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Johannes Ahrenfelt

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Everything posted by Johannes Ahrenfelt

  1. E-book v hardcopy?

    Would you buy the e-book although a hardcopy was available? Vote here http://bit.ly/Ebook-hardcopy ?
  2. Using Macromedia Flash in the classroom: is it just ‘flash’ or can it be useful? My seminar is divided into four key sections: What is Flash? Why should it be used by teachers and how could we use it? Why should it, and how can it be used by pupils? What are the problems with Flash? What is Flash? It is difficult to define Adobe Flash. Doing a quick search for a definition provides us with a myriad of explanations, from very simplistic: ‘a technology that allows for animation or moving graphics on a website.’ Gravitate Design, to Adobe’s own: ‘…[the] industry's most advanced authoring environment for creating interactive websites [and] digital experiences… design and author interactive content rich with video, graphics, and animation for truly unique, engaging websites, presentations or mobile content’ Adobe.com. In the past Flash was often used in the development of e-Learning by Flash experts well-established in the world of hard coding. The learning curve has always been steep and the use of Flash by the average person has been rare. But this has changed recently as the development of e-Learning in Flash has been made a little easier, more insightful and, most importantly, more accessible to teachers. This is partly due to Macromedia’s new features, for example templates and components such as learning interactions. However, the biggest progress made thus far in encouraging educators to use the software has been due to the insistence by many training institutions to focus on ICT and individual teachers continuing to develop on their own. There are now also numerous sites devoted to spreading the usage of Flash (see part four for a brief list of some of these sites). In the context of education, one could suggest that Flash is an open canvas where teachers create the content. This means producing interactive, engaging and pedagogical resources for their pupils. In the past, Flash-produced resources used to be primarily for delivering content for the Internet, but the practice has developed significantly since then, something which will be examined in further detail in part two. Unlike other e-learning development tools, Flash does offer its users the opportunity to create online content. This presents major benefits for several reasons. Firstly, as it uses a plug-in it can run on most platforms and can therefore be used by everyone. Secondly, as bandwidth is still an issue particularly if you want to include audio or video, flash files are small compared to other authoring tools, even if you include video files, which makes it a perfect tool for creating activities for the web. Why should it be used by teachers and how could we use it? ‘…students want an education that serves their needs. For many that means an education that is convenient, accessible and most importantly, relevant.’ (Macromedia Whitepaper 2004) Children have different expectations about the role of technology in their lives and if teachers do not eventually meet these expectations then it could become difficult to ensure that learning is maintained for every pupil. The world has come along way since Commodore 64 with it basic graphics and pupils are now using hand held game consoles. Games for Commodore 64 could take up to 30 minutes to load and if we then failed the first level, then we had to endure another 30 minutes of waiting. We also had hand-held computer games, or at least in the late 1980s, with smash-hits such as Donkey Kong Jr, but these were simple and uninspiring. Thus, graphics were poor, game content weak and the interactive element limited. Children are now used to game characters with Artificial Intelligence, astounding graphics, professionally conducted music and game content which changes each time they play the game. If they already have certain expectations about, for example, interactivity and graphic quality then should not learning be pushed into that direction? Many educational companies and sites have jumped on the bandwagon and are creating online tasks that attempt to meet these new needs. For example, the BBC have various interactive activities available for pupils to access. Although many sites have potential, a lot of them lack one fundamental element, namely, ensuring that learning takes place. Would an activity such as this Drag and Drop task aid learning? Doubtful. If we are to use Flash well then we also need to think carefully about how we structure tasks. Creating fun games can serve a purpose but the likelihood of pupils remembering valuable information or extending their skills based on these kind of games are slim. Remembering how many opponents they punched, for example, is something they remember more easily. Tasks such as the Drag and Drop exercise above can aid learning and encourage pupils to work independently as long as these activities are created by teachers or other educators who understands how Flash can be used effectively. Take a look at the following two links below for examples of how to use Flash to encourage thinking and learning using a Drag & Drop task: Drag 2 Drag 3 Instead of having items ‘snap into place’ when they are dragged and dropped, why not ensure that pupils have to think rather than randomly dropping until they are correct? Drag 2 encourages pupils to think about the question, consider what factors to add to each of the draggable icons and then evaluate each factor and where it needs to be placed. Their choices can then be discussed as a class or printed off and glued into their books. This activity can be used in various ways and easily adapted once created. Drag 3 is slightly more advanced as it requires pupils to use key points added by the teacher, evaluate these and, if needed, replace them with their own. Why and how can it be used by pupils? Click here and watch Video 1 Flash gives pupils great opportunities to extend their skills. I recently finished an Enterprise Project where a group of pupils produced a CD-ROM with interactive activities which they created for local primary schools. This project highlighted the potential for developing children’s skills and how quickly they progressed whilst working with the software. Some of these included: * Problem solving (Click here and watch Video 2) - involving discussion, analysis of what is being explored and how to express the information effectively. * Planning and Organisation - Flash is a complicated instrument which starts with a ‘blank stage’ and requires the pupils to think clearly about what they want to achieve. The pupils also have to consider the intricacies of the software itself whilst thinking about for example purpose and audience. * Showing understanding - pupils can use the software to explain e.g. change - how Law and Order changed from 1450 – 1900. * Motivation - with Flash, students set themselves challenges to accomplish. This approach produces high levels of motivation as the challenges have been created by them and are generally suited to their ability. * Independent learning - placing the pupil in charge of the project and only use the teacher as facilitator encourages children to work independently and creates a positive learning environment where they take the lead. * Reflection and evaluation - the evaluation of the result is generally led by the pupils themselves or their peers. At the start of each session, pupils were asked to place their newly created files in a shared folder. A few of the files were then viewed on the IWB and the class commented on the work, for example, its usability, layout, and questions were asked about how it was created and how they would change it to suit a different audience. * Communication and teamwork (Click here and watch Video 3) - encourages the children to work collaboratively on a project where a number of smaller jobs are given out to individual team members. These tasks could include e.g. creating a layout, script to control movement, assessment opportunities to check understanding and project managing. When all smaller tasks have been completed they are added to the main project file. This process is demanding and challenges the team to work through a detailed plan before commencing and encourages them to set long, medium and short-term targets to support the team’s performance. What are the problems with Adobe Flash? Adobe Flash is complex, challenging, expensive and time consuming to learn. Nevertheless, Flash is the future, or at least the beginning of a new wave of tools for creating educational activities and online experiences. We once had to learn Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, and later digital video editing, IWB software and some even took the step to learn Dreamweaver and other more complex programmes. Many argue that Flash is too time consuming, yet we spend hours reading literature on pedagogy and how to use ICT effectively in the classroom. If teachers had the opportunity to learn just what they need from Flash to create resources for their own pupils then more would be interested in learning the software. This way it would become manageable and purposeful, saving teachers the need to learn hard coding and every aspect of Flash. If we are to target pupils from where they learn and meet their expectations, then Flash is a good starting point. In the age of Interactive Whiteboards, Flash has opened up new opportunities to engage and challenge pupils. There are now many companies and individuals who specialise in creating content for the IWB for all subjects and some offer ways into Flash - some better than others. Numerous sites give tutorials on how to use Flash but are limited as they focus on teaching ‘How to use Flash’ rather than ‘How teachers can use flash’. I am currently developing a site aptly named Flasheducation.net where I aim to give teachers the opportunity to learn how to use Flash to create content for their classes without having to learn the finer points of the whole software. Each tutorial will take between 30-60 minutes to complete and will give teachers the opportunity to create specific activities which they can easily adapt. Interested can now register their interest from the site. Hopefully this might encourage more teachers to use Adobe Flash. Johannes Ahrenfelt
  3. ICT for collaborative teaching and learning

    Hi all, I urge my PGCE students to consider ways in which they can use ICT as a tool to aid the delivery of lessons, planning and engagement as well as insisting that they keep abreast of developments in ICT and your site is fantastic . Johannes
  4. Innovate with ICT

    Hi John, Neal Watkin and I aimed this book at teachers who are enthusiastic about using ICT but need support in doing so. However, it is not just for beginners, we have also tried to focus on some of the more advanced aspects of ICT whilst not getting bogged-down with the intricacies of the various software. We have worked hard at covering as many facets of ICT as possible to ensure that anyone would benefit from reading and working with this book. This is the reason why we deal with a range of tools such as Interactive Whiteboards, PowerPoint, Podcasting, Flash, video editing and many more. There are a number of fantastic books which show us how to become experts at using Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Flash, Dreamweaver and so on, but there are very few resources out there which give teachers the opportunity to create a resource which is specifically aimed at enhancing a particular skill, whilst at the same time showing you how to use a piece of software. I agree with what Terry Haydn writes in the foreword to the book when he states that: In several recent studies, lack of time to fully explore ICT, together with the lack of high-quality guidance, ‘role models’ and examples of effective ICT use emerged as the factors which most frustrated teachers in relation to ICT. It is hard to find time in a world where teachers' workload seems to expand more and more. Sure, there are many websites and courses you could use and attend but it is the regular hands-on practice that is ultimately needed. One of the key reasons why we decided to write Innovate with ICT was so that teachers could pick out those applications that would aid teaching their subject and enhance students' skills. This is the reason why we have included most popular tools available e.g. online mind-mapping and website creation, PowerPoint, Movie Maker to name a few. Hopefully readers will realise that they don't have to spend lots of time honing their skills of e.g. Adobe Flash to create an interactive diagram or Drag & Drop. The book guides them through how to make a diagram then all they have to do is tweak it to suit their students. We know that students prefer to use ICT and that it can engage them, so if we begin to use it creatively and unpick the skills involved in creating a digital movie, or contributing to a Wiki, we end up with the essential ingredients for a lesson. Once we accept this we can make significant leaps forward. When we use ICT as part of the educational process we get exciting results. With the advent of Virtual Learning Environments (we all have to use them by the end of the year in Britain) and online mentoring, basic knowledge of ICT is essential. This will keep you going and ensure that you can use e-assessment and communicate well with your students. However, I think that teachers would benefit greatly by raising the bar further than that. The potential for mass collaboration between teachers across national borders is immense thanks to tools such as Wikis and online site creation like Keep Toolkit, or forums such as this one. Although this forum is busy with people sharing and discussion ideas, most teachers are not members of one. In fact, most teachers only use a web browser, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, possibly Excel, for reasons mentioned in the first few questions. However, 'We' can change that together; a sort of staffroom approach would open many doors for many people by sharing and showing each other how we use ICT with our students. Best wishes, Johannes and Neal
  5. Flash as a software has developed significantly since my workshop two years ago. Not only has it been upgraded twice, Macromedia was also bought by Adobe. Flash Player is now installed on all new machines and most websites use Flash in various forms, from forms and advertising to games and educational resources. In fact, the use of flash video now appears to be industry standard and many schools, including my own and its attached Sixth Form college, have introduced courses on how to use Adobe Flash. Unfortunately since the Adobe take-over of Macromedia, the price of a site license has increased quite a lot so money has now become a key reason why some institutions do not invest in e.g. Dreamweaver and Flash which is a real shame. However, there are websites and books out there that provide training for teachers wishing to learn the software. Many sites, including our own InnovativeICT.net and the accompanying book, give concrete examples of how Flash can be used to create engaging and useful pedagogical activities. Also, there are European projects such as E-Help's that provide hands-on training on using ICT, which means that even complex software such as Adobe Flash and Dreamweaver can be overcome and used effectively within a classroom environment. Please see my list of favorite resources for Adobe Flash (including books and websites). Best wishes, Johannes Ahrenfelt
  6. New ICT website and book

    Dear all, We have just launched a new website InnovativeICT.net which accompanies our book Innovate with ICT which came out a few months ago. Both resources focus on how we can develop students skills and learning by using ICT well. We hope people find the site an interesting addition to an already popular subject Johannes Ahrenfelt and Neal Watkin
  7. New ICT website and book

    Dear all, We have just launched a new website InnovativeICT.net which accompanies our book Innovate with ICT which came out a few months ago. Both resources focus on how we can develop students skills and learning by using ICT well. We hope people find the site an interesting addition to an already popular subject. Johannes Ahrenfelt and Neal Watkin
  8. New ICT website

    Dear all, We have just launched a new website InnovativeICT.net which accompanies our book Innovate with ICT which came out a few months ago. Both resources focus on how we can develop students skills and learning by using ICT well. We hope people find the site an interesting addition to an already popular subject Johannes Ahrenfelt and Neal Watkin
  9. New ICT website and book

    Dear all, We have just launched a new website InnovativeICT.net which accompanies our book Innovate with ICT which came out a few months ago. Both resources focus on how we can develop students skills and learning by using ICT well. We hope people find the site an interesting addition to an already popular subject. Johannes Ahrenfelt and Neal Watkin
  10. New ICT website and book

    Dear all, We have just launched a new website InnovativeICT.net which accompanies our book Innovate with ICT which came out a few months ago. Both resources focus on how we can develop students skills and learning by using ICT well. We hope people find the site an interesting addition to an already popular subject. Johannes Ahrenfelt and Neal Watkin
  11. New ICT website and book

    Dear all, We have just launched a new website InnovativeICT.net which accompanies our book Innovate with ICT which came out a few months ago. Both resources focus on how we can develop students skills and learning by using ICT well. We hope people find the site an interesting addition to an already popular subject. Johannes Ahrenfelt and Neal Watkin
  12. New ICT website and book

    Dear all, We have just launched a new website InnovativeICT.net which accompanies our book Innovate with ICT which came out a few months ago. Both resources focus on how we can develop students skills and learning by using ICT well. We hope people find the site an interesting addition to an already popular subject. Johannes Ahrenfelt and Neal Watkin
  13. New ICT website and book

    Dear all, We have just launched a new website InnovativeICT.net which accompanies our book Innovate with ICT which came out a few months ago. Both resources focus on how we can develop students skills and learning by using ICT well. We hope people find the site an interesting addition to an already popular subject. Johannes Ahrenfelt and Neal Watkin
  14. New ICT website and book

    Dear all, We have just launched a new website InnovativeICT.net which accompanies our book Innovate with ICT which came out a few months ago. Both resources focus on how we can develop students skills and learning by using ICT well. We hope people find the site an interesting addition to an already popular subject. Johannes Ahrenfelt and Neal Watkin
  15. Associates at Bratislava

    Hi, I'm arriving with John and Terry via Ryanair at 18.55. Thank you for the details. Really looking forward to it
  16. Teachers learning Adobe Flash

    Hi all, I have just launched my new website named Flasheducation.net where I aim to give teachers the opportunity to learn how to use Adobe Flash to create content for their classes without having to learn the finer points of the whole software. Each tutorial will take between 15-30 minutes to complete and will give teachers the opportunity to create specific activities which they can easily adapt. This is a site in constant development (aren't they all?) so do check back regularly for updates. I hope Flasheducation.net will encourage more teachers to use Adobe Flash. Forum members' comments about the site would be much appreciated ! Best wishes, Johannes Ahrenfelt
  17. I first met Richard in May 2006 when I was invited to hold a seminar in Toulouse and join as an Associate Member of E-Help. It struck me quickly that this is a man who has a real passion for History and someone who is willing to go out of his way to ensure that the project would endure and continue to be successful. The level of professionalism, organisation and enthusiasm that I experienced during those few days in May I shall never forget. A truly memorable and inspiring time. Great ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds. - Einstein
  18. Thank you both for your comments. John: I agree, that would be the ideal way to move things along. There is currently discussion at my school about starting to teach children Flash from as early as 2007. That would certainly be an interesting development. I also feel that good quality INSET is needed if software such as Flash is going to take off. Although there is training available, it is either teaching you 'everything about...' or, if focused on training teachers, very limited.David: I agree. I hope to achieve this with Flasheducation so that teachers can see examples of Flash before they decide to take the tutorial. Take a look at the resources I have created here for a couple of ideas of what you can do with Flash. My Sixthform students liked these because the activities are hands-on and different to standard card-sorts. There are of course lots of other great examples but these highlight what you can do with very basic knowledge of Flash.
  19. Thank you Neal for interesting comments. This is exactly what I suggest Flash can achieve - it is not about finding solutions or using the latest software to tick boxes. It's about enhancing pedagogy by targeting the way pupils want to learn and are used to learning. It can, if used well, engage children to want to learn. I recently visited a number of schools in Shanghai were they happen to teach pupils Adobe Flash. I asked one of the teachers why she taught them Flash and why she uses Flash in the classroom and she explained that children learn much better because it reminds them of CD-ROMS, interactive games and other digital resources. If we can encourage them to learn, and Flash can help to achieve that, is that not a good thing?
  20. Thank you both for your comments, much appreciated. The vast majority of computers, certainly all new ones, have Shockwave flash Player installed, but that does not mean that all have. I agree, if I'm asked to install an extension of whatever kind then I usually go elsewhere. It's about conveniency and being forced to install something during your browsing is not only inconvenient but also annoying and there will be sites that do not require you to install anything. Agreed. We need to teach all children using a range of teaching styles depending on what skill you would like your class to develop. At the same time, you also need to consider what methods or tools you can use to engage the class. Flash is just another tool that can help engage pupils, just like story telling or using music in your lessons can help to engage them. I am certainly not proposing that we all have to use Flash from now on and all the time, far from, I am suggesting that children now learn from different sources of information than e.g. I used to, and that perhaps we, the teachers, ought to take these new learning experiences into consideration. Many still regard Flash as a 'Game Machine' or a tool to create 'flashy' animations, banners and intros. I feel that Flash can, if used well, assist teachers in developing childrens skills, but the practice so far has been quite poor. Encouraging teachers to start using Flash and help the community to develop good, pedagical resources is what I am aiming to achieve with Flasheducation. Giving teachers the opportunity to learn simple yet effective ways of using Flash in the classroom, from mind-mapping to various card-sorting activities to name a couple of ideas.
  21. Toulouse presentations...

    My presentation will attempt to answer the question: Using Adobe Flash in the classroom: is it just ‘flash’ or can it be useful? I will divide the presentation into four parts: 1. What is Flash? 2. How can it be used by teachers? 3. How can it be used by pupils? 4. Taking it further... Johannes
  22. Favicons

    Hi Andy, Think you can find the solution here Don't lose Favicons Hope this is useful? Johannes
  23. Biography: Johannes Ahrenfelt

    “I am working as a history teacher and International Coordinator at Neatherd High School, a 11-18 comprehensive in a small town in the heart of Norfolk. I have been involved in various ICT workshops with history PGCE students at the University of East Anglia, focusing on making PowerPoint more engaging for students. I am hopefully leading two more workshops next academic year including one on using Macromedia Flash 8 and Captivate. Flash is a tremendous tool for creating interactive activities something which I have been doing since 2002. Some of my earlier activities can be found at my first website (now with very limited content): http://www.ahrenfelt.co.uk I am currently developing an interactive website for our Jack the Ripper coursework. This is an attempt to use Flash to make primary source material more inspiring for pupils. Flash and Captivate are two programs I feel have been excellent in engaging pupils and moving them forward. I am currently leading an Enterprise project where I trained pupils from Year 8-11 using Flash to create activities for KS2. Many teachers have showed an interest in being trained using Flash since the start of the project and this is something which I plan to do during the next academic year. Neal Watkin and I have just finished writing a book on essential teaching skills for Continuum Publishing where we have devoted a chapter to innovative use of ICT in teaching. This year I started a Master in E-pedagogy and Gifted and Talented Education at Oxford Brookes which I am very exited about.
  24. Associate Introductions

    I am working as a history teacher and International Coordinator at Neatherd High School, a 11-18 comprehensive in a small town in the heart of Norfolk. I have been involved in various ICT workshops with history PGCE students at the University of East Anglia, focusing on making PowerPoint more engaging for students. I am hopefully leading two more workshops next academic year including one on using Macromedia Flash 8 and Captivate. Flash is a tremendous tool for creating interactive activities something which I have been doing since 2002. Some of my earlier activities can be found at my first website: http://www.ahrenfelt.co.uk/html/teachers.html I am currently developing an interactive website for our Jack the Ripper coursework. This is an attempt to use Flash to make primary source material more inspiring for pupils. Flash and Captivate are two programs I feel have been excellent in engaging pupils and moving them forward. I am currently leading an Enterprise project where I trained pupils from Year 8-11 using Flash to create activities for KS2. Many teachers have showed an interest in being trained using Flash since the start of the project and this is something which I plan to do during the next academic year. Neal Watkin and I have just finished writing a book on essential teaching skills for Continuum Publishing where we have devoted a chapter to innovative use of ICT in teaching. This year I started a Master in E-pedagogy and Gifted and Talented Education at Oxford Brookes which I am very exited about”.
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