I must go to college chant the Chinese !

Pisa tests – the Programme for International Student Assessment have just released their latest league tables for the best educated students and it comes as no surprise to me that the Chinese are well out in front of both the USA and Europe.

Barack Obama said that the nation which “out-educates us today will out-compete us tomorrow”. That is very true and with 9 out 10 Chinese students realising that if they study hard they will succeed, they are setting an example to the rest of the world. Chinese high school children chant slogans such as “I must go to college” before they take an exam. It’s the same as a football team getting themselves ready for a big game.

The Chinese know that they are responsible for their own success because if they don’t succeed there is no welfare state to help them. This creates a situation where Chinese students are committed to education with an energy like no other nation.

We all know what poverty means, but I believe that many people in the UK and Europe have a “Poverty of Ambition”. This means that we don’t have the same hunger for success as they do in China and India. There is a very good report written by Forbes Magazine about this subject which I highly recommend you read, and you can read it here.

Poverty of ambition is the real poverty because without ambition and a hunger to improve ourselves we will never truly have all that we desire. Eventually this will affect the fabric of our culture and society and it won’t be easy to turn things around. It’s not as though we are doing badly, it’s just that western countries including the USA are slipping behind in education of their populations and this needs to be reversed.

We need, somehow, to reverse the trend of education not being “cool” especially with many teenage boys and instill the belief in all students that if they work hard and have the right attitude they can succeed. In China the emphasis is on ALL students doing well, not just the bright ones. This means that we must have the best teachers in the more deprived areas of the country. It’s easy to create an education system where the ones at the top succeed but there are bigger challenges to overcome in cities that don’t believe education is the key to success.

As Forbes magazine says, we need to recover the animal spirits that once drove this country to the heights that it once had. This needs teachers to be driving their students forward using the latest technology and teaching methods but it also needs parents to want their children to do better than they did and to have an enthusiasm for education. There is too much of “My dad is a plumber so I will be one as well” attitude.

Whilst knowledge and skills are hugely important, effort, commitment and enthusiasm are more important in my opinion.

We face an uphill battle that we must win !

Using free video clips in Movie Maker for teaching.


Following on from my blog article about how to make a simple You Tube video I have made another video from PowerPoint slides which I think is an improvement on the first one.

These videos were made using PowerPoint slides and then saving them as JPEG’s and importing them into Movie Maker. The good thing about Movie Maker is that you can import short video clips as well, to add to the storyboard and this adds a touch of professionalism to the video. You can find short video clips on several sites and many of them are free. Iused video clips from stockfootageforfree but there seems to be quite a few sites out there that do this. Search on Google to see if you can find free video clips that suit the subject you are making the video about.

One tip when making the PowerPoint slides is not to add too much text as it can be difficult to read the slides before the video moves to the next slide.

I would recommend teachers and tutors try making videos and uploading them to You Tube. They can be viewed by your students inside or outside college and they can act as a reminder of a previous lesson and probably help with their assignments.

I also think that it is worthwhile for tutors to encourage their students to make videos. They could be used as evidence for an assignment and, of course, they are learning a new skill. Skills like video producing are going to be very useful in our digital age.

One of the courses I teach in the Travel and Tourism department at Leeds City College is marketing and I’m going to encourage students to make videos rather than posters for their assignment.

This is the new video I have made and the video clip near the beginning is the free video I previously talked about.

It took me about 1-2 hours to make it. Hope you like it and if you have any comments please let me know.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMUl6znFj4E?rel=0&w=420&h=315]

Poll Everywhere in the classroom

I have been using a great system called Poll Everywhere in some of my lessons in the Travel and Tourism department at Leeds City College. I have made a short video about how to set up an account and how to use the system in the classroom.

Poll Everywhere can be used to set a multiple choice question that your students can answer using their mobile phones or other mobile devices. Answers can be sent by text message or using an Internet connection. You can also use Poll Everywhere to set a question that is not multiple choice but that can be answered using a message.

The teacher or tutor can display Poll Everywhere using a projector in the classroom and the results appear live on the screen as they are sent by the students. As the answers appear they can be discussed by the class.

I think that Poll Everywhere is a great system for use in the classroom. It engages students and lets students use their mobile phones for learning. In the lessons I have used Poll Everywhere it has been well received by students. Give it a go and see what you think. Click this link to sign up for a free account Poll Everywhere

Watch this short video that I made about how to use Poll Everywhere.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFQTD3H5UD8?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

How to make a simple You Tube video

There are several ways to make a You Tube video. You can use a video camera or webcam to film yourself, you can use screen capture software or you can use PowerPoint slides.

The video you see below was made using PowerPoint slides and here is how I did it.

1. Produce your slides in PowerPoint. Add the text, images and anything else you want.

2. You then need to save your slides as JPEGS. To do this all you do is click on “save as” in your PowerPoint and then select JPEG.

3. This saves your slides as images that you can import into your movie making software. In the video below I used Windows Movie Maker, which is a free program within Windows.

4. To add a professional introduction to my video I used a free service called Flixpress.com. This lets you create introductions using various templates that you can customise yourself. I downloaded the completed movie file from Flixpress and then imported it into Windows Movie Maker. You can also save it as an MP4 if you want.

5. For the music I wanted royalty free music so I paid about 50 pence for some music from Jewel Beat and again imported that into Windows Movie Maker.

The video below was made for travel and tourism students at Leeds City College for their Responsible Tourism course. It was fairly easy to make and is pretty basic but I hope that they can use the video for learning about Responsible Tourism and that they can watch the video wherever they may be.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiNKpOQ-07k?rel=0&w=420&h=315]