Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Lets Hit the Beach......

It was too nice a day to be at school today & apart from Tania and I continually pleading to take all the kids to the beach we instead sat down in different parts of the school and Skyped each other. So Marco School is ready to roll with Skype & waiting for Pitt Island to have their internet connection fixed so we can continue the conversation from a few weeks ago. Come on ICONZ get it fixed! Did you know if you are a school with the ICONZ internet satellite service and wanting to webconference you can contact ICONZ (with 24 hours notice) and have your bandwidth boosted for the day. That was news to me, even having worked with these schools for the last 4 years! If there are any schools who would like to make a skype connection with Marco please contact me or Jen to organise something.
Today I also helped Jen set up a flickr account for Marco School and set up juploader to make it really easy for her to resize and upload their photos in one hit. Next time i go back i will show her some of the cool tools you can use with your flickr account. Marco School is here on flickr.
Another thing i have been trying to do & just this minute worked it out, is accessing their school server remotely. All i need to do is put in their Static IP address, system administrator user name & password and i'm in. What i'd like to know how to do now is to manage the desktops off the server remotely so i can do some PD at a distance. Any advice on remote control of desktops in the smartnet server environment would be appreciated :-)
We achieved lots @ Marco today but still it was a better day to be @ the beach....

Friday, 23 March 2007

Wots Hot?

It was great to meet Sheryl at Tuanz yesterday. She tirelessly worked throughout the day one-on-one helping teachers set up their first blogs. Every revolution starts with small steps & another step closer to the Tipping Point today :-)

The hot video at the moment resounding around the blogosphere and shown at all the conferences so far this year is Web 2.0... the Machine is Us/ing Us

And another on the must watch list is Ken Robinson "Do schools today kill creativity?"
Ken is keynoting at Principals conference in Auckland in a couple of weeks.

This can also be downloaded from Ted Talks along with a host of other interesting speakers.
" Each year, TED hosts some of the world's most fascinating people: Trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses. The talks they deliver have had had such a great impact, we thought they deserved a wider audience."

Connect, Communicate, Create, Collaborate @ Tuanz

Sheryl helps Lynley give birth to a new blog :-)
What a great keynote Sheryl very stirring & passionately delivered. I think all of the teachers in the room today would have been inspired to change the way they teach using technology OR think about early retirement…(which maybe not such a bad thing for our kids ;-) The future is not only just on the horizon, it is here already & the kids that are starting out in our schools now were not even born in the 20th C they are truly 21st C children. The need to change the way we teach is urgent – open up your eyes to the incredible changes and opportunities that are happening now and use them to extend the learning horizons for our children. We have a responsibility to engage them using the technology of our times. We particularly have this responsibility to help close the digital divide for our children who don’t have the same level of access in their homes. These are the children who have the most to gain from the world of opportunities just a click-beat away.

It really struck a nerve with me to hear Sheryl echo what I have said before about the difference between primary & secondary school teachers. Secondary teachers will say they teach English or maths (subjects) and Primary teacher teach students. Without wanting to put down my Secondary colleagues (I know I work in both sectors) I think they face a whole other layer of barriers which we don’t find in our Primary Schools. Our Secondary schools are most fertile ground for change.
Content is not king anymore we have to redefine what it is important to learn. We should focus on the learning process and the skills involved: numeracy, literacy, information literacy, media literacy and I think most importantly social literacy as more and more we are interacting with others in an online global learning community. Our kids need to learn how to be socially responsible global citizens. It was interesting to hear Sheryl’s perspective of Web 1.0, 2.0 & 3.0. 3.0 being the virtual worlds we inhabit that cross over into our real world through our social networks, work & school and now have an economic life that is growing. (for example Second Life) I see this happening already with my own kids, Sophie especially inhabits a number of virtual communities & shes still only 10!
Other pearlers from today was Suzie talking about Generation C – a perfect fit for the 4 C’s Connect, Communicate, Create, Collaborate though I am sure you could add to this list or express it in different ways. A starter for discussion was this video taken on a student cellphone of a Krumping battle at school & uploaded to YouTube.

The discussion never really reached the point I thought it could have gone & seemed to revolve more about behavioural standards & management in schools and not so much the creation of media online and the potential issues surrounding this. Maybe this next clip might have woken them up to this idea. Here we have another Krump battle in a NZ school this time a teacher arrives on the scene probably still ignorant to the fact they are making a cameo appearance in a You Tube video. More food for thought.

Wednesday, 7 March 2007


TUANZ time is nearly upon us for 2007. If you haven't already registered get along to the TUANZ site and do so - keynotes & workshop abstracts are all up online now. TUANZ regional conferences are a good opportunity especially for classroom teachers who may not get the chance to go to national conferences to dip their toes into whats happening with ICT in education and be inspired to go back into their classrooms and innovate. A big Web 2.0 presence this year with Edubloggers Sheryl & Miguel. They have already got the ball rolling with a TUANZ wiki site, blog & online discussion. (these are all linked off the TUANZ wiki) I didn't get the chance to join the online discussion yesterday but i did skype with Sheryl this morning just to talk generally about the learning landscape here in NZ. With all these online conversations happening ahead of time Sheryl should have no trouble understanding our accents when she gets here ;-) Read Sheryl's recent post Connections-Networking in New Zealand.

IWBs in Action

A big thankyou to Warwick at Inglewood High School who welcomed me into his Year 11 Geo class to observe their use of the Interactive White Board. What a fantastic teacher tool to create & share learning resources and to structure, sequence and stage the components of a lesson. Warwick is doing great things with it in his classes. He is building his curriculum delivery through the use of the IWB, incorporating a range of activities including sound, images, video, links into websites and simulations including Google Earth. He believes the use of the IWB caters for the different learning styles of his students through the incorporation of multimedia. If i was a teacher i would love this tool but i still struggle to see how students themselves can be more involved with the use of the board to drive their own learning apart from having it used as a delivery tool (a cool tool it is too) though definately engaging for these students. Teachers all around the province & i bet nationally too are having IWBs installed in their classroom - many of them are wondering what to do with them? I can feel some IWB ICTPD coming on soon & more visits to Warwick's classroom :-)
So if the 20th Century adage is 'Talk & Chalk' How would you translate this to the use of an IWB in the same way - i have been racking my brains to coin a new phrase for this. Arti you are the wordsmith what do you think? Graham you might have an appropriate term too?
BTW does anybody know of any good classroom/teacher blogs with a particular secondary focus? Plz post a comment. Thnx

E-Learners @ Inglewood

I visited Inglewood High School today to meet our eLearning students & their VC coordinator Lorraine just to see that they were all up and running with their VC classes. We confirmed some admin details like enrolments, VC times, access to computers and learning support within the school. I discussed with them the huge importance of communication, checking their emails and logging onto their online classes (which aren't set up yet but will be i hope soon) and being clear about their learning objectives and if they are not sure to ask. It is so easy for these students needs to disappear into cyberspace if they are not communicating with their teachers, with each other & with me especially if things are not running smoothly for them. I assigned them a student rep. (democratic process - not) to be the one to talk to if they weren't sure about things and didn't want to discuss it with their teachers. Douglas is an old hand @ VC elearning and is enrolled in two classes this year. I wanted to see a VC student rep in all of our TaraNet schools but the elearning student body isn't really big enough for this. It would be good to involve more of our students in this way across the Virtual Learning Network so we can have some student voice to add to the development of eLearning in NZ. Perhaps something to bring up with the other eLearning clusters.

To Cluster or Not to Cluster...

The ICT Professional Development cluster initiative offers an awesome opportunity for schools to collaborate in developing teacher capability to cater for the needs of our '21st Century Learners' (Yep cliche i know...) Here is part of a workshop presentation I used today with schools considering joining the ICTPD network. It includes some key questions schools should be discussing and links to supporting resources. If you haven't received the DVD "21st Century Learner: A glimpse of the future" then contact the ICT Unit @ the MOE and request it for your school. This is a great supporting resource for the National e-Learning Action Plan.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

I Can & I Will & They Did

"I Can & I Will" was my mantra this morning as i struggled to get Marco School connecting with Pitt Island School through a skype vidcam call. Did i say just the other day that skyping was easy? Ha ha not on a school network. I knew i would have some setting up to do but could i get it to work - well yes i could 3 hours later! I should have thought to turn off the server firewall in the first instance but no that was the last thing i thought of. We did eventually change the settings on the firewall instead of turning it off totally - so all set for the next time. Our kids used that setup time (in both our schools) to research about each other on the internet. In that time also our kids had taken photos around the school and uploaded them to picturetrail.com where the Pitt Island children were able to view them and leave comments. Our kids were really excited to be talking to the Pitt Island kids so far away though they did need some instruction on VC etiquette - not shouting, or talking all at once or saying things you shouldn't as everyone can hear you... We chatted for a little while and the kids introduced themselves but a short while in the audio on the classroom connection degraded so badly that we had to call it a day. A bit of a rocky start but all keen for another skype next week but this time on the school office computer which for some reason?? provides clearer picture & sound. In the meantime I hope our Marco kids will be updating their blogs and maybe have a few comments going around them :-)


We had our first Virtual Learning Network clusters video conference of 2007 today. It is good to be part of a wider network of people around the country who are working towards the same goal of providing more 'choice & opportunity' (thankyou Murray Brown) for our students through eLearning. Though enrolments are down in the TaraNet cluster (26 compared to 40 last year) this is not a national trend. VLN enrolment stats at the moment are:
Current Total Courses:135
Current Total Classes:158
Current Total Enrolments:785
Total anticipated enrolments when all are registered on the VLN is expected to hit 1100. That is 1100 students (give or take, as some take more than one class) who have been given more choice in their learning pathways. Having said that, eLearning is no silver bullet solution, where there are opportunities there are also threats. We discussed how eLearning can be threatening to teachers traditional ideas of education and their roles. How so many things have to change in schools to support our elearning students and teachers and the resources that are required to do this. We talked about timetabling, technical support issues around the VC bridge, teacher professional development, the development of the whole online learning environment (learning management systems) beyond the one VC session a week. We also talked about scalability and the need to get all these things right now before the VLN grows to even larger numbers. What a challenge - but i thrive on challenge.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Bard Wired Spam Robot?!

OMG - its more than a little scary to logon to make a new post and find you have been blocked from your own blog while blogger.com check out that i am not a spam robot!
Though i don't post every day i'm use to having unrestricted access to my own space. This blog represents 3 years of my working life, 3 years of huge professional growth for me - what if it were to disappear completely - this is a scary, scary thing. It would be good to have the facility to download your blog in it's entirety (like you can with wikispaces.com) & keep up a backup copy on your own machine. I do have my articles saved as emails but that would be so difficult to rebuild. Perhaps i need to start investigating other options...