Getting students to do enough practice at maths for it to sink in and be retained is quite a challenge. QuickMaths is an iPad app that has been around for a long time but is still worth a shout out. It provides a limited number of questions and times how quickly they are done. At the end, students are presented with a graph of how long it took each time they attempted the exercise. This provides an incentive for the students to beat their previous times.
One unique feature of this app is that the students have to use their fingers, or a stylus, to write in the numbers. They can write anywhere on the iPad, any size, and the app will try to recognise the number as it is written. This provides incentive to improve their writing so giving them kinesthetic learning as well as visual learning. An extra feature is the music that accompanies it which changes when the student gets a correct answer – reinforcing the message that the answer was correct.
First, students select which maths calculation they want to do (or are asked by the teacher to do!).
Let’s look at multiplication:
All modes have 4 levels making it suitable for individualising the practice – great for mixed level classes.
Below is the view for intermediate multiplication. The students get to see the correct answer for the previous question as well as the current question and the next question. If the student writes the wrong answer, it briefly appears in the answer box in red, then the answer disappears and waits for the next attempt. Students can choose to skip questions if they want.
After the student has completed the set of questions they are shown a graph of their times:
The above chart has been done by several people which explains why it is not in what would be expected from a students starting out.
As with other apps that start out on iPads, this app has now been made available on Windows PCs.
New YouTube Partner Program (YPP) rules announced on 16 January 2018 will penalize the smaller and new video creators (https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/72857?hl=en). These new rules state that a Youtube channel needs to have 4000 hours of viewing time and 1000 subscribers to be invited to join the YPP. Any channel below that will no be able to be part of the YPP.
Random Robi’s Youtube Channel. His most popular video – a flight review.
Big deal? Yes – as the YPP is the way video creators get paid for their efforts. Youtubers cannot put adds on their videos unless they are part of the YPP. Youtube are at pains to point out that the smaller channels are not about to lose their livelihood and be forced to live on the streets as a result of this decision: “Though these changes will affect a significant number of channels, 99% of those affected were making less than $100 per year in the last year, with 90% earning less than $2.50 in the last month.” (https://youtube-creators.googleblog.com/2018/01/additional-changes-to-youtube-partner.html) So, yes, the vast majority of Youtube videos are largely a labour of love, not income. Why should Youtube keep paying administration costs on accounts that are so small. After all, they are already generously providing unlimited free storage and a worldwide audience – fame is just a few enticing frames away!
My son has had a Youtube account since about August 2016. His most popular video – a flight review of his trip from Singapore to Helsinki on Finnair – has about 12000 views and is still climbing. Several other videos have over 2000 views. The analytics that Youtube provides are great. Thanks to them Robi knows that over 90% of his views are a result of being selected by viewers from the recommendations next to the video the viewer had watched previously. This sharpened Robi’s marketing mind and he spends many hours ensuring the thumbnails for his videos are the most attractive that he can make them.
Click below to see Robi’s channel – Random Robi – and please subscribe while you are there. Strike a blow for the small battler!
Which is why the new rules feel like an enormous kick in the guts. All his videos will presumably be removed from the recommendations as they will no longer carry adverts. His views could easily plummet by 90%.
Robi managed to get into the YPP under the old rules. This meant that the Youtube algorithms would place Robi’s niche videos next to viewers who would be tempted to click on them. Great for Robi’s viewer numbers and a revenue boost for Youtube (80% of the revenue that Robi’s ads earn go to Youtube. Robi has earned only $40 over the time he has had a Youtube channel). Under the new rules Robi will be removed from the YPP and Youtube will have no financial incentive to promote his videos to the recommended list alongside. Google will have no incentive either to even acknowledge his videos when people search for flight reviews. He just wants an even playing field to be acknowledged for his effort and creativity.
Part of the push for new rules is because one of the biggest Youtube creators uploaded a video that was declared to have violated rules of decency by showing offensive material. Youtube had manually promoted it as it trended, so its own staff obviously hadn’t found it offensive. Nope – tens of thousands of viewers couldn’t be wrong, could they? However, the public backlash swelled so much that they had to remove it. Logan Paul’s Youtube channel is still up (I’ve just checked), with Youtube profiting from his notoriety.
Ironic that Logan Paul, who has uploaded offensive material, still gets to keep his channel (and his share of the revenue from the offensive material?) but small, inoffensive Youtubers like Robi, who have already proven their worth, are about to be denied the breath of algorithmic publicity.
You can soon fill up the bookmarking links on your browser – Firefox, Chrome or Safari. Then what do you do? My solution to this problem is to use Diigo. It is a social bookmarking tool, but it also works as an excellent stand alone personal bookmarks organiser.
To understand the logic and power of social bookmarking, check out this video. It is a bit old, and refers to the Delicious bookmarking webtool, but it is an excellent introduction to the topic:
It can do a lot more than just create a list of bookmarks. You can tag each webpage so that you can find the articles long after you have forgotten their details. For example, you can find the IELTS reading you have created an exercise for by using the tags: Solar IELTS Reading. All articles with these 3 tages will appear in a list. You can also annotate and highlight the sections of the webpage that interested you.
To find out about the features of the Diigo social bookmarking webtool, look at this video.
If you haven’t been following Quizlet for a few months then you may not have noticed that they have now included hotspot quiz technology.
Simply put, it means that you can create hotspots on a picture – for example a map, a diagram of a heart, a picture of a car, etc. If a student can click on the correct part they get the mark. It allows students to match positions with pictures or words – better than matching words with words, especially for students who have reading difficulties. I have used the following diagram from Quizlet diagrams for an Anatomy class.
This sort of question could be designed by having a picture with numbers, but it is a lot more satisfying and kinaesthetically reinforcing by having to click on a location rather than select a number or letter.
Some quizlet diaqgrams
In line with the Quizlet philosophy, you can use any of the diagram questions that have been created. However, if you want to edit them or create your own, you must upgrade to a Quizlet Teacher. Whether it Is worth it for you depends on how much you think you will use the feature – and the other advantages of becoming a Quizlet Teacher. You can see the advantages and the cost of doing so here: https://quizlet.com/upgrade?showTeacher
In the past few days a website I administer Kampot-ontheedge.org became painfully slow. I am talking about taking 35 seconds to load any page on the website. When I tried to get some idea of the problem using GTmetrics it took over 2 minutes to load, timed out, and wouldn’t return any analysis.
I searched Joomla forums but the only suggestion that seemed to be practical or relevant was to delete any large picture – and there were several candidates over 400 kb that had recently been put up by one of the authors. But even pages that had only text were just as slow. Baffled, so decided to send a message to the webhost I was using. To be specific with my problem I decided to carefully measure how many seconds it took to load. When I was staring at the blank white screen I noticed in the bottom left hand corner of my Chrome browser “waiting for WikiMedia” followed by “waiting for Extrawatch Live!” It seemed to take an age for these to load. ExtraWatch Live! is an analytics plugin that I had imported. Perhaps that was the problem? I disabled it and found the website loading speedily.
In GTmetrics my rating had increased from unable to be analysed, to category A with loading speed of 1.7 seconds.
Results from GTMetrics for my website
Obviously I had solved the problem 🙂 The strange thing is that I had installed the ExtraWatch Live! plugin over a month ago, so it wasn’t something that readily came to mind as something now causing problems. Why should I suspect it?
While searching for the solution I also applied some server modifications which could have helped, particularly Gzip Page Compression. You can see the settings I changed here:
It is probably not an uncommon experience to spend a lot of time trying to make a video as high a quality as you can, then uploading it to Youtube and being very disappointed. It looks great when you play it on your computer but poor on the web. I just shrugged my shoulders and presumed that Youtube downgraded whatever I uploaded so there was little I could do. That fact that many videos were high quality on Youtube did raise a few doubts as to whether I really was powerless.
My son had noted that there were some high quality Youtube videos too – and he is a serious Youtuber: Random Robi . So he wrote to another Youtuber PlaneSpottingBerlin whose videos he admired. Surprisingly, he did get a detailed answer.
The settings I use now are customised based on the settings my son now uses on Camtasia Studio 8 – these may be useful for other video editors too.
These are screenshots from my own computer:
Controller: These settings are standard:
Size: The size of the video could make a difference to the quality – the larger it is, the more likely the quality will be poorer. It depends if on the camera which shot the video.
Video settings: These are likely to be the most important to adjust.
Audio settings: These used to be important when the internet was slow. However, these days the difference in size between tinny sounding 32 kbps and decent quality 128 kbps isn’t worth troubling yourself about.
Ever find at home that the internet becomes very slow suddenly and for no apparent reason? You guess someone is downloading a movie but no one is. Someone is uploading to Youtube, but that should be okay as it doesn’t take up any of the download bandwidth. Wrong.
My son is very conscious about what happens when he starts to upload his Youtube movies – the rest of us have no internet! Quite simply the Youtube video takes up all the upload bandwidth and so the forlorn clicks the rest of the family make don’t reach their destinations to request new content. Result – no internet browsing. When my son estimated it would take about 4 hours to upload his next video, the hunt was on for a solution that would satisfy us both.
There is some software you can buy, and you can get involved with the intricacies of your router. But you can also simply use a Chrome browser tool to limit the upload for free 🙂
Just go to the Chrome browser control dropdown menu by clicking on the three buttons in the top right corner of the Chrome browser:
Customise Chrome using this dropdown menu.
Then hover over More tools. A new menu will pop out and at the bottom you will see Developer tools:
Click on Developer tools then click on Network and finally click on No throttling
Finally, you will get to the settings that are very important for developers. They can use these to test how their products will act under differing internet speeds and latencies associated with access types – mostly for mobile phones. We can use them to limit the upload speed.
Having done some speed tests on my system, I guess that the upload speed could be about 2 Mb/s on a good day. So I decided to limit my son to 1 Mb/s to allow the rest of us to communicate with the outside world. I had to also set a download speed limit so I chose 3 Mb/s knowing that speed would probably be more than he would need for anything he does.
To do that:
Under Custom, click on: Add …
Give it a profile name – I chose: Youtube
The units specified are in kb/s. I wrote in 3000 kb/s for Download, 1000 kb/s for Upload and 2 ms for latency (increasing this potentially slows down the internet – not what I want to do). Note: if you have written only 3,1 and 2 then you will effectively have shut off the internet for that computer!
Then click : Add
When you shut the Setting window you will still see the No throttling label.
Click on the No throttling label then select Youtube.
You have now limited the computer to whatever values you chose.
Harmony returns to the household 🙂
Make sure you remember to return the setting to No throttling afterwords.
They look digitally savvy – but can they manage their uni apps?
Just because students look really switched on and masters of their digital world doesn’t mean they can effortlessly adapt to a new app or online program. Teachers can’t assume too much digital expertise and will need to build in the possibility of some student training every time they introduce a new digital aspect into their teaching.
You can use the Print function in Windows to save a webpage as a PDF – but the end result can be quite disappointing with some words missing and formatting all over the place.
A better option is to use a website called, appropriately, Print Friendly. It is OCR readable and the web links still work. Simple to use – just paste the url of the page you want to convert to PDF, select PDF and it will give a good result. Not perfect, but more than acceptable.
A great feature is that it gives you the option of removing parts you don’t want, such as adverts, before the final conversion.
If you think this will be a regular enough occurrence then you can use the extension for your browser that places a button on your address bar.
Capture a webpage in a PDF
As a web based service it is suitable for all devices and operating systems that are internet enabled.
If you want an “ad-free service, white-label, and advanced customization” you can buy an an account. It has been translated to over 20 languages, which is a great bonus for those who do not speak English.
Note: 21 May 2017
I have used this several times to save some blogs and have had mixed success. So make sure you check what has actually been captured. If what you want to capture has not been captured, then report that to the support desk. It will help them improve their product.