Animation is a popular and useful classroom topic that links well to areas beyond ICT, most obviously art and literacy but also to less obvious aspects such as science.

A simple, and relatively inexpensive package for producing Animated GIFs is 2Animate which can produce images such as the following.


This animation can then be embedded in blog posts, put into PowerPoint Presentations and more.




Stickfigures can be animated with the wonderful PivotSticks, a free download. The results can be impressive as illustrated by this YouTube Video

We can also use tools to create stop Frame animations in schools, one free and effective tool is Monkey Jam. A free tutorial is available here.



Appropriate Images and Internet Safety

It is a long standing feature of any discussion on use of images in the classroom that Google Image searches should not be carried out in the classroom in front of children unless the teacher has checked that the results are not inappropriate. Examples such as Rabbit (not just the mammals), Prince Albert (not just Queen Victoria’s husband) and most girls names (having a naked on-line presence) have been discussed.

One aspect that is discussed less often though is the nature of copyright – it is not appropriate to use images in teaching materials that are not owned by you or licensed for your use. Fortunately more and more people are happy to  share access to their materials though a ‘Creative Commons’ licence. One simple way of finding these is to use the ‘Anvanced Search’ option on Google Images and then select ‘Free to use or Share’ under the ‘Usage Rights’ category.

Other aspects of internet safety can be addressed through the CEOP site and ‘ThinkuKnow Site’  There are also a comprehensive set of links in this Sqorl set from Helen.

Downloading videos for use in IWB software and presentations

So: we all know that Youtube is a valuable resource for video materials but not everyone is aware that it is blocked in many schools. even in situations were it is not blocked the links and pop ups may not be suitable for school and when download speeds are poor the quality may be reduced.

One tool that may be useful is KeepVid which allows users to download video (and Audio) from an array of different sources including YouTube.


The trick is to avoid clicking on the big green DOWNLOAD NOW boxes and to follow the links.


FLV files are good with SmartNotes

MP4 files are good with Windows Media Player

MP3 files are Audio only


As an aside a great video player for all file types is VLC





Getting Started with Smart Notes

The following is a list of basic IWB skills that you should have in place before starting in school. We will cover these in the session and ‘How to’ Guides will be made if necessary.

1)Calibration of the Whiteboard

2)Using the IWB with the Internet

3)Loading Notebook software

4)Recording handwritten notes

5)Creating sorting/drag and drop activities

6)Using tools – camera, blind etc

7)Using the Gallery

8)Finding and embedding video

9)Importing Powerpoints and exporting Smart Notes

10) Visualiser

Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs)

Interactive whiteboards are those clever devices that you have seen at the front of many classrooms and university teaching rooms.  the idea behind this post is to give you some basic information so you can enter your teaching practice well informed and ready with the correct questions. Firstly, I refer to interactive whiteboards (IWB) not Smartboards because IWB is the generic name whilst Smartboard refers to a specific make – think Vacuum Cleaner not Hoover. This distinction is particularly important as different whiteboards make use of different software and as such are not compatible with each other.


At a very basic level, an IWB is simply a big expensive mouse – it a allows the user to move the pointer around the screen and to make selections. Anything you can do on screen using an IWB you should also be able to do with a mouse, touch pad or graphics tablet. When used in conjunction with appropriate software the IWB allows the user to present ideas etc to the audience. Some boards require the use of special pens or styluses whilst others are operated by the users finger.

In schools there are a number of different boards but some are more commonly found than others.

Smartboards – These boards are the most popular in Northamptonshire schools. They are operated using either the users finger or a plastic pen that contains no electronics. This is commonly used with SmartNotes software.  These are the boards that we use at the university and the software is available on the School of Education computers. It is also available for you to downlaod and use on your own computers but it must not be used on boards other than Smartboards.

RM Classboard – Now discontinued. Commonly used with RM Easiteach Software

Promethean – These hard surface boards are used with a special electronic pen and commonly use Active Inspire or ActivePrimary Software.

Others – including Hitatchi Cleverboard and many unbranded boards – software and reliability varies.


So, as I have told many of you face to face I am an occasional twitter user, not always convinced by it’s merits on a daily basis but like it in sessions and at conferences. There is a list in The Independent newspaper (here) that recommends the 100 most influential Tweeters – some of them may be worth  a follow. It doesn’t mention Helen or I but we may be worth following as are Derek Roberston, Ewan MacIntosh, Peter Ford and others from my following list.















Sharing your Blog with the world (or at least your group)

So – during your ICT session you will have managed to get your blog up and running. Having managed this some people during the session asked how they could share this with other people, in fact some people tried to do this only to find that others weren’t able to view it because they weren’t subscribed.

So in order to make your blog public you need to (in dashboard view) go to the settings button on the left hand side, and hover across to the privacy option.










After selecting Privacy option you should select the options as below to make public.











Please note that you can actually select either of the top two options but without selecting one of these you are forced into some form of restricted access – ie your blog will not be public.


This means that your blog can now be seen by the rest of the world but only if they can find it! You may want to tweet a link to your followers or #UNSoE but another way of making it clear to the rest of the group is to go to the PGCE blog and then chose your group from the drop down menu.










If you now select the Edit tab from the top of the screen you can type the title of your blog and hyperlink it with the ‘chain icon’ to your blog.