Is there a right digital tool for my classroom?

Digital tools are here to stay. Our generation X and Y are quickly embracing the digital era. Even as we are reading this article, there will be new digital tools being created. It is not only physical tools such tablets, smartphones, but also software applications. In this article, we pay a call to software applications. Software applications can either be bought or free. These applications can be both offline and online. Moreover, the applications are divided to various categories for instance social media tools, learning management system (LMS) tools and curator tools. Indeed, there are various tools to choose from the shelves. Since the teachers are spoilt with myriad of tools which can be used to enhance the teaching and learning experience for the students, they need to be very selective in picking the appropriate digital tool to serve the said purpose.

Like choosing a product from the supermarket shelf, identifying the suitable digital tool for teaching and requires extra work. This is because each digital tool has affordances and limitations. In other words, digital tools are not perfect in nature. But the teacher needs to learn how to work with the limitations while maximizing the affordances to achieve the results.

The other things which cannot be ignored when choosing a digital tool are the content and the type of students. Content, here, refers to the taught topic. The teacher has to figure what digital tool can highlight the topic well. For example, what is the tool best used for teaching history? Would it be a blogging tool or a social media tool such as Twitter? Or could it be a curator tool like Pinterest? Of course, besides the content, it is necessary to look at the learning outcomes which we want the students to achieve at the end of the lesson. It is also crucial to involve the audience or the end users a.k.a the students when deciding upon a digital tool. The age group of the students and their ability in mastering the technology come into the picture. Students in the age group between 13 to 15 years old and the age group of 10 to 11 years old would have different approach in cognitively adapting to technology. At the same time, the students’ ability to master the skill has to be considered. On that account, we need to look at the user interface of the digital tool. Last, but not least, another factor to deal with is time. How much time is allocated to achieve the learning outcome? Is it short term or long term? Yes, time does influence the type of digital tool.

With all these aspects checked-out on the shopping list, the teacher can purchased the digital tool for the taught course.

I’m sure there are more items to list that would be considered before “purchasing” the digital tool. Let me know in the comments and add your thoughts to the discussion!

Image taken from


Earning wings to be a Digital Tools Fairy

It goes without saying that digital tools bring out the best element in the teaching and learning experience. Amidst the picturesque environment, the following questions kept on raging in the teachers’ mind:

How do I use Twitter in teaching?

When do I start using Flipped Learning?

Can Pod-cast be used for a large class?

How do I make Moodle fun?

These are the type of questions which are commonly asked by the teachers. Unfortunately, there are some who will be drowned and defeated by these unanswered questions. At the end of the day, they become the Grinch of Digital tools. It is somehow sad to see such outcome. It is a losing situation for both the teachers and the students.

Are there any keys to unlock this plague?

The answer: Yes. There are FOUR keys to unlock the frustration and throw a lifeboat to bring back the Grinch of Digital tools into the path of the Digital Tools Fairy.

Key 1: Start with Short and Simple

When I was using digital tools for my classes, I was carried away by my excitement. I wanted to do big and complicated. I wanted a flashy entrance with a flashier ending. I thought it will not do if it is not big and complicated. The vision crumbled. I received a reality check. For someone who is new to applying digital tools to teaching and learning, try something simple, within your capacity. Once you get the hang of it, as Buzz Lightyear from ToyStory says, “To infinity and beyond.” Now the question: Where can I get the ideas to start? My reply: Please proceed to Key 2.

Key 2: Google

There are plenty of resources out there to get the ball moving. Many teachers from all over the world have tried and in fact, blogged and reflected on applying digital tools for teaching and learning. Some even created recipes for teaching in a blended environment in the form of e-book. The best part, some of the e-books are free to download. All you need to do is download these precious things and replicate some of the steps. Reason being, their students and teaching content will be different from our local shores. Hence, there is a need to tweak some parts of the recipes. Another cool part for this Key; is the creativity aspect. I am amazed to read so many brilliant ideas in bringing out the best in the digital tools.

This brings us to Key 3.

Key 3: Try and try again

Applying digital tools for teaching and learning is not a first time perfect success story. There will be the unexpected issues which can throw you off the platform. But, you see, that is the best part. When issues happen, I use that to polish my steps in applying digital tools. I remember at one time, I applied YouTube for teaching and learning for three semesters. Each semester brought out something new which I did not foresee even though I felt at first I was meticulous in my teaching plan. So, do not let one failure or mistake or “I am not getting anywhere” or “I hit the wall” clip your Fairy wings.

Key 4: Attend seminars / webinars / conference

The final key will be to attend seminars / webinars / conferences. No, you don’t need to buy an international plane ticket to attend these events. In fact, in Malaysia, there are such activities all year round organized by our local higher institutions. One will be spoilt with the numerous choices. Some are free while some are not. Even with a fee-stamp, it is an opportunity which should not be passed. By attending these events, you will have the chance to network either with the speakers or participants whom can help in the gaining the upper-hand in the Technology Integrated Learning Environment.

With the FOUR KEYS in your possession, you have officially gained the upper-hand in the technology integrated learning environment. Time to get those Digital tools Fairy wings!

Fairy Image taken from (beta)

I have always wanted to create my own INFOGRAPHICS. The challenging part would be to rearrange all the data visually while making it appealing, plus the data needs to flow well from the beginning to the end.

Then I came across EASEL.LY (still in beta mode). The online application claims that it provides the right support, thus the process of creating INFOGRAPHICS will be manageable. OK time to check it out. (by the way, CLICK on Image 1 to go to website)


Image 1: EASEL.LY homepage

After a simple registration, I am brought to the design area. Here, you are given 15 themes in creating your INFOGRAPHICS. The visual themes are awesomely appealing! Of course, you can start with a blank page (provided too). For a newbie like me, I would go for the themes.


Image 2: Templates

Ok. To start off, I picked the Meals template. The interface for the workstation is friendly.  At the top of the workstation will be the editing tools (Image 4).


Image 3:Interface



Image 4:Editing tools.

You can add provided objects to the template, your own background, add text, change colour, undo the previous action, edit the text in the template, change the size of the object/text from the template, rearrange the items from the template and more…

One of the best parts of the application is that you can save your work and continue later. You can also choose to share (Image 5) your work by publishing your pieces via embed link or setting the infographic to public mode for others to view. OR one can choose to download the INFOGRAPHIC. Download file is in .JPG. That is even better in case there is slow connection which will take more than a minute to load the image.


Image 5

How can it be applied in classes? The possibilities are endless.

Ask students to create infographics based on the given set of data. Then the teacher will be able to see different interpretation and also be able to gauge students’ level of understanding on the matter. The usage of infographics is not limited to numbers. It can be used for literature, history, and even language subject.

I do wish has an offline application. Then I don’t have to worry about slow internet connection. Well, wishful thinking.

Anyway, this is one application worth using for teaching and learning.

YouTube Questions Editor

YouTube has come out with a new feature (beta mode) and it will work awesomely great with education.


You are able to add MCQ type question(s) to your video. There is also sub-function:HINT (in case your student needs help to answer)

Then your students can choose the possible answer.

You can add questions along the duration of the video.






To try this great feature, you need to enable it by going to this link:

Remember, you must have your own uploaded videos in order to use this function.

Since it is in BETA MODE, some parts are not stable.

Possible activities for this:

Put up a few questions. Ask students to choose answer and use the comment function to provide the reasons for the answer.

If your students are pre-service teachers, you can ask them to create MCQ questions for the video. Take opportunity on the comment and like function to evaluate on that skill via peer learning.

Hope this NEW FUNCTION sticks around for good.


Lately, there has been a wave of interest on creating and publishing your own e-book. The wave gets higher as there has been interest to make the e-book more interactive. So far Apple has created an application – iBook Author which can be downloaded free oops…but yours truly doesn’t have a MAC.

A team from Korea create an interactive ebook application called MOGLUE.


Before I start yapping about it, do not compare this with iBook Author. Smile  Both are different in levels and also the approach.

This application can be used on Windows platform. The catch is – to check/preview your changes made on the ebook, you need to download MoglueBooks in your iOS device-iphone/ipad (they are currently developing Mbooks for Android—see image below on the issue)



Here is the dashboard (Image 1) for Moglue Builder.


Image 1

On the dashboard, the layout is pretty simple for user to grasp how to move around.

Things provided in their library are images and sounds. You can add your own images and sounds

(Refer to Image 2) Since I am not into the images provided by their library, I decided to “borrow” images from the Web. By the way, when it comes to choosing images, be very selective on the images for the content. Once you download the images of your choice, click FILE —> IMPORT —-> Select the downloaded images —> and the images will be transferred to the application library. The choice of fonts are a variety. Of course, size, colour and rotation for both font and images can be changed. To remove the images from the page, just click on the image, and then press DELETE from your keyboard.


Image 2



Image 3

Then there is the part of adding and deleting pages (Refer to Image 3). Just right click on the previous page, and you can start adding pages to the ebook Smile


For interactive, there are a set of provided actions (refer to Image 4) which can be embedded on the image ( s ).


Image 4


What you need to do is to drag the selected action into the box (which will comes with the image that is embedded on the page) You can add a few actions accordingly depending on how you want the image to interact with the reader. If you want to remove the selected action from the image, all you need to do is  press DELETE.

For more info on the arrangement for actions, go to this link:


Image 5


So to preview the current page or book, make sure you install MoglueBooks in your iOS first. Switch it on in your iOS device. Next, on your MoglueBuilder (installed in your PC), click FIND TARGET DEVICE (Refer to Image 6). By the way, make sure both iOS device and PC are on the same Wifi line. A box will appear (Refer to Image 7). Click FIND and the application will locate the device with the MoglueBooks. If the application is running, the iOS device IP address will appear. Then you can start previewing the page/book from your iOS device real-time. Kinda cool actually! Unfortunately, it can be a hassle for those who do not have iOS device. I do wish the team do away with that, and have the preview change from the desktop.



Image 6



Image 7

Anyway, the book created cannot be published yet. I can’t seem to find the button for that. I guess the developer is working on that soon.

For those who are in the tertiary education, don’t be put off by the images (meant for kids). I think it is possible to create an interactive textbook / manual / handbook for your audience.

So far Mogluebuilder is great for those who has iOS device (for previewing the changes made on the book or page)

To see what Moglue can produce, check out the ready made interactive e-books: (only can be downloaded in iOS devices)

The ebook which I create is pretty simple. Have not done anything textbookish or complicated as I am not familiar with the application yet. Hmm…maybe I should give it a go and see how it works out.

Storybird:the how

As I have mentioned in the earlier post, I will be writing about how to use StoryBird. The HOW entry looks at how to create a story.

For this online storymaker application, you need to sign-up. It is free. Two options for you to choose from:the regular account or the kid account or the teacher account. I choose the TEACHER account to see what the application can offer for teaching.


PIC 01

As I log in as the teacher account, there are 3 items (see PIC 01) :


The interesting items which the teacher can use are (1) adding students in her/his community for projects that focuses on storymaking skill. Here the teacher adds the students. (2) assignments-the teacher can create specific assignment. Assignments here not only focus on creating story but collaborating in designing the story, or commenting on the story or even predicting the story. The latter two activities are possible because there is a feature (See PIC02) in this application which allows the reader to comment on the story.


PIC 02

Okay, now let us start creating the story. STORYBIRD provides a set of amazing artsy pictures. Amazing artsy pictures which I felt is sufficient to whet the students’ imaginative appetites. You can choose from the art images or themes (See PIC03).


PIC 03

In my opinion, if a teacher is starting to introduce the application to the students, then the option of asking them to select from art images to start creating will be a better choice. Making the students excited and hooked on the application will be first thing to do. Once the students get the hang of using the tool, and for a more advance activity, then the teacher can include the option of exploring themes.


PIC 04

First, let me choose the art for my story. I pick the Fairy art set (See PIC04). Then you will be brought to this page. Click START A STORYBIRD to begin your storytelling (See PIC05).


PIC 05

Now, this page will appear (See PIC06). Your work station for creating the story. The images on both left and right are for me to choose to create the story. The basic process of creating the story will be ADD PAGE, REMOVE PAGE, and you can even rearrange the CREATED PAGES.


PIC 06

The e-storybook also includes a COVER (See PIC07) which the creator needs to add a title, and even change the author’s name. To be able to change the author’s name provides a sense of identity to the story-teller. Imagine your student coming up with their pen names. You can also change the colour for the cover. Colour palette depends on the chosen image for the cover.


PIC 07

I will choose an image to start my story. Let me start by selecting an image for my first page. All you need to do is to drag the image to the page. Before placing the image, hover the image around the page to decide where you want to put your text. BOTTOM, LEFT, RIGHT or TOP (See PIC08).


PIC 08

Of course, if the issue of writer’s block occur, there is always SAVE and CLOSE option under the MENU ICON. The draft will be saved and you can choose to continue later.

The challenge for this activity is to create a story with just that amount of pictures. Hence, it pushes the students’ creativity and imagination to create an awesome story with that “limited” resource. By the way, never underestimate your students.

Issues such as:

(1)What image is suitable to represent the flow of the story.

(2)How much description to add because [A] if the texts are too lengthy, it can be a put off to the reader or [B] if it the texts are too few, it can be turn off because the parts of the story is incomplete.

can be used as part of the class activities. The students will learn how to manage such problems when it comes to story-telling.

As I an educator from Malaysia, teachers who teach Bahasa Malaysia, and English language can use this tool for composition writing activity. It is not only for the Primary School students but I believe secondary school students can benefit as well. As for Chinese language, the STORYBIRD team is working on  it (See PIC 09).


PIC 09

Do have fun trying out STORYBIRD.

I did.

Previously created 2 stories. Smile

By the way, here is another complete story. My third. Smile



Recently, I tried to create to learning objects from the Web 2.0 tools which I introduced during class.

The Web2.0 tool is STORYBIRD.

It is an online tool to create stories.

The provided graphics are amazing. Beautifully drawn artwork.

So far I have created two stories.

My next entry will be more on how to use the tool to create.