners from Further Education to Higher Education. As I teach sixth formers, here in the UK it is a particularly important time for our second year students as they have just applied for university and are beginning to receive interview offers from their chosen institutions.

At the start of the week a learner who was in my tutorial group last year approached me in a corridor as she had just received an interview offer for a BA (Hons) Youth Work and Community Development course.  As part of the interview process she has to read an academic paper and then write a essay question based on this and was unsure on how to approach this . Last week I became aware of the Open University’s academics blog where posts are published on the latest news stories and events in a variety of areas including childhood and youth studies. I tweeted out a link to this blog and I was sure that this would be a good place to start her research. The learner and I then used her twitter account to retrieve this tweet and to research the blog. As there was a post directly related to her interview question it provided a starting point for her research. The use of twitter and mobile phones meant that I could provide a spontaneous but substantial learning situation to a student when she approached me off the cuff.

Later that week I was able to use my LinkedIn account to support another learner who had received an interview offer for a graphic design degree at the University of Huddersfield. When studying at this university for my postgraduate teaching qualification I set up my own tuition business in order to supplement my income. To help me with the branding for the business I recruited a volunteer designer who happened to be a first year  graphic student at the same institution. A few months after I met this students she added me on LinkedIn. As her profile contains a link to her portfolio I was able to forward this on to the student who has an interview for the same course so that he could see the standard of work expected and the type of projects that he would be expected to undertake on the course. I did not know this student personally as he is also in another tutors group but he approached me a few days later to thank me for the link as he had found it really useful.

These two experiences really increased my awareness of connectivist learning and how it relates to my own practice. Although I am aware that social media plays a huge role in my own CPD and in my personal life I hadn’t realised the impact it had on my own practice and how I use it to support my students learning.

Although I still feel on the sidelines with the #etmooc as I don’t have as much time as I’d like to read and comment on posts and tweets a week in I can already see the impact that it is having. I am a lot more reflective in my practice and have a greatly increased awareness of the tools that I am using and the way in which I am using them.