Why you don’t have to miss the ICT in Education articles even if you’re too busy to read them

podcast listenIf you’re too busy to read the articles on the ICT in Education website, you can listen to them instead.

Thanks to a neat little widget from Odiogo, each article has a “Listen Now” button at the top of it. Click that, and you will be able to listen to the article read out to you. Warning: there’s a bit of  delay between my posting an article and the Listen Now button working, so if you try it straight away and it doesn’t work, try again a few minutes later.

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Finding stuff on the ICT in Education website

previewOne of the main criticisms levelled at the original ICT in Education website was that it was hard to find things. Come to think of it, that was the only criticism for a long time, before the site became more and more unwieldy through my attempts to make articles easier to locate. I’m trying to not repeat the mistakes on this  website, so every so often I take another long, hard look at it and ask: how might searching/finding be made even easier? And so it was that over the weekend I did some revamping and moving things about, and this article describes the results.

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50 Ways to contribute to a website

I love having guest contributors to this website and the Computers in Classrooms newsletter, because it provides more variety. However, not everyone likes writing. If that applies to you, or your pupils or students, there are several ways in which you – and they – can contribute.

I've written this relatively objectively because these suggestions would apply to contributing to any website or blog I should imagine, not just this one. Indeed, one or two of them don't apply to this one at all at the moment, such as contributing to a forum.

Also, the list is almost certainly not complete. If you have any other suggestions, do let me know.

If you're a website or blog owner, you might find this list useful as a way of suggesting to your own readers how they might contribute to your efforts.

  1. Write an article.
  2. Write a poem.
  3. Write a special type of poem, like a limerick or a haiku.
  4. Write a song.
  5. Write a special type of song, like a rap song or a blues song.
  6. Write a play (but not a full-length one please!).
  7. Write a special type of play, like a play for one person.
  8. Draw a picture.
  9. Draw a special type of picture, like a cartoon.
  10. Design a quiz.
  11. Design a special type of quiz, like a word search or a crossword.
  12. Create a presentation in SlideShare. The beauty of having an online newsletter is that your presentation can be linked to, or even embedded.Create a video.
  13. Create a special kind of video, like a 12 second one .
  14. Make a podcast.
  15. Make a special kind of podcast, like an interview with someone who uses technology in interesting ways.
  16. Review a podcast.
  17. Review a SlideShare presentation.
  18. Review a software application.
  19. Review an item of equipment.
  20. Review a service.
  21. Write a case study of practice you know about.
  22. Write a report on something you've tried out in your classroom.
  23. Write a report on something you're thinking of trying out in your classroom.
  24. Write a lesson plan.
  25. Write a lesson resource.
  26. Review a website.
  27. Write a how-to crib sheet.
  28. If you're representing an organisation, take out an advertisement in the newsletter. 
  29. If you're representing an organisation, place a sponsored article in the newsletter.
  30. If you're representing an organisation, offer a book, some hardware, or some software for review.
  31. If you're representing an organisation, offer a book, some hardware, or some software as a prize in a competition. I've run competitions from time to time, and they always go down well.
  32. Proofread a newsletter issue.
  33. Contribute to a survey (I always try to ensure that they never take more than 10 minutes to do).
  34. Leave comments. Sometimes it feels like nobody is reading anything, especially in the early days. Fortunately, I receive comments through email, Twitter and Facebook, but if someone has just started out, as it were, they need some encouragement to carry on.
  35. Send the author a comment by email. At least s/he will know that someone is listening!
  36. Contribute to a forum on the website, if there is one.
  37. Make suggestions for improvements.
  38. Write an article about something they've written, with a link back to their article.
  39. Offer a White Paper or similar resource for them to review -- as long as you don't make it conditional on a positive recommendation.
  40. Share articles you like via Twitter and other networks.
  41. Suggest a reading list for readers.
  42. Suggest a blog list for readers.
  43. Suggest a podcast list for readers.
  44. Suggest a video list for readers.
  45. Send in a photo or a link to one.
  46. Report on a conference, especially if it's one that the website owner was unable to attend.
  47. Offer to report on a conference session. Parallel sessions are the bane of our lives in some respects! Being able to attend one session and report on two or three is the stuff of dreams.
  48. Take part in an interview, via email or Skype.
  49. Invite the author to take part in a discussion. I love being invited because it means I make contact with people I may not otherwise have come across.
  50. Contribute in a way that I haven't yet thought of.

If any of these suggestions appeal to you as a way of contributing to my efforts (ed tech-related only, please), please look at the notes and terms & conditions.

What's RSS and why is it useful?

Here's a quick guide to RSS, which you may have seen mentioned on websites and blogs. (Note: I've written this guide with the complete novice in mind. If you already know what an RSS feed is, think about bookmarking this article in order to refer to it colleagues who are less knowledgeable than you. Thanks!)

What does RSS stand for?

The most commonly accepted answer is 'Really Simple Syndication'.

What does RSS let me do?

It makes it easy to do two things really easily. Firstly, it lets you read the articles on your favourite websites all in one place, using an application called a 'feed reader'. Secondly, as an extension of that, it lets you collate the latest posts from several blogs all in one place. It doesn't have to be only blog posts. It could be latest comments on someone's blog, or their most recent tweets in Twitter, or anything else that has an RSS feed.

Taking the first point, it means that you don't have to traipse from one website to another to check if there is anything new: new stuff will show up in your feed reader automatically.

How do I obtain a feed reader?

Just search for the term 'feed reader' and then find one that suits you. You can have one which is installed on your computer, or one that resides on the web. I prefer the latter, because it means it doesn't matter whether you're sitting at your own computer or not when you feel like checking for new content. Some installed feed readers let you synchronise with a web-based one, meaning that you potentially get the best of both worlds.

Popular feed readers include Bloglines and Google Reader, which are web-based. For other readers, look at this article about feed readers.

Update: since this article was written, Google has decided to discontinue its RSS Reader service. There are plenty of alternatives, however. Check out RSS isn't dead: the best Google Reader alternatives. Read the comments too, as there are suggestions in there as well. Feedly has been cited lots of times in articles. I myself have started to try one called The Old Reader, which seems quite nice.

How do I subscribe to an RSS feed?

If you've installed your feed reader's browser toolbar, you should be able to do so by clicking on 'Subscribe', if the blog or website has been set up to allow this. Otherwise, look for an icon like this: and click on it; your feed reader should do the rest. If it doesn't, right-click on the icon and select the menu item which reads 'Copy link location' (or similar), open your feed reader, and then paste the link into the New Subscription box. Don't worry: it's all a lot simpler and quicker than it sounds.

How do I read new articles?

Just open your feed reader and see what, if anything, has been added to the various websites since you last looked.


RSS makes it easy for you to keep up with lots of reading in a shorter period of time than would probably otherwise be the case, because you're not racing all over the internet from site to site.

If you're a teacher, it can also benefit your students. For example, if your school uses a virtual learning environment (VLE) you could set up areas for students to visit where the latest headlines from a range of websites are displayed. That could be used purely for reference, or you could incorporate it into lessons. For example, the first five or ten minutes of each lesson could be spent discussing what's new in the world of hospitality and catering, or in business and finance. At the risk of sounding clichéd, the uses for RSS are limited only by your imagination.

I hope you have found this useful. Feel free to comment on the article.

Building up slowly: more changes to this website

Walk past any building site, and what will you see? More than likely, people lolling around drinking tea. Yet as you walk by every day you notice something strange: slowly, inexorably, the building is taking shape. Here is some scaffolding where only yesterday was an empty space; there a wall, where only yesterday there was scaffolding.

Thus it is with this website. From your point of view, no doubt, I am lolling around drinking tea. Yet look more closely, and you will notice changes here and there. Small, incremental changes, but not insignificant ones I hope.

Last week I listened to the reminder from Doug Woods that blue/yellow was almost as bad a colour combination as red/green. So out went the yellow background and most of the blue text, apart from the hyperlinks.


As another aspect of making the site accessible to all, I've been experimenting with Talkr, which converts text to speech automatically. Unfortunately, it would seem that if you have article summaries, Talkr converts the summary and not the main article. So, out went the summaries despite the fact that I quite liked the idea of presenting several headlines and abstracts on the front page of the website: what a glorious choice the visitor had!

Sadly, ditching the summaries had the unintended consequence of making the early (summarised) articles unamenable to conversion to speech. I hope you will agree that this is a small sacrifice for the greater, and longer term, good.

Of course, this now meant that having five articles per page required, in Ray Tolley's words, "having to endlessly scroll further down the page in case there is a different topic further down." Therefore I took a leaf out of his book and reduced the number of articles to just one per page -- but still with the last six headlines just over to the left of the main area.

Like any consultant, part of the purpose of my website is to make it easy for people to find out what I do and why I'm qualified to do it, in the hope that they will offer me some gainful employment. So up went the CV (resumé) in a web-friendly form, on the page titled Assignments Undertaken.

Lastly, I added a section called 'Social Profile' which gives my addresses on Twitter, Linked-In, and elsewhere. Rather cleverly, Squarespace allowed me to make that visible only on the 'Contact Us' page. (If you're impressed enough to want to create your own Squarespace website,  you might consider clicking on the 'Powered by Squarespace' icon on the right-hand side of this page. That links to an affiliate scheme which will place untold riches into my coffers. Well, a couple of quid I think, but every little helps, to coin a phrase!)

Back to the website, and I must thank everyone who has been kind enough to provide feedback on the new site. I've done so in private emails, but I think a public acknowledgement of people's kindness would not go amiss. If you have any feedback, you can get in touch with me in all sorts of ways, as shown on the Contact Us page.

Do keep visiting! It took five years to build up the wealth of content on the original website, so please be patient! I'm doing a fair amount of posting at the moment, but you know what they say: Rome wasn't built in a day. And you can always help by suggesting an article that you would like to write.

If you like the site, please do tell others about it, comment on the articles and write about them. Visitor stats are looking pretty good at the moment, but I'm a Type A person and I need results yesterday!

But for now, I think it's time I had another cup of tea....

Website progress report

I'm not putting too much content here just yet because I'm still having some issues with DNS matters, which hopefully will be resolved today. However, I've made a couple of changes which should make finding stuff even easier:


1. I've added an Article Index page to the top of the screen. This lists all the articles in reverse chronological order.


2. I've added a page in the right-hand menu called 'Find articles by tags'.

3. The list of articles on the left-hand side of the page has been reduced to 6, and the list of tags has been removed, making the monthly archive visible on most screens.