March 6

Getting your class into blogging

Blogging and bloggers are a vibrant part of the online communities many of us belong to. Technorati investigates what is going on in the blogging world with their “State of the Blogosphere” report. As well as you and I and our blogs, there is much blogging going on in the corporate world. Every company seems to have a blog link on their website, where media news and reviews are often posted. There are even people who get paid to write blog posts…for a writer, what a wonderful opportunity…

What better way to get your class going with their own blogging adventure, than to be a part of a global student blogging challenge. It’s not to late to join in. Simply pop along to the Edublogs Student Challenge information page, and look around to get some ideas if you have not blogged before.

Totally confused about what a blog is and where to start, check out the Redback Project blog for some info on what a blog is, and what it is used for.

So you just want to jump straight in and set up your blog? Go along to http://global2.vic.edu.au this is an Edublogs campus site set up by the DEECD, so you get all the safety and functionality of an edublogs subscriber, with none of the cost (if you are a Victorian Government or Catholic school).

Kathleen Morris has put together a brilliant “Getting started with blogging” post on her Integrating Technology blog, so for the nitty gritty on setting up your blog take a look.

Blogging is a great way to let parents see the good stuff that happens in your classroom. It is also a valuable reflection tool for your own ongoing learning. Developing a professional blog where you can reflect on your reading and learning is another weay you can record your professional learning hours for VIT registration.

Feel free to post questions here… the comments, feedback and dialogue is just part of what makes blogging so very powerful, and a fun way to learn, regardless of your age.

What do you enjoy about blogging? What is stopping you from blogging? What is stopping you from getting your class into blogging?

August 28

Creating your Digital Footprint

This week’s thoughts come from the concerns raised by a staff member when exploring the Redback Project (getting started using Web 2.0 tools), and starting to have to put information online.
“How much is safe?”
“Who will see what I post?”
“I don’t want to share so much of myself with the whole world”.

Try Googling your name – what do you come up with? I used to just get me, but now there is some person in Tennessee on Facebook with my name… hmmmmmm, however, if I Google “Starnott” I get mostly my own posted stuff – in fact the first 4 pages, and only one random one on page 5 – I did come across stuff I had forgotten doing, which was helpful.

Check out the sorts of information you may already be sharing Your Digital Footprint

How much is enough?, and will you be opening yourself up for identity theft? are very real issues which one should consider when venturing into the online world. The amount of information about you is called a digital footprint. How large you make this footprint is entirely up to you, as is the type of information you share and with whom you share it. The bottom line is no matter what level of information you share you need to be comfortable with it, never divulge more than that, and there are the obvious don’ts such as home address, phone number, credit card, license number etc. I will take you through a few points which should, hopefully, help you to make a positive digital footprint, while maintaining your security.

Creating a generic email.
When signing up for blogs, wikis, Nings and other Web 2.0 “stuff” you will be required to give a username and an email. Although it may at first appear easier to use the one email for everything, it is a good idea to keep your work or home ISP email separate and create a new web based email account for your web2.0 journey. I have always done this, just to provide some anonymity when I add my email address to various sites, as both my work and home email accounts include my fullname. You can easily create a web based email account using Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, or a host of others.
My preferred one is Google’s Gmail because of the power of the linked accounts at your fingertips.

Creating an online identity
This can be as much of you or as little of you as you care to share. I have, for most of my online eLearning sites, given myself the online name “starnott”. I know others who have used their whole name, some just a first name and others a made up name entirely. To start building your digital footprint try to use the same name, and this will become a presence you can find. A Twitter friend who uses his whole name also uses that to tag anything he posts online, so all of his information becomes linked to him, and if he has posted something online which he wants to access, and can’t remember where it was posted, a quick Google search will usually turn it up.
You can link your online name/identity with your web mail by using the same name for both.
When filling in your name on random sites I tend to play it by ear a bit, depending on the “quality/reliability” of the site I may use my real name – such as on iTunes, but for the most part I just put a letter, or a couple of letters. Date of birth is the same… you can go a year or so either way, in most cases it is just to check you are either over 13 – laws in the US state children under this age are not permitted to give certain information to web sites, or hold accounts – COPPA – or over 18
No one is going to know if you shed a couple of years, making you… 30 instead of 52…hehehe, again, just think about who may use the information, and why, as to how honest you want to be.
I wasn’t sure about Twitter when I first joined up, and chose a different name, however, I do share my blog updates and information through it, so many of my followers know “who” i am.

Passwords
Clearly these should be kept safe and private – I have a little black (well green) book where I keep all of my passwords and login details for different accounts, which is not kept anywhere near my computers. Handy for those random sites I know I have joined and can’t remember the password I may have used.

These are just some of the ways you can safely create and develop your digital footprint. If you have thoughts or other ideas, please feel free to add your comments.

We do need to think about safety, even as adults, and be aware of the information we post online to create a positive digital footprint, as well as staying safe

I hope this helps you on your journey.

July 31

Showcasing your talents

Once again I am putting the College eLearning update on my blog, and hope to get some feedback about what everyone is doing. It was great to hear the beginnings of some wonderful conversations about how we are each developing our ability to use technology in the classroom.

For those of you who were not at the whole staff meeting last week  here is a snippet

My presentation was created with prezi, and can be found here

Using Technology in the classroom is not a passing fad, which, if you wait long enough, will blow over. It is an integral part of 21stC life, and now is a good time to jump on board and prepare your skills and your own confidence for using a range of these in the classroom, and in your day to day life. I am here to support you in that, expose you to a range of tools, let you know what has worked for me, and others, and work with you to find what works best for you. The fact that we don’t have the infrastructure and technology to do these things in every classroom right now should not be stopping you from developing your own skills and understanding of the potential of these 21stC tools.

I mentioned Moodle, and we are hoping to have external access to this shortly.

Moodle is a Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment – which means it is an online space where you can create dynamic learning for your students, and teams you may work in. You can put links, files, quizzes, games, digital learning resources, forums, assignments, chats rooms, etc for your students to add to and create with.

Domain teams can have spaces where they share resources across the college – no reinventing the wheel. Cross campusing can be made easier less need for having to get there the share resources. Teams across the college or across a campus can have a space to share and reflect, which is private.

The other project I discussed was the Redback Project

This project can help you to develop your understanding and capacity to use a range of Web 2.0 tools. It is self paced, and can take from a couple of weeks to complete to a year or more, working at your own pace.

Starting with finding your starting point by using the ePotential tools and track your eLearning journey with reflections in a blog. Those of you who are power users may already be beyond blogging( ahh my working title for the next project) and may just choose areas to focus on. Regardless of whether you work through the Redback Project or not, we would like all staff to complete the ePotential survey, as they informs the leadership team on areas we need to focus on with PD etc.

There will also be some Redback support on Moodle

How are you using ICT/eLearning/technology/21stC tools in YOUR classroom? Reply to my post here, and share with the rest of us. (If you would rather keep your links private – this is an open blog, please post them on the Redback Forum in Moodle (this link will only work at school)

My Textiles classes both have blogs, and the Year 11s are beginning to work on their own blogs you will find them here

Year 11 Design and Technology – Textiles

Year 12 Design and Technology Textiles

My year 10 Media Production class

I also have a Ning group for my textiles classes, and Moodle course for my Media class.

Are there other tools you use in your class? Please feel free to add your comments 🙂

March 14

Podcasting

Podcasting is a fantastic tool for educators and learners. It provides opportunities for teaching and learning using different ways of learning to what traditionally is used. This provide scope for learners to engage in learning a range of places and times, not just in the classroom.

What is Podcasting?

Podcasting was initially an audio file which was shared through the internet. Now technology advancements have meant other rich media including images and videos can also be included.

There are many different sites for you to find podcasts on a wide range of subjects including language, history, science, education, radio shows, tv shows, technology, commentary etc. You can subscribe to podcast series you enjoy through iTunes etc, and they are automatically downloaded into your iTunes library when new ones are added by the creator. Podcasts can be downloaded to your computer, then put onto your iPod or MP3 player and listened to or watched when you wish.

Or you can create your own podcast, by pressing the record button on your computer’s sound program ( Audacity – PC or Garageband – Mac), or iPod or MP3 player or other digital recording device, create an MP3 (audio only) or Mpeg4 (audio and images), send the file via email or direct upload to their iPod or MP3 player, to share with specific people, or to the internet to share with the world.

How to use podcasting in your classroom

Podcasts can be used in many many ways, here are just a few.

  • direct recordings of a lesson. Just press record at the start of the lesson, and students will have your notes to go over as they need it. Great for exam revision or students who are not present for the lesson.
  • using podcasts to generate discussion topics. Find a relevant podcast, and share with your students. Discuss issues etc.
  • Exam revision/key concepts – use simple slides and voice recording to highlight key points students need to revise for exams etc. They can then listen anytime any place – how much cooler to be listening to your iPod on the bus than reading a textbook or school notes.
  • Specific skills – whether threading a sewing machine or using a lathe, it is very handy to have a visual aid to assist  when students are required to complete a task independently. I have seen some very interesting podcasts used in TAFE to assist students in the building trade areas covering a range of skills and OHS issues
  • Presentations – instead of writing responses they can be spoken and submitted, this can be particularly useful for students who have difficulties with the written word, thus catering for students individual differences.
  • In language classes students can listen to authentic sounding linguistics of the languages they are studying.
  • Classroom radio – issues facing the students are discussed and uploaded to share with other students, great for preparing debates or analysing issues.
  • Excursion reflections – as podcasts can be made on many portable devices including mobile phones and iPods/MP3 players real time reflections of an excursion can be made as they are happening.

There are of course many more potential uses.

The nitty gritty

Creating your podcast – you can use a range of tools, the simplest (unless you have a cool mobile phone or voice recorder) is to use your computer to record it, as you can edit it – I usually get it quite shorter taking out all of my ums and ahhs. Creating a podcast was once to domain of Mac users, who were able to seamlessly create and upload their podcast to iPod. It did not take that long for the PC users to catch up and it is just as easy now on either platform. I have created vodcasts (video) and podcasts on my PC, and now am exploring using the Mac.

On a PC you can use Audacity – an opensource audio editing software. Record your audio, to add images I have added my audio track to either Moviemaker or Photostory3. Save your file as an MP3 (audio only) or if you used moviemaker the smaller file size movie file, there are a range of options with differing results, best thing is to try what works best for you.

On a Mac you would use Garageband – File -> New -> new podcast. This gives you a series of options. The top track is for images, then you have different audio tracks and  a track to add accompanying music. You then “Share” and can add it straight to your iTunes library, or save it to your computer as the appropriate file type as with the PC version, ready to share with the world via the internet.

Getting your podcast onto the internet.

You can set up an account with a site like Podomatic which is a repositry for you to upload your podcast files. Once you have uploaded your file, you will be able to share the URL (web address) with people you want to share your podcast with. You are also able to have your podcast added to the iTunes Podcast list, through your podomatic account.

You can upload your podcasts to your blog

You can also share your podcasts through places like PodcastAlley, where you add your podcast’s URL to their site, and others can listen/watch your podcasts.

Useful sites

– Your blog, a useful place to post your podcasts

Podomatic, allows you to set up a space to upload your podcasts

Podcastalley, showcases a range of podcasts

– iTunes, huge range of podcasts allowing you to subscribe to them, importing them straight into your iTunes library

I hope this rambling has made some of the potential of podcasting more understandable for new users. I have added some podcasts created in a few minutes using both Audacity and Garageband, so whether you are PC or Mac you can have fun either way 🙂

My Podcasts