July 19

Preparing the way

Awesome, we have a bunch of funding coming to us to buy new equipment to provide students with better access to eLearning opportunities. The government is aiming for us to have a 1:1 ratio of students:computers in years 9 – 12 by 2011. Fantastic. What an incredible opportunity for our students to truly be prepared for life outside of school in this digital world.
The big question we have to ask, before we rush out to buy the goodies is “Are we ready?”
Do we have the infrastructure to support so many computers accessing the network, will the wireless coverage be able to cope? What do we have to do to make sure it does? We all know that any flakiness of the system will often lead to students and staff not willing to trust they can use them, and we end up with all of these computers either not being used, or being damaged when students get frustrated when they don’t work.
We are working to improve and strengthen the infrastructure, but that will take time and money.
The other huge question is are teachers ready to have students in their classes with access to a computer? Will it mean there are just more word documents, powerpoint presentations and internet searches? For some it will be a huge and fearful learning curve, away from the security of how you have always taught, into this new digital world. This is not a passing fad, which you can ignore, and hope it will just go away. This is the world we are preparing our students for, a digital world, and we need to be providing exciting learning opportunities for them, as you have always done, but now we have the world at the click of a button, and the most amazing opportunities to inspire and teach our students.
What are some ways you can think of which will be different, better or worse, teaching students who each have a computer? What are some of the pitfalls you will need to be aware of in order to be best prepared to use the technology yourself, and in your class?
I know you have heard of blogs, wikis, web 2.0, nings, but how do you see these being useful in your classroom. Would you use twitter or facebook? Learning Management systems like Moodle, and in the future Ultranet are tools you can use as a starting point. How will you make sure your students are safe, and yet ethical users of the technology? How will we work towards developing a cohort of digital citizens?
Feel free to add your comments to this blog post, I would love to know your thoughts.

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 7

Web 2.0 Success

Just a quickie post…

Friday session 4 (we have 4 session days, so last thing Friday afternoon) class of 25 eager year 7s eager and enthusiastic, and so good as we worked through dramas last week with PBwiki being blocked… they all were able to get on this week, got straight into editing and personalising their ePortfolios.

Then we introduced the voki… weren’t sure if it would work… and it did… not blocked… and the kids loved it… we had skeletons, animals etc having a ball. The were not even perterbed when they couldn’t hear the sound they created, or the fact they couldn’t make a voki account because they were under 13 – many US sites are having that restriction because of their COPPA legislation about what information the young ones can put online. They created introductions, and were uploading them to their portfolios to be a “guide” for the viewer. Introductiosn, learning goals, etc.

They worked through tech issues with a minimum of fuss, and it was a beautiful site to see 25 kids totally engaged in the task which was set… not one student was off task… a challenge in any computer room I think, as they escape to games or emal whenever they can…

The Education channel had PBwiki blocked for some reason… but was unblocked within a day. Success all round 🙂

And week 2 of The Redback Project is up and ready to go

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 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.

Powered by ScribeFire.

August 8

wiki stuff

I am hoping this will work. Thanks to the wonderful community at the Networks group on Edna I have found a sensational resource, which may help staff to understand some of the web 2.0 tools a bit more easily. It didn’t work posting it into Moodle… and the links didn’t work either (I think video is blocked through the college network…) so I will try this, it looks like it may work…. I guess I will find out after I post it and try to link to this one…

This is the awesome site

http://www.commoncraft.com/shows/plainenglish

and here… fingers crossed is the video

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Click To Play

June 28

End of term two…. update

Well….. another term bites the dust…. I haven’t heard anything from the people running the TPL as to where we should be at and how and why…. ahhh welll we carry on regardless….

This is the first time I have been able to log in from work for ages…. and I still can’t access the wikispaces site :(. That area should really be jumping… but by the time I get home I don’t have the energy to add anything to it….. jumping online over the holidays. I will have to hassle Trev and Sue to get some of what they have done onto it… as it is creating a great resource.

Moodle is really working well, there are many courses now being offered with a Moodle component, from Art to Humanities and Science, as well as the ICT based ones.

I have also explored some of the Cybernetrix stuff http://www.cybernetrix.com.au/ with my Web Design Group, and they loved it, and I think they even learned from it. It is a government site which gets students to play some online games (shhhh don’t tell anyone) and run through some online and mobile technology scenarios where they have to make decisions. We had a discussion forum set up to discuss aspects of online safety and ethics.

I participated in an online conference through Australian Flexible Learning while I was home sick, which was awesome…. covered some great ideas for ways of using elearning, including the use of Virtual worlds such as second life. That may be a bit beyond our scope at secondary level, and would need a lot more research, but a very cool idea.

Working with my Multimedia kids we explored some ways to create podcasts and vodcasts, and I am working through how to create them using Photostory… a great little piece of software. Camstudio also works well, but I keep making the files too big. The Photostory program lets you create media suitable for “SmartPhones” which leads me to my next thought about harnessing the hardware technology the kids have in their pockets to assist their learning. I know my Multimedia kids all had phones that could play the software, and are excited about making some stuff suitable to go on for viewing.

WEB 2.0 I am loving the flexibility of the tools… however, being hamstrung through lack of access, as many are blocked like flikr and youtube… which I can understand…. but it would be reat to be able to use some more…. I have been using iGoogle for my planning, but can’t access it from school…. however, I can access my protopage one – I was sorta hoping to just have one resource…

I also checked out motionbox, which is a new video posting kid on the block….and you can upload straight from your phone… and it’s o new it’s not blocked…. yet …LOL

Ohhh I also did a great little TXT project with my web design kids… they had fun and it was interesting to see the range of use of that form of language.

Next term I am working with two Year 9 Digital Art groups… I hope we can use some of the mobile technology, I will take some ideas from the yellow arrow project. I would envisage using photostory to create some portable web galleries of their work, that they can add to their phones or websites.

I hope to be able to post some links to some of the trials I am coming up with, particularly the fractal art gallery…. but that may have to wait til the holidays….

phew