Blippar for education

blipparThanks to a tweet from @ThatEdTechGuy from I was introduced to blippar for education (@blippar) this morning. As well as operating in business, the education section of this company  seeks to transform education settings such as schools into digitally interactive learning environments using Augmented Reality. I am still new to exploring augmented reality in the classroom but I know it has great potential for generating student interest and engagement which can only be a great thing! The idea is that it can be used to bring textbooks and other learning materials to life using smartphones or tablets.

For me one of the most exciting things about this mornings discovery of blippar was not just the volcano that came to life on my actual (not virtual) desktop (see photos!) but the fact that blippar are taking augmented reality one step further to ensure it is not just a novelty but an integral part of the learning process. They have done this by introducing a series of education posts (described here in their blog post). These make the AR integral to the classroom experience by enabling the teacher to lead the lesson by using the blipp (AR component) in explaining to the students what happens.

Volc003The volcano blipp (See photos below) involves students connecting to the teachers device by a special code – the teacher then gradually initiates the different parts of the blip, from the eruption through to opening the volcano up as a cross section. Taking this a step further, students then have a labelling activity which they undertake and the results go to the teachers device as a way of monitoring progress. Unfortunately we are not a 1:1 tablet school at the moment but I am really interested to try this with students that do have their own devices and I’m particularly keen to see where blippar take this next. For me this is the first step to really making the most of AR and one which I can see being of great use in the classroom. To have these embedded in textbooks and revision guides would also take experiential learning to the next level.

Volc004  Volc002

Edynco – Interactive Learning Maps

edyncoI’ve recently come across Edynco which I’m hoping to try out over the next couple of weeks. I think this could have really good potential for helping students with revision and linking concepts and key ideas to support recall. Edynco enables simple mind-maps to be turned into interactive learning maps with the addition of other resources and links such as attached documents, audio, video etc.

There is a short introductory video here:

Free conversion of .pdf to Word

A quick and easy to use free tool for converting .pdf documents to word is available from This useful, free tool is online based and enables you to convert scanned .pdf documents to editable word documents. Simply browse for the .pdf file you wish to convert, insert your email address and click convert. Once the conversion has been completed a download link will be sent to your email address. When I tried it it worked perfectly but there was a 30 minute period before the conversion download link was emailed.

Whilst the free version has the inevitable wait time, there is also a paid version available which allows direct conversion from your desktop Able2Extract PDF Converter 9 allowing conversion to 10 different editable file formats (including Excel, PowerPoint etc.).

Emaze – an alternative to PowerPoint?

emaze_logoEmaze looks like a potentially useful tool which can be put to good use in education, whether it is for students to create online presentations for homework or assessment purposes, or for teachers that want to create a presentation with a different look to PowerPoint with stunning visual effects for added impact, either in the classroom, or for creating CPD presentations for training purposes.

Emaze is also said to have  animation facilities which surpass those available on Powerpoint. It is a cloud based technology so you can access your presentations from anywhere. Another benefit is that it is multi-device so that it can be viewed and edited on PCs/ tablets / smartphones etc. There are also ready made templates and slides which can be easily edited.

Whilst Emaze wont replace my use of PowerPoint and SMART notebook in my teaching I can certainly see the benefit of having another tool in the toolkit when wanting to make a particular impact with a presentation, for example I am quite keen to try it out for creating an options presentation for KS3 into KS4 with a different look to the standard PowerPoint overload. With more and more students making use of digital media to present homework tasks I can also see some of them putting the free Emaze account to good use. There is also a presentation template designed specifically for education.

Whilst there is free account option there are premium plans for those that want to do more, including a special education plan at a reduced rate which includes all the features of their premium plan. With the pro version there are additional options, including creating video presentations which can be shared on blogs etc.

Here is a useful Emaze demonstration which gives an overview of what it offers…

ICT Support on Teachers TV

Teachers TV is an excellent source of inspiration for ideas for using ICT in the classroom and has many excellent programmes which can be watched online. There is useful search function on the website. The videos can be played directly from the website (see screenshot) or downloaded. Below are just a few examples of some of the fantastic videos available:

General Videos linked to use of ICT

TOP 10 ON THE WEB SERIES – For subject specific areas – a series of programmes based on secondary subjects and websites that can be used to support teaching and learning in these subjects:

Hard to Teach:

Teaching Videos

Thanks to Danny Nicholson, for the link to a brand new website called “Teaching Videos” set up by Mark Warner. The webiste is designed to bring together educational videos that have been recommended by other teachers. There is going to be a function soon where you can actually register and recommend videos to be added. Over time this should begin to develop into a really useful archive, and will save some searching on You Tube etc.. particularly in the knowledge that videos highlighted on this site have been recommended by teachers as good for use in the classroom.

There are a number of videos that have already been added, but it is worth bookmarking the site and checking back when you are looking for videos as the site is destined to keep growing. The videos are categorised according to subject / topic area as well as according to key stage making finding videos simple! As well as curriculum subjects, there are also videos classified as useful for professional development and assemblies.

Using Audio-visual resources in classroom (1) – Creating resources using Moviemaker


Last weeks Teaching and Learning group meeting was focused on looking at the use of audio-visual resources in the classroom.

Audio-visual resources can greatly enrich the everyday classroom bringing to life teaching and learning opportunities and giving the potential to bring the outside world into the classroom broadening and enhancing our students experience. There are many ways in which audio-visual resources can be utilised and this is an area we will keep returning to.

The aim of our last session however was to look specifically at the use of combining audio, video and images to create short educational presentations in video format which can be played using programmes such as Windows Media Player or Real Player, or converted to a .flv file (using zamzar) and inserted into a Smart notebook file and then annotated etc.

Using video presentations in the classroom:

Examples of how Audio-Visual Resources might be used in the context of short video presentations:

  • Creating an atmosphere and setting the scene for a task
  • Providing a stimulus for students to help them empathise with others as well as develop their understanding of the subject
  • Introduce a new topic
  • For the creation of quizzes and revision opportunities
  • Explain and demonstrate a concept
  • Celebrating achievement, recording experiences such as fieldtrips etc. (although child protection issues must be considered carefully with relation to storage and use of images)
  • To widen the experience for students and present things in other ways

At the meeting I showed example presentations for each of the above – if you were not able to be there and would like to see them to get an idea of how moviemaker can be put to use give me a shout!

There are many programmes which can be used to create video presentations and they vary in their degree of sophistication and thus what is achievable. A great starting point, is Windows Moviemaker, which is a free application which is available on all computers which run Windows.

Using Windows Moviemaker

1. Instructions for creating a simple movie – I have created a simple set of instructions which can be downloaded here on how to create a simple movie using Windows Moviemaker – including the addition of images, video, text, audio etc.

The important thing to remember is that there are TWO stages that you must go through when you actually save your movie. (i) Save Project as (this saves the actual file so that you can come back and edit it) (ii) Save Movie File (you must do this so that you can play back your movie in the classroom! – remember it is the .wmv file you will need to save and take in!). Please read the full explanation of this in the instructions leaflet.

2. Getting used to the interface – the Windows movie maker interface is very user friendly – this downloadable outline may help you identify the main parts of the interface that you will be using frequently.


There are lots of resources and ideas for using Windows Moviemaker – including some great templates for giving a really professional look to your videos. Try out the following two links for some further ideas (thanks to Adam Lawson for suggesting these):

  • Windows Movie Makers forum – lots of great ideas as well as a forum where you can seek help!
  • Hit the Bongo – some great extra titles and transitions here which you can download and make use of (including the James Bond example shown in the meeting!)

Copyright Issues

Please make sure that you bear in mind copyright issues when making audio-visual resources  – particularly if you are sharing resources with students on line. There are many photographs, music etc. which are shared under creative commons licenses which enables them to be used in creation of resources as long as the owner of the copyright is credited (e.g. in a credit list at the end).

Here are some examples of sources of audio-visual materials:


(most just require credit to owner of photograph (could include credits list at end!) – see the terms and conditions on individual sites from more details)


Some video clips – such as those in YouTube can be downloaded using zamzar ( into a format which can then be used in video editing software.

Music / Soundtracks / Spoken Word

10 Tips, Tricks and Activities for use on the IWB

During the first ICT in Practice meeting as well as the ideas discussed in the previous posts, I looked at 10 practical tips, tricks and activities for using your IWB  for getting started in creating resources using notebook. Staff from St Ivo can download the notebook file I used here (password protected – see me); however anyone who uses SMART board can access any of the special activity tools which are available from SMART in the SMART Lesson Activity toolkit (instructions for access and downloading here).

1. Highlighting Lesson Objectives

objectivesWe all know that good lessons require clear lesson objectives which are not only clear to us but to the students as well. There are various ways in which we can share our objectives with students and tools on the IWB help provide some new ideas for doing this which are also designed to help staff keep reinforcing objectives throughout a lesson.

1. The Scroll Bar tool which can be found in the SMART lesson activity toolkit can be used to keep objectives visible during a lesson, or to highlight individual objectives relevant to a particular part of the lesson, by simply being embedded at the top or bottom of a SMART notebook page.

2. Using a pull tab, objectives can remain hidden and simply pulled out from the side of the page whenever you want to remind students during the lesson of what they are working towards, or to link what you are doing to a specific learning objective. To create this there are 6 quick and easy stages:

1. Create a rectangle of the size required and shade in an appropriate colour (it will need to be given a ‘fill’ colour, even this is only white – if not, if transparent whatever is below the objectives will be shown when you pull out the tab meaning that it cannot be read clearly)

2. Write the text you want to be shown (i.e. objectives, reminders etc.)

3. Select the text by clicking on it, then hold down the ctrl (control) button and select the rectangle as well. Right click and select ‘Grouping’ and then ‘Group.

4. You then need to get the ‘Pull tab’ graphic – to select this click on the Gallery and select the lesson activity toolkit – choose ‘Graphics’ from the list and then select ‘Pull Tabs’ – if they are not shown, click on the ‘Picture and Backgrounds’ tab to show all pull tabs available. Simply choose the one you want and drag it over to the notebook page and position it next to your text box.

5. You now need to group these all together – simply select the pull tab by clicking on it, hold down control and click on the box to select it. Then right click, select ‘Grouping’ and ‘Group

6. You have now created one object which you can drag to the side with just pull showing to drag out whenever needed!

Both of these tools could of course be put to other uses – e.g. reminders of key dates, reminders regarding homework, key vocab words required during a lesson constantly scrolling round the top of a page etc!


2. Using Video

You can easily INSERT video files into your notebook file, however to insert them within a notebook page they will need to be in the format of a Flash Video file. You can easily convert files from their original format to .flv (Flash Video format) using the Zamzar tool. You can also use this tool to easily download useful video clips from YouTube and other online video sites which you can then use in your lessons. For full instruction of how to do this, see my other post on Capturing Digital Video.

Once you have your video file ready, simply open up SMART notebook, click on Insert, select Flash Video File.., browse to the location of your file, select and click open.

Annotating your video! If you are trying to analyse the video content, for example looking at a screenplay in Media Studies, studying character profiles in a Shakespeare play in English, looking at landform formation in geography etc. it is possible to pause the video at the point you want to talk about, discuss and add annotations to the paused clip using the SMARTboard pens. Then simply use the capture tool to take a screen shot of your annotated video – this will put a copy of the screen with the annotations into another page of the notebook. To continue watching the video, simply get rid of the annotations quickly (this can be done by selecting the eraser, circling the whole area you want to erase and double click in the middle – the annotations will disappear – you can use this trick to erase any large areas of text, drawing etc. that you don’t want!).


3. Using the Wordbiz tool as a starter for Vocab development

wordbiz1Wordbiz is one of the interactive activities taken straight from the SMART lesson activity toolkit. To access this select the Gallery tab, then ‘Games’ and then ‘wordbiz’. This is great for testing vocabulary and a nice little starter or plenary activity. To edit and add questions, simply drag Wordbiz from the gallery to your notebook page. Then select edit and your questions and answers (you can have up to 8 questions). To play the game, students are given the question and they have to use the letters given to spell out the key word correctly in the time allowed. Good for checking both vocab development and spelling!!


4. Using the Checker Tool as a Starter / Plenary

checker1This is a great little tool from the SMART lesson activity toolkit. To find it, go to the Gallery tab and select Learning Activity Toolkit – click on ‘Tools’ and then ‘Tools’ again, click on where it says ‘Interactive and Multimedia ‘ and find the checker tool – drag it across to the notebook page to use it. You can add as many as you like!

You can use these in a variety of ways – one is for adding labels to diagrams. To do this:

  • Insert your diagram to your notebook page (I suggest you then lock it: select it, right click, select ‘Locking’ and then ‘lock in place’.)
  • You then need to add a word box of possible labels which students can choose from. IMPORTANT – you must make sure you create each label separately so they can be dragged separately.
  • Now you need to add arrows or lines to the parts of the diagram you want labelled using the line tool (again I suggest you lock these in place).
  • At the end of each line / arrow, now add a checker tool. Click on the double arrow on the top left of the tool and enter the correct answer (be sure to tick whether it should be case sensitive or not) – when done click ok and repeat for the other labels

Now its ready to be used! When the correct label is dragged onto the checker tool – it will say ‘Good job’ or if wrong ‘try again’.

The example I used of labelling the ear (as shown in screen shot) is taken directly from the SMART Lesson Activity toolkit (click Gallery_Tools_Tools_Examples to find)


5. Using the Random Image Tool

checker_tool1This enables you to collect together a set of images which will then be shown randomly when you click on the tool. There are many possible uses, for example in geography, different landforms which you want students to then explain the characteristics and formation of; in history, characters from the past that students then are asked questions about; in languages objects for students to give the translation of etc.

Again, this can be found in the SMART lesson activity toolkit (Gallery Tab_Lesson Activity Toolkit) and then click on Tools, Tools again and the random image tool is close to the end so scroll down. To edit:

  • drag across the random image tool to the notebook page
  • double click the edit arrow on the tool
  • insert any images you want to use into notebook as normal and then drag them straight into the tool
  • you can just keep dragging images on to the tool to add more.

The example in the screenshot, which I showed yesterday is available for download in the Tools_Examples part of the Lesson Activity Toolkit.

There are other great tools simillar to this in the Toolkit which are well worth exploring – e.g. random word generator, random number generator, dice etc. Enjoy!


6. Magic Paper

magicpaper2All we are doing here is using different coloured text and backgrounds to make words or sentences visible and invisible. This is useful for setting quiz questions on the board which you can then easily go over with the class and can be put to use in many different curriculum subjects.

  1. Simply begin by creating a rectangle on either the left or right hand side of the page.
  2. Right click on the rectangle and select properties and then using “Fill Effects” choose a colour to fill your rectangle, a mid-tone colour works best. If it is too dark, black wont show up and if it is too light white wont show up, but you can play around with what works best for you.
  3. Create your text by the side of the rectangle – this could be quiz questions and their answers, key terms and their definitions, mathematical equations and their answers etc. You must however make sure that you create it as one selectable piece of text, do not break the question and answer into two.
  4. Then select the answer / definition etc. that you want initially to be invisible by highlighting it and from the font format box change the text colour to white.
  5. When you then drag this over onto your magic paper, both the question and answer will appear, when you drag it back the ‘answer’ will disappear as the white text once again blends with the white background – simple!

  6.  ————————————–

7. Using the “Order function” to create simple sorting activities


In this example I took a clipart image of an envelope and put it in the middle of my notebook page. Around the image there were names of landforms which were glacial or periglacial in origin. The aim was to sort the landforms into the two types by putting all the glacial landforms in the envelope. If students got it right the landform name would disappear when they drag it onto the envelope, if not the landform would stay visible so they drag it back. This can be adapted for any sorted activity – you could for example in english, distinguishing between verbs and adjectives and the image can be changed accordingly – for example you could have a clip art image of a post box for words to be ‘posted’!

To do this simply use the ‘order’ function. Insert your image and text – then taking each text box in turn you need to ‘order’ it. Anything that is correct and you want to disappear when dragged on to your image, right click, select ‘order’ and ‘send to back’. You are then ready for students to sort – any ‘correct’ answers that you have set to be sent to the back will disappear when you drag them over an image, whereas anything that is ‘wrong’ will stay showing.


8. Using Multimedia

multimedia1It is easy to add a variety of multimedia to a notebook to make it more interactive and to make use of a varity of audio-visual images. Simply select the ‘Insert’ option on the toolbar, select the type of file you want to insert and you will then need to use the browse function to locate on your computer or memory pen the resource you want inserting. Remember if you are adding video files to actually be embedded in the notebook page that you will need to make sure it is in a Flash Video format (with the extension .flv). Video files can easily be converted to .flv files using software available online, for example zamzar.

In this example I inserted sound files of descriptions of weather in french, alongside images of the weather types that students had to match them up to. I used a pull tab (described in tip1 above) to provide the instructions which could be pulled out or tucked away!)


9. Rub and Reveal

rub-and-revealThis is a really simple technique which enables you to hide text, answers, photographs etc.. and then reveal quickly by simply moving the eraser over them. In my example I created a clozed style exercise, with a piece of text with some key words missing that students need to fill in.

  1. Simply insert your text, image etc. as normal.
  2. Select pen from the toolbar at the top, click on the formating button at the side and select Line style. Change the font colour to white (or the colour of the background you are working on) and select a thicker line depending on how big an area you want to mask.
  3. Then using your pen simply scrible over the word or image you want to make disappear. This will then cause it to blend with the background and to students appear invisible.
  4. You can then reveal the word/ image etc.. when going the exercise by simply using the eraser.

This is also a useful technique for when you want to hide small components of a page (which are too small to use the screenshade for).


10. Image Transparency and Transparent Overlays

There are two parts to this tip, but both involve the idea of transparency.



The first is setting part of an image transparent so it blends with the background. This is particularly useful if using clipart. Often an image will be on a whitebackground and if you are trying to insert this on a notebook page with a coloured background you are left with your image as a square with a white background. To make the white part of your image transparent, simply insert your image (to do this select ‘Insert’ (on toolbar), followed by ‘Picture File..’ and browse for your image). Then right click on your image and from the pop-up menu select ‘set picture transparency’, this will bring up your image in a little box, on this small thumbnail image click the colour you want to make transparent (e.g. if you want the white area to not show on a coloured background click on the white) and hey presto!



transparentmappicThe second part involves using the facility to control the transparency of an image which by overlaying images will enable the gradual reveal of an image below. Having followed a suggestion from Danny Nicholson I have used this to overlay a map and satellite picture of St Ives to help students studying the local area settlement unit to compare a map of the local area with the satellite image. To do this I have simply collected the two images that I want to overlay (in this instance using Google Maps). In order to ensure that the scale directly corresponded between the map and image so that the transparency option worked I ensured the size of the images were the same. I then used the ‘Order’ function to ensure the image I wanted on top was indeed in front. To do this, simply select the image showing, right click on it and from the pop up menu select ‘order’ and then select either ‘bring to

Thanks again to Danny Nicholson for the idea above. There is a useful video embedded below with Danny demonstrating this idea for the Whiteboard Challenge site

Capturing Digital Media for the IWB 2. Video Clips

Having problems with not being able to access YouTube in school? Or do inappropriate comments on the YouTube page put you off using an otherwise useful educational clip in school? Or would you like to be able to download the video so that you can annotate key points using SMART notebook functions? There are a number of ways in which you can capture digital video from sites such as You Tube, Teacher Tube, Video Jug etc.. in order to capture useful content which you can use in the classroom (bearing in mind of course any copyright restrictions).


One of the simplest ways of downloading videos from the web is using a versatile, free and simple to use tools called zamzar. This is a free online file conversion tool which means you do not need to download any software to your computer in order to run it.

Downloading a YouTube video (or similar) using Zamzar couldn’t be easier:

1. Simply copy the URL of the YouTube video you want to download – go to zamar, under Step 1, click on url (you must do this if downloading from a website) and then paste in the URL of the YouTube video you want.


2. Under Step 2, select the file format you want to convert it to, if you intend to import it into SMART notebook you will need to use a file format such as .flv (a flash video file). If you download / convert the video into Flash Video format, other than watching it in SMART notebook you will need a Flash Video player to view it (a free one can be downloaded here)


3. Finally you will need to enter your email address and once you have agreed to the terms and conditions select convert. A link will then be sent to your email address for you to download the converted file to your computer. Depending on usage this can take anything from 5 minutes to up to an hour to come through! I have often had very quick responses however on one or two occassions at high usage times I have experienced some delays.

Although there are tools other than zamzar which can be quicker in downloading video clips, it is definitely worth be aware of zamzar – for example, if you just want the soundtrack to a video from YouTube but you don’t want the video itself, you can strip off the soundtrack using Zamzar – simply follow the instructions above, but instead of selecting .flv as the conversion format, choose one of the audio file options, e.g. .wav, ..wma etc.

You can also convert files from one type to another, including document formats such as .rtf and .doc.

Other Download Tools:

If you use Firefox – the SoThink Web Video Downloader (freeware) for Firefox is well worth downloading. Instructions for how to use this tool to download videos from firefox can be found here.

tooble1Tooble is a new online tool enabling the downloading of YouTube videos directly to your PC in a format which can then be downloaded to video ipods – this could be useful for making available revision videos which students can then download to watch on their ipods!

There are many other free options available – see this post on 18 free ways to download any video off of the internet, by Aseem Kishore.

Capturing Digital Media for the IWB – 1. Animations


We have all been there – we have found the perfect flash animation on a website we use in our schemes of work, but when we go back to it the site is no longer available or we can’t remember the URL! Don’t panic, whilst you need to be aware of any copyright restrictions, it is possible to capture flash animations from the web which can then be imported directly into SMART notebook and used as part of lesson. Whilst animated clipart which are actually .gifs are quite easy to save, in order to capture a flash animation .swf file we need to use a piece of software.

There are a number of free as well as commercial resources which will help you with this. The Sothink SWF catcher is a free option which is available to download for both Internet Explorer and Firefox. Another option which I have found successful in the past is Flash Saving Plugin which is freeware for use with Internet Explorer.

Below is a simple tutorial for downloading a flash file using the Sothink SWF Catcher for Internet Explorer.

1. Firstly download the software to your computer. You will then need to extract the files and select the option to run the programme.

2. If you have your Internet Explorer browser open you will then need to close it and re-open it. You will not see any difference when you re-open apart from the fact you now have a new option under “Tools” on the browser bar.

3. To download your flash file, select the website which contains the flash animation and then from Tools, select SothinkSWF Catcher


4. At the top of the box it saves “Save to” – this is the default area to which your animation will be stored when saved. If you want to change this location, before clicking on Save – click on Settings


5. You now need to choose the directory and folder in which you want to store your downloaded animation, this is important so that you know where to look for the file once it has been saved!


6. Finally click “Save” and the animation will be saved to the folder you indicated in the Settings profile.


8. You have now captured your flash file and it is ready to use in SMART notebook – simply open up a new notebook file – click on INSERT and select flash file


9. Finally navigate to the directory / folder where your animation is stored and click ok – your animation will now appear in your notebook – you can now add text around it / change background / add other resources (e.g. with the chosen animation of meander formation, I might also add in a photograph of a meander and a video clip by the side to help students visualise the development of the landform and enabling them to then come up and write labels on to explain the formation.