Folded–Folding Story

So, the post on Folding Story was missing its conclusion but only because we were unable to reach the required ten contributions to complete the story. Over the weekend, our Folding Story was completed by ‘extras,’ and its status went from folding to folded.






First point to note, Folding Story gives you two ways to view the finished or folded story, ‘Line by Line’ and ‘As a Paragraph.’ Below the folded story you can see who started / finished the story with the customary quick access Twitter and Facebook buttons, and below that, a blog style comment box. More ideas for the comment box later.

What I really like about the line by line feature is that you can LIKE or SCORE individual posts, hereby increasing the SCORE of particular stories but also of contributors. The best premise, the more stories you start and contribute to, the faster your stock (or score) will rise. Add this social scoring element to the follow / following element and you have a compelling reason to write.

Let’s refer back to the comment box and potential educational uses / ideas. You could use the comment box to leave a comment, grade or assess stories. Highlight errors,  provide alternative posts or signpost continuation stories.

What is mildly educational, is that our story was completed by English writers from a different culture. There’s a lesson in there somewhere about global learning.


To help a storyfold, fold, in the introduction lesson maybe focus on just 2 / 3 stories to ensure one completed fairly quickly. That said, I am sure it will surprise a few students in our class that ‘extras’ completed our first attempt!

@asober and I were briefly exploring how Folding Story could be used to writer chemical processes, or processes of any kind for that matter. It is possible, but I think I prefer the creative fun stuff.

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Powerful Combinations – Office Web Apps and a SkyDrive

This is very promising. Office Web Apps and a SkyDrive with 25 GB of storage space. Accessible for FREE with a Live account. Office Web Apps provide a basic set editing tools (not a replacement for OFFICE 2010) but more than enough for students. More importantly, for all those students stuck with Office 2003 on their home PCs,  access to Onenote. IMHO certainly comparable to Google Docs and there is more to come. Head to office.live.com and you’ll get a list of the documents you’ve uploaded to SkyDrive (if you have Windows 7, you can even map the drive on your PC).

Combine Office Web Apps with Office 2010 and you get the capability to edit offline, co-author documents using revision marks, comments, and other features you are used to seeing in the desktop applications.


Having spent an hour experimenting with Web Onenote, I am confident that is would service the students needs, basic formatting, highlighter, colour, spell check, indent, bullets. Styles, tables, images, hyperlinks and tags. You can add, move and remove sections, more than enough features to make a very attractive looking document.

However what stands out for me is the ease with which you can share and co-author the document, at the level of privacy you determine. Once shared you can then show the contributions made by the permitted authors.

Originally undermined as a ‘poor-man’ desktop office product, Web App’s simplicity may in fact become its greatest strength. I would point out that many staff may in fact prefer this lite application to the more complex desktop version.

I leave this Web-Onenote open access and you can contribute anything I have missed and add any opinions you may have.

Just a few days after I published this post I also learnt that @bennuk: As well as Web Apps being free with a Live ID, if a school uses Live@edu then all adverts are removed from SkyDrive (and everywhere) too! Now that’s a bonus.

Next in the series, Powerpoint, Excel and Word.

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 http://www.newtools.org/showtxt.php?docid=737 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….. http://www.distractionbeast.com/brainstormer.swf

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. http://www.telescopictext.com/. 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?