Archive for the ‘Websites’ Category

Yesterday, I finally found a, free, effective tool for helping my 12 yr. old with learning issues learn his times tables. It’s a game called Dynamite Multiplication on the site Multiplication.com.

It uses an image memory technique I’ve been using with him, effectively, for other things. But it adds rhyme and stories to make it even more effective.

The one I’ve been using involves creating images, no matter how outlandish, to link ideas you’re trying to remember. One way involves imagining walking through your house. So if you’re trying to remember, say, the names of all the continents, you imagine yourself walking through your front door and are greeted by a penguin (Antarctica), in your kitchen you find a lion enjoying a meal at your kitchen table (Africa), and in your bathroom you surprise a kangaroo in the shower (Australia)…and so on.

Dynamite Multiplication covers the 2-9 times tables and assigns an image to each number.  Two is shoe, three is tree, four is door, eight is skate, nine is sign and so on. So to remember that 8 x 4 = 32 the site provides the image of a door wearing skates who makes himself a big U to skate on, which he makes from some dirty wood he finds. So SKATE x DOOR = DIRTY U or 8×4=32. The site then provides a short story about the image to help lock it in the brain. Here’s what it looks like:

Dirty U

 

The result for my kid, who’s a visual learner, was learning his 7 times table in one night after having tried to master them many other ways.

But this great tool is buried among some 30 games on Multiplicationn.com’s game section with no indication of its unique, powerful use of images.  So please share it!

I had found a paid service providing a similar image technique for times tables but why pay for something you can get for free? 😉

On to the next challenge…..

**** UPDATE  Dec. 12, 2013 ****

After digging deeper in to the site, it turns out it’s built around the images and stories for learning times tables created by Washington educator Alan Walker and captured in his book Memorize in Minutes: The Times Tables.

OAMA site

Here’s a case study of the website of a local Ottawa martial arts school, The Ottawa Academy of Martial Arts (OAMA). I  chose this one because the site was done by a local company I just discovered, N-VisionIT Interactive, whose CEO, Brent Mondoux, recently won a top Forty Under 40 award from the  Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. Plus, the company has done lots of websites, mobile development and social media campaigns for various local businesses and government departments.

The OAMA site is a nice piece of work and here’s how I see it:

The positives:

  • it’s simple and uncluttered with the menu items clearly visible and easily accessible at the top and just two dominant colors (too many colors make sites look too busy).
  • the site appears to have great search engine optimization (SEO) as it’s the first organic result for the search term “martial arts Ottawa”.
  • the OAMA phone number is in big, red font in the upper right corner; this is crucial since a website’s main job is to help potential customers complete tasks, and since the OAMA doesn’t have online registration, their number one task after finding out about the school will be to call them.
  • each page with information about classes, where OAMA offers a free trial class, has a box like the one below to make it easy for folks to act when it’s most on their minds.

OAMA signup

  • the splash page has the message “Call today to schedule you free trial class” with a big phone number but the message could be bigger (the splash page is the first page you land on when you go to the site).

Suggested improvements:

  • the banner showing the 3 OAMA locations should show on the splash page as it does on every page after you enter the site.

 OAMA banner2

  • the OAMA logo at the top of the site should be a link back to the Home page.
  • the “Call today to schedule you free trial class…”  text on the splash page should be bigger as I said before.
  • give “Kids’ Programs” its own link as now it’s buried under Kids’ After School Program making it hard for people to know that OAMA has great things for kids like birthday parties!’
  • put “To sign up your child up for the after school program call…” in big red font at bottom of the Kids’ After School Program page.
  • N-VisionIT made an iPhone app for the OAMA but a responsive site would be better than an app. Responsive sites “respond” to the device people use to view them so they work on multiple devices. An iPhone app requires people have an iPhone and download the app and doesn’t work on other devices (when I view the site on my Android phone I get a really small version of the regular site). Even if they stick with the iPhone app, they should remove the link to download it from the site as those wanting the app will download it on their phone.
  • add some videos. OAMA is a fun place with very friendly staff that some short (and I mean SHORT) videos would really help show.
  • all pictures should be able to expand to full size. Right now, there are some that don’t.
  • fix the typo in the explanation of what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is on the  Intro page (the line “…Renzo Gracie is the son Robson Gracie…”)

All in all, a great site and one that, according to N-VisionIT, helped greatly increase business generated from OAMA’s site.

That’s my two cents.

 

 

 

Ok. I know the title of this post is provocative but it got you reading – and it’s almost certainly true.

It’s probably true because my kid’s class website is a number of things that most websites aren’t like clear, useful, easy to find and aesthetically pleasing. Actually, the first great thing about it is that it exists. I’ve had kids in school for six years but this is the first class website I’ve had. (My older kid had a pretty good science class blog at his old school.) The second great thing is that the website is for both parents and kids – and the information is formatted to appeal to which ever audience it targets.

Other great things about the site:

  • It’s simple and clear– Seven links in the upper right corner contain all the site’s info:
    • Home
    • Agenda & Calendars
    • Class Information
    • What We’re Learning
    • Look What I Did!
    • Teacher Tips
    • Links
  • It has the key info every parent needs: what is my kid learning and when are they learning it? The Agenda and Calendar link has the notes that come home in the kids’ paper agendas. This is very useful as the kids’ write their own paper agenda notes and they can take some deciphering. This link also has the daily and monthly class schedule and the school board calendar.
  •  It’s visually fun

 

  • It’s mostly for the kids – from the home page letter from the teacher that starts, “Dear grade 2s and 3s” to the “Look What I Did!” section, the site is designed to give the kids a place online to do what kids have always loved doing: showing their parents what they did in school. And it’s working. Our little guy is already excitedly getting us to crack open the laptop to see what he’s been up to in school.
  • It doesn’t have social media site sharing links – this feature, that’s so common place on the web, would make parents like me nervous – and with good reason. It’s one thing for us to make the choice to give our personal info to Facebook or Twitter but quite another for anyone using the class website to make that choice on behalf of our kids – and that’s what they’d do by clicking the Share link.

The site could use a Search button and clarity in a couple of links. The Teacher Tips link would be better named Tips for Parents and Class Information would be better called Classroom Information as it deals mostly with things in the actual classroom.

The teacher used the now discontinued iWeb on her Macbook to make the site. Google has Google Sites that looks pretty simple like most Google products. (However, I’ve never used it so if you have please leave a comment about your experience). I also found this review of web design software that might help.

Now get out there and create! Parents everywhere will thank you.

If you weren’t at one of the rallies in January you probably heard about them. Thousands of people, organized through a Facebook group and Web site, converged on cities across Canada to protest Stephen Harper proroguing Parliament.

The Web site, noprorogue.ca, was started by Colin Carmichael after he realized the Facebook group was different from the many others he was perpetually asked to join.  This one had lots of interaction with people talking about actually hitting the streets.

In his Podcamp Toronto 2010 presentation Colin detailed why he started the site and the WordPress plug-ins he used to manage it.

Enjoy!

ps. Apologies for missing the first part of Colin’s presentation.  I was a busy volunteer at Podcamp T.O. and it took me a while to remember that, in the spirit of podcamp, I could get someone to start my tape recorder for me. 🙂

rabble.ca: a social media leader

Author: Robin Browne

For a while now I’ve been praising rabble.ca as a progressive, social media leader. On October 23, rabble earned more of my praise from by launching its new and improved website pictured below.

image

 

The main advantage of the new site are the prominent home page links to rabble’s cutting edge social media offerings some of which were were a bit buried on the old site. These include rabble’s blog, podcast, TV, and forum offerings.

As always, the site highlights the the power of sharing on the net by giving prominence to the Top Headlines from Elsewhere, In Cahoots and Netted News sections which provide links to other progressive news sites (although the three sections seem to do very similar things so it’s not clear why they are separate). There are also links to rabble’s presence in Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, SecondLife and Technorati.

The Calendar section lists events with links that take you to listings in a nice clear format right on the site – no need to open another window. The listings I checked out also came with Google Map links to show you where the events were.

The Podcasts section has really been improved to make it much easier to enjoy the many offerings from the pioneering rabble podcast network. You can subscribe to individual programs or channels including Current Affairs, Documentary, Health, Political Commentary, Social Justice, Storytelling, Web and Life, Arts & Culture, Environment, and Music. (One problem is a promising link titled “Become a podcaster” that has no info on how to do that. If you’re new to podcasting and want to know how to get started, a great place to start is the Canadian Podcast Buffet support wiki.)

But, all in all, the new site is a great way to highlight the pioneering social media work rabble continues to do.

Bravo and keep it up folks!