Week 4: Materials Online

This has been a thought-provoking week.  While I did my normal weekend readings and writings on the topic, I have had more difficulties in working out what to blog.  So here I am Thursday morning (NZ time) putting thoughts to keyboard.

The Prezi tool

Wow, I think it has some amazing implications for my teaching.  I have had a play with it a couple of times for one of the courses I teach but haven’t actually produced anything.  I like the idea of a large canvas to work on and the ability to zoom in on different areas but I find the actual moving around on autoplay makes me dizzy.  I’m sure there are ways around that.  The other thing I had difficulty with was the twisting of the presentation so that I was looking at things upside down!!  More play needed here.

The task I was keen to use Prezi on was one where I wanted to bring information from 3 different diagrams together to show how they were related.  I had a couple of different attempts with Prezi but didn’t make that much progress – I think part of the problem was I wanted to use images and I wasn’t sure if I should have 1 image or to split the image up – again more playing required.  I tried to use Word to achieve what I wanted to but the screen size isn’t the easiest to play with and I didn’t think about changing the paper size to something bigger until too late.  By this stage I had taken a screen shot of one of the diagrams and was busily cutting chunks out of it in Paint and then pasting into the Word document.  Result was one big mess to be honest.  I still can’t believe what I used for my solution – Microsoft Visio.  I don’t know how many of you have used Visio but I usually introduce it to my class with the comment ‘it will drive you nuts’ as it tries to auto align everything, and here I was using it to put together 3 diagrams!  To be honest, it was fairly successful in achieving what I had set out to do.  Why did I choose Visio?  Because it is possible to have a screen size larger than the paper size!  Enough said about that!

Usefulness of HTML knowledge 

As an IT tutor who has an IT degree, I’ve done a bit of work in HTML so I am comfortable with it.  I’m not sure how useful it could be in developing online materials but I do note that a lot of sites seem to let you put your own tags in yourself.  I usually use Notepad when I am using HTML and CSS.  I like the ability to place content where I want to and control my own styles and layout.  I have recently moved to other Notepad like programmes – mainly because they use autocomplete for tags which I find useful and allows for quicker HTML validation (I love being allowed to put the validation ticks on my webpages even if they are just for me or for assignments).  I understand the concepts of HTML and CSS well enough to be able to manipulate layout, design and content if I want to but I’m generally happy enough with what the WYSIWYG produces – probably because of the time constraints in putting everything together.

Developing Online Materials reflection

The ITC course I have mentioned previously is taught face to face but I think a blended approach could work well.  The course time allowance is 150 hours (10 hours per week) with 4 hours per week in the classroom.  The other 6 hours a week is for students to do their own research, activities and assignments.  This is the first year this course has been taught and I am teaching only part of it.  The students have commented that this does give the course a disjointed approach for them as the classes are divided into 2 x 2 hour classes a week.  As part of my side of the course, I leave students to do research or finish off activities after class.  However, I have noticed they often don’t complete the activities before my next class.  I am thinking that a blended approach may be more suitable to the class.

Some of the things I liked from the readings was the ability to target online research by providing links to get started (particularly useful for business content set in the NZ context as a general web search brings up American content which isn’t relevant for NZ).  The type of course also makes finding a suitable textbook at a reasonable price difficult.  This makes it more complex to find supplementary reading which has resulted in me putting together notes from a variety of sources.  While this has worked ok for face to face, I like the idea of flip learning so that more time could be spent on discussion and activities to reinforce the content.  Therefore my current Powerpoints and notes would not be suitable to be placed on the web in their current format.  I see Prezi as a useful tool for changing over the content to make it more interesting and relevant to the students.  A set of discussion questions could then be posted which would be followed up in class.  This in turn could lead to test questions.  I think a test is the best way to assess the understanding of the topic I teach for this course because the purpose of this section of the course is for students to understand how business works and how this relates to the careers they are likely to have which will involve interacting with the business environment and developing systems (or any sort) which meet the business’ needs.

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5 Responses

  1. One thing that stood out to me in your post was how you like the “large canvas” in Prezi. I also find that to be helpful as I am organizing my ideas and presentation. I wanted to thank you for your comments in the section of your post about HTML. I am glad you mentioned using Notepad. It can help avoid frustrating formatting issues. You mentioned that, “I have recently moved to other Notepad like programmes – mainly because they use autocomplete for tags which I find useful and allows for quicker HTML validation.” I was wondering if you would be willing to share what those other programs are in case others in the certificate program are interested. Your whole post was great to read. Thank you for your in-depth response to this week’s prompt!

    • Thanks for your comments Laura.
      I have experimented with Dreamweaver but I found it really frustrating to get what I really liked. The advantage of the other programmes I have used (all free) is that it actually encourages the separation of HTML and CSS which is the way W3C perfers. It makes sense to have content and formatting different as it is easier to get the content sorted (we know what we want) and then experiment with different formatting (what is the best look). Using CSS also allows separate formatting for say display and printing which also makes sense. Some of the other products I have used are:
      Notepad ++ (from http://notepad-plus-plus.org/)
      HTML Kit (from http://www.htmlkit.com/)
      Eversoft First Page (http://www.evrsoft.com/1stpage3.shtml)
      I also validate my web pages at http://www.w3.org/QA/Tools/

  2. Thank you for the info on and analysis of the tools you have used!

  3. […] 4: Materials for Online and Prezi […]

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