Simply create a beautiful webpage with Tackk

ImageThere are various ways to put content on the internet including blogs, websites, and online documents. These are all great in their own way, but what if you just want to quickly create a single page that looks nice and is simple to make. One way to do that is with Tackk, a user-friendly, cloud-based webpage editor. Tackk even works on mobile devices. Here are some of the highlights on using Tackk in the classroom:
 

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Registration:

  • Registration isn’t required to build a Tackk page, but an unregistered page is only available for 7 days.
  • Registration is free and requires either an email and password. You may also connect through your Twitter or Facebook account. Note: I was able to create an account with a fake email address making this available for students who do not want to give their personal information away.
  • An account allows you to create multiple Tackk pages and keep track of them on a ‘My Tackks’ page.
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Sharing:
  • A unique page address is created upon arriving at the site. This cannot be changed, but can be freely shared with others.
  • To create a unique URL, you need to register first.
  • There is a share toolbar at the bottom of each Tackk. This allows users to Like, share via many social media sites, email, print, or embed.
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Tackkboard:
  • This is a place for people to browse through the shared Tackks. You do not need to share your Tackk on the Tackkboard. It is also set to not be posted by default.
  • While I haven’t found any Tackks that questionable in content or nature, it is possible that one might appear before being taken down by the administrators.
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Themes:
  • There are a few Tackk templates that can be found by clicking on the Themes tab on the lefthand side of the page.
Saving:
  • All edits are automatically saved.
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Adding content:
  • To add any content to the page, hover your mouse over any content area and a blue plus put-on will appear on the left. Click on that button and a content selector will appear above that area. Choose the content you would like to add and the editor for that section will appear.
Moving content:
  • Hover your mouse over any content area and two arrows will appear to the left along with a blue plus sing. To change the position of the box on the page, click on the two arrows.
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Text:
  • There are three ways to add text to a Tackk page: as a headline, as body text, or as a bulleted or numbered list.
  • Click anywhere in the text to start editing. Beside the text will be a context-sensitive editing box that appears with buttons to change the content style. This includes colours, fonts, font size, alignment, links, bullets, and bold or italics. Click on the button multiple times to rotate through the options and the changes will happen on your page.
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Multimedia:
  • Tackk allows you to add pictures, videos and audio hosted on some cloud-based sites, and Instagram photos.
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Buttons:
  • You can also add a rounded or square button to the page that will link to any other site.
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Editor:
  • There are 5 areas under the Editor palette:

1: Colors – Changes the background and font colours.
2: Fonts – Choose from 20 unique fonts.
3: Backgrounds: Choose from 20 different backgrounds.
4: Features – There are 5 different components you can add to your Tackk page:

  • 1: Corners – Toggles the corners of the centre page between square and rounded.
  • 2: Contact – Requires registration. Allows users to create a simple contact section to the page.
  • 3: Money – Requires registration. Allows users to sell things or take donations through PayPal.
  • 4: Maps – Add a Google Map to your page set to a specific location.
  • 5: Comments – Allows users to take comments via the reader’s Facebook account.

5: Tags – Here you can set your Tackk to be shared on the Tackkboard and add tags to make it easier for people to search for it.

  • You can move the Editor by clicking on the top of the Editor palette and dragging it to where you would like. You can close it by clicking on the X in the top-right corner.
Commenting:
  • You can comment on any Tackk page use your Facebook account. This comment can also be shared on your Facebook page. There does not appear to be any other ways to comment without using your Facebook ID.
Notes:
  • Students can share one account, but only one can be logged in at a time.
  • If students use a fake email address, the contact page won’t work since it is based on the profile email.
  • This works on iPads and tablets, but there are some problems with screen keyboards taking over part of the screen and the buttons have to be hit twice sometimes.
  • The map can only have one marker on it. It would be great it you could add more than one.
Classroom application:
  • Use it as the ‘showcase’ portion of a student’s e-portfolio.
  • Create mini-lessons for students.
  • Create a biography page for a historical or significant individual.
  • Students create a ‘how-to’ document such as how to make or do something.
  • Invitations for graduation or any other significant event.
  • Business English classes can create a business webpage selling an idea. Could be combined with a presentation.
  • Students create an individual page to introduce themselves to the others in the class.
  • Groups could use it to research an idea by sharing a page.
  • A reading text could be combined with audio and pictures to make it more understandable (scaffolding).
  • Videos could be combined with pictures and words to make a pronunciation exercise.
  • Have a class weblinks page.
  • Create a visual dictionary of new words.
  • Online self-access library using links to videos, audio recordings, readings, etc.

I created a sample Tackk using the content of this blog post here: http://tackk.com/tackkedtech

Do you have any other ideas? Add you comments below or send me a Tweet at @nathanghall. Thank you!

RecordMP3: A nice, simple, online voice recorder

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If you have ever been to one of my technology sessions, you know how much I appreciate the use of an audio recorder in my classroom. I use it for feedback on written work, I record listening tasks for students, and students can use it to record themselves or their group, especially as part of their e-portfolio. I have used Vocaroo and CLEAR RIA Audio Dropbox in the past, but I recently stumbled upon RecordMP3. It works very much like Vocaroo, but it seems to be much cleaner and it is easier to download the file. Here is how it works:

Steps:

  1. Go to RecordMp3.org and click on the ‘okay, got it’ button.
  2. An Adobe Flash dialog box pops up the first time. Click on ‘Allow’, ‘Remember’, and ‘Close’. If you don’t check off the ‘Remember button, you will have to do this the next time you visit the site.
  3. Click on the ‘okay, I did it’ button and a new recorder will appear in its place.
  4. Once you are ready to record, click on the ‘RECORD’ button to start. It will immediately start recording and the time clock will start.
  5. When you are ready to stop recording, click on ‘STOP’. You can listen to your recording by clicking on the ‘Play’ button. You can click on the ‘Pause’ button to stop it.
  6. If you are not happy with the recording, click on the ‘Start Over’ button and do it again.
  7. If you are happy, click on ‘Save Recording’ and it will start to process and upload the file to their server.
  8. Once it is done uploading, a dialog box will appear. Click in the address box to automatically copy the URL to your clipboard. You can now share the address with anyone you would like to have listen to the recording.
  9. To download the file, click on ‘Save as…’ and choose the place on your computer you would like to save it to.

The file that is created is a 128 kbps mono MP3 file which is small enough for email and posting on a website, but is only good for spoken text. It works great for the classroom, but I wouldn’t use it to create something that you plan on using for music or playing to an audience.

How do you use voice recordings in your classroom? Do you archive your files for ongoing formative assessment? Please share your thoughts by posting a comment below, sending me a Tweet at @nathanghall, or emailing me through the contact page on this website. Thank you!

 

The Big Picture: Eportfolios as assessment and showcase

At the beginning of May, I had the opportunity to speak at the BC TEAL annual conference in North Vancouver, BC. I had a wonderful time meeting and connecting with a number of great people and I received a lot of great feedback from some of them. Shortly after that, I was asked to write an article for the spring newsletter for the technology section. The subject was The Big Picture and so I decided to write about eportfolios and their use as ongoing assessment and as a showcase of the students’ final work. Yesterday, the online version of the newsletter was posted and so I have posted a copy of my article here and would appreciate any feedback you might have. You can post comments below or can tweet me at @nathanghall:

ePortfolios and Summative Assessment

In response to this news article on using eportfolios as an assessment tool:

To me, the problem isn’t the eportfolio or the use of it as an assessment tool, it is the fact that there doesn’t appear to be any teacher training in regards to how to use it properly. I’m not sure who is to blame here, but it does seem that the teachers have reasonable concerns that need addressing through proper training and coaching. If the district is asking them to use eportfolios without demonstrating the way to use them properly, then the teachers have a legitimate complaint.

Assessment is a continual process in which the student and the instructor work together to develop learning goals and then find ways of achieving those with the guidance of the teacher and peers. This process would easily weed out those that are copying other work and would help teachers properly assess and help students to move forward without ‘giving out low grades’. Assess, coach or mentor, demonstrate, re-assess, and so on. The eportfolio should be used to encourage the student by showing them where they started from and where they are now.

Here is a good introductory article to eportfolios: Effective Practice with ePortfolios

Pre-fabricated assessment

From Carol Rolhesier, Barbara Bower, and Laurie Stevahn’s book The Portfolio Organizer: Succeeding with Portfolios in the classroom:

The dilemma lies in choosing a generic or task-specific rubric. The more task-specific the rubric, the more valid the result; feasibility, however, often demands that we use generic rubrics more often.

Here lies the difficulty for all educators: reuse what I have created and risk lowering the reliability of the assessment, or take time to create something new, but take time away from something else. I believe there is a third option. Create an environment in the classroom that encourages the students to take control of their own learning and participate more and more in the creation of the rubric. I was reading another blog that suggested that we only need to create a rubric once and you can then use it for life. The problem with that ‘solution’ is that it fails to take the individual needs of each student into account. This is the same problem that comes from pre-fabricated curriculum. It is imperative that we adapt or recreate the rubric or other assessment tool to fit the needs of the learner, not our schedule. I realise it is tough and time consuming, but this is why we need to start with the student and work from there.