Thursday, April 8, 2010

In the clouds (John Pearce, workshop, day 2, ACEC 2010)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 14:  Artwork of th...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
I think this will be my final session of the day. It's a hands-on workshop called In the Clouds. John Pearce has a PBWorks resource site that looks at various cloud solutions. We started by having a discussion around what cloud computing comprises and what the benefits are.

The terms and conditions around some of the applications were also considered by the group. If a school sets up something like Google Apps, the account is tied to the school, which means that the work is not going to be portable for students. Also, at the end of the year, usually servers are re-set so students lose their work - somewhat against the ethos of cloud computing!

The hands on part of the session encouraged participants to explore:
Zoho and Google Docs are very similar, but Zoho has more functionality. Google, however, is set up more for education.

Etherpad has now been taken over by Google. The source code from Etherpad is going to be shared however. It is a superb synchronous tool for brainstorming or writing policy etc together. Contributions are colour-coded and names are related to colours. It has a 'timeslider' function that enables the re-visiting of the whole experience. A lot of the functionality is similar to Mindmeister, but in document form as opposed to mindmaps. There is a paid option for a tool called Primary Pad which gives a 6 month free trial where you can set up your own pads.

Edmodo is microblogging for education. As a teacher you can set up groups, and a code is generated that students use to work together.

The interesting thing for me was watching how people interacted during the workshop (mainly one person, one laptop - lots of backchanneling). Some people were watching the slideshow and videos and some were answering questions / contributing. I think it may have been rather more engaging if we'd been given a few things to explore, and actually set up a couple of things - or just collaborated on a ready set up resource. I was able to write this blog... :-)
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