Ideas Incubator
Ideas Incubator

Ideas Incubator

About 3 months ago I sent in a request to timeline webware Preceden. We struck up a conversation about a possible feature and we have continued the conversation to Matt asked me for a webware tool wish list. So I emailed, tweeted and chatted with other educators to glean some ideas. Exam season is not the best time to make these requests and the ‘open’ question did not elicit as much response as I thought it would. So, being a Sunday I sat down and got to work. My response to Matt covered three ideas, please add any ideas if you have them.
I now have some ideas if you have to time to code them?
In my review of webware, the most successful educational tools often fall into four main categories. The factual – etext books, content websites, video sites. The practical task orientated webware, mind mapping, or timelines. Third, the author / producer / content creator – Youtube, Voicethread and Myna. Finally those that provide short cuts to great looking content, Animoto, Xtranormal, Wordle. A few webware products have appeared that start to capture the vogue topic of creativity – couple this with the power to create random sets of information – perhaps not practical to create as hard copy teaching resources for the classroom.
One of the best examples I can show you John Davitt’s now iphone app RAG.
“The RAG is shake-me-up box of delights for the iPhone that generates thousands of fresh learning challenges. Give the RAG (Random Activity Generator) a shake, the cards spin and you are presented with a random activity to do. Primed with over 50,000 possible combinations….”
Only with RAG you have to learn random lessons, I want the same creative input but for the topics I need to teach. I need a partial RAG where teachers can write the lesson topic in the 1st box! That is my first idea, borrowed, I would encourage conversation with John Davitt on that idea, but would 100% use that tool in my lessons.
2. Is creative writing… there is a fab site that helps create random topics but…..

I have some reservations. This tool would be for the sole purpose to getting students started and keeping them writing….. many lessons falter because that don’t get started quickly enough or as the young writers progress they are let down by their inability to be creative or resilient. Many students hit writers block, only because they can find first gear or later can not change gears. Sadly, the site is fantastic, but the options are perhaps a little too random / bizarre. Could we re-create a creative writing tool that offered a choice from themes / adjectives / settings / emotions / emoticons / dates and time / place? English departments would get so much from this. I could write the lists to a database and offer a query but I would not know how to transfer that to a web app. The web app would have tick boxes that allowed writers to set the scope for the writing scaffold. If answered yes, the random gnerate would create the plan.

Do you need a setting? Answer – Yes. A wedding
Do you need some adjectives? Answer – Yes. Tired, Lacklustre, Betrayed.
A date? Answer – Yes. June 27, 1902
A Time? Answer – No
A place? Answer – Yes. Barcelona
Emotic? Answer – Yes 🙁
What about for Science – show relationships between – randome Science themes / chemicals / reactions??
Another is a tool that shows students how to expand their writing. There is an idea in there somewhere. Could create a tool that let students put their text in and link to a thesaurus to telescope their writing? More challenging.
Finally and perhaps the one with the most HARD educational evidence supported ideas is the use of manipulatives (Average effect size .89). I am surprised that this tool is not used more in schools but…. Here is the tool.
Provide 5 terms  and 5 answers – match the pairs.  Easy.
The real educational value is when you provide 5 terms but 6 answers – the learning effect goes up 3 fold, in deciding which are the correct answers. The skill, is in writing the question. eg the a simple set crimson, aqua, green, yellow and poppy, grass, sea, sun? Crimson, aqua, green, yellow and poppy, grass, sea, sky, sun?
What about a site that creates manipulative worksheets? Matt, over to you. Skype? These are my best three ideas to date.
Lets see where it takes us?

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