Looking into concept mapping
Jan 22nd, 2013 by H-Blog

I’d been asked by my Head Teacher to see what my network had to say about concept mapping. A few shouts on Twitter and some retweets from the pedagoo crew got me a pile of responses, so thanks to Kenny Pieper, Fearghal Kelly, Drew Burrett, Sinclair Mackenzie, Alan Stewart, Samantha Williams, Malcolm Wilson and Allan Reid for all their help.

So, what did I find?

A pile of stuff actually. On the free side, as well as being pointed towards which I have used before, I was also given links to FutureLabs exploratree and the quite interesting text2mindmap whilst Google suggested I take a look at Simple Mapper and I also stumbled across the Seeing Reason Tool from Intel.  Commercial resources mentioned included  SMART’s SMART Ideas, Mindomo, MindMeister and creately (most of which have free versions with limited functionality). Alan sent an address for a Livebinder which as well as having most of these links and a pile of others, also reminded me how useful LiveBinder could be.

So, job done then?

Sadly not. Over and above the resources themselves, I’d been hoping to find examples from people who are working with concept mapping already, and nobody seemed to have anything to share on this point. We’d also been quite hopeful of finding someone who might be able to deliver some training on the effective use of concept mapping, and whilst I had noticed that iansyst had a mention of concept mapping training on their site, I could find little else.

So, that’s where things stand just now. But I’ll keep looking and listening and see if I can find out anything else!      


Inclusive Technologies for Reading – #ITR12
Nov 5th, 2012 by H-Blog

Some of you may have noticed that my blog posts  – which were infrequent at best – took a nose-dive into the non-existent category last year. This was due to a number of factors, starting my new job and moving house being two of the lesser ones. The main reason, as it turned out, was the very demanding but exceptionally rewarding PGCert in Dyslexia & LiteracyI undertook through Dyslexia Action. I can honestly say that it is the hardest study I have ever undertaken, far outstripping the demands of my PGDE (Primary). Now there’s a sentence I never thought I would write!!!! After such an intense year, I was looking forward to a bit of an easier year, and the chance to focus completely on my work in school.

Unsurprisingly, things didn’t work out like that!

As many of you know, I am fairly active on Twitter. As is fairly common, I saw something appearing in my stream that really caught my interest. Dyslexia Action and the RNIB were looking for volunteers to pilot an online course they had been developing called Inclusive Technologies for Reading. This course will be a commercally-offered course, and the chance to take part in such high-quality professional learning for free proved just too tempting for me and so I signed up.

The course architecture is fascinating. Having used a number of learning platforms over the years – First Class, Glow, Moodle and now Fronter amongst others – I am finding this new platform that wee bit different. From what I can gather, it has been designed specifically for the course and has a real social media type ‘feel’ about it. As a result, I am finding it far easier to navgate than I have found Glow in the past or the exceptionally-bewildering Moodle that I had to fight my way through last year. Have a look yourself.


The course content is similarly fresh. Collaborative Google Docs, Live ‘webinars’, Discussion Boards,  Link Repositories and Twitter Socials are hardly cutting edge in the tech-world, but it is refreshing to see them front and centre in a method of CPD delivery.

As it is with the web-engagement. the ITR12 course virtually forces participants to use Twitter and also to blog reflectively. This ‘compulsory’ aspect of the course will be a great device in helping other teachers to engage through such media.

The result on here, of course, wil be some semi-regular postings, as well as the creation of the #itr12 tag in my blog categories!

TeachMeet hits the Borders
Feb 25th, 2009 by H-Blog

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to attend my 3rd TeachMeet. This particular TeachMeet was different from my first two – both of which had been at the Scottish Learning Festival – in that it was a smaller event and was held in Galashiels. Organised by Stuart Meldrum (primarily in response to a dare from Ewan McIntosh at TeachMeet@SLF08) it proved to be no less engaging and exciting than its two bigger brothers.

Having cadged a lift down from David Muir (along with Andrew Brown of Glow fame and a rather large bag of beers), we fought our way through misguided directions, traffic, RTAs and grumpy SatNav personas towards Galashiels following the build up to, and latterly the beginning of, TeachMeetBorders on intermittent mobile coverage.

As predicted in the car 3 miles outside Gala, one of us HAD to be drawn out of the hat first and after being covered for, poor David was selected again as soon as he walked in the door. Ian King took over for him so he could grab a sandwich and told us all about Scratch, a useful free tool that I already have a ton of ideas about using. David Noble (of Hillside School and The Access Network) then gave us a Pecha-Kucha style run through the possibilities he sees for his class having their own iPhone, which seemed to hit a chord with many of the audience. Next, Jim Black ran us all through some open-source software he uses with the pupils and gave us some food for thought about how these pupils are likely to be engaging with software in the future – is it likely to be in their chosen field of employment where industry-standard software is important? For many, perhaps not.

Pretty sure there was a break for food/drink/general chat then. I got yarning to a few folk, including Stuart Meldrum and Liz Marroni who has to get a special mention for securing the venue, helping with arrangements & hosting and also for managing to de-secure the wifi access for the night.

After the break we were treated to Doug Hawkshaw telling us about how he was using Wikis to work with children of a range of abilities, giving him the ability to use the same materials with everyone whilst stretching the more able children and supporting those who needed it whilst still allowing them to access the same materials. Stuart Meldrum told us about using Comic Life and Animoto in Craft & Design with a pupil who had injured both his arms, Andy McSwan told us how he has hijacked the Top Gear cool wall with his ICT pupils (and of course, where else would an R2 D2 projector system end up but in the DB-9 fridge…?). Lorna Fraser and Nikki MacArthur from the Borders claimed to have been had been ‘bullied’ into presenting, but their talk on the Girls of Ambition/Students of Ambition programmes were excellent and showed just how well a properly planned and implemented intervention can work for the benefit of pupils.

As the evening began to wind down, David Muir spoke about iRiddles, a great idea which a lot of people liked the sound of, but it all came crashing down around him as he tried to construct one on the spot in 1m 40s! After that, Theo Kuechel gave us some insights into the benefits being gained and some great uses for images from Flickr Commons, and brought us up to date with the developments in countries uploading image archives folowing the lead of the US. David Gilmour brought the Meet part of the evening to a close sharing some thoughts on the East Lothian “One Netbook for Every Child” initiative. Fascinating stuff. After a quick clean up, it was off to TeachEat, where I had the pleasure to meet face to face some of the individuals I had previously only encountered electronically.

The long drive back to Glasgow was enlivened by a DJ duel in the car as Andrew and I waged musical war using David “The Stig” Muir’s iPod as our weapon of choice.

A most enjoyable end to a great evening. TeachMeet, it would appear, still belongs in the DB-9 fridge of CPD.

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