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Teaching Learning Technologies in practice: Planet eStream.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 22 Mar 2019, 12:50

On Wednesday I took a class of 12 PGCE Level Two Teacher Trainees on a tour of Planet eStream. I inadvertently added into the mix the mind mapping tool SimpleMinds, the 360 tour creator ThingLink and Wordpress blogging.

Becoming a champion for this TV, Video, multi-media educational platform I found I could introduce, demonstrate, elaborate, answer problems and queries and even get them signed in without unnecessary panic.

A number of things have got me here:

  • time to push the boundaries of the different parts of the platform with close to authentic learning challenges, rather than some random 'giving it a go'.
  • Having colleagues and friendly tutors to practice on in small groups until I was ready for something bigger.
  • Taking ownership of the class. Therefore having my own 'session plan' and the means to follow this.

My fall back came in several parts:

  1. I thought in part like a Swim Coach and on a set of landscape formatted sheets even gave the duration for each part of the presentation and a cumulative duration to get me through the two hours.
  2. A flip pack of 18 sheets that I could read standing up at a table
  3. Sets of mindmaps, one for the Student experience the other for the Staff experience. I had these as A4 sheets to hand out and as A3 sheets for me to view at a glance. I could call these up on a screen, however, as I found on the day, this was simply a medium sized flat screen that would never be seen across the room.
  4. I also hand some corporate handouts from Planet eStream.
  5. Logging in I signed in as staff and using an incognito window as a student. 
  6. I also had in the tabs the mind maps, the 18 sheets and the final fall back a Slides PPT each of a single image to use as a visual prompt for me. 

There is a lot to get through simply to promote the variety of things the platform can do to support teaching, in particular to create a 'flipped classroom'.

Pob a Ragdoll Production Puppet

I began with a story. How I got out of corporate training and information films and started at a web agency trying and failing to get broadcast TV content online for Ragdoll.

Finding out what subjects the trainee teachers would be teaching I also wondered where they saw themselves on this spectrum and explained a little about 'Diffusion of Innovation Theory' in relation to constant change and attitudes to new technology, software, applications and upgrades and how this manifests itself in the classroom as people who embrace the new and others who reject it all. 

Diffusion of Innovations Chart

I like these simple, bold images, charts or mindmaps to cue an item I want to talk about. In the shorter lesson I skipped much of my introduction and this and got straight into Planet eStream. I think it works better with the context.

The demos I have created included taking an episode of Sheldon, lifting out the long commercial break in the middle and 'topping and tailing' either end. I then 'cut' it into 7 'chapters' that isolated Sheldon's story from the other characters. Each 'sketch' runs for less than a minute. I find these micro-experiences are ideal tasters rather than dissecting a 48 minute Horizon documentary. 

I also used a less than 2 minute long clip from a 1981 edition of Tomorrow's World where the Carry On comedian Kenneth Williams presented. Once again, the demonstration is short and memorable. I ought to find others for a younger audience. Does Oli Murs do a demonstration? What about a clip from Blue Peter 2019?

Sheldon and Kenneth Williams

Other examples of how Planet eStream works included 'grabbing' the radio series 'The Secret History of a School' in ten parts. each under 15 minutes. Here I created an added a suitable 'Thumbnail' for each episode to distinguish each visually.

What I could not do in either session. This we need a morning, afternoon or evening workshop, was to do something in real time, not just find a programme or upload from YouTube, but then edit this piece, create a playlist or make an interactive quiz. These are all straightforward to learn skills.

Here is the quiz editor platform. 

I'm writing this is part of my habitual reflection. Just as I kept a diary here almost every day of my MAODE plus the two further modules that I did, I have now kept a diary for most working days of the 12 months I have been here are GB MET.

Taking these classes I finally feel a 'change career' I began in 2000 is going in the right direction. Back then it was from corporate training and information films to online. Then with my MAODE 2010 to 2013 it temporarily went into tertiary education with the OU but in a communications rather than a learning role. Since then there has been more corporate e-learning, even a further history degree and a digital editor's role, but it is this., however modest, like a private in the army, like a private in the Labour Corps even, I am working with students and teachers.

Sitting in a class assessing where technology has a role is interesting too. More on this in my next post. 




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Planet eStream, SimpleMinds and ThingLink

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Planet eStream, SimpleMinds, ThingLink.

Tasked the day before to take a class for 90 minutes on creating a newsflash I agreed because at my fingertips I had tools I could use to pull together content quickly. Using Planet eStream I picked through newcasts on 6 March relating to UK Knife Crime and ended up with stories from BBC News, Good Morning Britain, Five News, RT and Al Jazeera. Once embedded I trimmed out each story and put them in a playlist.

On a whiteboard I created 'Newsflash' Bingo for things to spot, from a presenter with a clipboard to cutaways of anonymous people walking through the street.

The SimpleMinds MindMap was shared and photographed.

ThingLink was used to indicate where news stories are going. Euronews for example has a 360 item. How do you tell a non-linear story where the viewer decides where they will take it? Or is this what we do anyway clicking between a newsclip, social media, and a subscription news channel?

I miss TV. The immediacy of it. 

Tasked to take 90 minutes I found the lead teacher had lost his voice so I took substantially more of this 3 1/2 hour morning session. Hijinks with technology getting onto the network via a wireless TV keyboard and remote. 

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 29 Oct 2014, 14:40
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. My stab at a popplet.

I added some orange hair. Themed for the 5th of November as this is how I look on the streets of Lewes at this time of year. 

As kids we had a word that sounds very like this ... 'plopplets'. We had a variety of words for poo. 

With thanks to Veronique Masse Du Bois who is using Popplets as part of H818. By sharing and me picking up on it she's achieved some outcome for H818: The Networked Practitioner if I recall having it done this module of the MA ODE last year. 

A sucker for trying out anything new and visual I have downloaded Popplets onto an iPad and will now proceed to mangle the French language, at least the grammar I've supposedly learnt these last two weeks. And illustrate it too. 

Other cool idea organisation Apps I've used:


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How to plan an essay

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 4 Sept 2014, 12:02


Fig.1 A mindmap using the App 'SimpleMinds'

You try all kinds of different approaches, software and apps. You can any of this on paper (I often do), even working on a mindmap on a whiteboard. Practice, and pain, taught me the way that works for me. Ahead of the deadline with the bulk of the reading done I assemble and sort 'the facts' and 'issues'; I'd liken this to taking a large bundle autumn leaves and sorted them out by colour and leaf type. Then I create a mindmap.

SimpleMinds is free - the basic version does more than enough.

My habit is to keep it under 12 'themes' so the 'clock face' is a starting point for the mindmap, not best practice according to mindmap aficienados but what works for me. Six to eight 'tendrils' is probably about right. If I can be bothered to so so that I'll re-order all of this to that in chronological order I have the topics to write about. Any set of these links can be 'closed', which in effect means that you are looking at the introduction. It is no more than a doodle so few of my mindmaps are finished: the above is enough to work from, it's not going to illustrate the essay.

Of course, talking about 'how to write an essay' is one thing: sitting down and getting on with it is quite another.

The first draft is always the hardest. Get them out of the way and hopefully it's then just a case of editing. It takes far longer than you could imagine. I repeatedly used to run out of time and wished I'd got down to it earlier. If you're really brave you might write a version under 'examination conditions' - you, three hours and a blank sheet of paper. You can be surprised at how much 'the Muse' will deliver to your fingertips and there'll be little else that you write that will be so fluid.

Bonne chance.

Various tips, hints and guides on this kind of stuff are hereabouts on the brilliant OU Student platform

Yes, it does help to read the thing out loud! The pain is to listen back and realise that at times you're not making sense sad Re-writing is pain, pain, pain. 

The final thing (click the link for a larger version)

From E-Learning V


This can also be exported as a wordfile with the sub-menus creating a set of logical sub-headings. Depending on the density of the mindmap you may end up with too much, or too little information on which to build an essay. It also rather depends on the length of the assignment.

The other thing I do is to TAG content here from a module that could be used in a pending TMA. When you select that tag you may then export the assembled notes and entries you've gathered over a few weeks - with comments too. Again, you can end up with 8000 loose notes for a 4000 word assignment, but its a start.

Any kind of engagement with the content is better than none?

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H818 TMA01: Concept Board using a Mind Map

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 16:23


Fig.1. SimpleMinds+ concept board/mind map for H818 TMA 01

Sometimes it is too much fun. Actually writing the assignment is such an anticlimax. Sometimes the tool offers too much. SimpleMinds (Free) does the job more the adequately. Here I got mesmerized by the ability to add pictures ... which might be a visual aide memoir but are unecessary and unlikely to make it into the assignment. Though I do believe in illustrating the thing if I can. However, given the module I'll have to be very sure indeed where I stand on the creative commons for any images used. There's a mash-up here from a publicity piece on the Musem of London using an application called Studio - I ought to attribute both. There's a photo I took in the Design Museum. To confuse the visitor some parts of this show permitted photography, some didn't - this did, but I don't know on what basis. In the centre there is a compex SimpleMind of my own on 13 learning theories (there are possibly only five or six, but I stretched the thinking a bit) I ought to have a creative commons licence on it of some kind so that a) I receive attribution b) there is no commercial use c) there is no chopping it about. ie. CC attribution, no commercial, share alike?

(p.s. up in the middle of the night with allergic rhinitis, waiting for medication to kick in. A pain, but far less troublesome from being kept awake with asthma).

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The Final Countdown

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The EMA is 12 days away. I ought to get a draft written in the next few days. Meanwhile I am taking a break from the literature review to go through this blog.

I have 165 entries tagged h809. I need to skim through these and add a further tag H809ema. From these I ought to feel reasonably sure that I've not missed anything out from the last 15 weeks. A couple of things I skipped over but I know what these are should I feel the need to look at them.

During this review I will create a mindmap on a whiteboard. At some stage this may be worked up in SimpleMinds and used as the essay plan, or as a table. It'll certainly be crossmatched with the word count for specific parts of the assignment.

At some stage I will edit with an examiner's hat on - does it show that I have been attentive to the 'lessons' of the module? It is showing off, it is a tick box exercise. This is not the place to go off on a tangent or to argue that a different approach is required.

When and if I have time I will migrate some of these entries over to my external blog so that I have them in future years. I think I have a couple of years to do this, but I don't imagine coming back here often once I have completed my studies.

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