January 30

Not all Web 2.0 creation sites are the same

Whether you want to create a blog, a podcast, a website, etc there are a plethora of sites which are free and enable you to create the web content (Web 2.0 makes us all creators as opposed to passive readers of content on the web.) Which site or app you choose to create your content with comes down to a few things:

1. What you want your content to be able to do, simple or all the bells and whistles
2. How much control over the advertising you have, can you ask for no advertising?
3. Is it to promote a school event/class. Will viewers or posts involve people under 13?
4. Is it to promote a school?
5. Will your “brand” be affected by advertising content? Starting to get to the nitty gritty now….

The majority of free options will give you the basics, however, they need to make their money somehow, and so there will be advertising, or watermarks which will appear on your content unless you pay or upgrade to have them removed.
You may be happy with this, after all, they are providing you a great service, you don’t have to worry about the coding and so on, and if you are using the content for personal use, where you and your friends who will view it are all over 13 the ads may be annoying, but not too much of an issue. It does become an issue when you have inappropriate or annoying advertisements when you are trying to sell your brand or service. How do you get around this? AND keep it free?
Many sites will offer education versions, some of these are great, offer all the same functions of the higher end versions, but with added security and level of privacy, really great for primary kids

Website creation:
Wix
Weebly
Google Sites

Blogs
Wordpress
Edublogs (also under the WordPress umbrella, campus edition with an education focus)
Global2 (another campus edition of WordPress, you have to be at a Victorian government school… although they will open up to most schools with discussion)
Blogger (Google)

Wikis
Wikispaces
PBworks
Wetpaint

Podcast
Podomatic
Apple/iTunes
Audacity
YouTube

These are just some of the many content creation sites available…. it is worth your while checking out which will best suit your purpose!

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 🙂

October 11

The Power of linked accounts

I first began to understand the power of linked accounts when setting up my first blog. This is a personal blog, where I just rant about stuff… home stuff, kid stuff…. rant stuff, not linked to anything in particular, except me. A while after setting up my Blogger account, and intermittently using it (I am so bad at remembering passwords) Blogger changed to be linked in with Gmail… and I was given the option of moving my login details to be linked with my Gmail account – sweet… only had to remember one password for two places 🙂

Then along came iGoogle, a personalised homepage set up, with the ability to add funky widgets, calendars, etc. and the fun of setting up your own page.

With the google account I also had access to a tab called photos…. so I explored that, put Picasa onto my computers and had fun easily uploading and sharing images… my friends and family – near and far –  have seen my kids pics, the building of our new house, I have open galleries of my arty pics, as well as the private family ones… too easy.

I had been using the RSS feed built in to IE, but found I didn’t often use it, as I was often using Firefox… ahhh Google reader… I set up some of the feeds directly onto my iGoogle page, and others into my reader, so it didn’t matter if I was at home using Firefox, or at work using IE, on my laptop, or on the PC, or on one of the PCs at school, my RSS feeds were always with me.

I decided I had avoided YouTube long enough, and I should have a look around, and try it myself…. after all the kids were posting stuff on there…. so on to create a YouTube account… Yay… you can just set up your YouTube account with your Gmail log in… bliss.

Google docs – online collaboration of documents – at first I wondered why… but then I started playing with it… great resource to develop papers for conferences, or discussion papers where a team are working on the same document – saves on emailling back and forth.

I have two gmail accounts, one for personal me, and one for educator me…and I love it…

When I got my internet enabled phone I found I could post images directly to my blog…. a quick log in, and they were linked to my blogger account.

So… with one login I have email, personalised homepage, blog, photo sharing, video sharing, RSS reader, document sharing, calendar and much much more. Gotta love that.

For the Redback project I thought I should also check out Flickr… thinking I needed another “account” I found out I could create a Flickr account with my Yahoo email account – okay so I had to reopen it as I haven’t used my yahoo account for ages, but that worked really well too.  And today I have found another “site” which is linked to Yahoo, MyBlogLog I am sure there will be many more…..

So, sometimes it is very handy to have an email account, which is not directly related to work, which one you decide on is up to you, and which features you are wanting to add….

Do others have accounts which they find valuable?

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 🙂