September 20, 2011

JISC Release a new guide

Writing about web page

JISC have release a new guide about the emerging practice in e-learning in a digital age. This follows on to a number of publications that have been release over the years. Many of the staff in the WIE have had copies of earlier guides, but I have no physical copies of this one - so you will find a copy on the e-learning pages or go an download it from JISC.

September 24, 2010


Ever wondered the origins of a particular word?

Would you like some one famous ( B-list celeb at least) to explain the work and how it came about?

Well then the following site is just for you!

On a more serious note the Wordia site may be a useful resource for teaching is you give it a bit of though, but as a bit of fun it is interesting to hear explanations of the word its use and origin.

In this example you can have Dan Crushank explain pedagogy to you

September 08, 2010

More on plagiarism

Following last weeks post on the improvements made to Turnitin, I thought it might be valuable to  higlight some of the other mechanisms for detecting plagiarsm that are out there. Also these tools may be of use to the PGCE trainees and students as some are freely accessable on the internet and many are billed as a way to improve your writting.

1 Up first - Google

This search engine has so many uses, but for those who are familitar with extracts of course materials or reccomended reading this can be a fast confirmation that a student has lifted the text straight out of a book/ paper/ webpage. By just using Google as it is and including the text under concern in quoted ( " " ) you can quickly get a idea as to wether it has been lifted veratim. For papers it is work looking at GoogleScholar using the same searching mechanism.

2. Plagiarism Checker

This is a very simple plagiagrism chaecker, originally created as a project for the University of Maryland. Although very basic, it does offer a quick test, but copying and pasteing a chunk of text into the main text inout area and clicking "check paper". Although this is nothing special, it might be a good tool for trainees and students to vet their own work. A more advance version is available at a cost, but why do this when the university has Turnitin.

3. Doc Cop

Again this offers a free service for checking small documents. It essentially checks one document against another (up to eight documents), which works for the teachers (in schools) that it was aimed at originally. Again if you want more then a cost is involved.

4. Paper Rater

This is another free service, but rather than for detecting plagiarism it grades the paper and the detection is a bonus. The tool states how original the paper is, but doen't check the references are correctly cited and used. The bonus though is students use this tool, is the spelling and grammar checks. It did make suggestions for words used under the 'word choice' checker that were not correct for the example text  entered. However, the style section of the feedback would help writers to improve their reports. The final element of the tool looks at the vocab used by the writter and offers helpful suggestions. All in all it is a nice tool for trainees or students to self check, rather than for a tutor to use. The feedback built into the tool is very well structured and would benifit any weaker writers assisting them to improve for the next report.

5. Plagiarism Checker .com

The is nothing sophisticated, but actually just a very clever front on to Google. This tool will not check more than 32 words, which coincerdentally, is the limit of words on the google search term field. I works well enough, but oe the most case you could just use google (number 1 in this list).

6. Viper

This tool is more aimed at school teachers checking pupil work, but is another option to check the sumbitted materials for free. However, unlike the tools identified in the list above, this one does not work online, but is a download and hence I have not really investigated it to any depth.

7. Plagium

Plagium works like most of the other online tools looked at, there is a text box, into which you paste the text to be checked and then click the button. Unlike the other tools, this does not use google as the search engine, but Yahoo instead. It is very basic, but will allow trainees and students to identify very basic areas of plaigarism within their work.

But really, by pointing out these tools for checking to the trainees and students are we not just offereing them a way in which to check the work they have plagiagrised, and making it more difficult to identify when they have done something. You could argue that, but at the same time you could say that providing these tools for their use would help them to learn about Plagiarism and the potential effects it can have on both their marks at university and their future careers. If any one who writes academic papers can say hand on hart that they have never made a simple mistake when citing a paper then they will be one of the rarest animals on this planet. As we are all aware educations and provention is better than the out fall later.

But this means that we need to educate the students and trainees. Well there are resources to assist in this as well.

1. Universitiy Regulations

2. Purdue University online writing resource

3. which has been created by the team who have developed the Turnitin tool.

We really at some point need to make trainees and students aware that we check and they should be checking before submitting any work.

September 04, 2010

Plagiarism – Turnitin 2 launched today

Turnitin have anounced the launch of Turnitin 2 today. All of the changes that have been made have come from educators who are using the tool. The company behind Turnitin see this as a major improvements and vast move to user centred design and development.

Impovements billed include a change to having a "paper-centric view" where the users interact with a "smart image" of the paper which maintains its formating. The plagerism detection service is being renamed to "OriginalityCheck™ Plagiarism Prevention". Further improvements have been made to PeerMark the tool that allows students to peer review each others papers and to the GardeMark, which allows grading to and annotation to be added to the digitial image of the paper.

The following are a list of links that you might find useful about the changes that are now in effect;

I would also like to hear from anyone in the insitute who is using Turnitin and how the changes have improved/ affected their use of the tool.

August 13, 2010

New book – a survival guide to the PGCE year

Writing about web page

A new book has just been published this year and could be consider the        PGCE Survival Guide front cover survival guide for the PGCE year. The book is packed full of really good hints and tips for those who are embarking on their PGCE. More or less everything is covered from the first day at university on your new course, to the correct attire for the first day of a placement.  All the information provided has come from a trainee and the network of people he has built up through his blog and twitter and has been based on experience and real life events.

I think this might be something that is worth recommending to all the trainees commencing the PGCE courses in the autumn. It will complement the course hand books and provide them with answers to some of the concerns they will have. But bests of all, trainees can either purchase a copy or can download it as it has been released under the creative commons licence.

It may take me a while, with other things to do, but I hope to read this over the next couple of weeks. I have also recommended it to the Course Leaders and the Placement Office, hopefully they will pass this on to the trainees and see it as a resource that supports the messages that they all convey about the PGCE year and the value of the placements.

June 22, 2010

Creative commons

You will need sound for this... as the main of the explanation is in the audio.

The little video explains really nicely the terms and reasons for using a creative commons licence on the materials you produce.

June 19, 2010

Presentations but not as you know it!

A while back some one pointed me in the direction of Prezi a tool for presentations. I think the reason was then when I present I use very few words and lots of images (creative commons ones only). But I have never found a good enough reason to use the tool.

But why should presentations go from one slide to another and then another and another. Quite often a presentation is a list that the presenter (lecturer, student, CEO) tends to then just read from the screen. I can read too... are you, if you do this conveying to the student/ recipient of the information they need to learn?

There are better ways, more inventive ways of sharing you knowledge. And this is where a tool like Prezi comes in. You can guide a user through your information/ presentation or allow them to rome free.  Below is a presentation about how maths is taught in a liner way and why thats not great.

But there are other Perzi presentations that are more visualy appealing and convey as much if not more in content with fewer words.

So why be trapped in powerpoint.

June 16, 2010

Mapping thoughts

Since I appear to be following themes in what I am bloging about in terms of e-learning - here is another on the theme of visual learning.

This time I want to cover mind mapping. Warwick offers two mindmapping tools (mind genius and mind manager) on th application tree. Which is okay if you are staff and are aiming to use the mind mapping tool yourself to produce something to share with your students. But not so great if you want your students to produce a mind map.

There are however some online tools that let you create mind maps. Two of the tools mindster and Mindmo are online and free to use, with limitations. Minster allows 3 mind maps and Mindmo will allow 7.

XMind is a further alternative. This tool needs to be downloaded, the basic version is open source so there is no charge for a licence. It is possible to get a more advanced version of the tool, but with a cost.

I am sure there are many more tools out there that you will be aware of that allow mind mapping, so why not let me know and write a review of your favorate as a guest post.

June 12, 2010


This is just a quick sort entry to highlight that there are tools out there that you can sign up and use. I will try and highlight tools that are intersting, querkie, cool or really just useful.

So to knick it off I thought I would highlight the following timeline tools.


I am not going to cover any of the uses of time lines in e-learning and neither am I going to review each one. I will let you see what is possible...

June 08, 2010


This is something to play with to see what words emerge as the most important or prevalent in a chunk of text or on a web page.

Wordle for Ethnographic research

Above are to words from the FRM Online website that I have been working on recently. The words themselves came from Study Unit 11, the words are from the introduction.

It is interesting to pull out what words become important, in this case it is 'ethnographic' and 'research', which happens to be the main subject of the text entered.

But whats the use?

Some of you will be looking at this and wondering what are the educational uses of this, or how could I use this in teaching. Well really that is up to you. But here are some ideas to get you started...

Use wordle

  • to provide an introduction to a topic showing the most important issues that will be covered ( a visual image is worth a thousand words!)
  • to get students to look at the frequency of the words they are using in written text
  • to analyse a piece of text to find the common themes
  • to work out a lesson plan

The options on how you use it are endless, but do let me know what you do, why and the impact on the students.

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