Embed zoomable pictures in written tasks

One of the restrictions of delivering content on screen rather than on paper is the size of images you can use. Even the best modern screens have far lower resolution than normal colour printing, and of course a screen may be larger than A4, but it can hardly compete with a poster.

Or can it? By getting interactive, you can allow the viewer to zoom into a very high level of detail, even in a small space. A new free service, Zoomorama allows you to upload enormous images, and then spits them back as embeddable widgets like the one above.

The widget is really clever. Not only can you zoom and pan, you can even snap it to full screen and then zoom and pan.

I ran up a short demo essay task. Just two essays, each related to a large image that I had uploaded to Zoomifier. It was really easy to do, and made an effective, enjoyable, high-order assessment task.

Zoomifier is easy, great fun, and I think your students will enjoy it too. Give it a whirl!

Update 14/04/09 I am slightly less impressed now that my image has disappeared, with no word from Zoomifier as to why. To give them the benefit of the doubt, they are a new service and still very much in beta – but I would not like to have a lesson depend on this working.

Give a gold star (or three) for good work

When a student turns in a good essay, ePortfolio task or other written project, you can now apply any one of six animated reward icons (strictly, ’emoticons’) to their work. You will find the selection panel on the Results page for each Task:

Where’s the work? img
Unhappy teacher
Happy teacher
One star
Two stars
Three stars

Note that Rewards are only applied to written tasks, not to quizzes. It is a very deliberate omission. One of the benefits of Yacapaca is that once you have set a quiz, there is no more work to do. Marking and analysis are done for you, so you can focus on using the results to improve your teaching strategy. Introducing a manual element into the flow would undermine this principle. I decided against even introducing the option, so you could not come under pressure from your kids to include quiz results in your star-awarding scheme.