3 Educational Web Applications I’d Like to Make

I am sure you have had moments when you discover your inner inventor too. Here are three web based applications I have much pondered and if I had more time, money, expertise would probably have made by now.

The old Story – A2 by h.koppdelaney
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StoryBook Earth

Inspired by my work on storytelling using Google Earth and WeTellStories, StoryBook Earth would be a place to share, develop and create geotagged stories. When we write or tell stories we are picturing a location, a setting. In combining the imagery of Google Earth, the ability to add text, audio and even further media to specific places, you have a powerful storytelling form.

StoryBook Earth would develop the idea of “story” and “narrative” and to connect students in different parts of the world. It would also be an attempt to explore how the local becomes the global: to provide an appreciation of students in other parts of the world. It would provide an alternative way of “seeing” and “reading” the world, and possibly introduce students to young people who have experienced:

  • Very different lives and personal circumstances
  • Conflict
  • Natural hazards
  • Different climates and natural environments
  • Alternative cultures and traditions

I remember watching a 9 year old in my class tell a story to a friend whilst looking at his street in Google Earth, there is something very immediate about such narratives – similar in part to historical walks that explain a story in the places they occurred.

In partnership with the Geographical Association, StoryBook Earth was entered into the Google GeoChallenge grant application process but unfortunately was rejected.

(Thanks to Alan Parkinson at the GA for all his help developing this idea.)

On the platform, reading by moriza
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My Reading Diary

In our school the children use little paper reading diaries, similar I am sure to many other primary schools. In it they record the books they are reading, their progress and there is a place for pupils, teachers and parents to make written comments too

So for this one think: Shelfari for kids. A learner centred online tool that would allow children to do all they could with a paper diary – without the worry of losing it! But it would also have a database behind it that would allow children to tap into further reading recommendations. Children could read reviews from other users and discover new genres or books they may not normally.

I would imagine that My Reading Diary would have the potential to integrate with library management systems, so children could read a review or see a recommendation and immediately know if it is in school – and if it is available to read or someone else has it out already!

A further unique feature of My Reading Diary would be as a reading portfolio for children as they progress through school. With simple book profiling it would allow teachers and parents to see the types of books any child is reading and make future suggestions.

I think there is huge potential in this to not only provide a manageable online system to track reading progress throughout school but to also engage children with reading and a social, smart, personalised reading diary.

This idea was sadly rejected by Channel 4’s 4iP which is an innovation fund to stimulate public service digital media (beyond television) across the UK.

Firespeed by kwerfeldein
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Connect Collaborate Content

I don’t know what I would call this application but I think it could be very important in the way teachers work in the next 5-10 years.

I would propose a single online place for teachers to find curriculum resources and ideas, connect with colleagues teaching the same topics and a platform for collaboration.

Ian Yorston quite rightly said that this place is the web. It perhaps is a matter of pulling streams of different information together, but I just don’t think there has been a purpose built online space that does all of these.

I am doing some work on the Victorians next half term – with my proposed web idea I want to be able to do a single search for “Victorians” and see a multitude of things that we regularly look for and seek out in further web queries elsewhere.

  1. Resources – planning, images, video, notebook files, PPTs, worksheets, that sort of thing.
  2. Ideas – the resources found on the web do not often come with the narrative behind it, I want to be able to read blog posts and summaries of experiences from those who have taught my topic already. My search results would draw in comments from Twitter and other platforms too.
  3. Connections – so many schools, teachers and pupils are working on the same topics, I want to know who is actively doing them too.
  4. Collaborate – once I have discovered that XYZ are doing the same topic, I want to have the means to collaborate and work with them.

We have a myriad of educational blogs to cover the ideas, places like Gareth Pitchford’s Primary Resources, Classroom 2.0 that does much to connect teachers and then there is simple tools like Teachers Connecting from Ben Hazzard that is a platform to connect and work together.

But we need one place to do all of this from a single search query, that would be the unique feature. You enter a single topic key word and your search results provide everything.

Another aspect that is important is what happens as we share our current classroom work. From blogging about my topics at school this year, for the first time my network has brought resources and ideas to me. Not as a result of me asking, but because they “read a post a few weeks back that I was doing sealife”. If we are all more aware of what topics colleagues are doing in their classes our sharing of ideas and resources can be more purposeful.

It will be intriguing to see what develops with mycurriculum.com from the QCDA and whether it will be able to build the critical mass of users to make it truly worthwhile – and also if it is smart enough to do some of the things I have outlined.

It has been an interesting process getting these ideas down in a post – let me know what you think of them and if they would have value in the educational world we work in. The ideas are there, feel free to go ahead and make them, just let me know you have so I can use them.

10 Comments

  1. Just went down the rest of the comments and I see a fellow Quebecer! Have a look at Curikki and there are many lessons that are QEP compatible – and I am hoping we will see a lot more over the next few months!

  2. Thanks for nice comments on Storybook Earth
    We thought it had legs too – will keep looking for other possible grant opportunities…

    Alan Parkinson
    Geographical Association

  3. I had the last idea for 2 years and I abandonned because currently teachers aren't looking foward to use the web to find stuff to teach. At least, in Québec, Canada. The curriculum of the school classes is pre-fabricated, and it cannot be changed. Well, that's what all my friends who are teachers say.

    It might be a nice idea for alternative schools, tough.

    As for the google earth story teller, it's really a great idea! Plus there is so many ways you can enable search queries – like finding stories related to the place you are telling something – and the app can learn what may interest you as you read stories and write content. The portfolio idea is nice too.

  4. The last idea is being developed in the website: http://www.mentorbuddy.com It's still in Beta and there are some bugs that need to be resolved. I have joined the site but until there's a substantial amount of teachers using it, it won't be of much use.

  5. I like your ideas a lot but particularly love the idea of StoryBook Earth, story telling is exactly that – the telling of stories and 'live' stories from around the world would be very exciting as well as very informative about the differing lives of others! Hope it happens one day and sorry it got rejected for a grant!

  6. the last suggestion…. although it would save time searching for things in different places, one of the things I like about having to do that is the things you accidently come across in your search, finding out what people are doing in different countries etc. Even if there were such a central place, there would still be people around the world putting their own teaching ideas online and I would still want to search for them.
    Your first idea reminded me of http://www.googleltitrips.com

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