Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘apps

 

sweet-dreams-by-brillianthues-2013

Sweet dreams by Brillianthues (2013) is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Happy New Year!

The theme of this blog post is short and sweet: getting the most out of reading and learning in bite-sized chunks.

Short stories

We’ve been building our collection of books from around the world in Hillcroft LRC because we want to give a taste of reading to suit everyone and to resonate with all kinds of readers. There’s a new literary prize set up to illuminate the works of black and minority ethnic (BAME) authors. It’s really exciting to hear about more diversity in publishing. There are so many more stories that we can hear.

Have a look at the short stories on The Asian Writer website for quick hits of new perspectives and universal feelings.

Apps

On a list of the best apps to keep you on track with new year’s resolutions are two notables. One is Pocket Cast to organise and find podcasts, a great way to learn on the go and when your eyes are tired. The second app that I am keen to try out is Lrn, which promises to teach the basics of code with fun quizzes and short lessons.

First News

In the LRC we’ve subscribed to a new newspaper called FirstNews. This is the news in short, with lots of engaging pictures and graphs. If you don’t have time to read a whole article take a moment and grab First News. You can learn something on a single page.

Chrome Web Store

The Chrome Web Store has lots of add-ons (extensions) to customise internet use. All of the browsers will have similar online stores. There are lots of free ways to make research more fun such as adding a kitten picture to every new tab. There’s a goal setting, note taking, procrastination busting homepage from Limitless. More health benefits also include extensions to remind you to take a break or drink water. Check out the web store and reinvent your internet experience.

Girl with teddy bearThere is a new website for employability called Facework. The focus of Facework is on developing soft skills. Things like self management, team working, being enterprising, problem solving, speaking and listening. Learning about yourself can assist you in learning other subjects and succeeding in life. They have many resources to help you become more aware and strengthen your soft skills. There are videos, posters, challenge sheets, suggested apps and quotations. For example, here are recommended tips for discovering and playing to your strengths. You can also read and listen to stories of young people who have changed their attitudes towards work. Most of all, it is a reminder that learning doesn’t stop between courses, you carry around your skills everywhere you go.

Using a Screen Reader on DawsoneraIt’s 20 years since the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 which gave those with disabilities citizenship rights. The act improved access at work and in society at large. Employers and public buildings like libraries made adjustments to their buildings, resources and equipment and services. These rights are now enshrined in the Equality Act 2010. There’s an exhibition at the People’s History Museum in Manchester marking how these rights have been won up to 19 November.

Over the past two months we have been showing students how to use Read&Write 10 to read ebooks available on Dawsonera. We always recommend you use a free screen reader like Natural Reader when you are away from college. Using either of these helps you set the font colour, choose a background colour and get the reader to read the ebook out loud to you once you’ve downloaded the ebook. Otherwise you can use the toolbar to get it to read out loud as you view it online. There’s now a downloadable app for NaturalReader on the App Store and Google Play.

Our ebrary ebooks also give you the opportunity to use coloured highlighter pens on the ebooks when you read them online. You can download these in the same way.

Of Mice and MenOur GCSE English students on Preaccess A and B are studying John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. We’ve done some research on supporting material for students and found a recording of Steinbeck on YouTube discussing Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath.

For anyone doing an assignment for GCSE BBC Bitesize – Of Mice and Men has some handy links with character information, plot summary, themes and videos.

In the LRC we also have copies of:

Wnat to know more about Steinbeck’s characters from  his novels? Take a look at the Library of Congress’s John Steinbeck Map of America on the American Treasures of the Library of Congress. The map by Molly Maguire has pictures of characters and numbers on the map to indicate which novel they appear in.

If you’re into apps there’s a free download from the National Theatre with interviews with the cast James Franco and Chris O’Dowd and a Revise Of Mice and Men app on Appcrawlr.

Last but not least there’s an interview with a volunteer archivist at the National Steinbeck Center on the Authors Road: John Steinbeck, Novelist and More

iPad standingThis week we’ve been digesting all of our data for our Self-Assessment Report (SAR). You may be scratching your head wondering what it is! Basically it’s a review of the impact of what we do on our students. We produce one every six months and this one is looking back at 2014/15. Part of the process is to identify our strengths and weaknesses as well so we can flag up improvements for the next academic year which go into our Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) for 2015/16.

Here are our some of our highlights from 2014/15:

Increased audovisual material for learners to borrow by 7%.
Introduced iPads into the classroom for learners to boost their digital skills – included reading apps.
Increased use of eresources by 47.2% – getting more learners used to ereading material and building digital skills.
Improved Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) material – embedded videos to reinforce induction content, new Reading for Pleasure section to encourage reader development and apps to help to hone information/digital literacy skills.
Greater promotion of reading – National Libraries Day, more Six Book Challenge completers, World Book Night and Reading for Pleasure Moodle VLE block.
Extra refresher/consolidation sessions on information literacy skills eg referencing.
Rolled out dyslexic friendly labeling for books to help navigate our material – based on the International Libraries Association Federation (IFLA) Guidelines for Library Services to Persons with Dyslexia.

This week we have had the opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of ebooks to the classes. Here are a few notes to refresh your memory or if you missed the class.

You can access ebooks inside and outside the college through the VLE: learn.hillcroft.ac.uk. Log in then enrol on the LRC eresources page and go to the Eresources book. We have two ebook providers with different sets of ebooks: Dawsonera and ebrary. Follow the links on the page to their websites. You can do this on any electronic device with a internet browser (tablet, smartphone, Kindle Fire). If you are outside college then it will prompt you to log in via ‘Shibboleth’ and then find the college in the list and type in your Hillcroft email and password.

What can I do on Dawsonera?

Download in full (pdf) – most will allow you to do this for a loan period (1-7 days).

Copy or print text/pages – Be selective! You can print between 5-20% of an ebook or copy quotations to paste directly into your assignment.

Add notes to pages online – You can export notes and print them all out with the relevant page numbers automatically added.

What can I do on ebrary?

Download chapters or in full (pdf) for a loan period – with printing and copying enabled.

Copy or print text/pages (with citations).

Highlight, add notes and bookmark (together called ‘Annotations’) online. Saves them for you on ‘Bookshelf’ when you log back in to Ebrary.

Extra benefits!

You only need Adobe Reader (free) as an app to read the downloaded ebook offline. In college you can use Read&Write Gold for its text-to-speech feature. The free app version is called ‘Natural Reader‘ if you want to use the read aloud feature on your own phones and computers.

We will be putting together a detailed guide for you in the near future.

Also the good news is that we will be able to change it so that no purple padlocks will be seen on the Dawsonera site, so you will be able to access and browse our content better.

Keep an eagle eye out for more tips by subscribing to our blog.

ESOL Summer school artworkThis week has been the ESOL summer school. We used iPads to explore art apps on Monday. These apps are:

We had some wonderful student presentations comparing two pieces of artwork through browsing the apps for striking images. The advantage of these apps is that you don’t need to create an account to browse artwork. You can mark your favourite pictures with a heart (Wikiart) or a star (Landscape Art). You can also download pictures from the Landscape Art app to the iPad. What’s more, they are both free! Wikiart is related to Wikipedia so you can find out more about artists from around the world.

On Wednesday was a trip to London, ESOL students were tour guides to iconic buildings such as Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square and St. James’ Park. We learnt a lot and everyone enjoyed the freedom to roam. The videos from the trip can be found on the ‘video’ section on Office 365.

BETT 2015 is a giant exhibition for teachers and all those in education. What a treat! Yesterday I went to see the latest innovations in technology for use in all types of educational environments. It was somewhat overwhelming with hundreds of companies and seminars going on in more than one location. (The staff were so helpful in pointing me in the right direction when I got lost). I wanted to share the highlight discovery for me:

On the theme of informal online learning, I met Roar Knüppel the co-founder of Bibblio. They handpick the best free content on the internet including lots of videos, slides and other media that are really engaging and educational. For example, it has TED talks and BBC earth video collections. The are also 6 topics to browse: science, technology, people, nature, culture and society. You can follow other people’s collections of resources and/or curate your own. It’s great not to have to waste time searching through closed access, low quality or dull content – although I haven’t explored enough yet but the first impressions are golden. I have three videos to watch already in my collections.

iPad standingThis week our first iPad went out on loan to one of our Preaccess students. From the recommendations of our colleagues at Richmond Adult Community College we used Meraki to organise the apps onto the iPads.

A few weeks ago our LRC Manager went to an Albion Apple Regional Training Centre event at Surbiton High School where teachers recommended some apps that worked well in teaching using iPads in the classroom for pupils from primary to secondary school ages.

The teachers recommended using iMovie for primary school pupils to create a film outside of their science club discovering bugs. It enabled them to add music and do a narrative over the film. A physics teacher looked at how he could use a range of apps to run different experiments that would usually been done with equipment. Our LRC manager was particularly interested in the English teachers apps which could be used with GCSE English and literacy students doing creative writing on the Creative Reading, Writing and Speaking course.

We’ve loaded some of these recommended apps onto the iPads for our students and staff to use. They include InspireMe an app which gives you three words which you can help to generate ideas. This goes well with the Fig (Fiction Ideas Generator) app which acts as an ideas generator for those of you doing creative writing to assist you  in creating a plot, characters, location etc. We particularly like ShowMe which is a free app that students and teachers can use like an interactive whiteboard.


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