October 20

To twit or tweet

What is Twitter… I wondered that myself when I first joined up with Twitter a couple of years ago , when working on my Teacher Professional Leave Project, to see what it was all about… like I have with many other things web2.0.
What is Twitter???? It is a form of “micro blogging” posting short messages to other people, informing of updates, how you are feeling, things going on, interesting links and so on. A bit like the status updates in Facebook. The characters are limited to about 120 per post, so using txt spelling is sometimes a must.
I was at first confused, and not sure that my phone was able to cope… I tried the sms way to no avail, so used it sporadically when I was online… suprisingly it was not blocked at school like so many other sites are. I loved the Twitter add on in Firefox, but lost that when the newest version came out, and I can’t find anything similar in IE… ahh well

I added people I knew through my web 2.0 wanderings, and it took a while, but I now often use the internet on my phone to connect… and am kinda glad I don’t do the sms thing.

I was then introduced to Diigo, through Alexander Hayes, who was one of the first people to inspire me with the use of some of these tools, through funnily enough a twitter link on my phone…

Diigo is sort of like del.icio.us, sort of like a social networking site…but when you go to bookmark sites you can add them to a twitter post as well… (I always wondered how these clever people added the links in their posts… seemed too much like hard work… hehehe) This connection opened a whole new world of professional networking opportunities for me, as I was no longer just a passive getter of information, I could also share sites I had found 🙂

Finding people to follow can be interesting…. I have gradually added to my Professional Learning Network as well as a few interest/fun ones…

The people I follow are mostly very inspirational and innovative user web 2.0 tools, like Alex Hayes, Harriet Wakelam, Jo Kay, Kerry J, Helen Otway, and so on…. I must add Sue Waters too 🙂 She is another one who has been very inspirational…

Twitter may seem a bit gimicky, but the power to build a Professional Learning Network, of like minded people not only locally, but around the world is its most powerful use I believe…. and I am going to see if I can twitter this… hehehe

There are some very cool tools to use with Twitter in your browser, but most of them are sadly blocked or designed for Firefox (my preferred browser, but not one I can use at school), which limits how I can use them. I added snitter today, but then realised it was blocked, had to use my mobile broadband… ahhh the trials and tribulations.

September 22

OK… I have been slack

This past week has been a whirlwind…

having been offered the wonderful opportunity to become eLearning leader at a new school, which has a strong focus on the arts, and the emotional turmoil that comes with that, after having been in Langy for 21 years…

So my head has been a bit crazy…. plus a busy end of term, with Year 12 folios coming in, and now finally maybe I can take a breath…. on holidays… up at 6am to welcome the pool diggers and electricians.

It’s windy and diggy and noisy, and they have hit a pipe that wasn’t there on the plans… ughhhh… so now waiting for the plumber while they dig the rest of the pool out.

Back onto theing more eLearning…. the Redback project is going well, those who have taken up the challenge are having a ball… many way out of their comfort zone… but it’s a good thing…

I had some great feedback on the video tutes I have created, and will spend some time making more of those. I have found Jing to be really great… but a bit dodgy when trying to upload at school…. thank goodness for mobile broadband…

welll I better go and organise things… still just flitting around…

September 1

cool web 2.0 tools

I had a bit of distracting fun creating my voki (see over on the side bar) on the weekend. I thought , yeah cool, a bit of fun. But…. today I was looking through some links on the Victorian Education site and saw a sensational use for the voki, where in student ePortfolios they recorded their student learning goals through their voki, and added it to their site. What a great way to engage the kids in a task they don’t often seem very interested in.

Looking forward to see if it is blocked at school…. hmmmmmmm

Also, thanks to Anne for the guides to import/export blogs, I have posted all of my stuff over on global teacher… so I wonder if I still have to repost what I post here….I guess I will find out :)… I am thinking I will just have to keep exporting etc…

and… drum roll… I have posted week 1 of the Redback Project… enjoy

August 30

Teachers are learners too

Learning really is a lifelong thing, and what a wonderful and challenging (in a good way) time we are living in as there is so much to learn. Time is such a valuable commodity however, it can be a need to know basis that learning happens, or for a subject where you have a love or passion.

For me I know I had to learn scripting and HTML a few years ago to teach my Multimedia students, I found that challenging, and my kids have a giggle when I tell them I have to put on my other “head” (left brain) when I work through Action scripting and programming (my brain is not too logical,very right brain, – and I love the creative side, very much a wysiwyg kinda gal). I had to learn it, and I did, and it still surprises me when random logical thoughts when scripting come out. I think, scarily enough, my work with the programming stuff has actually trained my brain to see more from both sides. In the Dancer test I can make it go both ways….   ahh but I digress… I found lots of reasons to avoid completing the scripting stuff I had to do, yet, when there is something I am interested in, I will find the time, currently I have been working on using essential oils as an alternative therapy for a range of stuff… and created a wiki, and create blends and research oils and so on… learning, what I want to.

Where this path of exploring and embedding new technologies has lead me, is in a role of staff ICT support across the college. This has been a challenge in that other people are not necessarily seeing learning and embedding new technologies as a priority, after all they have been teaching successfully for a number of years, why should they get involved in this new stuff? Where would they find the time? what is the motivation? Getting this motivation to explore beyond their comfort zone has lead me to suggest a project which has got the support of the principal and the major curriculum drivers at the college….. and it starts next Tuesday.

The Redback Project Redback Project

The project is based on the Learning 2.0 project, or 23 Things, developed and used by librarians in the US. A similar style has been created by Michelle Martin in her Bamboo Project. I have also seen a few other similar projects around, but none of them were just the right fit for my staff. I wanted something that would not be too intimidating, and was available at school. There are many blocked sites (both from the department and ISP) so trying to explore something like Flickr would be frustrating, as there are still a number of staff who do not have access to the internet at home.

So my challenge was to provide something very accessible and usable, and yet provide challenges for those staff who may want it. And so the Redback Project was created. Why Redback… well I didn’t want anything tech in the name, and Redbacks are beautiful and alluring in their webs. So with the aim to entice more staff into the web to see some of the beauty, fun and maybe a little silliness.

The project will be running over 10 school weeks, with the term 3 break it will be 12 weeks. We will look at blogs, wikis, image generators, RSS, social networking, social bookmarking, tags, Moodle and other stuff. Tasks will be kept achievable for basic level skills, but also issuing challenges for those wanting a bit more. And the lure…. prizes, looking at a range of tech gadgets to give to those who complete the project, as well as weekly draws for those on track and trying out the challenges or just trying something outside their comfort zone.

August 30

You Tube and cultural connectedness

Just saw a very enlightening video by Michael Wesch – of

Presentation to the Library of Congress by Michael Wesch

He gave a very interesting review on how the culture of community is being developed globally in places like YouTube. It’s an hour long, but it didn’t feel like it.

Wesch also created the web is us/ing us, which was awesome, when I played it for the staff as part of the introduction to the Redback Project you could have heard a pin drop. In a staff meting of over 80 people, I was impressed… and from the feedback I have had so were they 🙂

August 10

Technology and the Arts

My background, and my passion is the arts. I have taught both visual and performing arts, and I love it. The creativity, the fun, seeing kids explore their talents is always exciting. Seeing them create something they are proud of always give me a great feeling. Last Wednesday I was involved with our Rock Eisteddfod entry, the kids were fantastic, as were the parents and staff involved… it was a long but tiring day. Standing with the kids waiting to go on as the first act made everything just perfect, as the back stage handler talked to us, and told us how she enjoyed watching our rehearsals in the afternoon, and thought our group was one of the most “professional” schools she had had through.

What does this have to do with ICT? Well, the Arts can be a little reluctant to embrace new technologies, as I have found over the years, but when I was approached by Ellise (the Dance coordinator) to come up with a Dreamcatcher (the theme of the dance piece) which would be projected onto the cyclorama screen (light screen at the back of the stage) I agreed to come up with something. I had some fun playing with moviemaker, crashing my system a few times trying to use big images. No idea how this would look on the big big big format, how the colours would blend, how the resolution would look. I ended up using Flash to create a waving image of a dreamcatcher, to make it look like it was being blown in the breeze. I thought I could stand to side of stage and operate the data projector.

During the run through we found out I would would have to sit on the side of the stage, as that was where the power connection was. As we are in the RAW category we have no sets to hide behind… UGHHHHH I am a back of stage person, not on stage. In general it worked ok, a few silhouettes when the kids walked in front of the projector, and hot fingers trying to “shade” the light – stop it from showing on the back screen, but generally ok.

The worrying part was we have 2 minutes to set up – set up laptop, warm up data projector globe and get the movie running. Oh and my computer was running like a slug. It had a mini crash when I set up for the run through – ahhhh the pressure of technology having to work when you want it to.

So…. I gaffer taped up my shoes (white reflective runners would not work on stage black out area) – much to the curiosity of the kids. I had thought ahead enough and had a black top, so was ready to fade into the black with a data projector and laptop. I had the laptop on snooze, and already connected to the data projector. I had tried the run through a couple of times, and was hopeful (I know technology too well to rely on it  – :))

Waiting to go on took forever, but finally we were on. Got everything connected (thanks to the arena backstage people for the light to help plug in the data projector). Everything connected well, and hand holding the projector I was able to avoid some of the shadows when the dancers moved to the side area.

It all worked, phew. Just enough to add to the background, and feel of the dance, without distracting from it, and using ICT in a different environment. Little steps. We shall find out on Tuesday if we get through to the final. I have some other ideas to add to it, if we do 🙂 Dreamcatcher

June 4

My first real podcast…..

hehehe now I feel I have achieved something…. ages ago I uploaded a podcast, but is was just a ramble about nothing much… today I recorded the session I presented to my multimedia kids… uploaded it onto podomatic, and voila it is up there ready to be heard by people around the world… too cool….

of course tonight I added to that by adding my podcasts to iTunes… bit scary really… but incredibly simple…

I have put a text block with the permalink onto my blog page…. all linked…

The kids said they will get theirs done during the week, we shall see.

August 13

ahhhhhhh…some very cool tools

There are some awesome tools readily available to make sifting through all of the information on the WWW a little less of a huge job.
del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site where you can store all of your favourites/bookmarks online, so you can access them regardless of what computer you are on. You can also use the tagging system to create a sorting system to find what you need. You can also search for similar tags other users may have created, thus widening your search for quality materials without the legwork.
Clip marks – awesome…. I posted the link below on ePortfolios through clipmarks. You can create “clippings”. These can be added to blogs as I have done here, and collected like a digital scrap book on your clip marks pages.

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