Tuesday, December 02, 2008


As I continue to explore the roles and responsibilities that we have towards our students if we are going to have them use technologies in education, I continue to build up a great list of resources that will be used by teachers, parents and students. The more I explore this issue, the more I realise how important this whole topic is and what a great responsibility teachers and parents have. Here is another link to another great site that helps us to understand this area. This is a page that lists of collection of ideas and sites that discuss the Social, Legal and ethical issues of online learning. http://onlinetools.pbwiki.com/EARCOS+Main+Page

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

He's right next door

Tonight as I have been working I have been chatting on Skype at the same time with an amazing young teacher who teaches in another small country school only about 30 minutes drive away from where I teach. Given that there are many times where I look to find other like minded teachers who are using technology in country schools it is so refreshing to see that mrrobbo is close by and is inspirational in the things that he is doing with his students. So tonight I have checked out a wiki that he has created http://h311oe.wikispaces.com/with his Year 12 Outdoor Education class, listened to a podcast interview that he did with a Canadian teacher Rod Lucier of Clever Sheep blog fame and checked out a couple of new sites (for me at least) http://woices.com/ and http://qik.com which both look really interesting when combined with mobile phone technologies. All in all a very inspirational and fascinating chat with a young teacher who is just starting out on his teaching career. I would happily be in his class.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Using twitter to learn more about stereotypes

Our Year 9 students are currently participating in a project with international students from 6 countries called It's a small world. We are asking the students to explore the notion of stereotypes. By making connections with students from 5 schools from 3 other countries, Pakistan, USA, Malaysia and Australia we are hoping that students will be able to break down typical stereotypes by getting to know other students through a ning. We are using two of the Intel Thinking with Technology tools and a wiki to share our thinking.
One of the first tasks for students to do was to rank characteristics according to how they think others view them. Our students were finding this really difficult to do. By pure luck I happened to read a blog post by Tom Barrett about how he had used twitter to ask fellow twitters to share with his students the probability of it snowing in their location.
It gave me an idea.
so on Tuesday morning I sent out a tweet asking for responses to this..

Good morning all. For Yr 9s studying identity . When do you think of Aussies, what characteristics do you think of?

Within 10 minutes we had some fantastic answers from around the world

janenicholls @annieb3525 Being an Aussie I think we are resourceful, blatantly honest and loyal! but I'm uncomfortable describing a ppl group!

middleclassgirl @annieb3525 you could look at comedy where some good st are or go to pictureaustralia.Org and look at one of the pic trails

hopeinhell @annieb3525 hmm.. ok.. easygoing, beer-slurping, binge drinking, bbq-ing, slow-drawling, adventure hunting.. to name a few.. :D

paulrwood I try to learn so much from what I read about Aussies doing. Great folks from a different part of the world. I am in Texas

suzievesper @annieb3525 - I have some negative (but not necessarily the way I think!) Brash, uncouth, racist. Some positive - resourceful, sporty.

paulrwood I am sorry to say that I assoicated so much with the "shrimp on the barbie" commercials. Now my boss of 14 yrs is from Brisbane

lenva @annieb3525 - Aussies = casual and laidback. enjoy outdoors. confident in expressing themselves. not afraid to disagree.

SarahStewart @annieb3525 Brash but fun. Give it a go attitude. Not as sophisticated as some nationalities. Very effective at what you do eg sports...

SarahStewart @annieb3525 ...but a little redneck at times :)

onlineteacher @annieb3525 Tough. Fearless. Individualistic n opinionated. Straightforward. Kinda like way USA was 100 yrs ago *:-) Luv u guys *:-)

Some of the responses certainly got our brains and our mouths moving. Some students took offence at being considered redneck or brash and opinionated. But on the other hand it really made them think about how they also put people into stereotypes and how offensive that might be to them.
So thanks to all who contributed. It really opened the eyes of our students and had added a whole new depth to our understanding.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Do you know your Digital Footprint?

As I continue to explore the ideas and importance of developing resources and lessons about Digital Citizenship. I came across this presentation by Dean Shareski. Dean asks us to think about our Google identity. Have you ever googled yourself? He suggests that there are strategies and ways to take control the way we are 'googled'. I wonder how many of us even think about that. I certainly think that it's something that we should be teaching our students. By teaching the about taking control I hope to help them understand that they are should be thinking about what can be known about themselves online. And that if they are careful and clever they actually have a choice about that. And I hope that it will create an awareness of how easily information can be posted that is not desirable or appropriate. It is important that we all take charge of that information as much as we can.
As you listen to Dean's presentation ( there is an audio with the slideshare) , think about your digital footprint. What does it say about you?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Educating them to be safe is better than blocking .

As I work on our new project , Digiteen- exploring what it means to be a digital citizen, I am more and more mindful of the responsibility we have as educators to ensure that our students are empowered to manage the web in a safe and smart way. I find that my daily conversations with students are changing as I watch the sites they visit, the amount of illegal (but innocent) downloading that they do, the way they happily play online for way too much time, the ineffective searching that they do, the 'friends' that they pick up online etc etc. I am also constantly reminded that blocking all but the most offensive and dangerous sites is all but useless . Our kids are too clever for that and their personal and online networks are too strong. Block one site and they will find the next one.
No, I am convinced that it is education that they need. Actually it's what we all need. It's not only kids that do this, I see teachers on a daily basis breaching copyright, overlooking Google searches that are a complete waste of time, looking past clear 'cut and paste' articles presented as a student's own work and telling students to go research a topic with no guidelines or strategy for doing so. And basically having little idea (or is it turning a blind eye?) of safe and secure ways to use the internet.
So it is with some gratification that Julie Lindsay passed on some news that she came across I by US congress where they have passed an update to the Children's Internet Protection Act requiring schools participating in the E-Rate program to educate students regarding appropriate behavior on social networking and chat room sites and about cyberbullying.
Of course we here in Australia are not sitting on our laurels and I'm happy to say that the Victorian DEECD offers some guidelines for schools when working online with students, teachers and parents. The solution I am convinced is in education. But we have a long way to go in ensuring that our teachers, our students and our whole school community are savvy in determining how to be an effective, safe, clever and smart digital citizen.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wikispaces aiming for 250,000 educational wikis

Wikispaces has been aiming for the past two and a half years to achieve their goal of 100,000 educational wikis and they have done it.
And now they have set themselves a new goal of 250,000 educational wikis.
Here is a message that I left on the blog post announcement. Basically as a wikispace user for the past two and a half years, I am very happy with the service and will continue to use wikispaces as my wiki of preference.

We love wikispaces here at Wedderburn College and I can't believe that it was back in June 2006 when I set up my first wiki with wikispaces http://teaching-with-technology.wikispaces.com/ Since then we have used them for portals for classwork http://wedderburnp12.wikispaces.com/classwiki, as digital portfolios for individual students ( all set to private thanks to the generous 100,000 wikis for education initiative, http://rose0001.wikispaces.com/ and as an online repository for sharing and collaborating on a particular topic. http://discoveregypt.wikispaces.com/ http://cleversearching.wikispaces.com/ http://the-games08.wikispaces.com/ I have used a number of other wikis when collaborating with other schools who have chosen to use something different, but wikispaces are by far the easiest, most flexible and best looking IMHO. By the way I love the new skin on the manage page. It looks great. Good luck with the next 250,000.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Giving Students a Voice

Edutopia, supported by the George Lucas Foundation is a great resource for teachers. There is great depth in the site which gives a wide range of resources, lesson plans, videos, links to other blogs as well as blogs within the site.
I came across this rather simple yet powerful idea to give students a voice.

Edutopia.org wants to hear from you about which skills you think your school should teach to help you succeed in life. Kids are experts on the modern digital world, and we think it's time adults listened. Create a video stating your opinion, and submit it by October 15 -- we'll publish our favorites on Edutopia.org.

It's simple -- there are just five steps:

  1. Create a video, no more than one minute long, answering this question:
    "What do you think is the most important skill to learn for your future -- and why?"
    The footage could consist of straightforward talking to the camera, or something more creative.
  2. Introduce yourself with your first name only.
  3. Obtain parental consent for taping and posting on the Internet if you are younger than eighteen years old.
  4. Post the video on YouTube and tag it "edutopiaskills." (Note that YouTube users must be at least thirteen years old.)
  5. Send an email to skills@edutopia.org, telling us your name, age, parental contact information, and hometown, and include a link to the video.

You'll need a (free) YouTube account to do the upload. Find YouTube's instructions for uploading here and for directions for tagging here.

I love the simplicity of it. I think we'll have a go next term with our Year 9/10 students.